Sikkim - The Home of Glacier
Sikkim, the small but beautiful kingdom is situated in the eastern Himalayas. Sikkim is termed as the Switzerland of the east, a heavenly paradise on earth. It covers an area of 2818 square miles 7325 square kilometers. It is rectangular in shape with seventy miles in the north to south and forty east to west. Geographically it is 28 Degree 07' 48'' degree and 27 degree 04' 46'' north latitude, and 88 degree 00' 58' and 88 degree 55' 25'' east longitude. In the north it is bounded by Tibetan plateau to its east is Bhutan and Chumbi valley of Tibet and in the southern side is bounded by West Bengal India. There are two passes in the eastern boundary with Tibet Nathula pass (4700 metres) and Jelepla(4016 metres ). To the west lies Singalila range which forms the most important boundaries between Nepal and Sikkim with a pass named Chiwabhangjang (3400 metres). There are two important rivers In Sikkim Teesta which starts from Tashidrag Glacier in the north and Rangit which is a tributaries of Teesta river. Read more about Sikkim
Flora and Fauna
Sikkim is densely covered by forest due to heavy rainfall. It can be divided into three zones Tropical zone about 100 metres with its vegetation such as bamboo, fern, pandanus, sal and orchid are found. Dense undergrowth and bush vegetation are found in sub-tropical zone. In the temperate Zone in the northern valley is covered by cherry, laurel, oak, chesnut, Maple, pine and magnolia. Rhododendrons which is abundant is found above (2000 metres ) there are about thirty species . In the north different varieties of Primula is found. There are roughly 4000 variety of flowering plants and shrubs in Sikkim of which orchids are about 700 species with varieties of several in hundreds kinds of butterflies. Regarding the records of Sikkim in wild animals Yeti is believed to be still existing in the Himalayas of Sikkim an expedition was also conducted , there are local people and porters who still talk about witnessing Yeti in the high trekking areas. Snow leopard is found in 4000 metres, Himalayan black bear is found in 2000 metres, above this altitude Barking Deer, Musk Deer, Sambar, Marbled Cat, Leopard Cat, Squirrel, Tiger, Panda, Otter, Ovis, Nahura, ovismon Goral and wild boar is also found.
About 500 species of birds are found in Sikkim. Among them the important birds are Pheasants, Partridges Ducks, and Lammergeyer. Trout and Salmon are the principal fish of Sikkim.
PLACES OF INTEREST IN & AROUND GANGTOK
An important seat of the Nyingma order, the Enchey Monastery is built on the site blessed by lama Druptob Karpo, a tantric master known for his power of flying. This 200-year-old Monastery has in its premise images of gods, goddess and other religious objects.
Pemayangtse Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in the State, originally established by Lhatsun Chempo, one of the reverend lamas to have performed the consecration ceremony of the first Chogyal (Religious) Monarch) of Sikkim. This ancient Monastery belongs to the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism and has been considered as one of the premier monasteries in the State.
This Monastery is situated on a ridge above Pelling and the famous Pemayangtse Monastery. Built in 1697 A.D., it is considered to be one of the oldest monasteries in the State. In order to reach this Monastery one has to be prepared to spend at least 40 minutes walking up the steep hill slope which leads through rich forest covers.
This was the first Monastery established soon after the consecration ceremony of the first chohyal. The Monastery is located on a hill top above Yuksam surrounded by verdant forest. It can be approached by trekking only, negotiating steep slope for something like 32 to 35 minutes. It is an ideal place for lamas seeking meditation recluse.
This Monastery is constructed on top of a heart- shaped hill with the backdrop of the sacred Mt. Khangchendzonga. According to Buddhist scriptures, Guru Padma Sambhave ( Guru Rimpoche ) blessed the sacred land of Sikkim in 8th Century A.D. by one Nadak Sempa Chempo, one of the three lamas who had performed the consecration ceremony of the first Chogyal.
The Phensang Monastery, under the Nyingmapa Buddhist Order, was built in 1721 during the time of Jigme Pawo. It was gutter by fire in 1947 and rebuilt in 1948 through the efforts of the lamas. The annual festival of Chaam is performed on the 29th and 28th days of the tenth month of Lunar calendar(Tibetan Calendar).
One of the six major monasteries is Sikkim, Phodong monastery is located in the North approximately 38 kms from Gangtok. At a distance of 4 kms beyond Phodong is the recently- renovated Labrang Monastery unique in its architectural design.
Do-drul Chorten (Stupa)
The Do-drul Chorten or Stupa was built by the venerable Trulshi Rimpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism, in 1945. Inside this Stupa, there are complete mandala sets of Dorjee Jphurba ( Bajra Kilaya) , a set of kan-gyur relics (Holy Books), complete 'Zung' (mantras) and other religious objects, Around this chorten, which is one the most important stupas in Sikkim.
Namgyal Research Instituteof Tibetology (NRIT)
The most prestigious of its kind in India-this Buddhist Institute is a treasure grove of vast collection of rare Lepcha, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts, Statues and rare Thankas (Tapestries used in Buddhist liturgy ) and has over 200 Buddhist icons and other prized object of art. Today , its is a renowned worldwide centre for study of Buddhist Philosophy and religion.
Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre
About 45 minutes drive from Gangtok, 24 kms away, is the Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre, the seat of the Kagyu order, one of the 4 major Tibetan Buddhist sects, since the late 1960s, after the arrival of His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, the Centre houses some of the world's most unique religious scriptures and religious are objects, Traditional in design, it is almost a replica of the original Kagyu headquarters Tibet.
It is literally known as the "Source Of The Lake" in Bhutia language. Just about 40 kms away from Gangtok, the capital of the State, this serene lake is situated at an altitude of 3780 metre. The lake is about 1 km long. Oval in shape, 15 metres deep and is considered scared by the local people.
This placid lake remains frozen during the winter months upto mid- May . Between May and August it is possible to see a variety of flowers in blooms, including the rhododendrons, various species of primulas, blue and yellow poppies, irises etc, it is also an ideal habitat for the Red Panda and various species of birds.
Tashi View Point
Situated along the North Sikkim Highway, it is only 8 kms from Gangtok. From this point you get a breathtaking view of Mount Khangchendzonga and Mt. Siniolchu, one of the most graceful peaks in the world.
It is situated on a ridge and is only 7 kms from Gangtok . From this spot one gets bird's eye view of sprawling Gangtok town down below while across the hill Mt. Khangchendzonga and Mt. Sinioichu loom over the horizon. A cafeteria serves you hot tea/coffee and snacks.
It is 11 kms away from Gangtok town, above Ganesh Tok with a Hindu Temple where the devotees come and offer prayers. Because of its locational advantage the view of the mountains along the horizon is just magnificent, especially on a clear sunny morning.
Khecheopalri Lake is considered as one of the sacred lakes of this State both by the Buddhist and the Hindu. The lake remains hidden in the rich forest cover. It is believed that birds do not permit even a single leaf to float on the lake surface. There is a motorable road from Pemayangtse right up to the lake area.