Sikkim

Sikkim, referred to as Denzong (valley of rice) by most locals Himalayan folks, Sikkim is better known internationally for its spices like cardamom, ginger and even famous for its varieties of rare and exotic orchids, rhododendrons and wild flowers. Specimens of the rarest butterflies on earth along with an incredible range of ubiquitous animals and birds thrive in the temperate forests and alpine woodlands of Sikkim.

Inexorably charming Sikkim reveals in the lure of its primeval attractions, replete with an abundance of untamed wilderness and rugged beauty, endowed with a bounties combination of enchanting attributes, it’s interesting wealth of Bio-Diversity coupled with a colorful extravaganza of vibrant Himalayan cultures makes it ideal for a perfectly enjoyable holiday. Imposing monasteries perched on top of verdant hills are enveloped in an aura of sublime tranquility. The spiritual ambiance of their locale is accentuated by an orchestrated rendition of mantras amidst a reverberating clash of symbols lingering echo of drum beats and the deep melancholic boom of trumpets. A large number of devotees flock to numerous centers of pilgrimage that are sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists alike.

The landscape of Sikkim features rolling expanses of mountainous terrain, temperate forests, alpine pastures and glacial lakes, vertiginous cliffs, cavernous gorges, deep ravines and picturesque waterfalls, a cold desert on its northern fringes forms its borders with Tibet. The ever transforming images portrayed by its landscape and verdure encompass a jaw dropping range of variations in elevation. A compelling combination of grandeur and austerity can be experienced in the most dramatic convergence of its topographical features. Foot hills, steep mountains and souring snow clad peaks of the Himalayas blend into each other to represent the finest examples of natural symbiosis.

Sikkim was another independent Himalayan kingdom until 1975 when it finally merged with the Republic of India. Upon the signing of the instruments of accession, the rule of the “Chogyels” as the kings of Sikkim were called came to an end. Although sovereign Sikkim was a protectorate of the imperial British Empire, India inherited the legacy when it was granted independence in 1947. Today Sikkim shares contagious borders with Nepal to the west, Bhutan to the east and China to the north. Since it is a strongly fortified strategic enclave of India, travel to this sensitive province was restricted until a couple of years ago. Now with the harmonization of border disputes between India and China, tourist’s permits can be procured. Thus a window of a new frontier in exploration and discover awaits those in the quest of adventure, spirituality, authentic tribal culture and splendid mountain scenery.

Sikkim with Darjeeling & Bhutan Tour

Day 01: Delhi – Paro (Bhutan) by Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Bhutan; window seat in the aircraft allows you wonderful view of Himalayan scenery. Flying along the Himalayan range, it is a breathtaking journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills into the kingdom.You will be received by the representative of TLF Holidays at the airport; completion of visa/immigration and customs formalities, transfer to the hotel. Evening visit a Bhutanese traditional Farm House and stroll in Paro town. Overnight Hotel

Day 02: Day hike to Takshang Monastery

An excursion to view & visit the spectacular Takshang Monastery. “Takshang” literally means Tiger’s Nest.  The Monastery is believed to have been built in 1684 on the spot where Guru Rimpoche (founder of Buddhism in Bhutan) flew on the back of a Tigress and meditated to subdue the demons in Paro valley. The trail to the Monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. This incredible Monastery clings vertically to the edge of a granite rock cliff that plunges 900 meters above the valley floor. Lunch at Takshang Cafeteria; visit Taa Dzong, the national museum of Bhutan & Rimpong Dzong. Later drive to Thimphu & evening at leisure in town;dinner and overnight at Hotel

Day 03 – Thimphu-Punakha

Early breakfast and drive to Punakha across Dochula Pass (Alt.3050 M). If weather is clear, you can have spectacular view of the snowcapped Himalayan mountain peaks from the pass. Continue drive to Punakha and stop at Missina to take a short walk to visit Chimmi Lhakhang, a monastery of fertility which is regarded as a pilgrimage site for barren couple. After lunch visit Punakha Dzong; a historic Dzong that looks like a ship between two rivers Pho Chu and Mo Chu. Later visit the new Khuru township and stroll around at leisure. Dinner & overnight Hotel

