A Divine place of East Sikkim – Tsogmo lake & Baba Mandir

East Sikkim: Tsogmo lake & Baba Mandir

Every time my vehicle took a sharp turn, the best glimpse of nature’s beauty stirred a thrill and excitement in me. The adventurous route with well-built steep roads (except few bumpy encounters) made our journey full of amazement and fun and took us from the subtropical to the alpine zone.

A Divine place of East Sikkim - Tsogmo lake & Baba Mandir
Tsomgo Lake as seen from view-point, almost 4000 meters above sea level.

A clear, pristine blue water body – in winter in the midst of ice-capped mountains; that day even the sun didn’t shy away to illuminate its enchanting beauty.

Mangnificent and picturesque landscapes

Tsogmo or Changu lake is one of the magnificent and picturesque landscapes of Sikkim which is considered sacred by both Buddhist and Hindu followers. The lake is situated at the height of 3753 m from the sea level and is known for reflecting different colours with the onset of different seasons. The Alpine forests around this oval-shaped lake is a home to rich varieties of flora and fauna. This lake is located in the restricted area on the way to Nathula pass (Indo-Tibetan border). Hence both Indian and foreigner need permit to visit Changu lake which can be availed only at Gangtok through certified tourism operators. You will find many stalls renting snow boots, gloves, jackets, gum boots etc. to battle against the cold weather.  Before heading to further upland, I would suggest you to savour hot tibetan noodle soup served at various stalls located near by Tsogmo lake. If you are looking for thrill and adventure then ropeway is waiting for you to hop on and glide through the wire lined between the awe-inspiring landscapes. These unforgettable moments are still fixed in my mind and get more intense when I see the pictures of this tour.

Temperate Zone on the way to Tsomgo Lake
Different vegetation zones on the way to Tsomgo Lake

Tourist usually club Nathula Pass, Baba Mandir and Tsogmo lake for a day visit from Gangtok and sometimes extend it to Zuluk. On the way to Baba Mandir, you will come across many scenic sights and beautiful army cantonment with colourful shacks and buildings on one side of the road.

Yak Riding at Tsomgo Laek
Yak riding

Baba Mandir was built to pay homage to the soldier named Harbhajan Singh who was sentry of Punjab regiment. It is said that he fell into a stream and drowned while performing his duties near the Indo-China border. After few days he reappeared in one of his colleagues dream and asked him to build a memorial on this place. Startling fact is, soldiers believe that his spirit is still around to save them from rough terrain and natural calamities. Even Chinese soldiers claim to have seen a turbaned sentry patrolling the border. He has been promoted to honorary captain posthumously.

My patriotism reached to sky when Tri-colour started fluttering to tune with national anthem being played to pay tribute to Indian army.

A must visit place for all Indians

This holy site is also adorned with panoramic view of mountain ranges, waterfall and glorious landscapes. I was lucky enough to see snow capped mountains with alpine trees resting in some places. Heavy snow shattered my plan to visit Nathula Pass for the second time. Although Sikkim is undeniably impressive in every season but certain seasons are preferred to explore this distinguished, marvellous and magical state of India.

Tsomgo Lake View Point Trek
View Point at Tsomgo Lake

 

I would recommend terralaya travels to organise your itinerary for memorable and hassle free journey. Or you can book the trip at Bamboo Retreat Hotel, a great place to explore Sikkim for those who enjoy staying out of the city. A comfortable ride and mouth-watering food along with all the permits will be arranged at your command.

Fresh Herbal Tea – what a treat!

If only I had known how to rhyme, I would have written a poem on this bewitching herbal tea served in exquisite ceramic mug carved with Tibetan art.

Fresh Herbal Tea – what a treat!

Oh! The aroma is so enticing, I couldn’t resist the temptation of a whole teapot for myself.

Fresh Herbal Tea, Mint Harvesting

I have spent many afternoons in this serene himalayan place (Bamboo Retreat Hotel), drinking soothing cups of herbal tea while reading my favourite Sherlock Holmes stories. Sometimes I even lose a track of count – but why should I care? Herbal Teas are so soothing. Bamboo Retreat’s fresh Herbal Teas have more benefits than you could ask for: If blended with peppermint, it acts as a digestive aid and also helps in mitigating muscular contractions. One can also go for fresh ginger tea along with honey or lemon to ease throat pain, cold and nausea. I could go on and on but I would rather suggest you to savour it yourself and let your body experience its miraculous effects.

