My travel experience of Sikkim was quite mesmerizing serene. The more I explored the places and culture the more I fell in love with this state. Born in Northeast India myself, there is very special connection felt within every time I visit this part of the country. Truly said and absolutely perfect tag line given by the India Tourism. “NorthEast – A Paradise Unexplored”
Sikkim has been given many names. The Lepchas, 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’
The panoramic perfection of the snow-capped Himalayas, the heady scent of flower-bedecked meadows, the vibrant culture and joyous festivals, the infinite variety of its flora and fauna makes it a holiday that is at once fascinating and challenging.
My Journey To Gangtok-
Took a flight from Delhi to ‘Bagdogra Airport’ in West Bengal. From there its a 5 hours [124kms] journey by road via NH10 enjoying the scenic beauty all through out the way as it passes by the river “Tista” and crossing places like Siliguri, Mangpu, Kalimpong, Rangpo and Rangpool.
Wanna save some time? You can take a helicopter ride from the Bagdogra Airport to reach Gangtok easily and comfortably. The helicopter service (known as Pawan Hans) is provided by the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) which is a division of Sikkim State Govt. Timings – 10 AM to 5 PM
Ban Jhakri Waterfall ** The 100-foot waterfall of Ban Jhakri is located near Gangtok. The park’s statuary and other displays document the Ban Jhakri, or traditional shamanic healer who worships spirits living in caves around the falls. Ban means “forest”, and jhakri means “healer”. Though it is just a tourist destination now, it is believed that hundreds of years ago the native people use to bring the ill members of the family to this place to heal. A priest community called jhakri [healer] would preform few rituals worshiping spirits living in the caves around the falls to cure the illness. Specifically at midnight. The family of the ill person would present ginger, fresh water, herbs, turmeric and a cock as offering to the spirits.
Deorali Monastery ** One of the Monastery among many others in Gangtok and Sikkim. It is also nearby to the “Tibetology Institute”
Tashi View Point ** [Bojoghori Village] This view point will keep you spellbound with its natural beauty. Apart from the beautiful hills and valleys of Gangtok, this view post will mesmerise you with by giving a spectacular look of the “Kanchenjunga Mountains” 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. The sacred mountain can be viewed from every corner of Sikkim.
Ganesh Tok ** Close to Tashi View point is Ganesh Tok, a temple of Lord Gansha. It’s located at an altitude of 6,500 ft. It is one of the most famous Lord Ganesh temple in Gangtok. This small temple can accommodate only few persons at a time.
Plant Observatory ** There are various species of plants for observation. For. tourist this place is just for recreation purpose and for some perfect selfies. For a botanist, this place is heavenly. A very refreshing place with different plant species. Specially known for preservation of rhododendrons.
Momos ** Here comes the hometown of our beloved “Momos” Yes! those sinful and indulging dumplings which we can’t live without. These guys are available in almost every corner in India and making all go gaga behind them. “Momos are most commonly available food in Sikkim. From roadside shacks to the most expensive restaurants, you will find Momos on every menu. Hot steamed flour dumplings filled with minced meat, cheese or vegetable, accompanied by home made chilli sauce and piping hot soup.
Thukpa ** Another popular and easily available item is the Thukpa or Gya-thuk, a typical Tibetan style noodles in soup, based with vegetables or meat.
Saelroti ** The Nepalese prepare a special kind of bread, mostly during festivals called the Saelroti. This is prepared from fermented rice batter which is deep fried in a ring shape and eaten with potato curry or meat or simply by itself.
Fermented food ** In fact, is an important element of many Sikkimese dishes. Like Chhurpi, Kinema and Bamboo Shoot.
But my best experience of having a wholesome and home made meal was at “Aunty Lalmaya’s Kitchen. The cafe is next to “Ganesh Tok” She is running this small cafe since ages and serving home made food cooked all by herself to locals and tourists. She feeds more then 100 people a day. During peak season the count goes upto 200 to 300 customers a day.
The People of Sikkim consist of three ethnic groups, that is, Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepali. Sikkimese Nepali are mostly Buddhist comprising of cast like “Lepcha” and “Bhutia”. They are also considered to be the upper class caste. Rest comprises of cast like “Rai” “Limbu” “Mukhia” etc. They are mostly Nepali Hindus.
P.S – The details are sticky based on my personal experience and references from locals and wiki.