Explore 4 Ancient Monasteries with Sikkim Tour Packages

Bounded by Tibet in the northeast, Bhutan in the southeast, greater Himalayas in the north and Nepal in the west, Sikkim is a landlocked state of India. With its dramatic contours of rugged mountain ranges, dense forests, deep valleys, raging rivers and beautiful lakes and waterfalls, this state is an ideal destination for a pleasant getaway. Dotted all across by fluttering prayer flags, stupas and caves, the undimmed influence of Buddhism can be felt in almost every corner of the state. With nearly 200 monasteries, this state is an important centre for learning Buddhism. Travellers with their Sikkim tour packages can visit some of the most popular monasteries of the place.

Pemayangtse

Perched on a hilltop, it is the premier monastery of the state with all the Nyingma monasteries subordinate to it. Built in 16th century, this structure houses exquisite religious artworks, including statues and thangkas. The annual religious masked dance or locally called as Chaam, is held in every 12th month of the Tibetan calendar or correspondingly the month of February.

Tashiding

Tashiding Monastery

Tashiding Monastery

Built in 1716, this monastery is the holiest of all in the state as it was built at the place consecrated by Guru Rinpoche. Located between the rivers Rangeet and Ratong, this place is famous for its chorten – Thongwa Rangdol, which is believed to cleanse all sins of a lifetime. During their visit to this monastery on their Sikkim tour, travellers can also join the grand occasion of Bumchu Festival, which is organised here.

Rumtek

Rebuilt by the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa after being damaged in an earthquake, this monastery is the largest in Sikkim. This monastery is an important seat of the Kargyupa sect of Buddhism, and hence is recognised as a world renowned centre for Kagyu teachings. To witness one of the best Tibetan architectures, this place is worth visiting with Sikkim tourism packages.

Tolung

If travellers wish for something adventurous during their tour to this state, then Tolung Monastery offers this chance to them as this building can be reached only after trekking through dense forests and steep ranges. Located in Dzongu area of North Sikkim, this structure possesses a rich collection of valuable scriptures and precious objects, which are taken out for a public display. A horde of devotees pay their visit to this monastery during their Sikkim tour.

Apart from being noted for these 4 ancient sites, this state is also known to have some of the finest treks in the Himalayan Ranges. With Sikkim tour packages, travellers can also enjoy some of the best trekking experiences. Travellers who wish enjoy the ethereal beauties of the nature – great mountain views, pristine forests, descending glaciers and floral spectacles, at a single destination, can avail Sikkim tourism packages.

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Sikkim Tourist Destinations to Visit on Holidays

This is a beautiful video film of the top tourist destinations in Sikkim. From mountain peaks, lakes, virgin forests, wildlife, culture and religious aspects of life in this tiny Himalayan state, it showcases all must see destinations while on holiday to sikkim. Tour packages for Sikkim can be found at http://www.yatra.com/india-tour-packages/holidays-in-sikkim

(courtesy: Prakash Lee)

Vibrant Festivals of Sikkim- Drupka Teshi

The north-eastern part of India is gifted with a plethora of beautiful locations that have marked their presence on the international tourism map. Sikkim is like a gem among all the scenic destinations in the region that boasts of snow-capped peaks, meadows bedecked with flowers and spellbinding valleys. The increasing influx of travellers has made several travel portals to introduce a number of Sikkim travel packages to ensure a hassle-free travelling for tourists to this place. Home to one of the highest peaks in the world – Mount Khangchendzonga, it has a religious significance associated with it. Dzonga, revered as the guardian deity by people here, is also believed to have resided here.

 

Drupka Teshi

Drupka Teshi

Drupka Teshi

 

Sikkim is among the revered pilgrimage sites for the worship of Lord Buddha and receives a large number of devotees round the year. People here pay special reverence to the teachings of the lord and try to incorporate it in their lives. A number of events and festivals are celebrated here to commemorate his legendary life and various things done by him. Drupka Teshi is one such event, which is religiously celebrated by the locals and can be a great opportunity for travelers to experience and indulge in the vibrant culture of the state. The main purpose behind the festival is the commemoration of the preaching given by Buddha at several places, after he left his home to follow the path of nobility.

