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:: Around Sikkim

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East Sikkim
Gangtok
Perched at a height of 5500 ft, Gangtok ‘top of hill’ lures visitors with its fabulous view of magnificent Mt. Khangchendzonga. Its strategic location, a strong Buddhist presence and heady cultural offerings are a tempting insight into this stimulating land. Sample some of its treasures before heading out of town to savour Sikkim’s other delights. One of the most delightful ways to do this is to sign up for one of the Purnima (May) to enjoy the famous Saga Dawa festivities. Walking in colorful pro-cession, the holy monks carry the holy books of Buddha’s teachings from the Tsuklakhang Monastery in the palace to different parts of town.


Research Institute of Tibetology
This world-renowned centre for Buddhist philosophy and religion, the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is the world’s largest treasury of invaluable old Tibetan books and manuscripts on science, medicine, astrology etc. It attracts Buddhist scholars from around the world.

The centre also has a wide range of Lepcha and Sanskrit manuscripts and scrolls of ancient vintage. The museum attached to it contains over 200 icons, old tankas and some ritual vessels amongst the various objects d art on display. Upstairs you can observe the cataloguing and restoration of these treasures. Open 10am-4pm


Government Institute of Cottage Industry
This institute is located at about a kilometre uphill from the main market of Gangtok. It was established, in 1957 wiht the purpose of promoting the manufacture and sale of local handicrafts, Thankas which are scrolls of paintings, hand carved foldable wooden tables known as Choksees and exquisitvely woven wollen carpets, masks and dolls. Hand made paper is another unique novelty o the Institute and is made from the bark of a tree Algeri. The paper is used extensively for invitation cards and letter-pads.


Flower show, Ridge and White Hall
The ridge is a small stretch of plain flat road above the town of Gangtok. It is just about fifteen minutes walk from the main market. The Ridge has the white hall and the chief ministers official residence, known as the Montokgang, meaning "blossomed crowned hill top" on one end and the beautifully designed palace gate with a pagoda roof top on the other end. A statue of Nehru, the late Prime Minister of India, adorns the roundabout above White hall. Situated on the ridge is also a resting shed using Tibetan architecture. The ridge is line dwith plants and trees which when in bllom are a riot of colours. Flower show which attract tourists from all over the world are held just below the Ridge.


Enchey Monastery
This monastery is located just adjacent to the Tourist Lodge (Siniolchu Lodge) and the TV Tower about a Kilometer uphill from the White Hall. The monastery is located in a dense wood and one can see the Kanchendzonga range over the crown of trees. Lama Druptob Karpo is supposed to have built a small hermitage at his spot after he flew here from Maenam Hill (South Sikkim) more than two-hundred years age. During the reign of Sidkeong Tulku, a monastery follows the Nyingma Order and main Puja and dances are held here on the 18th and 19th of the twelfth month of the Tibetan Calendar which normally corresponds to the month of December.


Hurhurray Dara
Located just next to the Sikkim Legislative Assembly and the ropeway terminus, this view-pint offers an excellent view of the deep valley below with the river Ro-ro-chu snaking through it.


Ropeway
Inaugurated on 7th Dec 2003, the ropeway operates between the Main Secretariat Deer Park, Sikkim Legislative Assembly and the Tibetology at Deorali. The two cable cars have a capacity of accommodating 25 passengers each. The ride gives a breathtaking view of the river about 1000 metres below as well as the Deorali Bazar.


Tashi view point
Situated along the North Sikkim Highway, it is only 8 kms from Gangtok. From this point you get a breath taking view of Mt. Khang-chen-Dzonga and Mt. Siniolchu, one of the most graceful peaks in the world. Ideal time to visit is early in the morning.


Ganeshtok
short distance from the town centre gets you to this unpretentious mandir and offers splendid photography.


Hanumantok
Located just above the town this Ganesha temple offers splendid views of the surrounding hills.


Himalayan Zoological Park
The park is located exactly across the road opposite Ganesh-Tok and covers an area of 205 hectares. This area is also known as Bulbuley and extends almost upto Hanuman Tok. Although a 3 kilometres long jeepable paved cement path that passes by fenced open air enclosures housing the red pandas, barking deer, bears and other animals of Sikkim in a semi natural habitat. as the enclosures encompass a hge area the animals are sometimes not easily visible and one has to be patient to get a sight of them.


The Saramsa Garden
This garden is located at a distance of about 14 kilometers downhill from Gangtok, 2 kilometers from Ranipool. The area covered by this garden is six acres. The garden has been named so because of the plant Ipecac that is grown here. This garden contains a wide variety of other flora including numerous types of orchids and medicinal plants. A large green house also accommodates many other species. The garden is a very popular picnic spot. One has to take a taxi to reach this place.


Rumtek Monastery
A drive through the picturesque terraced rice fields will bring you to the head quarters of the Dharma Chakra Centre, the present seat of His Holiness, the Gyalwa Karmapa, head of the Kargyupa Sect. The main monastery is a recent structure, built by the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa in strict accordance with the traditional designs of his monastery in Tsurphu in Tibet.


Pal Zurmang Kagyud Monastery, Lingdum
For those interested in Buddhism, a visit to this monastery at Lingdum which lies on a bifurcation on the Gangtok-Rumtek road towards Ranks can be fruitful. It is the seat of the incarnation of Zurmang Gharwang Rimpoche. Built in 1997, this monastery is palatial in size.


Tsongmo Lake
An ideal day trip from Gangtok is a visit to Tsango Lake. With an average depth of 50 ft, this spectacular lake is situated 37 km north east from Gangtok at an altitude of 3,752 metres on the Gangtok - Nathula highway. The road with an awesome precipice on one side takes you through the Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary. The snow and the frozen lake make it even more exciting during the winter months.


Nathula Pass
Ahead of Tsangu located on the Indo-China border lies the Nathula Pass. This pass was a point of conflict during the Chinese aggression in 1962 . It was an important point on the India-Tibet trade route until the border with Tibet was closed in 1962. It has been reopened in 2006.

Memencho Lake
This is another beautiful lake located twenty kilometers ahead of the Changu Lake. The 2 kilometeres length steep narrow road from the Baba Harbajan singh Temple reaches the lake. Quite big in size, it lies cradled between the mountains below the Jelepla Pass and is also the source of the river Rangpo-chu which meets the Tista at Rangpo. Like the Tsongmo Lake it also derives its water from the melting snow around especially from the stream that originates just below the Jelepla pass. The Lake is famous for its trout and a farm to cultivate these fish also exists nearby.

 


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