Situated on the eastern Himalayas, in the shadow of the towering Mount
Kanchenjunga, which is worshipped as the principal deity, Sikkim measures
approximately 100 kms from north to south and 60 kms from east to west.
The capital city of Gangtok, the impressive monasteries of
trekker's paradise at Dzongri and the overall raw beauty and grandeur
leave a visitor to this mountain state, with memories to last a lifetime. Other
places of tourist interest include the Deer Park, Enchey Monastery,
Orchidarium Tashi View Point, Rumtek Monastery and Phodong
The Capital of Sikkim Gangtok (which means
Hilltop), occupies the west side of a long ridge flanking the Ranipul River.
Gangtok became the capital in 1800s (previous capitals were at Yuksom and
Rabdentse) and the town has undergone rapid modernization in recent years
The major monastries like
Pemayangtse, Tsuklakhang, Enchey and Rumtek are
important venues for Buddhist festivals. Pang Lhabsol, Drukpa Tseshi, Losoong,
Saga Dawa and Dasain are the most popular festivals. A favourite form of
celebration is drinking of 'Chang', the millet beer of the Himalayas. Packed
into tall bamboo containers, the drink is sipped through a bamboo pipe.
PLACES TO SEE :
Tsuk-La-Khang (Royal Chapel):
The Royal Chapel is the Buddhists' principal place of worship and
assembly and the repository of a large collection of scriptures. It's a
beautiful and impressive building and its interior is covered with murals.
Lavishly decorated altars hold images of the Buddha, bodhisattvas and Tantric
deities and there are also a great many fine woodcarvings.
The only time it is open to visitors is during Losar when the famous
dance portraying the triumph of good over evil is performed
Enchey Monastery :
Located above siniolchu Lodge, about 3 km from the center of town, Enchey
Monastery is well worth a visit, particularly if you are in Gangtok when
religious dances are performed in January. Built in 1909 it is a relatively
small place and there are views across to Kanchenjunga.
Deer Park :
This popular viewpoint is on the edge of the ridge next to the
Secretariat building. A good time to visit is around 8 am when the deer are fed.
Chorten& Gompa :
The gold apex of this huge white
chorten, surrounded by prayer flags,is
visible from many points in Gangtok. Next to chorten, about 500m beyond the
Namgyal Institute, is a gompa for young lamas with a shrine containing huge
images of Padmasambhava and his manifestation, Guru Snag-Sid Zilzon. As at other
Buddhist gompas, the Chorten is surrounded by prayer wheels
Surrounding the institute and itself enclosed by a peaceful forest, is
the Orchid Sanctuary, where you can see many of the 454 species of orchid found
in Sikkim. The best time to visit the sanctuary are April to May and the end of
September to the beginning of December. There is another much larger Orchid
sanctuary called Orchidarium, off the main road to Rangpo alongside the Rani
Khola, a tributary of the Teesta. It is accessible by public bus and is also
usually included on tours to Rumtek Gompa. Upon top of the ridge near white Hall
is a Flower Exhibition Center, featuring orchids and seasonal
flowers as well as bonsai. White Hall is a residence of chief minister, and
there are pleasant walks here through fine gardens.
Events & Festivals :
Gangtok has become something of a hill station
resort for Holidaying Bengalis. The influx peaks during the 10day Durga Puja
Holiday period at the end of September or early October, when Bengalis converge
on the town from the plains. The main chaam, or religious dance, known as Tse
Chu, is performed on the 10th day of the fifth lunar month (July) and depicts
events in guru Rimpoche's life. Another chaam, presenting the battle between
good and evil, takes place two days before Tibetian New Year. Most activity
takes place in the late afternoon, but the gompa is open for visitors, from 8 AM
to 5 PM in winter.