Fresh Herbal Tea

The taste of fresh herbal tea

True indeed! Best things come in small packages. So is herbal tea, easiest to prepare and consume (“no pressure on your intestine!”). Bamboo Retreat Hotel’s classic Herbal Tea is  prepared with mint varieties and stevia, a natural sweetener. These herbs are cultivated in the Bamboo Retreat Hotel’s garden and plucked out fresh to prepare and serve the natural and organic herbal tea to their guests.

Here my morning starts with a healthy breakfast made of organic vegetables and grains accompanied with Ginger Herbal Tea set out in the garden which overlooks the majestic Himalaya ranges and Gangtok city. What a fresh start!

Tea with Himalaya view
Tea with Himalaya view

Aromatic peppermint herbal tea

After a big afternoon meal or while enjoying the mesmerising dusk from my balcony, I treat my stomach with aromatic peppermint herbal tea.

I thought my romance with herbal tea would come to an end when I get back to my noisy, bustling and hectic city life. But all thanks to Bamboo Retreat Hotel, not only they conduct workshops on herbal tea preparation but also sell dried leaves/herbs (selectively plucked from their lush green garden) to city dwellers and herbal tea lovers like me from all around the world.

Fresh herbal tea, Mints and Stevia

At Bamboo Retreat Hotel you can also enjoy herbal baths and Sikkim’s outdoor Hot Stone Bath.

For travel arrangements in Sikkim contact us at terralaya travels

 

Sikkim Traditional Millet Beer “Chang”

Sikkim is breathtaking and so is “Chang”

Bhutia or Lepcha term for fermented alcoholic beverages. It’s always the local food and beverage which bring people closer to the place and its culture. I still remember those amusing nights and the enlightening, funny and surreal conversation I had with the wonderful people over the “Chang”. Until the last day in Sikkim, I used to wash down delicious local cuisines (Momos or Thupkas or my favourite Nepali curry) with the intoxicating Chang.

Millet
Millet

The type of chang I learned from my local friends is known as “Tongba”named after the vessel which holds this fermented beverage prepared from finger millet seeds scientifically known as “Eleusine Coracana”.

Sikkim Traditional Millet Beer “Chang”

Initially these seeds are cooked in hot water for approximately 2-3 hours and remain soaked until their outer covering is peeled off which is then washed and drained out with water. These seeds are kept for few hours and then spread on a clear surface or collected in a woven bamboo basket to cool it down to a tepid  temperature. Murcha (Source of bacteria, holds and yeast) is then sprinkled and mixed with cooked millet. This mixture is kept in an enclosed vessel or ceramic pot for fermentation for at least 4 days. However longer your ferment, stronger it gets. You will smell the fermentation strongly once your Chang is done.

Besides its enchanting taste, what is appealing to most people is its unique way to drink and savour the Chang.                                                                                                   

How the Chang beer is served. Homestay Lady Serving Millet Beer
How the Chang beer is served

Drink traditional Millet Beer as Chang

Local people drink chang in bamboo vessel usually called as “Tongba” or “Dungro” with a bamboo straw or pipsey with perforated end to filter the content of fermented beverage.

Sikkim Traditional Millet Beer “Chang”

Hot water is poured into the vessel till the brim to release the intoxicating flavour of beverage. This process will be repeated until the alcohol in Tongba get exhausted.

In Sikkim millet beer is also widely used as an offering to the gods in ceremonies. Before taking the first sip, a few drops are always first offered to the gods.

We at Bamboo Retreat Hotel along with terralaya.com organises tour to  authentic villages for guests/tourists where they can taste original traditionally brewed chang using only natural ingredients served in beautiful Tongba. 

“Gundruk” & “Sinki” – Fermented Food and Appetiser

“Gundruk” & “Sinki”

Whether its soup or pickle, Gundruk is always inviting and pleasant in taste. One can sense the hard work, endurance and efforts put by Himalayan people especially women to prepare Gundruk; an accommodating mineral source during the off-season when diet is mostly starch with infinitesimal quantity of minerals. Gundruk can’t be cooked and usually served as an appetiser in form of soup or pickle or as a side dish with the main course/vegetable.

