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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sikkim - Land of peace and tranquility in East India

Sikkim : 7,096 sq.kms
Latitude : 27-28* North
Longitude : 88-89* East
Altitude : 5,500 ft.
Temperature Summer: Max -21*C / Min-13* C
Winter: Max-13*C / Min-05* C
Annual rainfall : 3,894 mm
Best Seasons : Feb – May / Sep-Nov.
Capital Town : Gangtok
Other Major Towns : Rongpo, Namche, Gyezing, Jorthang, Pelling, Singtam
Clothing : Summer - light woolens / Winter – Heavy woolens

Sikkim is a land of peace and tranquility, an ideal destination for trekking and for seeking some rest from fast paced action of life. People can rejuvenate themselves by being much closer to nature, walking in green areas, among mountains and trees. The Night sky is clear with constellations being clearly visible as opposed to cities where the light hides everything. Spend some time in this cultural wonderland, get some insights into Buddhism, enjoy shopping in the local markets, and overall forget all your tensions and problems.
Small but beautiful. Sikkim is situated in the eastern Himalayas. The state is legendary for its peaceful nature and simplicity. Famous for Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, along with a view of the majestic Mount Everst. The mountain state of Sikkim offers tremendous variety of plant and wildlife besides a diverse ethnic mix of people with rich cultural tradition.
Sikkim is rich with a wide variety of flora and fauna, and can make nature watchers salivate at the prospect of finding nature's marvels so easily accessible. About 450 varieties of orchids, over 600 species of butterflies, 500 species of birds along with red pandas, snow leopards and other animals can be seen in Sikkim. The largest collection can be seen at the Kanchenjunga National Park which covers an area of 850 square kilometers. As a result ornithology tourism is also gaining in prominence in Sikkim.

Nearest airport is Bagdogra (124 kms) in North Bengal which is about 4 hours drive from Gangtok. Sikkim Tourism operates daily five-seater helicopter service between Gangtok and Bagdogra connecting all civil flights. We also arrange Helicopter service for sight-seeing.

The two nearest railway stations are Silliguri (114 kms) and New Jalpaiguri (125 kms).

Good condition roads connect Sikkim with Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Silliguri all the way to Kolkata. The Sikkim Nationalized Transport (SNT) plies regular bus service from Gangtok to all Major cities and towns in North Bengal and within the state. Booking facilities are available at Silliguri and Gangtok. Private buses and taxis are also available in plenty connecting Gangtok, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Silliguri.

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Places to visit in Sikkim :

- The Ridge Park : It stretches from the Main Palace Gate to the White Hall. A long idyllic stretch lined by the beautiful cherry trees that in season burst into flower in a profusion of delicate pink blossoms, this is the perpetual haunt of the jogging enthusiasts. The flamboyant marquee or 'Hawa Ghar' with ornate design holds sway over the Park where you can laze around or watch the local children romp exuberantly. The Flower Festival which is held year round is just a short walk down.
- Saramsa : It is the home to the Ipecac Garden is another popular tourist destination that is a mere14kms away from Gangtok. Home to many rare orchids and other flora, its shady lawns often play host to picnic parties.
- The Water Garden : A little further away at 16 kms is another alternative worth exploring. Cool off in the small and sheltered swimming pool there. Or else clamber over rocks in the vicinity and dip your feet in the river.
- Namgyal Research Institute of Tibetology : It was Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal, the last monarch of Sikkim who realized a long cherished dream when he set up this Institute. HH The Dalai Lama laid the foundation stone of the NIT which is done in typical Tibetan architectural style in Feb 1957. The following year Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the NIT.
- Do-drul Chorten : It is one of the most important Chortens or stupas of Sikkim that is exquisite as it is sacred. It was built in 1945 by Trulshik Rimpoche, a great teacher and interpreter of Buddhism.

- Dzongu : The territory of Dzongu in North Sikkim was set up in 1975. It is a land where pristine glacial streams thread their way through thick virgin forest. Countless waterfalls cascade down the steep cliff-sides and hot-springs bubble inside the hidden caves. The area is very remote, and is surrounded by sharply tilted verdant mountains that are stacked on top of each other at a forbidden angle. The elevation ranges from 500m to 6000m, and these extremes have nurtured an amazing diversity of plants and wildlife.

