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Sikkim - Places of Interest


There is more to Sikkim than just natural beauty. Sikkim does provide a wide potential in tourism that has yet largely remained unexploited. The perennially snow-capped mountains, lush green tropical and temperate forests, gurgling streams and the rich flora and fauna are all there for the tourist to savor. Sikkimese hospitality tangibly manifests itself in the intricately designed welcome gates with pagoda type roofs that are normally located at the entrances of monasteries an important public buildings. Wayside resting sheds which Sikkim abounds in also have curved roofs and pillars around which painted dragons curl themselves. So much so that even public buildings, powerhouses and other structures tend to look like huge pagodas in a true blend of typical Tibetan and modern architectures. Besides the natural beauty that one continuously beholds while in Sikkim, there are many places that deserve a special mention. These are given below.

Directorate of Handicrafts and Handlooms or Government Institute of Cottage Industries
Established by Government to promote the manufacturing and selling of authentic and traditional arts and handicraft, handlooms and exquisite carpets, blankets and shawls in “Lepcha” weaves, furniture (Choksies), thankas, paintings, wooden decoration and bamboo products in authentic Sikkimese designs. Visiting Hours - Monday to Saturday from 9.30 Am. to 12.30 Pm. And 1.00Pm to 3.00 PM. Closed on Sundays, Second Saturdays and Government holidays.

Enchey Monastery
About 3 km from the centre of town, a small hermitage was built by lama Druptob Karpo (renowned for his power of flying) at this spot after he flew here from Maenam Hill in South Sikkim about more than 200 years ago. During the reign of Sidkeong Tulku, 1909-1910. The present monastery was built in the form of Chinese Pagoda. It follows Nyingmapa order. The annual puja is celebrated with religious masked dances on the 18th and 19th days of the 11 month of the Tibetan Buddhist calendar corresponding to the month of December.

Do-drul Chorten (Stupa)
Situated on a hillock, it is a five minutes drive from Gangtok town. Built by late Trulshik Rimpoche in 1946, head of the Nyingmapa order and the late Chogyal Tashi Namgyal in 1957 to invoke the Gods for the peace and tranquillity in the State. Set of Kagyur holy books, relics, complete mantras, rare mandalas of Dorjee Phurba (Bajra Kilaya) and other religious objects are found inside the Chorten. A small Chorten known as Jhang Chub is built beside the Phurba Chorten in memory of Trulshik Rimpoche who passed away in 1962. Few yards below the Chorten is the rock known as “DO-TA-PU” or “Stone Horse”. There is a monastery close by called “Guru Lakhang” with the state of Guru Padmasambhava and Guru Snong Zisil Gnen, the incarnated one of the first. Around the Chorten is installed the ‘180’ Mani-Lhakor or prayer wheels. The Chorten has the sacred topped stupa.

Research Institute of Tibetology
The Namgyal Research Institute of Tibetology is a world-renowned research centre for Tibetan Buddhism and is well stocked with rare books and manuscripts on Buddhism. Contains rare collection of antique like coins, statues, rosaries, antic documents, brass bells, dorjis, and thankas. Ti has a collection of almost 30,000 volumes on diverse subjects like astrology, philosophy, magic and religion. It conducts research in the fields of language and culture of Tibet. The foundation was laid in 1957 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and was inaugurated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in October 1958. It also has a number of religious art and craftwork as well as books for sale. It’s vast wealth of Lepcha, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts attracts scholars from all corners of the world. The institute is open from 10.00 AM to 4.00 PM, Monday to Saturday and is closed on Sunday, Second Saturdays and on Government holidays.

Orchid Sanctuary
It is near Research Institute of Tibetology, where you can see many of the 454 species of orchid found in Sikkim. The best time to visit is April-May, July-August and October-November.

Saramsa or Ipecac Garden
About 14 Km from Gangtok besides Ranikhola is this garden the home of Sikkim’s many exotic orchids and other rare tropical and temperate plants. Formed and maintained by the Department of Forest, it is an excellent recreational and beautiful picnic spot.

Rumtek Monastery
It is about 24 km From Gangtok nested in a lovely landscape. The first monastery was built in 1717 At Rumtek by the then Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal, but was destroyed by the earthquake and aging. His Holiness the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa constructed the second monastery in 1960. It is the headquarters of the Kagyu-pa (Red Hat) sect of the Tibetan lamaistic Buddhism. It is an excellent replica of the original Kagyu headquarters at Tsurpu in Tibet. It houses some of the world’s most unique art objects, ancient manuscripts and icons. Above the Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre is a hermitage where the monks go into complete seclusion for meditation for a period of three years.

