No words said or written about Sikkim do justice to its beautiful landscape. I have never considered myself a ‘mountain person’. My idea of vacationing is sitting on a sandy beach and sipping margaritas. Well, that was before I journeyed through this land of monasteries, never-ending ranges, crystal lakes and gushing rivers. A myriad of hues – greens, yellows and blues which is ever so impossible to spot in the city sky. The incomparable beauty of the mighty Khangchendzonga is bound to take your breath away. With roads lined with blooming rhododendrons. Fresh Fruits and vegetables that are served right out of the garden – it’s not called the ‘organic state’ for nothing!
An independent nation before the year 1975, Sikkim is now an Indian state amidst the Himalayan Mountains and bordered by Nepal to its west; Nepali being its official language amongst Sikkimese, Lepcha, Tamang etc.
In awe of its beauty and the kindness of its people, I vouch to return to this Himalayan land. Here are a few of the many things you can do, eat and see in Sikkim.
Capital of the state, Gangtok is located in the eastern part of Sikkim. Soak in the relaxed atmosphere of the city for a day. And if you are an avid shopper, you mustn’t miss out spending the day at the spotless Mahatma Gandhi Marg market in the heart of the city. The best things to buy here are the traditional Sikkimese dresses known as Kho or Bakhu. Don’t forget to pick up a few packets of the locally cultivated tea, alpine cheese, Sikkimese cups that are made of porcelain and Thangkas – religious scroll paintings crafted by monks which are rendered on paper or silk, these in fact should only be purchased from the Directorate of handicrafts & handlooms located on Tibet road.
Guru Padmasambhava Statue
Considered the patron saint of Sikkim, this 118 feet high statue of Guru Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, is located 7kms from the town of Namchi over the forested Samdruptse ridge and is visible for miles around.
Painted in shimmering copper and bronze, the statue was completed in 2004 on a foundation stone laid by the Dalai Lama.
Food all the way
One of the most popular foods that one should not miss here are definitely the momos (pork, chicken and beef) available all over Sikkim. It’s served with a light chicken broth and a red chilli chutney made with the locally available chili called Dalle.
The most stunning views of the Khangchendzonga can be seen from the town of Pelling which is situated in the western part of Sikkim. The town is divided into upper, middle and lower areas. A quiet town by nature, Upper Pelling provides magnificent panoramic views of the snow-clad peaks of the Khangchendzonga at dawn.
Designed and founded by Lama Lhatsun Chempo in 1705, Pemayangtse is one of the oldest and most significant gompas in Sikkim. It is also one of the richest monasteries in the world and is located in west Sikkim. The ground floor features a central Buddha, while the upper area is painted with murals depicting the eight forms of Buddha. The Elgin Mount Pandim is a heritage hotel build by royal family of Sikkim which offers a glorious view of the Singalila range. The three hundred year old Pemayangtse monastery, is right next to the resort on a verdant hill top covered by moist temperate Oak forests. The bedrooms are set in the midst of an atmosphere of greenery in the heart of Pemayangtse.