Darjeeling & Sikkim

DARJEELING - There is nowhere quite a place like Darjeeling "Queen of hills" which nature has chosen with care and blessed it with beauty and lush greenery of the tea garden. It is far from the maddening crowds of the metros. There is no finer place than Darjeeling to steep yourself in the grandeur and beauty of the towering snow-capped mountains. It’s a fascinating place where you can see Buddhist monasteries, visit a tea plantation and see how the tea is processed, spend days for bargains in colorful markets and handicraft shops or go trekking to high altitude spots near the border with Sikkim. Darjeeling has been very popular hill station since the British established it as an R & R Center for their troops in the mid eighteen hundreds. It also has Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, where Tenzin Norgey was a Field Director of this institute. In HMI museum you can see the original flag of Union that was hosted by Tenzin Norgey and Sir Hillary during the first ever ascent of Mt. Everest on May 29, 1953.

SANDAKPUR: From the picturesque town of Darjeeling, situated at an altitude of 7,042 ft (2,134 m), trek up through enchanting forests, ascending gradually to the Singalila ridge, with close views of Kanchenjunga (28,630 ft/8,598 m) the third highest mountain in the world. The ridge provides panoramic views of the Himalayas on three sides with Mt. Everest in the distance, a fine view of the Nepalese valleys and of the plains of North Bengal with the snow-fed Teesta on the east, Koshi on the west and smaller steams between them. A sunrise from Sandakpur is simply astonishing with clouds blanketing the valley, rising above is continuous barrier of snowy mountains, the most prominent which is Kanchenjunga (8598 m) towering up in gigantic height and breadth with its attendant peaks Kabru (7338 m), Jannu (Khumbhakarna - 7710 m) and Pandim (6691 m) clustering closely round it. Far of to the west among a group of other snowy mountain rising from graceful peaks of Everest group can be seen, behind the crest of Mt. Makalu. The contrast between Everest and Kanchenjunga is very marked. One could also take a slip of the local brew made from the Rhododendron flowers.

SIKKIM: Known in Tibetan lore as a hidden land of ultimate serenity (a beyul), Sikkim retains the heavenly enchantment of the Himalayan Kingdom. Until the mid-1970’s, the Chogyal (king) ruled Sikkim with his American quest Hope Cooke. The tiny enclave is now a state of India, sandwiched between Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. Mount Kanchenjunga third highest peak in the world (8588m) stands guardian to Sikkim and its peoples. No one is allowed to steep on its summit, where five holy treasures are said to be hidden. Sikkim though tiny has varied topographical features the majestic mountains, passes, glaciers and innumerable snow fed lakes and rivers which tend to provide different climatic zones, which range from, the tropical climates to chilling artic areas. Most part of Northern Sikkim, eastern and western Sikkim is covered with snow almost throughout the year, whereas the southern border teems with tropical forests. 

GOCHELA: In the west of Sikkim has uninterrupted views of an awe-inspiring east ridge of Kanchenjunga beyond the extensive Talung glacier. Mt. Kanchenjunga is the third highest peak in the world. Our journey starts from plains of India and goes high within a span of few days cross-sectioning the varied vegetations from thick forest to the world of rhododendron and magnolias. We suddenly find ourselves at wide open alpine meadows & the land of glaciers & lakes & mountain rising all around. A trek gets us closest to Himalaya that no other trek in the world gives in such a small time. The trek takes us right next to the massive row of peaks belong to Mt. Kanchenjunga range including Jannu, Rathong, Kabru, Pandim & Tenzin Kang.

FLORA AND FAUNA OF SIKKIM AND DARJEELING:  Because of altitudes that very right from sea level to 28,000 ft., the biodiversity of the flora and fauna naturally covers a wide and myriad spectrum from tropical to alpine. The eastern Himalayas boast of having a rich bio-diversity.  The region has 4500 species of flowering plants, 515 species of orchids, 36 types of rhododendron, 23 varieties of bamboos, 362 types of ferns, 60 species of primula, 424 types of medical plants, 525 types of birds, 690 types of butterflies. You may chance upon the shy mush deer on one of your treks or wave out to the exotic Red Panda perched among the treetops. Sikkim’s forests abound in all kinds of fauna- the barking deer, the Himalayan black beer, the blue sheep and the snow leopard (you could be one). 

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