Heaven Amidst Us

Sujjat Rai
2 years ago

I have never been to heaven!

I have never seen heaven!

I have never met anyone from heaven!

But I think Heaven on earth is Sikkim - irresistible with its stunning landscapes, quaint villages and monasteries, refreshing weather, cascading waterfalls and skyline-silver lakes, and a diversity of flora and fauna. It is a perfect place, if you’re looking to escape the monotony of daily life and get close to nature - full of natural beauty and picturesque views of mountains, down to earth people and one of the safest places on earth for both men and women.

Sikkim is home to lush green forest, flowers of varying hues, and an abundance of flora and fauna, making it a perfect spot to spend some time in the lap of Mother Nature. Mt. Kangchenjunga adds to the splendour of the place and makes Sikkim a perfect place for trekking. If you’re not up for trekking, you can see the flowers at ‘Flower Exhibition Centre - Ridge Park’ or ‘Yumthang Valley or Valley of Flowers’. Yumthang Valley - the rare and exotic location is a nature sanctuary with river, hot springs, yaks and grazing pasture on rolling meadows surrounded by the Himalayan mountains and is home to the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary which has over twenty-four species of rhododendrons - the state flower. The flowering season is from late February and mid June, when countless flowers bloom to carpet the valley in multicolored hues of rainbow.

Amongst the lakes in the state of Sikkim the ones that stands out the most are ‘Changu Lake or Tsongmo Lake’ and ‘Gurudongmar Lake’. In Tsongmo Lake you can enjoy the mesmerizing view of the Lake (or frozen lake which depends upon the season you are travelling), snow (if it's the snowfall season), enjoy the Yak ride and local dishes beside the lake, rent traditional dress of Sikkimese people and take some pictures beside the lake or take a ride in the ropeway (A cable car that climbs to 14,500 ft on the snow-covered slopes near Changu Lake) and dance amongst the clouds. Alpine forests cover the catchment of the lake. After the winter season ends in the middle of May, the periphery of the lake has scenic blooms of flower species of rhododendrons (the state tree of Sikkim), primulas, blue and yellow poppies, irises and so forth. Also seen in the precincts of the lake are several species of birds including Brahminy ducks. Wildlife seen includes the red panda. Gurudongmar Lake is considered sacred by Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus. The lake is named after Guru Padmasambhava also known as Guru Rinpoche, founder of Tibetan Buddhism. The lake is about 5 kilometres, south of the Tibetan (Chinese) border. The lake can be reached by road from Lachen via Thangu. The road from Thangu to Gurudongmar passes through rugged terrain with moraine, which has high alpine pastures covered with many rhododendron trees. While Indian tourists are allowed to visit the lake, foreigners need to get a special permit from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi. The lake remains completely frozen in the winter months, from November to Mid-May. It is inhabited by Yaks, blue sheep and other wildlife of high altitude. If you are fortunate enough you will also be able to witness migratory birds quenching their thirst by the lake. The lake is fresh water and used to be very clear; the bed of the lake could even be seen from the middle of the lake. Pollution has muddied the waters in recent years, and the lake has taken on a white tinge and has obscured visibility.

Tashi view point offers a sweeping view of Kanchenjunga snow peaks on a clear day. In fact the view of sunrise from here is unforgettable, you will see the peaks dazzling with changing colors. There are many monasteries in Sikkim and among them are Rumtek Monastery, Do-Drul Chorten, Pemayangtse Monastery etc. In the evening you can stroll around Mg Marg which is the heart of Gangtok and its most happening place. You can leisurely stroll or just sit on the benches in Mg Marg.  It is the central shopping hub with various shops, restaurants, and hotels lined up along both sides. The entire area is free of smoke, litter, and vehicular traffic. It's a pedestrian-only zone, and vehicles are not allowed. The buildings on both sides of MG Road in Gangtok are painted green in line with the government's green initiative. Gangtok's MG Road looks stunning after dark when the lights are lit, making it a place to be at night for shopping, spending quality time with friends or family, dining etc - the choice is yours.

PS: In the state of Sikkim smoking has been banned in public places since 2008 and it is illegal to do so. If you are caught, you will be fined between INR 200-500. Mg Marg is a Litter and spit-free zone, Also, in 1998, Sikkim became the first Indian state to ban disposable plastic bags.