- Rumtek Monastery : It is now the largest Buddhist monastery in East Sikkim and is the place where the monks perform sacred rituals and practices. Many sacred objects are housed within the complex, and one of the most magnificent is the Golden Stupa, which contains the precious relics of His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa.
- Pastanga : The village located in East Sikkim is very rich in culture and folklore; and is surrounded by hills covered with dense forest and cascading streams with rivulets cutting through the landscape and appealing orchids blooming on tree tops.
- Khedi - Located in East Sikkim, is renowned for its two sacred lakes, the Bhale Pokhari and the Pothi Pokhari where a festival is celebrated every year attracting hundreds of pilgrims from all over Sikkim.

- Pelling : The city of Pelling located in West Sikkim is balancing on a ridge at an altitude of 2.040 m. One of Pelling's main attractions is the Pemayangste Monastery. Known as the "Perfect sublime lotus" it is one of the oldest Monasteries in Sikkim being founded in 1705. The Sagachoeling (or Sang Gnak Choling) monastery is an even older monastery, dating back to 1697, and situated on a hilltop close to Pelling. Khecheopalri Lake, which is considered to be a holy lake by both the Buddhists and the Hindus, can be easily reached from Pelling.
- Darap : The picturesque village of Darap, located 8 kilometers from Pelling is a 20 minutes drive downhill passing through cardamom groves and terraced paddy fields.
- Yuksam : Yuksam is situated in the far western corner of Sikkim and nestled at the base of high forest-covered snow-capped mountains. Yuksam literally means 'the meeting place of the three monks'.
- Uttaray : Tucked away in the lap of mother nature is the tranquil village of Uttaray, the gateway to the Singalila trek. This village provides visitors with many options to go for short hikes or longer treks in the vicinity or visit the Limboo village of Sopakha located an hour walk from Uttaray.
- Hee Bermiok : The newly developed destination of Hee Bermiok with widespread community participation is an ideal destination for visitors wanting to sample unique rural lifestyle of Sikkim. The strong Limboo culture of this area is worth appreciating.

- Namchi : Sikkim's South District, is the second largest populated districts of Sikkim. Its headquarter is in Namchi, meaning "High sky". The area does credit to its name, nestled among the hills it gives panoramic views of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and the magic snow-capped mountains in the back.
- Kewzing : It is a typical Bhutia village in South Sikkim under the cover of the forest. At an altitude of 1200 m Kewzing provides its inhabitants with magnificent views of mountains including Mt. Kabru. Best mountain views occur from mid September to mid December. The atmosphere in the village is very serene and peaceful as the local people are very friendly and hospitable.

Most of the mountain areas in Sikkim have a fragile ecosystem. This demands any trekkers to obtain special permit to trek. Trekking in Sikkim is conducted in an organized manner. Individuals cannot trek on their own.
* Darjeeling to Kanchenjunga Trek
* Darjeeling and Sikkim Trekking
* Off Beaten Treks
* Singalila Ridge & Goecha La Trek
* Sikkim and Kanchenjunga Trek(20d)
* Sikkim and Kanchenjunga Trek(23d)
* Varsey Trek
* Yuksom To Dzongri & The Goecha La

Rafting in Sikkim is an adrenalin pumping exercise especially in the two snow fed rivers of Teesta and Rangit. During the monsoon season hundreds of small streams can be found all over Sikkim. The two trails that are possible amongst rafters are :
* On River Teesta: Chungthang - Dikchu - Singtam - Melli
* On River Rangit: Legship - Jorethang - Melli

Where to stay in Sikkim ?
- Heritage Hotels
* Norkhill Heritage Hotel, Paljor Stadium Road, Gangtok
* Himalayan Heights Hotel, Palzor Stadium Road, Gangtok
- Luxury Hotels
* Tibet Hotel (3 Star), Paljor Stadium Road
* Chumbi Residency, Tibet Road
* Tashi Delek Hotel (4 Star), Gangtok
* Hidden Forest Retreat, Lower Sichey Busty
- Deluxe Hotel
* Tashi Gang Resort, Yangtey near Peling, West Sikkim
* The Bliss Resort, Biksthang, Mangalbarey, West Sikkim
* Hotel Golden Pagoda, M.G.Marg
* Golden Heights, M.G.Marg
* Hotel Tashi Tagay, Tadong, Gangtok
* Hotel Bayul, M.G.Marg
* Hungry Jack, National Highway - 31 A
* Hotel Mount Simvo Tadong, Gangtok
* Middle Sichey, Gangtok
* Tashi Ghang Hotel, Yuksom

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