Sikkim

A Complete information ABout Sikkim

Nestled between Nepal, China and Bhutan, Sikkim lies at the foot of the Himalayas. Snow-capped mountain peaks rise in the background while Indian prayer flags gently wave in the wind – Sikkim may be one of the smaller Indian states with a population of 600,000, but travellers can experience the untouched world of Indian culture here. In this article you will find out everything you need to know about the wild north of India.

Sikkim tents and animal

Hiking, drinking tea or visiting the temples – Sikkim is a natural paradise in northern India, which spreads out in the phenomenal mountain landscape and has numerous jewels in store. If you want to travel to Sikkim once in your life, you have found the list of the best sights in the state here!

Gangtok

Only 30,000 people live in Sikkim’s largest city, Gangtok. The houses are built on a slope and face Machapuchare, a mountain on the eastern border with China. The trees and plants sprout far and wide, while the clouds envelop the region in a mystical mist. Temperatures here rarely exceed 20 degrees, not even in summer. In spring, between March and May, the city blooms when the first flowers grow from the beds in front of the houses.

Sikkim Gangtok houses

A little south is the Namgyal Institute for Tibetology, the foundations of which were laid in 1957 by the 14th Dalai Lama. Visitors get an insight into Buddhism in the region and what it means to Sikkim. Rumtek Monastery, not far from the institute, is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim. The Hanuman Tok Temple, dedicated to the Hindu deity Hanuman, can also be found via a hiking trail. From here you will experience a phenomenal view over the city and the valley in front of it.

The Tsomgo Lake

Lake Tsomgo (also Tsongmo Lake) is one of the main attractions in northern India and is located just north of Gangtok at an altitude of almost 4000 m. Sikkim recognizes the lake as sacred, which is why it is also called “sacred lake”. The region is an impressive natural spectacle that is the basis of life for numerous animal species and the locals. Travelers can explore the area on the backs of yaks or take a cable car ride to the nearby peaks. When the weather is clear, there is a panorama of a special class, which allows a view up to the mountain Kangchenjunga in the Himalayas.

pelling

The small village of Pelling lies to the west and rises at an altitude of 2000m, as does Gangtok. Waterfalls, jungle and the mountain peaks create a scenic environment conducive to relaxation and recreation. Pelling is an oasis for sports lovers who can kayak into the wild waters or explore one of the trekking trails. Hidden in the jungle you will also find the Pelling Skywalk, the first skywalk in India. It consists of a glass construction that lets you look into the steep depths while walking and leaves you with a queasy feeling in your stomach. The highlight of the excursion is the view of the mountain peaks and the colorful Chenrezig statue, which represents an embodiment of Buddha. In Pelling you will also get an insight into one of the most important excavations in the region: The Rabdentse Ruins are an archaeological site dating back to around 2000 BC. BC formed the political and economic center of Sikkim.

Tathagata Tsal

Tathagata Tsal, the Ravangla Buddha Park, is located in the small village of Ravangla. At the heart of the park rests a golden Buddha statue erected by the 14th Dalai Lama between 2006 and 2013. The statue is the fourth largest Buddha statue in all of India and is said to commemorate the Buddha’s 2550th birthday. For centuries, the place overlooking Mount Kangchenjunga has been a place of pilgrimage. The nearby Ralang Monastery still serves as a reminder of the site’s relevance to Nepalese Buddhism. Those who want to enjoy the tranquility here can enjoy the birds that call the region home, as Ravangla is home to numerous endangered bird species.