 

Background

 

The sacred story behind the event starts when Buddha left his family to search for noble truth and started preaching sermons at a number of places. His motive was the enlightenment of the mankind belonging to all classes and religions. He hoped to see people treading the path of nobility and become aware of the correct way to progress in life by helping each other. Lord Buddha sanctified the land of Sarnath, situated near the holy city of Varanasi that still holds the sacred worth of his preaching delivered there. The place is also precisely called the deer park and is a popular Buddhists site, receiving number of devotees. All these events are sacredly celebrated and commemorated during this festival, which is held at a well-known place called Muguthang.

 

A yak race is an important part of the celebrations of this event, which is celebrated on the 4th day of the 6th month according to the Tibetan calendar that falls somewhere around August. Travellers, who get a chance to indulge in these festivities, are usually delighted to witness the vibrant culture of this state, which warmly welcomes all its visitors. They get to see the local residents dressed in their traditional attires and cheering with enthusiasm. Another highlight of these occasions is the palatable cuisine of Sikkim that includes several unique and delicious delicacies. Exploring these splendid aspects is sure to make a special place in the memories of vacationers that they can take back along to share with their loved ones. Saga Dawa, Phang Lhabsol, Losar and Bumchu are some other festivals, which can be equally refreshing and exciting to be included in the planning of holiday packages to this place.

Unique Festivals of Sikkim- Kalchakra Puja

Dotted with a number of scenic locations, Sikkim is a beautiful state situated in the north-eastern part of India. The snow-capped peaks of Himalayas, bedecked meadows and a vibrant culture are among its prominent features. A rich biodiversity adds further value and attracts several travellers round the year. Vacation in this beautific destination has been made quite comfortable courtesy various Sikkim tours. Being home to the Mount Khangchendzonga – one of the highest peaks of the world, it is also revered as the home of the Dzonga, who is the guardian deity of the people here. A plethora of adventure activities can be enjoyed here as like river rafting, mountaineering and trekking. One of the best ways to indulge in the enthusiastic atmosphere of this place is by taking part in its vibrant festivals.

 

The Kalchakra Puja

The Kalchakra Puja

The Kalchakra Puja

The Kalchakra Puja is a significant festival here that celebrates the path of Tantrayana. Attaining nirvana or enlightenment is considered important to free oneself from the worldly sufferings and Tantrayana is believed to be one such way of doing so. It emphasises on the mystical aspect followed in Buddhism and calls for numerous esoteric rituals to be performed by the people. Kalchakra is a revered deity, said to be one among the combination of male and female tantras. It comes under the Supreme Tantra – one of the classes of the Tantrayana. All the rituals and ceremonies performed to pay homage to the deity and to attain nirvana are combined in the name of this festival.

 

The main authority, under whose teachings the ceremonies are performed, is Dalai Lama. He is the one, who initiates the puja and this usually takes place once in every three years. The ceremony is known to receive a number of devotees from all parts of the world. The decorated deity is represented along with his female consort known as Vishwamata. Featuring several faces, necks and shoulders, the idol of the lord is sculptured beautifully in the shades of blue, while his consort can be seen in vibrant yellow colour. Numerous elements are provided in the hands of the deity that further increases his grandeur. Offerings to the deities and other rituals are performed at the mandala, after the initiation ceremony.

 

The disciple, who is prepared to take the tantrik vows, is initiated into the complex procedures involving crown, water and the thunderbolt or the ubiquitous Vajra. This disciple, as believed, can practice all the tantras to attain the ultimate aim of nirvana. The literal meaning of Kalchakra is vicious circle and is said to cause sufferings to people leaving them to crave to leave this circle and attain nirvana. This fact has made this occasion quite important and attracts travellers from faraway places, who wish to explore various aspects of this lesser known but unique festival. International tourists usually opt for a number of Sikkim travel packages for a comfortable trip of this place. Apart from this, people can indulge themselves in numerous promotional events that are held to develop the tourism industry of the country and are a pleasure to attend.