Gundruk and Sinki - Fermented Food and Appetiser

Fermented Food and Appetiser

Gundruk is an ideal example for effective utilisation of excess production of spinach, mustard, cauliflower and radish leaves during the harvest season. These leaves are collected, washed with water and then left in open space for 2-3 days to become dry and shrivelled. These dried leaves are chopped into moderate size pieces with knife or sickle and sometimes smashed along with radish roots as well. The smashed and shredded leaves are stored in seal tight  container in warm place for at least 4 days for fermentation. When stored in earthenware pot for fermentation, lukewarm water is poured into the container till it covers all the leaves. It taste acidic when its ready, one can also recognised the extent of fermentation through smell.

In the end, Gundruk is removed from the container and dried out in sunlight.

Gundruk and Sinki - Fermented Food and Appetiser

Similar to Gundruk, another fermented variety is Sinki prepared from radish tap roots. The process for fermentation to prepare Sinki is somewhat different from that of Gundruk. The radish with   tap roots are broken down into small pieces in “Dhinki” and then stored in a hole dug down to 2-3 feet.

Gundruk and Sinki - Fermented Food and Appetiser

Initially a small fire is ignited to warm up the hole and when its sufficiently hot, fire is put off to line up the bamboo and straw at the bottom. The shredded radish is stuffed on top of the bamboo layer which is then covered by vegetation, rock,  mud etc. to fabricate an impermeable barrier. On completion of bacterial curing which last for a month, final sun drying is carried out before consuming it.

Gundruk and Sinki - Fermented Food and Appetiser

If radish pickle is to be prepared then sun drying is not required instead it is directly mixed with spices and stored in container.
We at
Bamboo Retreat Hotel prepare our own “Gundruk” and “Sinki” from organic vegetables cultivated in our garden to serve the delicious, mouth-watering Potato-Gundruk Soup, radish pickle and various other Himalayan/Sikkimese cuisines to our guest.

Fermented Foods – Producing Local Radish Pickle (Mula Achar)

Old cultural technique: Fermented Foods

Fermentation is an old cultural technique that has been used since the Neolithic age for food preservation as well as for producing alcoholic beverages.[1] Technically speaking fermentation is the process of converting carbohydrates to acids or alcohol using microorganisms under anaerobic conditions (i.e. in the absence of air).[2] These microorganisms can be yeast or bacteria.

Besides wine and beer many renowned food items are a result from fermentation, such as: soy sauce, sauerkraut, kefir, kumis (fermented mares’milk popular in Central Asia and Mongolia), injera (a sourdough-risen flatbread) and achar (Indo-Aryan word for pickles). The fermented foods can be based on beans, grains, dairy or meat products.

At the Bamboo Retreat fermentation is used to preserve produce from the property’s garden, mostly vegetables. The latest vegetable in season is mula (Nepali), a local variety of radish, of which the leaves as well as the roots can be processed.

Fermented Foods

The leaves are partly dried in the sun.

Fermented Foods

Then crushed in a mortar and put into a closed transparent container. The container is kept in the sun for 15-20 days for fermentation.

Fermented Foods

When the process is deemed finished (i.e. when the green turns brownish and lighter) the fermented leaves are dried and kept for storage. Those fermented dried leaves are used for soups and achar at times when leafy vegetables are harder to come by.

Fermented Foods

The roots are used to prepare achar. For this they are first cut into small pieces and dried in the sun for two days.

Fermented Foods

In a second step, mustard oil is mixed with salt, turmeric, chilli and ground panch phoron, a spice-blend, literally meaning five spices. This blend is popular in (North)Eastern India and contains in equal parts: cumin, brown mustard, fenugreek, nigella and fennel. The radish is added and filled into glass containers. These are stored in the sun in order for the fermentation process to unfold.

Fermented Foods

When the pickles are deemed ready the containers are moved to cold storage where they can be kept for a couple of months.

Fermented foods stabilises the immune system

Fermenting vegetables is not only a method of food preservation. Fermented foods are said to have considerable health benefits. They are rich in probiotic bacteria that support the intestinal flora. As sugar and starches are broken down through fermentation the resulted food items are easier to digest. Fermentation can equally increase the availability of vitamins and minerals for absorption. The consumption of probiotic-rich food is also supporting the gut lining as natural barrier, which makes the immune system more robust.[3]

By employing fermentation techniques the Bamboo Retreat uses traditional local knowledge of food preservation to provide healthy meals for guests and staff alike.

