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SIKKIM

Tea GardensSikkim an erstwhile Himalayan Kingdom, has been a state of India since it's merger in 1975. Sikkim has the unique distinction of being bounded by three sovereign nations, Nepal in the west, Bhutan in the east and China's Tibet in the north. It also shares its southern border with the state of West Bengal. It has an area of around 7096 sq km only and it is about 64 km from east to west and 110 km from north to south. The state is spread below Mount Kanchenjunga (8,534 m), the third highest peak in the world. The locals worship the mountain as a protective deity. The elevation of the state ranges from 300m to over 8,540m above sea level. The state has a good number of glaciers and some of the very important ones are Zemu, Rathong, Lona in North Sikkim. The river Teesta is the lifeline of Sikkim and it originates from Lake Cholamu.

A journey to Sikkim necessarily involves awakening the senses and discovering the pristine and mystic beauty of the land. Sikkim is a dreamland that one can realize and enjoy, now that the area is open to all. It is a state cloaked in the mystery of remoteness, and far away from the din and bustle of the modern world. The state offers a wide range of adventure sports opportunities as well including mountaineering in the Himalayas. For trekking, one can follow any of the four trek routes: the Monastic Trek, Rhododendron Trek, Kanchenjunga Trek and Coronation Trek. River rafting is possible in the rough waters of the Teesta and the Rangit. Kayaking is arranged on the Teesta only for special groups. Yak safari is arranged from Dzongri onwards. In north and west Sikkim, mountain biking is very popular these days. Jorethang, in west Sikkim, and certain parts of north Sikkim are popular locales for gliding.

West Sikkim boasts of the Rabdentse ruins, Pelling, and the former capital, Yuksom. In north Sikkim, one can visit Chungthang (the origin of the river Teesta), Yumthang (140 km from Gangtok), the Singba Rhododendron Sanctuary (137 km from Gangtok), and the Kanchenjunga National Park. South Sikkim is famous for trekking and offers some of the best treks in the region. One can walk through the sylvan mountains of Namtse, 100 km from Gangtok, and Tendong hill, Varsey, Borong, Maenam hill, and Ravangla.

Buddhism, the major religion in the state, arrived from Tibet in the 13th century. It took its distinctive Sikkimese form four centuries later, when three Tibetan monks of the old Nyingamapa order, dissatisfied with the rise of the reformist Gelukpas, migrated to Yoksum in western Sikkim. Having consulted an oracle, they went to Gangtok looking for a certain Phuntsong Namgyal, whom they crowned as the first Chogyal or 'Righteous King' of Denzong in 1642. Being the secular and religious head, he was soon recognized by Tibet, and brought sweeping reforms. His kingdom was far larger than today's Sikkim and included Kalimpong and parts of western Bhutan. Over the centuries, the territory was lost to the Bhutanese, the Nepalese and the British.

GANGTOK

MonasteryToday the capital of Sikkim, Ganktok is situated at an altitude of 1547m. above the sea level and 52km. from the China border in East Sikkim. Earlier it was in Tumlong, which is 21km ahead of this modern town. The city holds a tiny but picturesque view of the valley. One can witness the marvelous view of world famous Kanchenjunga (8,598mt.), Mt. Pandim, Mt. Norsing, Mt. Siniolchu etc. One of the oft-visited sites of Gangtok is the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. It was built in 1958 and is a research center for Mahayana Buddhism and Tibetan culture. Besides being a museum of traditional and old artifacts, one can also buy Buddhist religious books and other objects of craft. Nearby is a gompa for young lamas. The Tsuk-La-Khang or Royal Chapel is the main place of worship and assembly for the Buddhists and is huge repertoire of religious relics. It is open during the Lhosar festival. Another important monastery is the Enchey Gompa and is worth a visit during the festival season of January to February. Adjacent to the Namgyal Institute is the Orchid Sanctuary, which is the home of some 500 varieties of orchids. There is a larger orchid sanctuary called Orchidarium off the main road to Rangpo. Near White Hall, there is a Flower Exhibition Center and seasonal flowers, bonsai and orchids are a delight to the eyes. From April to June and September to November, one can come here.
                                                                     

 
 
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