North Sikkim is undoubtedly the most sought after places in Sikkim, but not to miss, the other parts of Sikkim are equally beautiful and a treat to human eye. Other than North Sikkim, the parts of Sikkim does not have much snowfall and hence the peaks are rich in flora. East Sikkim has the main town of Sikkim, Gangtok, which is the capital town of Sikkim. I came back to Gangtok after my trip to North Sikkim and so I decided to move around Gangtok and do a city tour probably. So, the host of the homestay that I was staying in helped me book a cab for the sight seeing.
The next day, after having a wholesome breakfast at the homestay I started my day tour of Gangtok. The first place that I went to was the Do Drul Chorten. It is a stupa built for the Tibetan buddhists and when you visit you can see young monks doing their daily chores. The moment you enter, you can see the stupas and also you can see the prayer wheels. The thing that fascinated me was the 108 Mani Lahkor or prayer wheels. The locals told me that they believe if you rotate the 108 wheels and wish for something, it comes true. Not very sure if that is true, but the whole time that I was in the stupa I felt a sense of calmness and peace.
Our next stop after Do Drul Chorten stupa was the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology which was just few hundred metres away from the stupa. I could only get a view of the stupa from the outside as it was closed on the day I visited for some renovation. However, when you are in Gangtok try not to miss this place, it has a collection of all the historical books of Tibet and Tibetan mythology, also this museum is a must visit if you really want to know the Tibetan and buddhist history.
After this I decided to see an Ariel view of Gangtok for which I then headed to my next location, that’s the Ropeway. The view from the ropeway is incredible as you can see the coloured structures with the beautiful backdrop of the mountains. The butterfly bridge also can be seen best from this ropeway. A ride on the ropeway would cost you 140 INR for a two way ride. The ropeway has three stops you can either take a ride to any of the stops or take a two way ride.
And then I headed towards my next location which was the Enchey Monastery. This monastery was built around 200 years back and is one of the most significant monastery of Sikkim. There’s a large payer wheel that you can see when you visit. If you visit here in the month of December enquire about the Chaam dance, its a dance by masked monks.
After I had visited the Enchey Monastery I went towards the outskirts of the city to visit the Hanuman Tok and Ganesh Tok. Both the temples were set up by the defence personnels at some point of time and now is open for the tourists. Hanuman Tok is also located on the top of a hill and you can visit these places to offer your prayers. Gangtok has many other beautiful spots like the many waterfalls just by the street and the kanchenjunga view points like the Tashi view point.
After this day in Gangtok, I had planned to visit the west sikkim. To explore West and south sikkim I had hired the same cab which I had taken for Gangtok tour. The next morning after our breakfast at the homestay I left for West Sikkim and started towards our first stop, that was Temi Tea Garden. We reached temi tea garden at around 9 in the morning driving through the misty mountains and crossing some beautiful villages on the way. Temi tea garden is only tea garden in Sikkim and is famous for its cherry blossoms that cover the whole pathway towards the tea garden. After taking some pictures at this mesmerising place I sat down to have some snacks which my homestay host had packed for me. I enjoyed the snacks with some freshly brewed tea and headed towards my next destination.
After a half an hour drive I reached the Samdruptse Hill to offer my prayers to ‘The holy statue of Guru Padmasambhava’. This is the largest statue of Guru Padmasambhava in the world and is also referred to as the wish fulfilling hill. Many devotees come here to offer their prayer and you can also spot the Namchi Dham from this hill.
From Samdruptse hill we started for the Namchi Dham and on the way we also visited the Sai Baba Mandir. I must say this was a good detour and I would suggest you to visit this place if you get time.
And then after another hour’s drive we finally reached Namchi Dham. So, namchi is basically situated on a hilltop and replica of all the four dhams The Jagannath temple, The Rameshwaram temple, The Badrinath Temple and The Dwarka Temple are built on this hilltop. Surrounded by the beautiful hills and the serene view, this place is must if you are visiting with your family. Once you reach this place you will have to take an entry ticket which will cost you 100 INR per person and after entering you can start visiting the temples one by one. Other than the four Dhams, there are also other temples and the twelve jyotirlingas. A huge Shiva statue with Lord Nandi sitting in front of the statue can be seen as soon as you enter the temple area. Situated on the Solophol hill, this dham is also known as the Siddeshwar dham. The profound expanse of Char Dham embraces serenity and by visiting this place you will be able to attain a heightened solace.
To visit the temple compound it took us about an hour’s time. We also bought some laddoo prasad from the prasad counter and started our journey towards our next destination.
I shall tell about my journey forward in the next blog.