Sikkim was for many years seen as one of the last Himalayan Shangri-la because of its remote location and spectacular mountain scenery. It is a great holiday destination for those who love mountain scenery and like to explore off the well beaten tourist track. Travel conditions can sometimes be challenging but the experiences far outweigh the inconveniences.
Sikkim shares its border with Nepal in the west and Bhutan in the east, with the Tibetan plateau rising from its northern border. Once an independent Himalayan kingdom, part of the fabled Silk Route to China, this former British Protectorate became a state within India in 1975.
Sikkim has been given many names: The Lepchas, the original inhabitants of the land, called it Nye-mae-el `paradise’, The Limbus named it Su Khim or ‘new house’, while to the Bhutias it was Beymul Demazong ‘the hidden valley of rice’.
Travelers embarking on a journey through Sikkim will discover for themselves its spectacular natural beauty. The panoramic perfection of the snow-capped Himalayas, the heady scent of flower-filled meadows, the vibrant culture and joyous festivals and the wide variety of flora and fauna make it a holiday that is both fascinating and challenging.
The crowning glory of Sikkim is Mt. Khangchendzonga, the third highest mountain in the world. With magnificent snow and ice scenery it is often regarded as the undisputed monarch among the peaks of the world. But for the Sikkimese Khangchendzonga is much more than a mountain and is revered as the abode of their guardian deity Dzo-nga. Even today the mountain god is invoked and prayed to during Pang Lhabsol, a major Sikkimese festival, which also commemorates the blood brotherhood sworn between the Lepchas and the Bhutias at Kabi in the fifteenth century.
Although tiny the state has the steepest rise in altitude over the shortest distance and has within its 7,096 sq. kms the entire climatic range, from tropical to temperate to alpine. Lush and thick forests, exotic flora and a wide variety of spectacular birdlife and other fauna including snow leopard and our favourite – the red panda. The buddhist monasteries offer superb architecture and murals in spectacular locations and the accommodation can be stylish and surprisingly comfortable. If you haven’t been you must!