Explore The High Attractions of Sikkim
Gangtok - In A State of Bliss
A holiday in Gangtok will surely take you to the pages of a fairy-tale book. It is a land where prayer flags flutter in the breeze, mystery-laden mists unveil ambrosial sun-kissed peaks and wheels spin in the hands of Lamas mumbling prayers to God. At 5,800 ft, Gangtok offers mindblowing views of the Himalayas, especially from Tashi Viewpoint. Spend your holiday afternoons exploring the main bazaar with its impressive array of handicrafts and Tibetian artefacts, or visiting the Institute of Cottage Industries, just above the town. The latter is a curious storehouse of handwoven woollen carpets with traditional motifs, shawls in Lepcha weaves and exquisitely carved 'Choktse'. Plan your vacation during spring, when the whole city dolls up in colourful flowers and alluring orchid shows (Flower Festival). Also worth visiting is the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, housing ancient manuscripts and valuable 'tankhas' (Buddhist religious paintings).
For A Memorable Adventure Trail
To the adventure lovers, trekking in Sikkim is an experience of many dimensions. For sheer exhilaration nothing can match the view of the mountains which seem to reach the heavens. When misty rains wrap the lush slopes in lacy tufts of clouds, you will find yourself trekking at 14,000 ft or more. Aah! What a holiday it would make. You may chance upon the shy musk deer on one of your treks, or wave out to the exotic Red Panda perched among the tree tops. Don't miss the thrill of a yak safari. The cruise over the rugged hills to ancient monasteries is truly an unforgettable experience. Besides, Gangtok also serves as a base camp for many mountaineering expeditions. Go for a mindblowing round of watersports at the Aritar Lake (East Sikkim). Enjoy a different vacation at Assam Limzay, where village tourism and home stays are being promoted to enable visitors to experience local culture. You can also pick up enchanting souvenirs made of bamboo and other local artefacts.
Cradles of Buddhism
Explore Buddhism from a closer perspective while in Sikkim. Caressing nearly 200 'gompas' (monasteries) in its mist-clad sleeves, Sikkim is known for its Buddhist shrines that not only play an important part in the cultural and religious life of the people, but also enthralls every visitor by demonstrating ancient rituals in practice. There are art treasures as well. Visit the famous 'gompas' of Sikkim and you will be amazed to see the lifelike frescoes of hoary Buddhist legends that adorn the walls of these serene alcoves. Remember to see the ancient Tibetian manuscripts, rare silk and bracade 'thangkas', and exquisitely carved wood work that are unique to this corner of the country. Drive just 24 km from Gangtok amidst picturesque countryside to visit the Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre (or Rumtek monastery) built in the 1960s by his Holiness, the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. Rumtek houses some of the world's most unique art objects, ancient manuscripts and icons.
Festivals In Sikkim
If you happen to be in Sikkim during the festive time, your spirit will spring up with the merriment of this snow clad state, its esoteric costumes and unbelievable play of armours. When on a holiday, don't miss the jaw-dropping 'mask dance', a spectacular event that has to be seen to experience. Known all over the world for their perfect foot work and grace, the mask dances are performed by lamas - costumed in gaily painted masks, ceremonial swords and sparkling jewels - in their monastery courtyards, who leap and swing to the rhythm of resounding drums, rhythms of horns and chanting of monks. However, two festivals that predominantly mark the Sikkimese calender are; Kanchendzonga festival and the one dedicated to 'Lossoong', the Sikkimese New Year Day. Celebrated in September, the two day Kanchendzonga festival is praised for the famous 'Singhi Nach' (Lion dance) that portrays the ferocious god of Kanchanjunga with a crown of five skulls, riding over a mythical snow lion and holding aloft the banner of victory.
Shop Till You Drop
When in Sikkim for a vacation, you just can't bypass the spree of shopping. There is so much to pick up in this small but little country. Sikkim is known for its exquisitely woven woolen carpets and blankets embellished in contemporary designs and traditional Sikkimese motifs, made from pure sheep wool and coloured with traditional vegetable Sikkimese dyes. Visit the Government Institute of Cottage Industry in Gangtok, and you can have the pleasure of shopping some of the best examples of Tibetian art - canvas wall-hangings, eight lucky signs, thangkas or religious scrolls - that augment the beauty of every house. Don't forget to pick up Sikkim Tea, famous all over the state for its exotic flavour and taste. Shop for a couple of packets of "Solja" and "Khangchendzonga" tea to relish a high Indian flavour in your home.