The Pristine Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim

Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake Map

Tourists who are planning to spend their holidays on Sikkim travel cannot miss to visit the marvelous Gurudongmar Lake situated in the northern part of the state. Positioned at an elevation of more than 17000 feet above mean sea level, this tarn is among the highest of its kind all over the world. It is the second highest Indian lake after Cholamu lake, which lies at an altitude of about 18000 feet above mean sea level. Surrounded by breathtaking terrains, this lake offer spectacular views of luxuriant valleys, lush green forests and pristine water bodies. This exquisite site is a delight for nature lovers as well as peace seekers.

Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake

An ideal getaway from the humdrum of city life, this tarn attracts hordes of tourists from the state and beyond all-year round.

 

Spellbinding Vistas

 

Besides, not only is this destination a spellbinding visual treat, but the journey to this site is also a memorable experience. Tourists pass through dense alpine forests, carpets of colourful flowers and cascading waterfalls during the 7 to 8 hours trip from Gangtok – the capital of Sikkim to Gurudongmar. Once travellers reach Gurudongmar, they undertake an enthralling excursion via snow-clad peaks and soaring mountains to reach the splendid water body. After reaching the lake, tourists behold captivating natural beauty unleashed in the form of lofty peaks, rolling hills, deep valleys, icy water and alpine forests. Some of the most popular sights, which attract tourists here are the spectacular views of Mount Khanchendzonga and Mount Siniolchu.

Religious Significance

 

Apart from nature enthusiasts, adventurers and wildlife lovers, this place is also flocked by historians and pilgrims. Named after Guru Dongmar, this tarn has religious significance and it is considered sacred. There are several stories and legends associated with this holy water body. One of the most popular stories says that Guru Dongmar, who is also known as Guru Padmasambhava, performed the sanctification of this lake. It is believed that it is because of this holy ritual, a portion of the tarn does not freeze into ice even during extreme weather conditions.

Sarva Dharma Sthal

Sarva Dharma Sthal

A Sarva Dharna Sthal has been built near the tarn that is a prominent site for followers of all religions. Besides, the water of this sacred tarn is also believed to have curative powers.

 

This placid water body is one of the sources of River Teesta, which flows via the state to West Bengal and finally merges with the infinite Bay of Bengal. The best time to visit this mesmeric destination is between the moths of November and June. After opting for best tour packages, it is advised that tourists should consider taking several medical precautions. This is because due to the extreme height of this place, there is a dearth of oxygen here. Staying for more than one hour is not recommended for all, especially kids, elderly and patients of high/low blood pressure. Experienced travellers recommended carrying masks and proper woollen clothes for protection against the icy breeze, low oxygen content and extreme weather conditions.

Escapades and Shopper’s Stops of Sikkim

Sikkim is the second smallest state of India, continuously appeasing visitors with its lush greenery and natural aura over the years. People say that there is a sense of rejuvenation in the air of this place, which is sufficed by the landscaped vistas and disparate range of flora. Adrenaline pumping expeditions of hiking trails and river rafting are perfect recreational activities for daredevils. Holiness prevails in the whole region with beautifully constructed monasteries that completely tranquillise the mind and soul of travellers. Holidaymakers who opt for Sikkim tour packages will be content with the facilities provided by these deals. Pleasing weather of this destination along with picturesque view of the Himalayan ranges are a delight for any tourist.

Deorali Orchid Sanctuary, Sikkim

Deorali Orchid Sanctuary, Sikkim

The state is blessed with majestic sights, which prove to be a unique experience for newly-wed couples. Honeymoon holidays can be availed by them to explore the breathtaking views of the region. Pleasant climate of this place along with everlasting hustle of local markets is highly appreciated by frequent visitors and same is advised to the honeymooners. Deorali Orchid Sanctuary is a popular tourist site, where couples can admire a multitude of orchid species permeating the entire aura of the place with a pleasant fragrance.

