Kalimpong is a sleepy little town situated at an altitude of 1,200 m, some 50 km to the east of Darjeeling. Kalimpong, “The Stockade of the King’s Minister” was once a bustling town on the trade route to Tibet. It once used to be the hub of the trans-himalayan trade between India and Tibet when merchants used to ferry goods by mule caravan over the Jelepla Pass on the Sikkim – Tibet border. Although the trade route has closed down since the early sixties, the town still retains its tranquility and intrinsic charm. It enjoys the best climate in the region and is a favorite haunt of those in search of peace and serenity. It enjoys the best climate in the region, with dense forests of golden oak trees offset by the rich undergrowth of moss and lichen. Owing to it’s rich flora, Kalimpong is a blaze of colors throughout the year. The orchids of this region in particular are famous for their infinite variety as well as their delicate tints.
This is an observatory point, 3 km from town from where an awe-inspiring view of the mountains, rivers and the plains can be seen.
Gangtok with an elevation of 1,780 m, the capital city of Sikkim, is a charming, laid-back town straddling a ridge with houses spilling down the hillside.
An important sect of the Nyingmapa order, this 200 year old monastery, atop a hill above Gangtok, was once the hermitage of Lama. Dripthob Karpo, a tantric master renowned for his powers of flying. The annual ritual dance is performed on the 18yh and 19th day of the 12th Month of the Tibetan calendar corresponding to the month of December/ January.
Rumtek Monastery, is the sect of the Gyalwa Karmapa Lama. The monastery is a magnificent example of Tibetan Monastic art and was built by His Holiness, Gyalwa Karmapa, (a leader of the Kagyu Sect of Tibetan Buddhism). It is a close replica of the H.H. Karmapa’s monastery at Tsorphu in Tibet and houses some of the world’s most unique religious art objects. The sacred Tsomgo Lake (elevation 3780 m) is situated 38 km to the east of Gangtok amidst picturesque mountains. Tibetan Buddhist lamasery of the Nyingmapa order, is a 95 km drive from Kalimpong.
In west Sikkim, Pemayangtse Monastery, a Tibetan Buddhist lamasery of the Nyingmapa order, is a 95 km drive from Kalimpong. Pemayangtse, “The Sublime Perfect Lotus”, is the head of all other monasteries of the Nyingma-pa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is great not only in its antiquity but also in sanctity. The walls and ceilings bear brilliantly hued frescoes of gods and demons. It also houses the intricately carved woodwork, “Zangdok Parli” portraying the Mahaguru’s heavenly palace.
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