[1] https://www.livehistoryindia.com/history-in-a-dish/2017/07/06/pickle-preserved-by-history

[2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermentation

[3] https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-offermenting

 

Sikkimese Daal – From Farm to Table

Sikkimese Daal – From Farm to Table

Most popular staple food: Sikkimese Daal

Daal is certainly one of the most popular staple dishes in India and there are probably as many recipes as there are communities in India.

The local version is very simple. Aside from a a kind of pulse, water, and turmeric only the following ingredients are used to spice it up: tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, chili, and salt. But this does in no ways mean that there is not a lot of work behind that dish. In the Bamboo Retreat Hotel the ingredients are sourced directly from the property’s purely organic garden. A local variety of beans (marshyam daal) is used and collected by hand.

Sikkimese Daal – From Farm to Table

After drying in the sun for two days the beans are shelled – also by hand.

Sikkimese Daal – From Farm to Table

The beans are then soaked for a couple of hours and gently cooked together with turmeric powder. The powder is home-made from the turmeric grown in the property’s garden.

Sikkimese Daal – From Farm to Table

Turmeric roots are harvested once a year. They are washed and sliced to be fully dried in the sun and then ground into turmeric powder.

Turmeric, Sikkimese Daal – From Farm to Table

Why turmeric plays an important role

Turmeric is used prominently in the different cuisines in India. Besides its strong colouring effect it has well-known health benefits. Curcumin is the main active ingredient and has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. It is also said to lower the risk of heart diseases and cancer and alleviate the symptoms of arthritis as well as depression. Turmeric is becoming an increasingly important crop of Sikkim. It has similar cultivation practices as ginger and is grown as both pure crops as well as mixed with maize, chilly, bean, and vegetable. Compared to other crops Turmeric is more resistant to pests and diseases and therefore easily suitable for organic cultivation.

Back to our daal: The finely chopped onion, chili, tomatoes, and ginger are roasted in soy oil and turmeric powder is added. Squashed garlic is roasted separately and together with the spice mixture added to the daal. The daal is left simmering.

Sikkimese Daal – From Farm to Table

Meanwhile fresh coriander leaves from the garden are chopped and sprinkled on top. Daal is served almost daily to the Bamboo Retreat Hotel’s guests and staff.

Sikkimese Daal – From Farm to Table

It does not take a lot to make a good daal. But as the saying goes, the best things in life are the simple things..!


 

We found some information at:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric

http://www.sikkimorganicmission.gov.in/cash-crops/

Trekking in Sikkim, Yuksom-Dzongri Trek west Sikkim Himalaya

6 Popular Trekking Routes in Sikkim

Trekking Routes in Sikkim

Sikkim is the land of the mighty Mt. Kanchenjunga. It is also one of the hotspots in India for trekking as it boasts of some of the best Himalayan trekking routes. From mountain peaks, flower valleys, forests, waterfalls, exotic birds, wildlife; there is everything you could wish for. It is considered a visual feast by trekkers. From beginners to professionals; Sikkim has something to offer for everybody. So if you are a fan of nature or not, these trek routes will make you a fan for life. So, if you are planning to visit Northeast India, then one of these treks should definitely be on your itinerary. Which one would you choose?      

Green Lakes Trek

This trek takes to you to the base of Mt. Kanchenjunga at a height of 5050 m. On the way you get to see the Zemu Glacier, stunning waterfalls, rhododendron forests and catch amazing glimpses of the eastern himalayas especially Mt. Kanchenjunga. This trek normally takes 12 days and the best time to do it is March – April or October – November. This trek is comparatively challenging compared to the other treks and is not for beginners. The trek starts in Lachen, North Sikkim at 2750 m.   

Goecha La Trek

The most popular trekking route in Sikkim by a long distance; the Goecha La trek gives you chance to view more than 10 breathtaking Himalayan mountains peaks. The trek can be completed within 10 days. The best time to do this trek is October – November. It is a photographer’s paradise as one gets to see some unforgettable sunrises and sunsets. Starting from Yuksom at 1780 m, you get to pass through lush rhododendron forests till you get to the top at nearly 4800 m. An interesting fact is that the view of Mt. Kanchenjunga from Goecha La is used on the back of the Rs. 100 note in India.     

