As the cliche goes, India is a land of a variety of cultures, each of them being unique from the others. The north-eastern region of India exemplifies one tiny part of this rich cultural heritage.
Sikkim is a small state in the north-east and is the centre of all Buddhist activities in the country. The Himalayas are characteristic of every tourist destination in the northern half of the country and thus, play an important part in Sikkim’s topography. The state caters to a large tourist population from all over the country.
However, its international tourism potential has not yet been fully discovered. At the heart of Sikkim’s tourist activities lies Gangtok, the state capital.
Gangtok is a small and lively hill station that can be reached only by road. The easiest way to reach Gangtok is to take a flight or a train to Siliguri in the northern reaches of West Bengal and hire a jeep for the journey thereon.
The scenic beauty of Gangtok is spell binding, and a trip to Ganesh Tok and the Enchey Goompa Monastery illustrate this very well. Located at an altitude higher than the rest of the town, these two places offer a panoramic view of the Himalayas, including the Kanchenjunga, which is the third highest peak in the world.
The Enchey Goompa Monastery is also a central tourist destination since it is a 200 year old Buddhist monastery. The monastery is spread over a large area and is an architectural delight.
The most important monastery in this state, however, is the Rumtek Monastery which is located at about 20 kilometers from Gangtok and plays an important role in the lives of the Tibetan Buddhists in Sikkim.
After you finish looking around in the monasteries, you might want to make your way to the Banjhakri Waterfall which is a must-see for every tourist in Gangtok.
The waterfall is in seven parts and if you are an eager tourist who wants to see all the seven points of fall, you will have to make your way up through a long flight of stairs to the top. The view from the top, however, is breathtaking and worth every drop of sweat you break to reach there.
The best way to wrap up your stay in Gangtok is to pay a visit to the town’s Mall Road and Laal Bazaar and take your pick among handicrafts and other commercial goods that are available at reasonable rates.
The city, with its striking cleanliness and warm and honest people, is like a perfect charmer, ready to sweep you off your feet!