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SIKKIM - West destinations

Top travel sites in Sikkim: Gangtok (East Sikkim), Tsomgo Lake (East Sikkim), Nathu La Pass (East Sikkim), Baba Mandir (East Sikkim), Khangchendzonga (West Sikkim)

Sikkim Govt Tourist Information Centres:- Sikkim Tourist Information Centre, Gangtok: MG Road, Gangtok Ph: 03592-221634/227720; Sikkim Tourist Information Centre, New Delhi: 14 Panchsheel Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi PIN 110021, Ph:011-26115346, 26115171; Sikkim Tourist Information Centre, Kolkata: 4/1, Middletown Street, Kolkata-16 Ph: 22817905; Sikkim Tourist Information Centre, Siliguri: SNT Colony, Pradhan Nagar, Siliguri, West Bengal Ph: 2512646; Sikkim Tourist Information Centre, Bagdogra: Bagdogra airport Ph: 2698030; 2698036

Trekking to Khangchendzonga takes 16 days

Pemayangtse monastery, one the oldest monasteries in the State, is situated in West Sikkim. It belongs to the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. One of the most spectacular sights in West Sikkim is Khangchendzonga on Nepal border. While it takes 16 days' trekking, the Tourism Development Corporation also conducts mountain biking expedition to Khangchendzonga.

Pemayangtse monastery: This is one the oldest monasteries in the State, originally established by Lhatsun Chempo, one of the revered 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, having been entrusted with the task to perform all religious functions of the erstwhile monarch. Originally, it was established as a high class monastery for Pure Monks (Ta-Sang). Inside the monastery there is a wooden structure depiciting the Maha Guru's heavenly palace (Sang-tok-plan), which is considered a masterpiece created by the late Dungzin Rimpoche. The monastery, located on a hilltop at an altitude of 6840 ft. commands a magnificent panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges and the surrounding hills and countryside. A well-furnished tourist lodge is located just across the monastery on a smaller hill top.

Rabdentse Ruins: This was the second capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Sikkim after Yuksom and till the year 1814 AD, the King of Sikkim had ruled the State from this place. Today, the ruins lie hidden from the main road at a walking distance from the tourist lodge and the Pemayangtse monastery. It can be approached by following a footpath which branches off from the main road just below the Pemayangtse monastery. The scenic view from the top of the ruins scanning across deep valley to the mystic heights of Kanchendzonga ranges is something to be cherished in memory.

Pelling: Pelling is a fast growing urban settlement due to tourist influx. Situated at an altitude of 6,800 ft, it offers a good view of the entire mountain ranges and due to this locational advantage, many hotels and lodges have mushroomed in and around Pelling offering various categories of accommodation facilities. There is a bus service which links Pelling to the west district headquater town of Gyalshing, situated at a distance of 10 km from Pelling.

Sangacholing monastery: This monastery is situated on a ridge above Pelling and the famous Pemayangtse monastery. Built in 1697 AD, it is considered to be one of the oldest monasteries in the State. It takes at least 40 minutes to reach this monastery on foot up the steep hilly slope which leads through rich forest covers.

Singshore Bridge/Uttarey: It is the highest bridge in Sikkim, about 25 km from Pemayangtse. About 20 minutes drive is Uttarey, a base camp of adventure tourism for Singalila range trail. A place worth visiting.

Khangchendzonga Twin Waterfalls: About an hour's drive from Pelling are the Khangchendzonga waterfalls. A must visit site.

Khecheopalri lake: Khecheopalri lake is considered as one of the sacred lakes in the State both by the Buddhists and the Hindus. 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. For those interested in spending a night or two in the peaceful environment, a trekkers hut has been provided by the tourism department. Local food and chang brew made of fermented millet are available. There is also a pilgirm's hut, managed by the tourism department, which is meant to provide accommodation to pilgrims.

Yuksam: This was the first capital of Sikkim, where, according to historical records, the first Chogyal of the kingdom of Sikkim was consecrated in 1641AD by three lamas. The evidence of consecration ceremony is still intact at Norbugang Chorten in the form of stone seats and foot-print of the head lama on a stone. Since the history of the State began from this place, these areas are now considered sacred by the people of Sikkim. Yuksam is served by all-weather road from Pemayangtse, 32 km. From Yuksam, the trek to Dzongri and to the base camp of the famous Mt Khangchendzonga begins. Several categories of accommodation are available in Yuksam for those desiring to spend a few days there.

Khangchendzonga: The famous Khangchendzonga, on the Nepal border, can be reached from Yuksam. It takes 16 days trekking from Yuksam to the base camp at Khangchendzonga. From Gangtok to Yuksam it takes 5 hours by taxi costing about Rs 500 per person. There is a 4-person capacity chopper service from Gangtok to Khangchendzonga base costing Rs 90,000. The Sikkim (Govt) Tourism Development Corporation also conducts mountain biking expedition to Khangchendzonga, with restrictions.

Dubdi monastery: This was the first monastery established soon after the consecration ceremony of the first chogyal. The monastery is located on a hill top above Yuksam surrounded by verdant forest. It can be approachd by trekking only, negotiating steep slope for over half an hour. It is an ideal place for lamas seeking meditational recluse.

Tashiding monastery: 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 Sambhava (Guru Rimpoche) blessed the sacred land of Sikkim in 18th century AD form the spot. The monastery, however, was built in 18th century AD by one Nadak Sampa Chempo, one of the three lamas who had performed the consecration ceremony of the first Chogyal. Tashiding is also famous for the most holy chorten known as Thong-Wa-Rang-To which literally means Saviours by mere sight. It is believed that the mere act beholding it will wash away all the sins of the devotee. Another important feature of Tashiding is the sacred water festival popularly known as Bhumchu. It is a religious tradition unique to Tashiding monastery only. Every year, on the 15th day of the first Tibetan month, the Bhumchu ceremony is celebrated with devotees coming from far and near to get the blessings of the holy wter. The sacred holy water is officially sealed for safety by the Government and the lamas of the monastery and it is taken out once a year on the auspicious occasion, only to be put back with some fresh additions. The sacred water which is taken out partly is mixed with normal water to be distributed among thousands of devotees.

Versey: It lies at an elevation of 10,000 ft and has motorable road access upto Hilley. An easy 4 km trek from there takes one up to the Versey Rhododendron sanctuary. One can also trek from Soreng or Dentam in West Sikkim. The place provides a magnificent view of the mountains. Visitors can halt at Guras Kunj, a trekkers hut.

Shiva Mandir: Situated on the banks of Rangit river, it is also known as Kirateshwar Mahadev temple. It is believed that whoever worships here will be blessed with the virtues of two life-times.

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