Sikkim: The Himalayan Jewel

A secluded Shangri-La mired in myths and legends, the small state of Sikkim genuinely welcomes travelers and pilgrims from all over. Perched between Nepal in the west, Bhutan in the east, and Tibet (China) in the north, Darjeeling (West Bengal) in the south – Sikkim is home to Mt. Khangchendzonga, third highest peak in the world. Shrouded in heavy mist, it is believed that the guardian deity Khangchendzonga protects the inhabitants of Sikkim. Various ethnic group have their own nomenclature for this enchanting land – the Nepalese call it Sukhim or new home, while Tibetans refer to it as Denzong or the valley of rice and to the Lepchas, the original inhabitants of Sikkim, it is Nye-al-Ale or heaven.

Formerly a kingdom, Sikkim is a land of abundance when it comes to flora and fauna. It has 600 species of birds, 150 lakes (ranging in altitude from 200 meters to almost 8000 meters), 4000 species of flowering plants, 558 species of orchids, and 39 species of rhododendrons and around 600 species of butterflies making it a botanist’s paradise. Sikkim is conveniently divided into four regions – east, west, north and south. The most populated area is the eastern part which includes the capital town of Gangtok, followed by southern and western districts and finally the sparsely populated northern area with its harsh climate and steep ridges.

At a swooping height of 5,500 feet, crowned by a spectacular view of Mt. Khangchendzonga, Gangtok is a buzzing cosmopolitan with a vibrant mix of people and their cultures, traditional and modern. Just around 23 km away from Gangtok is Rumtek, a lush getaway for you. A quiet hilly terrain, Rumtek offers day tours around its nature trails, monastery tours, trekking and white water rafting. It is famous for Rumtek monastery, the largest monastery in Sikkim carved with the best of Tibetan architecture which treasures some of the rarest Buddhist artifacts in the world.

The lofty mountains dominate the skyline of Sikkim and invites travelers and trekkers alike in its snow clad peaks, green emerald slopes, rushing streams, tall rhododendrons and sparkling orchids. Hilltop monasteries emerge from the rugged terrains while multi-colored prayer flags flutter in the mountain breeze.

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