Dzongri Trek

This is a comparatively easy trek that can be completed within 7 days. On the way you will see a number of Himalayan trees; from oak, maple, pine, etc and pass through rhododendron forests on your way to the meadows of Dzongri. But it will be the sight of Mt. Kanchenjunga that will blow you away. Your journey will begin in Yuksom at 1800 m and the highest point will be at 4030 m. The best time to visit is between October and March to get a good view of the snow clad peaks. This is the most popular trek among tourists with no trekking experience.

Trekking in Sikkim, Yuksom-Dzongri Trek west Sikkim Himalaya

Tosar Lake Trek

This is a slightly offbeat trek taking you through yak trails up to the Tosar Lake at 4000 m. The trek starts at Naga village at an altitude of 1800 m. You get to pass through coniferous forests and also get to see exotic flowers, birds and obviously beautiful mountain ranges. The Tosar lake lies between the Chola and Mangan ranges. The best time to visit is between March-June and September-November. It’s a comparatively easy trek and can be completed in 7 days. It is a must for photographers who wish to capture nature at its finest.    

Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek

The ultimate experience for adventure seekers, Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek attracts trekkers from across the world. This trek starts at Yuksom and takes you up to 4950 m. It can be easily completed in 9 days. The best time to visit is between April – June and September – November. You will see the best of Sikkimese Himalayas in this trek. The magnificent Mt. Kanchenjunga on this trek will be the highlight of this trek but there will many other mountain peaks to see.    

Singalila Trek

This trek route will test your limits but also reward you with unforgettable views, including that of Mt. Everest. This trek starts in Uttarey, West Sikkim at 2320 m and takes to as high as 5000 m. You will pass through quaint villages, thick forests, lakes, rivers and steep passes on this journey. As you will be walking close to the Indo-Nepal border, you will be able to see more than 15 major peaks of the Himalayas and 4 of the top 5 highest mountains in the world. This trek can be completed in 15 days and is best attempted between April-June or October-November.

 

Make the Bamboo Retreat your base before out! We can help with transportation and guides as well as ensure your comfort and relaxation after accomplishing you trekking.

The Old Silk Route, East Sikkim

6 Day Itinerary for Exploring Sikkim

Exploring Sikkim

Sikkim has a lots of wonderful moments, experiences and views to offer. You can spend endless amount of days in Sikkim, meditating, reading, and working because it offers a serene environment to focus and feel relaxed at the same time. But, if you are on a short trip to Sikkim and want to make the most out of your vacation, here is the perfect plan for you. This itinerary covers most of the tourist attractions in Sikkim. It is upto you to decide which ones you want to visit and which ones you want to skip for later.    

Beginning your trip: Gangtok is the best place to start your trip. Bagdogra airport, the closest airport is around 130 kms away. If you coming by rail, New Jalpaiguri is the closest railway station which is almost the same distance away. You can take a taxi to Gangtok, which will take about 4.5 hours coming through Siliguri, Kalimpong and Rangpo. The ride in itself provides for some great views and is something you can look forward to. When it comes to stay, you can choose a central location in Gangtok, Lachung, Ravangla and Pelling so you can make the most of time.   

Day 1: Stay in Gangtok, East Sikkim

Enchey Monastery – Start your trip by visiting the Enchey monastery. It is a popular pilgrimage place with beautiful architecture and will offer you your first views of the Mt. Kanchenjunga.

Hanuman Tok and Ganesh Tok – Located 3 kms north of Gangtok, it offers a great view of Mt. Kanchenjunga and is a place that would surprise you with its charm and serenity.

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology – One of the only institutes worldwide that does research on Tibetan language and culture. It will offer you a great insight into Tibetan and Sikkimese culture.

Gangtok Ropeway – Get on the cable car at Deorali and go upto Tashiling and back. You get a real good view of Gangtok town and also get a great view of the mountains peaks around.

MG Marg – You can walk around the main shopping centre in Gangtok, buy souvenirs and local handicrafts; have a meal or even simply hang around taking in the downtown vibe.

Day 2: Stay in Gangtok, East Sikkim

Himalayan Zoological Park – If you are interested to lose yourself in the flora and fauna for a few hours, then this is the place for you. Watch out for the red panda and the snow leopard.

