Sikkim – The land of Kanchenjunga, Orchids and Spirituality

A. N. Maheshwari



In April 2003 I visited Gangtok, the capital of the hill state of Sikkim.  The nearest airport for reaching Gangtok is Bagdogra. From Bagdogra the road to Gangtok is a scenic drive. It closely follows the descent of the Teesta River from the mountains to the plains. The distance to Gangtok from Bagdogra is about 120 km. But as the road climbs up by winding around hilly slopes there are many twists and turns and the journey can take easily 4 hours.



Sikkim before its merger with India was an independent country ruled by the Chogyal. The Chogyal was a Buddhist. He provided shelter to the Tibetans who fled Tibet in the wake of the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959. The 16th Gyalwa Karmapa built a monastery in Sikkim at Rumtek. It functions as the Dharma Chakra Centre and as an educational centre for higher Buddhist studies.



Sikkim is nestled in the Himalayas. It is worth a visit for seeing Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain , the Rumtek monastery and a wide variety of orchids. Purely by accident my visit and the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Sikkim coincided. In honour of the visit of the Prime Minister a special exhibition of orchids was arranged by the State Government at Gangtok. It turned out to be a privilege for I also could see a rare collection of orchids from Sikkim and from the other North Eastern States.  

I am happy to put in the public domain of the World Wide Web some images from my visit to Sikkim.