When the simmering summer rolls in and one is thinking about holidays, the first thought in one’s mind is to go for a hill station. The likes of Shimla, Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar are the usual suspects; however, there has been a surge of tourism to the North Eastern haven of Sikkim, especially its capital Sikkim. The North East has always been known to be a serene abode set in the hilly planes. Sikkim is probably the state which is most sought after in the tourism aspect in the North East even though access into the state isn’t quite straightforward (one has to take a flight to Bagdogra from Kolkata and then get oneself a taxi that’ll ascend the mountains for a good 5-6 hours. There’s plenty of things to do and marvel at in Sikkim- from Indian casinos online (or otherwise since gambling is legal in Sikkim) to finding yourself in rooms with no fans (they don’t need any which is quite the marvel itself) to climbing steppes that’ll get you to some amazing monasteries, Sikkim is pretty much the whole package. Let’s peruse over the various reasons that should make you consider Sikkim for your next holiday:
* The Food
Yes, the food! For a lot of people who travel, food is the most immediate concern. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the fact that food keeps alive and ticking. People are bound to open some food delivery or restaurant listing application once they are a destination to gauge their options, or will embark on a long walk to figure out all the hotspots that are there to satiate their hunger. In the case of foodies that travel, food is probably the biggest influencer when it comes to them enjoying their travails. If the food is great, it makes the trip memorable. Therefore, food is the make-or-break deal of almost every vacation one takes. Imagine being stranded in some far-flung land and there’s barely anything to eat there for you.
Fortunately, Sikkim doesn’t suffer from this problem. It’s got plenty for the gastronomics to relish. Their range of sumptuous, yet relatively healthy dishes compared to what we eat on a daily basis as part of our stable diet, is something that should make any foodie curious. People might have had momos from the local eateries and kiosks around them but food culture in Sikkim is totally different from whatever you will experience in your city or town. First of all, cleanliness is maintained. You wouldn’t find all sorts of rubbish lying around and overflowing gutters filled up with all kinds of garbage that clogs them up and makes them overflow. You wouldn’t find the open kiosks indulge in any sort of monkey business either and will see them usually exercising hygienic practices. Pamper yourself with some Momos, Thukpa and Wontons. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Due to its proximity from Darjeeling, you’re bound to find shops selling great organic tea. The weather in Sikkim is always perfect for a cup of hot green tea or basically any variety of it. For those who like to snack with an eye on their health, Sikkimese cuisine should be perfect for you considering the fact that they use minimal or next to no oil, not to mention that they needn’t use an abundance of spices to bring out the most exotic of flavours in their food. Vegetarian folks needn’t worry as Sikkim has tons of vegetarian delicacies for them to try, mostly dishes involving boiled vegetables which should neither create a massive dent in your pockets nor one in your heart.
* The Monasteries
Monasteries are a big part of what Sikkim is, given the fact that Buddhism is the majority religion there. You’d find an alluring silence enveloping these Monasteries, with the Monks seemingly at peace with the world they find themselves in and just going about their day with these serene demeanour that we can learn a thing or two about considering how hectic our lives are. There are quite a few monasteries one can visit during one’s time in Sikkim- Rumtek, Phodong, Enchey, Pemayangtse, Phensang and Tashiding. All these monasteries could involve physically climbing the steppes, which is a massive part of the lifestyle over there in Sikkim. Most people prefer to take public transport or cover distances on foot, so you’d have plenty of company when you opt to walk up to your destination. The monasteries are grand structures, quite reminiscent of the sort of monasteries you’d find in other nations with a Buddhist majority. Being the only Indian state with monasteries of all four schools of Buddhism, Sikkim could prove lend you incredible insight into the religious ethos and practices of the religion and perhaps provide you with the much-needed alone time that city life has slowly corroded and taken away from us, leading to increasing stress and taking us closer to monumental burnout. Seek out some peace!
* Plenty of Flora and Fauna
Sikkim is home to 533 species of birds, 690 species of butterflies and is the home of the Red Panda. The Red Panda is an endangered species, but the state government has been taking stringent steps to ensure that the species doesn’t go totally extinct. In terms of flora, the state boasts of 35 species of rhododendrons, 600 types of orchids, 240 species of ferns and trees and a total 150 varieties of gladioli. All in all, there’s plenty to take in for wildlife lovers.
* Arts and Culture
While we’ve already talked about the monasteries being megaliths of Buddhist architecture, there is something to be said about the artistic expression of people in Sikkim. You’d find plenty of thangkas usually lit up with jovial colours and crafted with an exquisite Tibetan edge. Thangkas are essential in the meditative practice deeply ingrained into the Buddhist culture, and so it is not surprising that while the artistry in question is vibrant, it has this soothing touch to it as well.
* Hot Water Springs, Holy Water Ceremony Of Bhum Chu and Kangchenjunga
Three of the five peaks- main, central and South of Kanchenjunga, the 3rd highest mountain in the world, are located in the state.
When one thinks of Hot Water Springs, one probably thinks of Iceland or some other Scandinavian locale. You needn’t go that far to witness them, however, as you can find them in Sikkim itself! There are 5 well-known hot water springs in Sikkim, all located in seemingly exotic and beautiful locales.
The Hot Water ceremony of Bhum Chu is quite intriguing in itself. The festival is held every year in Tashiding Monastery to determine the future of Sikkim. This is done by opening a sacred urn with sacred hymns and chants, with the increasing or decreasing levels of water being used as indicators for what is to happen in the coming year.