Venture on Escapades

Different options are available for adventure seekers, who are amused by a variety of activities involving physical manoeuvres. Mountaineering on the lofty peaks of Kangchenjunga has been existing since past five decades and till date many people strive to mark their name on the apex of this pinnacle. The adventure division of the region also promotes hiking on various treks, which basically comprise uneven turfs of Dzongri, Pemayangtse, Khechopalri, Thangshing, Zemathang, Yuksum and Tsokha. Teesta and Rangit streams provide the best spot for river rafting and enthusiasts largely visit Sikkim to experience this enthralling water-sport. Mountain biking has been recently introduced in the state and is gradually gaining prominence among locals and travellers. A subtle activity to behold the splendid views of the region is Yak Safari, which is organised by the local tourism department, allowing people to mount on the Yak and traverse through the land.

Go on a Shopping Spree

Choktses

Choktses

Local markets of the state are famous for selling exclusive handicrafts, artefacts and textiles of the region. It is suggested by many tourists to buy local handicrafts from Dalai Lama Trust Fund Shop and Government Institute of Cottage Industry. Finely woven carpets are speciality of this place, which can be purchased from various shops. Souvenirs in the form of scrolls with motifs, paintings, handmade paper products and ornaments are recommended to be taken back home. Another forte of Sikkim is Choktses, which are embellished wooden tables carved in traditional designs. These tables are in demand from international market and will surely be a memoir in home décor of any traveller. Some famous shopping places are Old Market, New Market and Lall Market, which deal in manufacturing and purchase of wooden products. These markets are also a great place to shop for a plethora of traditional attires available in vibrant colours.

Famous Buddhist and Hindu Shrines of Gangtok

Enveloped by mystic clouds at a height of around 5500 feet, Gangtok is the capital of the eastern state of Sikkim. Once a significant trade route for merchants travelling between India and Tibet, the city is now a hub for travellers seeking peace and tranquillity. It is a perfect base for a picturesque view of the world-famous Kanchenjunga Peak that makes it one of the favoured tourist destinations in India.

Kanchenjunga Peak

Kanchenjunga Peak

This serene paradise is home to several monasteries, exquisite temples, heritage museums and colonial churches that attract a huge influx of both domestic and international tourists. This cosmopolitan city is also dotted with many shopping complexes, cyber cafes and nightclubs, which make it as vivacious as any other thriving city in India.  A Gangtok tour remains incomplete without tasting its local delicacies like momos, thukpa, wai-wai and shah-phaley that are served at all big and small eateries.

Sightseeing in Gangtok

While planning a sightseeing tour of this mesmerizing hill station, travelers must divide their travel itinerary in such a way so that they can visit all its natural and cultural marvels. Tsomgo Lake, also known as the Changu Lake, is not only considered sacred among local people, but is also one of the most stunning locations in the country.

Tashi Point

Tashi Point

Surrounded by giant mountains, it is certainly a heavenly sight that needs to be captured in a camera. To behold more natural beauty, vacations must visit the Tashi Point, from where they can see a breathtaking view of the Kanchenjunga Peak. This point also offers a majestic view of Phodong and Labrang monasteries.

For a spiritual experience, visit various centuries-old Buddhist shrines dotted across this less trodden city. Spend quality time in exploring Do-Drul Chorten, which is among the biggest stupas in the state, features around 108 prayer wheels (or Mani Lhakor).

Do-Drul Chorten

Do-Drul Chorten

The other famous religious attraction is the Rumtek Monastery that is mainly known for the Kagyu (Red Hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. While there are many small and large Buddhist monasteries, the place also has various revered Hindu shrines, such as Ganesh Tok and Hanuman Tok, which are dedicated to namesake Hindu deities.

Rumtek Monastery

Rumtek Monastery

Tourists who want to delve deeper into the rich history of Gangtok, can explore the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology (NIT), which is esteemed for its architectural grandeur. NIT is a library, museum and general reference centre that houses a huge collection of rare Tibetan, Lepcha and Sanskrit manuscripts, statues, unique Thankas and other art objects. It is considered to be among the best Tibet institutes in the world with such a heritage collection.

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

At the end, travellers can undertake an excursion to the MG Marg, the main shopping street of Gangtok town. It is much acclaimed as the first litter and spit free zone in the country. With no vehicular traffic, travellers can have a great time relaxing and shopping in this pollution free area.

So, while booking India tour packages make sure to add this mesmerising hill city in your travel itinerary.