On India’s eastern frontier, sandwiched between Bhutan and Nepal, on the erstwhile Silk Route to Tibet & beyond, lies the Indian state of Sikkim. It is truly an enchanted land cloaked as much in myth and legend as the all pervading mountain mist. Looming over this wonderland are Kanchendzonga – probably the most spectacular of Himalayan peaks, and several other towering peaks over the 20000 feet / 6100 M mark. A large number of peaks have remained un-scaled because the Sikkimese consider them sacred and feel that they will lose their sanctity if climbed!
Exotic flora & fauna like the myriad varieties of tropical orchids, many hued rhododendrons and the elusive Snow Leopard, among many others, add to the bewitching character of this region. The Sikkimese people are predominantly of Nepalese stock, the Lepchas- of Tibetan origin and the nomadic herd’s people- Bhutias, are the other indigenous inhabitants. Though the mention of Sikkim immediately conjures up images of Buddhism, the main religion is Hinduism and the peace loving and tolerant Sikkimese have also allowed Christianity, Sikhism & Islam to flourish alongside. The hum of the Buddhist prayer wheels, Vedic chants and the peal of church bells all merge wonderfully here to produce a unique and vibrant culture.
Sikkim’s allure has always drawn pilgrims, researchers- botanists and Indian travelers just looking for an offbeat, serene getaway, despite access to this hill state being restricted for many years. Only in recent times have all tourists, including foreigners, been given permission to visit.