Places of Interest in Sikkim
An important seat of the Nyingmapa order, this 200 year old Enchey Monastery is built on the site blessed by Lama Drupto Karpo, a tantric master known for his power of flying.. Every year, around January, CHAM or religious masked dance is performed with great fanfare for two days.
Do Drul Chorten
The Do Drul Chorten or stupa was built by the Venerable Trullshi Rinpoche, head of the Nyimapa order of Tibetan Buddhism, in 1945. inside the Stupa, ther is a complete mandala set of Dorji Phurba (Vajra Kilaya), a set of Kangur relics (Holy Books), Complete Zung (mantras) and other religious objects. Around the chorten, which is one of the most important Stupas in Sikkim, are 108 Mani Lhakor (Prayer wheels).
Handloom and Handicrafts Centre
It is now known as the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handlooms as well as the Government Institute of Cottage Industries. Started during the time of the Chogyals of Sikkim, as a venture to protect and propagate the craft and skills of local and village artisans, it has become on t of the major attractions for people visiting Sikkim where traditional handcrafts, furniture, handlooms carpets and other products can be viewed and also purchased.
Namgyal Research Institute of Tibetology (NRIT)
The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, after the late Chogyal of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal whose brainchild it was has since become one of the most prestigious depository of Tibetan literature, rare manuscripts, paintings, thangkas, statues and religious objects and other works of art and history. Today, it is a renowned worldwide centre for study of Buddhist philosophy and religion.
About 14 kms from Gangtok is the Saramsa Garden, the home of Sikkim's most exotic orchids and other rare tropical and temperate plants. Established and maintained by the Department of Forest, it is an excellent recreation and picnic spot.
Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre
The Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre is the seat of the Kagyu order, one of the 4 major Tibetan Buddhist Sects. Since the late 1960's , after the arrival of His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, the centre houses some of the world's most unique religious scriptures and religious rare objects. Traditional in design, it is almost an replica of the original Kagyu Monastery in Tshurpu, in eastern Tibet. It has over 300 centres worldwide Tibet. It has over 300 centres worldwide.
Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden
Very close by to Rumtek Monastery, and maintained by the parks and Gardens unit of the Forest Department of the Government of Sikkim, the Garden is an enchanting and soothing experience among the lush green vegetation, rare plants and trees and certain species of Himalayan flowers and Orchids.
Water Garden at Martam Khola is on the 31-A National Highway some 16 kms. south of Gangtok. It is an ideal spot for picnic with a small swimming pool for children.
It literally means the source of the Lake in the Bhutia language. Just about 40km away from Gangtok, the capital of State. This serene lake is situated at an altitude of 3,780 mtrs. The lake is about 1 km long, oval in shape, 15mtrs deep and is considered sacred by the local people. This placid lake remains frozen during the winter months upto mid-May.
Between May and August, it is possible to see a variety of flowres bloom, including the rhododendrons, various species of primulas, blue and yallow poppies, iris, etc. It is also an ideal habitat of the Red Panda and various species of birds. Open for both the foreign and Indian nationals. Foreign visitors have to be in a group of 2 or more and have to apply for the visitors permit through a registered Travel agency.
56 kms from Gangtok is a 'Nathula' Pass at an altitude of 14,200 ft. bordering between India and China in the Tibetan Plateau. It is one of the highest motorable roads and richly covered by many varities of alpine flora and fauna. A tranquil place to visit. Nathula is open only for Indian nationals on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The visitors have to get the permit to visit the place by applying to the Tourism Department through a registered Travel Agency.
The Monastery, located on a hill top at an altitude of 6840 ft. commands a magnificent panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges and the surrounding hills and country- side. This is one of the oldest monastary of the Nyngmapa sect of Mahanaya Buddhism, and was but by Lhatsun Chenpo during the reign of the 3rd Chogyal, Chagdor Namgyal in the 17th century. This monastary is about 6 kms from Gyalsing, the West district headquaters.
This was the second capital of the erstwhile Kingdom of Sikkim after Yuksom and till the year 1814 AD, the Kings of Sikkim had ruled the State from this place. Today, the ruins lie hidden from the main road at a walking distance from the Pemayangtse Monastery. The scenic view from the top of the ruins scanning across the deep valley to the mystic heights of Khangchendzonga ranges is something to be cherished and etched in memory.
