North-East has always been a mystical land and among the seven sisters lies another jewel in the crown, ironically not counted in the "Seven"-that is my home, Sikkim. It may look like a thumb sized state in the north-eastern part of the country, but don't go by the size of it on the map, because the scenery it has to offer is of aesthetic significance. Here is a list of reasons why Sikkim should be the next destination in your bucket list.
1. The picturesque landscape and scenery.
It doesnt require much to say about the tranquillity that this part of the country has to offer, because when you see it, you are to be spellbound for sure. The mountains reach to towering altitudes and are a beautiful combination of shades of green and blue. Apart from the conventional sightseeing, ask your cabbie to take you through the road that connects Rumtek Monastery to Ranka Monastery and be sure to be dumbstruck by the beauty of this stretch, lush green maize fields, the unrivalled art of terrace farming which adds a landscaping definition to the hills otherwise plain and green.
The cuisine of North-East is always tad different than the rest of the country. You must try the delectable palette of flavours that Sikkim has to offer, and brownie points to your taste buds if you are a non-vegetarian. From dishes ranging from momos (dumplings)or Syabhaleys(deep fried meat filled pie) to steaming bowls of Thukpa (soupy noodles with vegetables or meat), or Piro Aloo Dum(Hot and spicy Dum Aloo) and Sel Roti, the cuisine of Sikkim caters to the taste buds of any adventurous foodie and would prove to be a paradise of flavours for him.
3. Wai Wai
When the rest of the nation literally grew up eating Maggi, we in the mountains relished the wonder called Wai Wai, the instant noodles that is one of a kind, that can be eaten raw, boiled or cooked with vegetables or chicken. On the way to Gangtok, you will come across numerous roadside shops that serve steaming bowls of Wai Wai, with vegetables, chicken or pork. Don't forget to gorge on the noodles that is the pride of these mountains. There is a reason why I didnt include it in the Cuisine above and honestly, you shall know that only once you have eaten it.
4. Adventure Sports
Though relatively at a nascent stage in Sikkim, for the ones who require a trigger for the adrenaline rush, Sikkim has a host of adventure sports to offer that will leave you hungry for more thrill. Trekking, Mountain Biking, River Rafting, Kayaking, Paragliding, you name it and we have it served for you. The official website of tourism and civil aviation provides an insight into the various options available here.
5. History and Demographics
Not many people know that Sikkim was originally a separate country, a monarchy, ruled by the Namgyal Dynasty, and then a British protectorate and finally the 22nd Indian state in the year 1975. With the history, the ethnicity may also intrigue the travellers who are inquisitive. There are a total of 11 languages spoken in this state apart from Hindi and English. Nepali is the official language and the sight of such varied culture that are immensely colourful and diverse is a treat to the eyes in itself.
6. Temi Tea Estate
This tea estate situated in South Sikkim is one of a kind. Its the only tea garden in the state and is a wide expanse of completely organic cultivation of tea most of which is exported with an increasing demand in the international tea market. The tea has a rich aroma and when brewed in the sweet waters of the Himalayas, the after-taste that it leaves in your mouth as you sip on it is a pure delight and plus the health benefits of it being a completely organic beverage. When in the hills, comfortably seat yourself down amidst the greenery and do relish on one cup of steaming Temi tea brewed to perfection and also don't forget to carry souvenirs for your tea fanatic friends from this part of the hills.
7. Nathu la
Nathu La is a pass in the Himalayas that connects Sikkim and China. This pass was opened in 2006 to promote trade between the two countries. Apart from being of strategic importance to the Sino-Indian relations, it is one of the few places in India that is going to leave you overwhelmed with feelings of patriotism for our nation and pride for the Indian Army. The sight of the border heavily guarded by soldiers on each side and the fact that you would be standing at an altitude where clouds will indeed kiss your feet is an experience of a lifetime.
8. Gurundongmar Lake
This fresh water lake situated at the northern part of the state is one of the highest in the world. Though relatively new to travellers, it is a marvel in itself. It is the source of the river Teesta that flows through the state of Sikkim. It remains frozen over a period of 5 months from Dec-May every year. If you are of the adventurous and enduring kind, plan a trek to this part of the state.
Since Buddhism is one of the major religions followed in the state, there is an abundance of monasteries that are more than just religious centres. Serenity, spirituality, intricate Buddhist art, reverberating incantations, and the connect with the almighty are few of the things that you will capture here for a lifetime in your memories. Rumtek Gompa, Ranka Gompa, Chorten Gompa, Enchey Gompa, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology are just a few to name. My personal favourite is Ranka Gompa due to the abundance of natural beauty en route to this place.
10. M.G.Road, Gangtok
And when you have completed all the sightseeing, trekking or clicking numerous shots and immersing in the beauty of the mountains, come down to M.G Marg in Gangtok. Yes we do not have a Mall road here, unlike the rest of the hill stations in this country but the walk here is just so relaxing plus this also is the main market area. There are few amazing places to sit and gorge on authentic Tibetan food or just chill over a cup of coffee.
Well this isn't an extensive list, just the ones close to my heart, but once you visit the state , you'll be mesmerized to say the least.
Happy Travelling and Happy Exploring!