The important chaam (religious masked dance) is performed on the 10th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan Calendar, and presence eight manifestations of the Guru Rimpoche. This is highly colourful and spectacular and draws many pilgrims and visitors. Prayers at about 0400 and 1800 hours.

Botanical Garden of Orchidarium
It is a day outing about 14 km Away from Gangtok with colourful flowerbeds. Lush green trees and narrow winding paths near tinkling stream. Orchids thrive here in huge conservation that forms a part of garden.

The palace monastery or Royal Chapel of the Chogyals opens only once a year for the civilians in the last week of December for the Lossong festival when the famous Black Hat dance portrays the triumph of good over evil. This was once the most important monastery where all the important national and religious festival was celebrated here. It was the site of the coronation ceremonies of the kings of Sikkim, of royal marriages and of celebration ceremonies of the kings of Sikkim, of royal marriages and of celebrations to mark victories. Tsuklakhang, standing on the high ridge has a large and impressive collection of scriptures. Tsuklakhang is a very elegant structure in typical Sikkimese style with carved and painted woodworks, murals, wall hangings and priceless Buddhist treasures. Lavishly decorated altars hold images of the Buddha, Bodhisattvas and Tantric deities. Among the important festivals still celebrate at Tsuklakhang are Pang Lhabsol held in mid September in honour of Mount Khangchendzonga the guardian deity of Sikkim, Kagyad in early December, which features a dance – drama enacted by Buddhist monks, and losar is strictly prohibited.

Deer Park
Embraced by gardens f flowers lies a beautiful Deer Park – an ideal place to be solitude, beside the Secretariat. Built to commemorate the Buddha’s reincarnation as a musk deer, it has a large fielded statue of Buddha under a beautiful canopy in preaching posture, a replica of the statue at Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh, where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon. It is a popular viewpoint on the edge of the ridge.

White Hall
Built in 1932 in memory of the first Political Officer of Sikkim, Sir Claude White. Situated on a ridge, it has historical value only. There is an officer’s club.

Ganesh Tok
It is at an altitude of 6500 ft. above Gangtok and 7 km Where a small temple of God Ganesha is nested. Panoramic view of Gangtok, magnificent and breathtaking view of Khangchendzonga and Siniolchu can be observed and enjoyed from this spot on a ridge. A cafeteria serves hot tea, coffee and snacks.

Hanuman Tok
It is at an altitude of 7200 ft., about 5 km From Gangtok where there is a temple of God Hanuman. Panoramic view of Gangtok and adjoining hills and valleys with Khangchendzonga on the background can be seen from here. Sunrise can be observed from here. Night view of the Gangtok city lights is mood elevating.

Tashi View Point
About 8 km From Gangtok. It is a resting shed. Astounding view of Khangchendzonga and the Siniolchu Range is the main attractive of this point. The distant north Sikkim monasteries are also visible from this point along the North Sikkim highway.

Kabi Longtsok
It is 24 km From Gangtok where the treaty of brotherhood was signed between the Lepcha chieftain Thekong Tek and the Bhutia chief Khye Bumsa in the 13th Century.

Phodong Monastery
It is about 38 km From Gangtok, which belongs to the Kargupa sect, built by the late Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal in the first quarter of the 18th Century. The original monastery has been rebuilt. The main annual puja is performed here on the 28th and 29th days of the 10th month of the Lunar calendar with religious dances being the main attraction. Beautiful mural paintings and frescoes adorn the walls of this monastery. Executed largely in black, the murals depict various demonic deities dismembering miscreants in the bowels of hell.

Belonging to the karma kagyu order, it was built after the return of the 4th Chogyal from his Pilgrimage to Tibet. H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa performed the 'Rabney' (blessing) on it's completion from Tsurpu itself, and grains from this ceremony fell on the ground at Ralong. Between 1975-81 the Government rebuilt the monastery. The main ceremony falls on the 28th and 29th day of the tenth month of the lunar calendar. When the 'chaams' are performed.

The historical hamlet of Yuksom (1781 m) is situated 42 km. from Pemayangtse, where the coronation of the first Chogyal (king), Phuntsog Namgyal was consecrated in 1641 by the three learned lamas. The wooden altar, throne and a stupa marks this spot. It is a pine-forested area with crystal clear mountain lakes.

