Sikkim, the least populated state in India, located amidst the Himalayas, bordered by Bhutan to the east, Nepal to the West, West Bengal to the south and Tibet to the North is perhaps one amongst the most beautiful and richly cultured states of our nation. With 11 official languages and a wide range of rituals the state has managed to preserve its heritage and simplicity till the very date.
The Tsomgo Lake also known as the Changu Lake is a glacial lake located in east Sikkim usually frozen during the winter season. It is one amongst the most famous tourist spots but little do people know that apart from its beauty the lake has a mysterious story to it as well. It is said that the place where the lake exists was previously a shed where yaks lived and the area around the lake was a village that belonged to the tribal people. One night, the oldest women of the tribe had a dream that soon the village would drown in water leaving no sign of life, she warned all the villagers but nobody gave a ear to her, eventually, failed in her attempt to convince the others to leave, she left the village with her yak and soon after the village was submerged in water. The water entirely washed away the existence of any human soul or animal and today the natives of Sikkim visit the lake to pray to the spirits of the dead.
Right before the Chumtang valley located in Lachung there is a natural hot spring on the right side of the road on the top of a mountain that not many people are aware of. The hot spring is accessible to all and is not charged for either.
One of the most peculiar as well as pretty features about Sikkim is the presence of color in the state. Every street and road is filled with prayer flags of various colors. The Buddhist for centuries have planted these flags outside their homes as well as along the path that they travel for the wind to spread the positive vibrations of the flag across the countryside. The flags are said to bring happiness and prosperity.
The various coloured flags are said to purify the human soul.
white (om) purifies pride and ego.
green (ma) purifies jealousy and lust for entertainment.
yellow (ne) purifies passion and desire.
blue (pad) purifies ignorance and prejudice.
red (me) purifies greed and possessiveness.
black (hum) purifies aggression and hatred.
Transportation and Roads
Transportation is a major problem in Sikkim. There is no bus or train facility except for the toy train in Darjeeling but rental as well as share taxis and cars are easily available at an affordable price. The southern roads are well built since they are maintained by the “Border Road organization” also known as the BRO where as the northern roads are maintained by the state government.
If you are a late riser as well as a late sleeper, Sikkim is just the place you need to visit to get yourself on track. It is pitch dark by 6 in the evening and the entire town retires by 7, on the other hand morning light hits the place by 4 and all the shops, people and offices are fully functioning by 7 am. The weather in Sikkim is most uncertain and irrespective of the season there is no fixed time for the rains.
The People of Sikkim consist of three ethnic groups, that is, Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepali. Hindu Temples coexist with Buddhist Monasteries, Churches, Mosque and Gurudwara. The predominant Communities are Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese. The people of Sikkim are extremely warm, well mannered and welcoming.
The two most famous markets to shop at in Gangtok are the Lal market and the MG market but people do not realize that there is a market on the way to the Tsmogo Lake which has a larger variety of items to offer at a much more reasonable price.
The people of the East prefer to eat food that is simple and low on spice. Their staple food “Thukpa” or “Gyathuk” too consists of plain noodles and vegetable stew. Potato is grown here in abundance and hence every food item consists of it. “Momos” are easily available at every corner and they are served in three types: steamed, fried and chilly. A hot plate of momos filled with garlic and onion is just the thing you need in the cold.
8 lucky signs
Most of the architectural structures of the place consist of 8 lucky signs of Buddhism. Tourists are usually unaware of the meaning behind these symbols. Namely:
The parasol: protection from suffering.
The two golden fish: for swimming through all troubles in life.
The conch shell: represents the sound of the Dharma reaching far and wide, awakening beings from ignorance.
The lotus: for blossoming in life.
The banner of victory: for the victory over the evil.
The vase: for a long and healthy life.
The dharma wheel: represents the circle of life and karma.
The eternal knot: signifies cause and effect and the union of compassion and wisdom.