Rumtek Monastery – The most popular monastery in Sikkim; you can view several unique Buddhist objects not found anywhere in the world. Best place to soak in some Sikkimese history.

Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden – Situated close to Rumtek Monastery, this is the best place to get a close look at the different flowers and plants species unique to Sikkim.

Rey, Lingdum, Ranka Monastery – If you want to go a mini-tour of monasteries. You can go a tour of these three stunning monasteries on your way to Gangtok.

Paragliding – Want to catch a better view of the Himalayas? Then try out paragliding to experience the thrill of the skies and also to create an unforgettable memory of Sikkim.

Day 3: Stay in Gangtok, East Sikkim

Nathula Pass – Famous for being the silk route in the olden days between India and Tibet, today it is the Indo-China border. For the stunning views, visit between May-December.  

Tsomgo Lake – On the way to Nathula, you get to stop at the legendary Tsomgo lake, which is believed to change colors in different seasons.  

Lake Menmecho – Often overlooked, the Lake Menmecho is located at 12,500 ft above sea level. Here you can witness the nature in its purest form, untouched by humans.  

Baba Mandir – Built in memory of a sentry in the Indian Army called Harbhajan Singh, this temple has a long history to it. Knowing the story that will definitely leave you awestruck.

Zuluk – The whole journey to Nathula Pass is an unforgettable experience. If you are feeling you can take more, the visit Zuluk for a day and take in the stunning flora and fauna there.

Day 4: Stay in Lachung, North Sikkim

Yumthang Valley – Known as the valley of flowers, you can visit the Shingba Rhododendron sanctuary for some floral delights found only in Sikkim. The best months to visit are April-May.

Zero Point – Covered in snow for most of the year, this is a place for the adventurous. Overcoming the low oxygen and freezing cold, this is thrilling experience with amazing views.  

Chopta Valley – One of the most picturesque spots in Sikkim; Chopta valley is a paradise for nature lovers to see rare flowers and birds. Also a great place for trekking and water sports.

Gurudongmar Lake – Located at the height of 17,800 ft, it is one of the highest lakes in India and the world. Considered holy by Hindus and Buddhists, ‘picturesque’ is an understatement.  

Lachung Monastery – On the way to Lachung, you will get to encounter a number of beautiful waterfalls. Don’t miss the Lachung monastery and marvel at its amazing architecture.

Lama monk boy north sikkim

Day 5: Stay in Ravangla, South Sikkim

Buddha Park – A must-visit for its scenic views and imposing Buddha statue, the park is a place to spend some quality time walking around in complete peace.

Ralang Monastery – Visit the imposing Ralang monastery, one of the most sacred monasteries in Sikkim to see some of the finest Buddhist art in the form of paintings and scrolls.   

Temi Tea Garden – Considered one of the best tea plantations in the world, it is the only one in Sikkim. But, you will mesmerized by the aroma and the sight of the endless carpet of tea plants.  

Char Dham – Built on top of the Solophok hill, this pilgrim centre is a replica of the four sacred dhams revered by Hindus. The giant Shiva statue is visible from everywhere on the complex.

Samdruptse Hill – Believed to  be a dormant volcano by the locals, this popular tourist spot is home to a 45 m tall statue of Guru Padmasambhava, the patron saint of Sikkim.

Prayer wheels Tashiding Sikkim West

Day 6: Pelling, West Sikkim

Dubdi, Pemayangtse, Sangachoeling, Tashiding Monastery – Visits these sacred spots to learn more about the Buddhist history of Sikkim and to understand Buddhist culture.

Khecheopalri Lake – Considered a sacred lake by Buddhists, this is popular tourist spot among locals and tourists alike. It is also considered a ‘wish-fulfilling’ lake, adding to its novelty.  

Rabdentse Ruins – This was the ancient capital of Sikkim, where the Chogyal or King used to reside. Today you can go for a short trek to see the ruins of the historical palace.

Singshore Bridge – You get to see the highest bridge in Sikkim that was built to connect two hills. It’s not only an architectural wonder to look at, it’s surrounded by scenic views on all sides.

Kanchenjunga Falls – After seeing a number of waterfalls along your journey in different parts of Sikkim, you can top it all with a visit to the breathtaking Kanchenjunga falls.

If you have a few extra days, you can visit Kalimpong and Darjeeling on your way to your next destination. And you can come back to Sikkim again and again to discover new places and friends. Most importantly to find calm and peace in the lap of nature.   