This monastery is situated on a ridge above Pelling and the famous Pemayangtse Monastery. Built in 1697 AD, it is considered to be one of the oldest monasteries in the State. In order to reach this Monastery one has to be prepared to spend at least 40 minutes walking up the steep hilly slope which leads through rich forest covers.
Khecheopalri Lake is considered to be one of the sacred lakes of Sikkim both by the Buddhist and the Hindus. The lake remains hidden in the rich forest cover. It is believed that birds do not permit even a single leaf to float on the lake surface. There is a motorable road from Pemayangtse right up to the lake area.
Pelling is fast emarging asa most favorite tourist destination in west Sikkim. Situated at an altitude of 6,800 ft., it offers a good view of the entire mountain ranges. Pelling is just 10 kms from Gyalsing.
This was the first capital of Sikkim, where according to the historical records, the first Chogyal of the Kingdom of Sikkim was consecrated in the 1641 AD by three learned lamas. The evidence of the consecration ceremony is still intact in Norbugang Chorten in the form of stone seats and a foot print of the Head Lama on the stone. Since the history of Sikkim began from this place, these areas are now considered sacred by the people of Sikkim. Yuksam is served by all weather road from Pemayangtse, which is at a distance of 32 kms from Yuksam. The trek to Dzongri and to the base camp of the famous Mt. Khangchendzonga begins here.
This monastery is constructed on top of a heart shaped hill with the back drop of the sacred Mt. Khang-chen-Dzonga. According to Buddhist scriptures, Guru Padma Sambhava (Guru Rimpoche) blessed the sacred land of Sikkim in the 8th century AD from the spot. The monastery, however, was built in the 18th Century AD by Ngadak Sempa Chempo, one of the three lamas who had performed the consecration ceremony of the first Chogyal.
Tashiding is also famous for the most holy chorten known as 'Thong-Wa-rang-Dol' which literally means 'Saviours by mere sight'. It is believed that the mere act of beholding it is supposed to wash away all he sins of the devotee. Another important feature in tashiding is the sacred water festival popularly knwon as 'Bhumchu'. It is a religious tradition unique to Tashiding Monastery only. Every year, on 14th and 15th day of the first Lunar Month, the Bhumchu Ceremony is celebrated with devotees coming from far and near to get the blessing of the holy water.
It lies at an elevation of 10,000 ft. and has a motorable road access upto Hilley. An easy 4 kms trek from there takes one up to the Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary. One can also trek from Soreng or Dentam in West Sikkim. The place provides a magnificent view of the mountains. Visitors can halt at 'Guras Kunj' trekkers hut.
Soreng is a picturesque village with beautiful landscape which is about 3 hrs. drive from pelling and 4 hrs. drive from Melli. A trek to Jhandi Danra from Soreng is a must to see the various species of flowers and birds. Hotels and lodges are available for accommodation.
One of the six major monasteries in Sikkim, Phodong monastery is located in the North approximately 38 kms from Gangtok, 4 kms beyond Phodong is the recently renovated Labrang Monastery unique in it architectural design.
The place offers one of the most spectacular and closest views of Mt. Khangchendzonga and its ranges. A well located Tourist Lodge provides accommodation for visitors. The area also has a number of interesting short nature trails for 1 to 3 days along the higher ridges of the higher ridges of the surrounding hills. One can also savour the most graceful peak in the world, Mt. Siniolchu.
The village, spread out on either side of Lachung Chu, has managed to retain its unique culture and tradition. The Lachung Monastery on the slope opposite to the highway is a focal point of all religious function of the local inhabitants. To get a glimpse of the religious functions performed on auspicious occasions a visit to the Monastery should form a part of the tour itinerary. Lachung lies on the way to Yumthang Valley as we move from Gangtok. Yumthang is just 25 kms away.
Yumthang, at an elevation of 11,800 ft and 140 kms from Gangtok is a paradise for nature lovers with a fascinating blend of flora and fauna and breathtaking scenic grandeur. The valley boasts a large variety of Rhododendrons and other alpine flowers.Yumthang 'Tsa-Chu'or the hot spring of the left bank of Lachung Chu is immensely popular for its curative properties and heal- ing power. For both foreign and domestic tourists, Yumthang Pack- age tours are organised only by the local registered travel agents . Depending upon one's convenience one can either opt for 3 days/2 nights package or 2 days/ 1 night package.
