¤ Enchey Gompa
amidst a forested patch, the Enchey Gompa comes alive with religious
festivals and dances in the month of August and January. Needless to
say, this is the best time to visit the monastery. Otherwise too, this
Chinese Pagoda styled edifice, built in 1901 during the reign of
Sidkeong Tulku, is quite fascinating. Its about a kilometre-long
walk uphill from the White Hall (the residence of the chief minister),
and follows the Nyingmpa Order. It is believed that over 200 years
ago, Lama Druptob Karpo had built a small hermitage at this very spot.
The gompa (monastery) offers a great view of the Kanchendzong Range
rising above treetops. But before you take off for the uphill climb
from the White Hall, do take a peek at the flower exhibition centre at
the Deorali Orchid Sanctuary, nearby. The sanctuary houses about 200
of the total 454 species of orchids found in Gangtok, and the
exhibition generally displays quite a variety of orchids.
¤ Namgyal Research Institute of Tibetology
The world-renowned Namgyal Research Institute of Tibetology, is built
in the typical Tibetan style of architecture; roosted on a hilltop, it
is an absolute must see on your Gangtok sightseeing tour. Situated amongst woods of magnolia and oak,
the institute promotes research on the largest collections of books
and manuscripts on Mahayana Buddhism in the world.
There are about 30 thousand volumes and translations of the original
teachings of Buddha, and various other treatises of other venerable
Buddhist scholars from around the world.
The institute also has a museum which has an impressive collection of
antiques amongst other things, and perhaps the most beautiful and
finely crafted tangkhas (painted or embroidered scrolls), you will
ever see. Close by is the huge golden-topped Do-drul Chorten or the
Phurba Chorten, shaped like a stupa (a dome-shaped structure) with 108
prayer wheels around the periphery. This white painted chorten, with
its many-coloured Buddhist prayer flags, is visible from many parts of
downtown Gangtok. Close to the chorten is the Guru Lhakang Monastery
and also a school for Buddhist studies.
¤ Government Institute of Cottage Industries
The Government Institute of Cottage Industries is another interesting
option for your Gangtok sightseeing. Located uphill from the main market, the institute was
established in 1957, with the aim of promoting local handicrafts. The
outlet at the institute is a good place to pick up handicrafts like
tangkhas, woollen carpets,
dolls and masks amongst other things.
¤ Palace of The Chogyal
you happen to be in Gangtok during the last week of December, do not
miss going to the Palace of the Chogyal (Monarch), as it is open to
public only during the week of the Pang Lhabsol festival.
The festival is celebrated only in Sikkim and commemorates the
consecration of Mount Kanchendzonga as the guardian deity of the
region. The Tsuklakhang or the Royal Chapel lies within the palace
grounds, and is the place where royal marriages and coronation
ceremonies took place. In its beautifully carved and painted wooden
interiors, it houses an impressive collection of scriptures and images
of the Buddha.
¤ Other Attractions
If you are looking for a place to spend a few leisurely hours, you
could try going to the Deer Park, situated on the edge of the ridge.
The Deer Park is also a popular viewpoint. Tashi Viewpoint is another
scenic spot, and a pleasant even if a trifle long walk from the town.
6km from the town, on the North Sikkim Highway, the vantage point is
best visited in the early morning hours. Distant monasteries roosted
on the Kanchendzonga Range, seen in the light of the early morning
sun, can be quite a transcendental experience. Do try it out. The
climb to Hanuman Tok is another agreeable experience. The Hanuman
Temple at the top of the hill is a peaceful little spot and offers a
fine view as well. About 14km from Gangtok, is the Orchidarium or the
Ipecac Garden, spread over six acres of land. It houses Sikkims
many varieties of orchids and other rare tropical and temperate
plants. The garden is also a popular picnic spot.
Cradled by pristine alpine forests, the Changu Lake is bordered with
primula, poppies and other wildflowers and grasses, and a little
temple of Shiva (Destroyer of the Universe according to Hindu
mythology) dots one side of the placid waterbody. The lake formed by
the melting snow of mountains, stands at an altitude of 12,400ft, and
has an average depth of 50ft. There is a footpath that runs from the
lake to a peaceful resting shed. Its a great place to just lie
down for a lazy while and take in the smells and sounds of Mother
The lake freezes during the winter months, and it is believed that in
ancient times monks could predict the future by looking at the hues of
the lake water! You could try fishing here, as the lake has some
rainbow trout. Foreigners are now allowed to visit the lake as well.
The Changu Lake is at a distance of 35km from Gangtok.
It is best to visit the lake from March to May, and from September to
December. This might mean though that during the peak season, the lake
tends to get a trifle overcrowded with tourists.
between the mountains below the Jelepla Pass, the Menmecho Lake lies
20km ahead of the Changu Lake. The lake is formed by the melting snow
of mountains and is the source of the Rangpochu River. Well, if
you havent had much luck with your hook n line at
Changu, try again at Menmecho Lake as it is known for its trout and
also has a fish-farm close by. But you might have to check with a
local travel agent if the lake is open to tourists.
Have you ever dreamt of a heavenly lake in the middle of green
tranquil woods from which you look up to see prayer flags swishing in
the wind, and there in the distance a little monastery perched on top
of a remote hill? Look down, and you see not a leaf disturbing the
peaceful waters, but a reflection of a wild untouched garden.
Very slowly a leaf glides and settles on the tarns still
waters, sending a few corrugated shivers into the reflection, and the
forest gets into a little topsy-turvy.
Just then, a little bright bird hovers over the pool and in one
manoeuvered swoop, the pretty creature scoops up the leaf off the
surface of the loch, as if it has done so a thousand times before.
The lake is again a perfect undisturbed mirror. 27km from Pelling,
the Khecheopari Lake seems just straight out of this dream. The
Lepchas attach a great deal of religious significance to the waterbody
and believe that each leaf that drops in this wishing pool, is swept
up by a bird. The Khecheopari Lake is popular with trekkers, and if
you happen to be here at dusk, you might be lucky enough to see some
locals offering prayers and floating leaf-lamps on the lake waters.
Out of sheer respect for the sentiments of the locals, it is advisable
neither to swim in the water nor litter the lake area.