Labrang Monastery
It is some 2 km Further up hill from Phodong Monastery and is a much older structure. The Labrang Gompa retains the original structure and the old mural paintings and frescoes are fascinating. It belongs to the Nyingmapa sect. This uniquely architectured Labrang Monastery is one of the major monasteries of Sikkim.

Tsomgo Lake
A natural lake of Sikkim, which is regarded extremely sacred. It is approximately 36 km From Gangtok and is at an altitude of 12,400 ft. Presently

Menmecho Lake
This is another beautiful lake located near the Tsomgo Lake. It is rich in fish, especially trout, salmon and carp.

Yumthang Valley
It is situated at an altitude of about 11800 ft. and is 149 km From Gangtok. It is covered with rhododendron, shrubs and trees of various species. The valley is well known for its hot springs, which is slightly saline in taste, it is colourless, emits bubbles of sulphated hydrogen gas and the temperature is 106 degrees. It is surrounded by mountains and seems to touch the heaven, as one has to face vertically upwards to see the mountaintop. The scenic view is breath taking.

Khechopalri Lake
It is located at a distance of 33 Km away from Pemayangtse. The name Khechopalri mean' Wishing Lake’ and is considered to be one of the sacred lakes in Sikkim. The Sikkimese calls it Tsho-Sho-Tsho. The water is placid and crystal clear. Not a single leaf can be seen floating and there is an ancient belief that if a leaf drops on the surface of the water it is picked by a bird. Khechopalri lake (1780m) lies in a depression surrounded by prayer flags and forested hills. The tranquillity of the lake is mood elevating.

Rabdenste Palace Ruins
Rabdenste was the second capital of Sikkim shifted from Yuksom. The second Chogyal of Sikkim, Tensung Namgyal, established it in the late seventeenth century. Presently the Rabdentse Palace in West Sikkim is in ruins, now being preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India and have been declared as a monument.

Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary
It is located about 20 km from Gangtok and covers an area of about 5200 hectares above the road between Singtam and Dikchu.

Pemayangtse Monastery
The premier monastery of Sikkim, Pemayangtse (Perfect Sublime Lotus) is about 118 km From Gangtok and is situated at a height of 2085 mtrs. It is the second oldest monastery of Sikkim and it is of Tantric Nyingmapa order. It was founded furring the reign of 3rd Chogyal, Chahdor Namgyal in 1705. The ministry contains numerous antique idols and objects of worship. The monastery is a three storied structure filled with wall paintings and sculptures including seven tiered painted wooden sculpture on the top floor portraying the Mahaguru’s Heavenly palace ‘Sangthokpalri’ which was completed in a span of five years, single handily by the late Dungzin Rimpoche. The Chortens around t he place have however stood the elements of nature. The ruins are now being preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India and have been declared as monuments. Annual Chaam dance is held o n the 28th and 29th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan lunar calendar. Dressed in costumes of rare magnificence the lamas represent Mahakala and Guru Drag-dmar. The dance ends on the third day with the unfurling of the Ghyo-ku – a gigantic embroidered Buddhist scroll as the devotees bend down.

Build in 1721, during the time of Jigme Pawo, it was gutted by a fire in 1947, and rebuilt in 1948 through the efforts of the lamas. The main annual function is held here on the 28th and 29th days of the tenth month of the lunar calendar.

Tashiding Monastery
It is about 40km From Gyalshing. It is of Nyingmapa order at a hilltop that looms up between Rathong River and Rangit River. It is surrounded by flags and stone plates skilfully carved with holy Buddhist mantras was ‘ Om Mani Padme Hum” by Yanchong-Lodil. The main monastery was built in 1717 by Pedi Wangmo (Ngadak Sempa Chenpo) during the reign of 3rd Chogyal Chahdor Namgyal, on a spot consecrated by Guru Rimpoche. Tashiding Monastery (1469m) is considered to be the most sacred and holiest shrine or Chorten in Sikkim. It is believed that to merely view the sacred Chorten Thongwa Rangdol and Bumcho (holy water) is enough to cleanse one of all sins. Lhatsun Chenpo built the chorten. Bumchu is one of the sacred objects of worship to the Sikkimese. It is a sacred pot-containing holy, blessed by a Buddhist saint in the 17th Century, which does not dry up nor spoil. Today, even after 300 years the water remains as fresh as before. The sacred ceremony of Bumchu is held on the 15th day of the first Tibetan month, when the Bumchu containing the holy water is opened for public 'darshan' once a year. Pilgrims come each spring for the Bumchu or water-pot festival in February to drink water from the sacred pot to the gold-topped monastery - Tashiding.



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