Himalaya, Sikkim - The Ecotourism Capital of India

Sikkim – The Ecotourism Capital of India

The ecotourism capital of India: Sikkim

Today, no spot on earth is too far away to reach. With the help of technology, people are discovering new places everyday to explore and vacation. Visiting exotic locations is becoming more and more common today. Quaint locations in the hills, the deserts and the wildlife reserves are becoming hotspots for tourism. While it makes for great photos on Instagram, sometimes what gets ignored is that the environment and biodiversity around is damaged irreversibly in the process. This is why the concept of ecotourism has become the new keyword when it comes to visiting biodiversity-rich locations.       

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) defines ecotourism as :

“Environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples.”

Ecotourism is basically caring for the environment and the people you are visiting. You should be sure that your visit is not a cause for damage to the biodiversity of the place. Also, the money you spend should benefit the local people instead of the big tourism agencies. When companies take over, they treat the place that they take you to like a place of commerce. It is better to visit a place where you are hosted by the local people, who call that land their home. It makes for a overall immersive experience where you understand their culture and enjoy good company.

Himalaya, Sikkim - The Ecotourism Capital of India

Ecotourism in India

When it comes to India, each state in India boasts of a wide range of biodiversity from the north to the south. But, ecotourism has been slow to catch up in different places. There are places that have faced a lot of damage to their ecology due to the high influx of tourists. From air pollution to solid waste pollution to shortage of natural resources like water; there are a number of problems that are brought on by reckless tourism. This is apart from the fact that natural ecosystems in these places are being tampered with; affecting a number of plants and animals.         

Sikkim has the highest biodiversity in India. Though Sikkim has only 0.22% of the landmass of India, it is home to 26% of the biodiversity. The eastern himalayas along with the western ghats are two of the only 18 biodiversity hot-spots in the whole world. According to the government of Sikkim, the state is home to over 4500 flowering plants, 550 Orchids, 36 Rhododendrons, 16 Conifers, 28 Bamboos, 362 Ferns and its allies, 9 Tree Ferns, 30 Primulas, 11 Oaks, over 424 Medicinal plants, 144+ mammals, 550 Birds, 48 Fishes and over 600 Butterflies.

Ecotourism in Sikkim

Sikkim, home to such natural treasures has been ahead of its time in embracing ecotourism. The Kanchendzonga National Park, the biggest gem of Sikkim has been a major attraction for people from around the world for trekking, adventure activities and mountaineering. It has also been recognized as a World heritage site for the waterfalls, lakes and glaciers that come within its boundary. It is one of the spots in India that has been able to retain its immaculateness even with the high number of tourists over the years.    

This has been possible due to the Sikkim government taking steps to formulate a strong ecotourism policy that ensures that the beauty of Sikkim is maintained. The whole of Sikkim is split into 11 ecotourism zones and they are being developed to improve the the experience of visitors. With visits to interior villages, homestays and cultural exchange activities, Sikkim has shown the way for the successfully implementing of the principles of ecotourism. With the local people directly benefiting from such ecotourism, it becomes a great a win-win-win for the tourists, the locals and the environment.

Principles of Ecotourism of Sikkim, vision sustainability social responsibility

The Bamboo Retreat is an eco-friendly resort that is following the above principles, situated a mere 35 – 45 minutes drive from the hustle and bustle of down-town Gangtok. We would be more than happy to host you during your stay in Sikkim.

Pelling Pemayangtse Monastery, Sikkim

8 Must Visit Monasteries in Sikkim

8 Must Visit Monasteries in Sikkim

Sikkim is a land blessed with breathtaking biodiversity. Also, it is a land dotted with spectacular monasteries. One would be surprised to know that though most of the residents of Sikkim are Hindus, it has a rich Buddhist heritage. Each major monastery in Sikkim has a lot of history attached to it and is also a major pilgrimage spot for Buddhists from around the world. A trip to Sikkim is not complete without visiting the major monasteries, taking in their history and enjoying their architectural beauty.    