Day 04: Punakha – Thimphu

Early breakfast and sightseeing- Visit Punakha Dzong, Khuru town, Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten, Chhimi Lhakhang (a pilgrimage site for barren couple), Wangdiphodrang Dzong. Lunch at a local restaurant in Wangdiphodrang and drive back to Thimphu

Day 05: Thimphu Sightseeing

Full day sightseeing: visit Memorial Chorten, Changangkha Monastery, Zilukha Nunnery,  National Library, Folk Heritage Museum, Zorig Chosum (Painting School) and Buddha’s point for view of Thimphu valley.Lunch at Bhutan Kitchen and continue sightseeing – visit Handicraft Emporium & Bhutanese Hand Made Paper factory.Evening visit Tashichhodzong, the central secretariat building that houses the office & thrown room of the King and leisure time in town. Dinner & overnight at Hotel

Day 06: Thimphu – Phuentsholing (176 km, 6 hours)
Early breakfast and drive to Phuentsholing en route visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the Kingdom built in 1627, which now houses the School for Buddhist studies. Drive today is pretty long appx.6 hours and is pleasant with numerous scenic spots for photography. Visit Kharbandi Gompa, which is just before arriving Phuentsholing. This beautiful monastery situated in a garden of tropical plants and flowers, was built by Royal Grandmother, Ashi Phuntsho Choedron in 1967. You will have a grand view of Phuentsholing town and the continuation of Jaigaon town, a border town of the Indian state of West Bengal.

Day 07: Phuentsholing-Kalimpong
Early breakfast and drive to Kalimpong. (appx.110 kms, 4 hrs drive). First part of the journey passes through the plains, a large range of foothill forests crawling with wildlife, farm houses, tea gardens, transparent rivers interspersed with quiet villages and small townships of vibrant local culture then begins gradual climbing to the hill station. Check into the Hotel. After lunch local sightseeing – visit Durpin Monastery, Flower Nursery and local Bazaar. Evening at leisure. Overnight Hotel.

Day 08: Kalimpong-Gangtok

After breakfast stroll around in town and a brief tour of the historic Dr Graham’s home. The extensive boarding and day school facility was established over a century ago. Visit an Anglican church with fine stained glass windows nearby and you can also visit one of the flower nurseries for which Kalimpong is well known across India. and drive to Gangtok. Evening stroll around the local bazaar. Overnight Hotel.

Day 09: Gangtok Sightseeing

Morning excursion to Phodong Monastery. Afternoon local sightseeing – visit Cottage industry, Enchey Monastery, Institute of Tibetlogy and the local bazaar. We will also tour the permanent ‘Flower Show’ that exhibits a number of native Sikkimese orchid and flower species. Later we recommend a visit to the busy vegetable and spice market.  Overnight Hotel

Day 10: Gangtok-Darjeeling

A brief drive to Rumtek Monastery on the opposite side of the valley from Gangtok. Rumtek is the seat of the Tibetan Kagyugpa sect of monks and a major centre for Tibetan religious studies. The 16th Gwalpa Karmapa, the head of the Kagyugpa sect, took refuge in Rumtek after the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the 1950’s; he and his followers escaped with whatever statues, ‘thangka’ paintings and scriptures they could and built Rumtek monastery as a replica of the Chhofuk monastery that they had left behind in Tibet.

Drive to Darjeeling; Mark Twain quoted Darjeeling “The one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once-by even a glimpse would not give that glimpse for the shows of the rest of the world combined”. Afternoon local sightseeing – Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Zoological Park, Panda Breeding Center, and the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center. Overnight Hotel

Day 11: Darjeeling Sightseeing

Early morning excursion to Tiger Hill (11 km) to view the sunrise over Mt.Kunchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. En route visit Yigacholing Ghoom Monastery. Day excursion to Happy Valley Tea Estate; afternoon fun ride in the famous Toy train, which has received a place in the world heritage site lately. Overnight Hotel

Day 12: Darjeeling-Bagdogra-Delhi

After breakfast, drive gradual climbing down hill, following the route of the toy train you reach Bagdogra airport for onward flight to Delhi.

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