The Kangchenjunga

Mount Kangchenjunga, or Kangchenjunga, is the third highest mountain in the world. It is located in the northwest of the state and half of it is in Nepal. The region hides some hiking routes for travelers and is home to the Kangchenjunga National Park, which has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 2016. This is where the natural habitat of the endangered red panda unfolds, which is why tourism is particularly strictly controlled in order to preserve the biodiversity of the alpine region. The Goecha La (or Goechala) trekking route from Yuksom passes 14 peaks, cuts through the deepest jungle and through rhododendron bushes before revealing the spectacular world of the snow-capped Himalayas.

laughter

Untouched and fascinating, Lachung lies at an altitude of 3000 m. The hiker’s paradise is one of the most popular snow regions in the state and is located in the north near the border with China. The small village of Lachung was an important trading post before China conquered Tibet in the 1950s. Stroll along the snow-capped Lachung River or delve into the fabled world of the Monastery (Lachung Gompa) to appreciate the scenery.

religion and festivals

Due to its location and proximity to neighboring countries, Sikkim is a diverse state, with mainly Nepalese people having settled there since the 20th century. Two thirds of the population therefore speak Nepali as their mother tongue, while indigenous languages ​​such as Bhutia (or Sikkimese) are now only spoken by a minority. According to statistics, only 20% of the total population lives in the larger cities.

This mixture of cultures has given rise to numerous festivals that tell their own story about the region. Maghe Sankranti is one of the biggest festivals of the Nepalese Hindu population and is held in January. At this time, streets across Sikkim fill with food and stalls to celebrate the beginning of spring. Durga Puja is held between September and October and celebrates the victory of the goddess Durga in Indian mythology. This festival sees processions paying homage to the goddess before the older residents of Sikkim present gifts to the younger residents on the 10th day of the celebrations. The festival that follows, Diwali, is an equally important part of Sikkim’s Hindu identity.

Sikkim children and youth

Saga Dawa is the largest Buddhist festival in the state. Although Hinduism is practiced by more than half of the population, 30% of the locals are also Buddhist. Saga Dawa is thus a significant festival and is held in the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar. The climax is on the 15th of each month, but the festival continues throughout the month. At this time, Buddhists make pilgrimages to holy shrines and give donations to their fellow human beings. Refraining from eating meat is also part of the rite, while fish are released into the rivers as a sign of humanity.

Celebrated only in Sikkim, Pang-Lhabsol commemorates the dedication of Mount Kangchenjunga. According to tradition, the Buddhist monk Lhatsun Chenpo is said to have received prophecies from the mountain god, with which he found his way to Sikkim and preached Buddhism there in northern India. The festival takes place in the seventh month of the Tibetan calendar (August/September) and is accompanied by prayers and war dances.

Culinary adventures in Sikkim

Organic farming has been practiced in Sikkim since 2015 and no pesticides or genetic engineering are used. The people live in harmony with nature, which is a very special attraction in the state for many travelers. In Sikkim there are numerous tea gardens that, like the famous Darjeeling, produce their own tea varieties. The Temi tea garden collects black tea and white tea and lovingly packages it in its idyllic gardens. The Sikkimian cuisine is made up of different cultures, e.g. B. Momos, balls of dough with a savory filling. Dal, rice and noodle dishes are the order of the day.

How backpacker friendly is Sikkim?

Sikkim driving car

Unlike the rest of India, Sikkim is touristically unspoilt and a bit trickier to travel around. Traveling without groups is uncommon in the region, but that doesn’t mean backpacking is impossible. Public transportation (such as jeeps, which carry up to 10 people) takes travelers cheaply to major hotspots. Since the roads are steep and narrow, journeys can take longer (better allow more time before starting the journey!). It’s best to travel in groups of two to three people, as many tour operators don’t organize trips for solo travelers.

The south and north of Sikkim can be entered with two different visas. These can be applied for in the major Indian cities or at the border / in Gangtok North east India. Unfortunately, the major downside for international travelers is that two of the scenic settings can only be visited with an Indian passport as they are currently in a crisis area on the border. Nathu La (or Nathula), a mountain pass towards Tibet, and Lake Gurudongmar, which is said to have been consecrated by the Tibetan mystic Guru Rimpoche, are currently closed to international tourists.

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