1. Rumtek Monastery

Rumtek Monastery

Built in the 18th century, Rumtek monastery also known as the Dharma Chakra centre is the largest and most popular monastery in Sikkim. It is home to some of the most unique Buddhist artwork in the world, from wall murals to ancient scriptures to hand painted scrolls. It was first built by the 12th Karmapa Changchub Dorje. But after it fell to ruins, the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje rebuilt it in the year 1959. It is home to the Kagyu school of Buddhism and the monastery is supposed to be an exact replica of the Kagyu headquarters in Tibet.

2. Dubdi Monastery

Dubdi Monastery, Yoksum Dubdi Temple

The oldest monastery in Sikkim, Dubdi monastery was built in the year 1701. It is nearly 40 kms away from Pelling. It is also known as the Yuksom monastery and was built by the first king of Sikkim. Dubdi monastery has iconography pointing to the formation of the state of Sikkim, when the first Chogyal of Sikkim was crowned by the three Lamas. It is home to a lot of rare manuscripts and texts. One can truly feel the weight of history as they walk through the aisles of one of the most historical sites in Sikkim.   

3. Pemayangtse Monastery

Pelling Pemayangtse Monastery, Sikkim

One of the oldest and most popular religious sites in Sikkim, the Pemayangtse monastery was built by Gyalwa Lhatsun Chempo in the year 1705. He was one of the three Lamas who crowned the first king of Sikkim, Chogyal Phuntsog Namgyal in the year 1642. This place has many unique buddhist idols, statues and paintings. Pemayangtse translates to ‘Perfect Sublime Lotus’. This monastery is especially popular as it is extremely easy to reach from Pelling and also offers a great view of Mt. Kanchenjunga.      

4. Tashiding Monastery

Tashiding Monastery

Considered the holiest place in all of Sikkim, Tashiding monastery is located 40 kms from Pelling. It is surrounded by major monasteries and holy places on all sides. Also, it is located between 4 sacred caves in each direction which increases its importance.  It was built in the 17th century and the Bhimchu festival celebrated on the 14th and 15th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan calendar draws people from across the world.   

4. Enchey Monastery

Gangtok Enchey Monastery with Monchs

Most popular for the Chaam dance that happens on 18th and 19th day of the 12th month in the Tibetan calendar, Enchey monastery literally means the ‘Solitary Temple’. Apart from the amazing view of Kanchenjunga that one can see from this monastery, it is also home to numerous images of Gods and Goddesses. Enchey monastery is an integral part of the people’s lives in Gangtok. It houses the Guru Padmasambhava and Loketeswara deities in addition to the Buddha statue.  

6. Ralang Monastery

Ralang Monastery, Sikkim

Located around 55 kms from Pelling, Ralang monastery is one of the most breathtaking monuments you will visit in Sikkim. The annual festival celebrated here is called Pang Lhabsol, where Mt. Kanchenjunga is worshiped. Here one can see a huge number of paintings called Thangkas, which is a Tibetan art form that depicts Buddhist religious iconography. This monastery was built in memory of the successful pilgrimage to Tibet undertaken by the fourth Chogyal (ruler of Sikkim).    

7. Rinchenpong Monastery

Rinchenpong Monastery with Monchs, Sikkim

Established in the year 1730, Rinchenpong monastery is famous for the Ati Buddha statue. It is a short trek from the Rinchenpong market. Also, the monastery offers a clear view of Mt. Kanchenjunga and Mt. Narsing. Also, for those interested in history, this place is very close to the famous Poison lake. This is where the British invaders reached before being forced to retreat.   

8. Sanga Choeling Monastery

Sanga Choeling Monastery, Sikkim

Built in 17th century by Gyalwa Lhatsun Chempo, the Sanga Choeling monastery is located 9 kms away from Pelling. It is the 3rd oldest monastery in Sikkim. The monastery belongs to the ancient Nyingmaga sect, which is the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a good 30-45 minute hike to reach the monastery. But you will not only enjoy the monastery visit but also be mesmerized by the panoramic view from the top.   

A visit to the monasteries above can be made from or be organized by the Bamboo Retreat. We would be more than happy to host you during your stay in Sikkim.

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Bamboo Retreat Hotel & Permaculture Garden Estate
Sajong, Rumtek Block
P.O. Box 20, Head Post Office,
737101 Gangtok, Sikkim, India

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Wir akzeptieren:
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Bamboo Retreat Hotel & Permaculture Garden Estate
Sajong, Rumtek Block
P.O. Box 20, Head Post Office,
737101 Gangtok, Sikkim, Indien