Lachen is situated at an altitude of 2750 mtrs. and about 6 hrs. drive from Gangtok. The Lachen Monastery Located on top of the village commands a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and country side. Resorts, hotels and lodges are available for accommodation.
Guru-dongmar lake is considered as one of the sacred lakes of this State both by the Buddhist and the Hindus. The lake remains milky in color throughout and it is believed the Guru Padmasambhava had touched the lake whilst he visited Tibet from this area.
Namchi, meaning 'Sky High', nestled among the hills at an elevation of 5,500 ft commands panoramic view of the snow-capped mountains and vast stretches of valley. Atop Samdruptse hilltop near Namchi, recently erected is the worlds tallest statue of Guru Padmasambhava, the patron saint of both Hindus and the Buddhist.
Temi Tea Garden
The one and only tea estate existing in the State produces one of the top quality teas in the international market. The tea garden is spread out on a gentle hill slope originating from the Tendong Hill and provides a magnificent view for the surrounding villages. The visit to the fact" could be an eye opener for those wanting to know more about the tea processing methods.
A night spent in a old British built bungalow located just below the tea garden could be an enthralling experience of linking the past to the present. A visit to the garden, enroute to the Tendong Hill, could be a rewarding experience for those who want to cornbine nature and culture as they keep trekking.
At the base of Menam Hill is Ravangla, a small township and transit to various tourist destinations in South and West Sikkim. It is also an upcoming tourist spot, and transit point for trekkers to Menam Hill and Borong. There are accomodation facilities and numerous short nature trails. A trek down to the sacred cave 'Shar Chok Bephu', one of the four holiest caves in Sikkim, would be a memorable experience.
Maenam Hill towers above Tendong Hill on the other side over looking the ravangla Bazar settlement. Situated at an altitude of 10,300 ft the scenic view from this height is, perhaps, unmatched in this part of the world. Mt. Khangchendzonga and its surrounding ranges looms above the dwarf the richly forested and rugged hill. On a clear sunny day, it is possible to see the plains of Bengal spanning across Kalimpong and darjeeling Hills in the South, right across the Indo-China border towards the North. A short distance away is the legendary Bhaley Bhunga, a kind of rocky spur which juts out from the ridge top and remains suspended in the air above Yangang village.
Facing the snow-capped mountains is Borong, motorable from Ravangla or a trek via Menam. A picturesque village, its beautiful landscape and magnificent view is also host to the hot spring, Borong TsaChu'. The trek trail, originating from Namchi or Damthang to Tendong - Ravangla - Menam - Borong (5-6 days) is one of the most interesting trails scaling all the hill tops along the route. The trek can continue to Tashiding or terminate at Borong and drive back to Ravangla.
"Chardham" Pilgrimage cum Cultural Centre, at Solophok Hill - 5 kms from Namchi`Sikkim is a replica of the actual Chardham.It has been built, in such a manner, so as to bring "Chardham" - India's Four geographically differently located Pilgrimages, together at one Place.This Monumental project has a 108 feet high statue of Lord Shiva sitting, right at the top surrounded by the replica of his Twelve Temples known as Twelve Lingas, which are spread all over India.
Built directly in front of Lord Shiva's statue will be the replica of the four most revered Hindu Temples - the "Chardham". These four Dhams are as 1) Sri Badrinath at North, 2) Sri Dwarka at West, 3) Sri Jaganathpuri at East and 4) Sri Rameshwaram at South of India.
Samdruptse which translates as "The wish fulfilling hill" in local Bhutia language is a short distance uphill from Namchi, on Samdruptse hill, stand a giant statue of Guru Padmasambhava, gazing upon the town and across the hills. It is 45m tall and covered in shimmering gold, sparkles in the sun. It is an incredible feat of engineering, founded in 1997. The views are spectacular across and the statue can be seen from across many places in Sikkim and Darjeeling.The foundation stone of the Statue is laid by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama on 22-10-1997.