away in the foothills of the Himalayas, Sikkim is a Himalayan wonderland with its lovely
views and exotic orchids, and its forest-trails. A virtual Shangrila overlooked by Mt.
Kanchenjunga, the worlds third highest peak, Sikkim is attractive equally for the
sightseer, the adventure sports enthusiast and those interested in Buddhism and
Buddhism is the predominant religion here, with many fine old monasteries rich with frescoes, religious
paintings on silk and statues of the Buddhas various incarnations. In Gangtok, the
delightfully quaint capital, are pagoda like roofs of many buildings and the presence of
crimson robed monks in the bazaars. The Institute of Tibetology, the only one of its kind
in the world, was set up by the erstwhile ruler to promote research on Mahayana Buddhism,
and on the language and traditions of Tibet. Lower down the hill is the famed orchid
sanctuary where 500 species of orchids indigenous to Sikkim are cultivated. Sikkim offers
several treks that lead through pine forests, through picturesque valleys, monasteries and
to mountain lakes. It is also the base for mountaineering expeditions and the rivers
Teesta and Rangeet offer excellent river rafting. Prior permission must be sought from the
Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, by all foreigners wishing to visit Sikkim
though travel formalities are being relaxed gradually. Permission may, therefore,
be sought from Indian Missions overseas, or from offices of Sikkim Tourism, A number of
good hotels and lodging houses exist in Gangtok.
Entry to Sikkim is most convenient by
coach, taxi or helicopter.The state of Sikkim lies in the shadow of the mighty
Kanchenjunga and its capital, Gangtok, is a picturesque mountain clinging town with
monastaries, parks, pagoda style houses and colourful bazars.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Chorten, Deer park, Enchey Monastery,
Goverment Cottage Industries Institute, Orchid Sanctuary, Research
Institute of Tibetology, Tashi View Point, Dharma Chakra Centre (Rumtek) and Saramsa
Garden. Proposed Ganesh Tok & Hanuman Tok.
- Bakkhim : 2nd day halt for trekking and
mountaineering expedition to Dzongri.
- Dzongri : This place offers a fascinating
view of Kanchenjunga.
- Pemayangtse Monastery : 115 kms from
Gangtok. The 2nd oldest monastary in Sikkim. And an ideal base for trekking to Dzongri.
Entry Formalities for Foreign
Individual tourist alongwith group
tourists can visit Gangtok, Rumtek, Phodong and Pemayangtse for 15 days. Group min. 4
persons can only visit Dzongri (in West Sikkim) for 15 days for the purpose of
trekking. Given below are the list of the authorities, who can issue the permit :
1) All Indian Missions abroad;
2) All Foreigners' Regional Registration Offices in Calcutta, Delhi, Madras & Bombay;
3) Assistant Director (Tourism), Govt. of Sikkim, Siliguri;
4) Deputy Director (Tourism), Govt. of sikkim, New Delhi;
5) Assistant Resident Commissioner, Govt. of Sikkim, Calcutta;
6) Deputy Commissioner, Darjeeling.
Altitude : 5800 ft
Climate (deg.c.): Summer- Max. 20.7, Min. 13.1; Winter- Max. 14.9, Min.
Clothing : Summer- Light woollens, Winter- Heavy woollens.
Languages spoken: Sikimese, English.
Best Season : March to late May, October to Mid-December.
The mighty Kanchenjunga overlooks the
land of Sikkim and Pemayangtse in Sikkim nestles close to Kanchenjunga. Pemayangtse is not
a settlement. This is where 6000 ft above sea level one of the most famous Buddhist
monasteries is located. The Pemayangtse monastery is the second oldest monastery in Sikkim
and is the headquarters of the Nyingma sect. There seems to have been an earlier shrine at
the sight of the monastery, which dates back to 1705. Many priceless antique idols are
housed here, and the top-most floor, the most fascinating, contains some magnificent
sculptures, very intricate and very intriguing. The locals say that it took seven years to
put them together, in an attempt to recreate what a monk, Lhotso Chempo dreamt as the
celestial palace of Zamdogpalri Rimpoche, one of the ancient religious leaders of the
sect, What is amazing is that it was executed by a third man, Sandup Dungzing Rimpoche who
was neither a sculptor nor an engineer. Rarely does a monastery suggest the feel of space
and airiness that Pemayangtse does. From the monastery one can also see the ruins of the
first palace of the Chogyals at Gezing where only a chorten and a bit of masonry have been
left, though excavations could reveal more. The monks of Pemayangtse by tradition have
been Bhutias. On one side of the monastery are some typical old stone and wooden
dwellings: rough, with wooden pieces slotted together rather than nailed, and decorated
with wooden carvings. These are the monks quarters and comforts have been
deliberately modulated for bare survival under the strict Buddhist discipline. The
Pemayangtse monastery, an oasis of serenity and a repository of centuries-old wisdom and
scriptures, surrounded by mountains, glaciers and passes, is where you feel time is frozen
in a frame of yesteryears. The evergreen shrubs of rhododendron, with those large clusters
of trumpet shaped flowers can be seen blooming everywhere, and yaks and musk deer and red
pandas follow you around the terrain. The mysterious aura around the monks while they hum
mantras under their breath, spinning the ubiquitous chakras which never seem to leave
their hands, blowing at conches and gyalings, or, if you happened to be there during
Kagyat Chaam, performing ritualistic and a strangely rhythmic dance wearing ceremonial
masks, will haunt you for days after you have left this cloud- woven habitation on the
eastern tip of the country.