The Dharma Chakra Centre or the Rumtek Monastery is situated at an altitude of 5800ft, 24kms from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. It is the seat of His Holiness, the XVIth Gyawla Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism.
The lush green hilly terrain and the breathtaking misty mountains make Rumtek an ideal place to feel closer to nature. This monastery shows the best of Tibetan architecture and is a replica of the original monastery in Tsurpu,Tibet. The monastery houses some of the rarest Buddhist religious artefacts found in the world and is also a world renowned centre for Kagyu teachings.
Hanuman Tok or the temple of Hanuman, is known for its spectacular view of the Himalayas – the Kanchenjunga range in particular. It's located at an altitude of 7,200 ft. The climb up to the temple can prove out to be tiring but nonetheless rewarding for the heavenly feeling you get once inside. Legend says that Hanuman had rested here when he was returning with the Sanjeevini herb. It is being managed and preserved by the Indian Army, since 1968. Prayer chants accompanied by the ringing of bells give the temple a divine aura.
One of the oldest silk routes between India and China, Nathula Pass is a mountain pass in Eastern Sikkim, on the Indo-Chinese border. It still serves as the trade link between the two countries. The Old Silk Route through Lhasa, Sikkim and Eastern India used to cross through Nathula Pass. The presence of the Indian Army is clearly seen with Army settlements spread across the Nathula Pass and its surroundings. It is marked by entrance gates of both countries (India and China) and military bunkers on both sides of the gate.The road to Nathula takes one through an adventurous drive surrounded by dense alpine flora. Tourists have to get a permit to visit the border and are allowed to go close to the international border from where one can see Chinese soldiers on the other side of the barbed wire. Photography is strictly prohibited.
Located at a distance of 37kms from Gangtok, at an altitude of 12,400 ft, Tsomgo Lake or Changu is one of the most spectacular landscapes of Sikkim. It is on the way to Nathula. The lake is considered holy by the local Buddhists and Hindus. The unique feature about this lake, is that it never dries up. This is one of the largest frozen lakes with a depth of about 48 feet and spreads over 1 km. A winding road through the rugged mountain terrain and sharp cliffs takes you to this large flatland. The lake gets its water from the melting snows of the mountains surrounding it. Of ethereal beauty, the lake looks different during different seasons. In winter, the placid lake remains frozen with the area around it covered in snow, while in late spring, the abundance of flowers in bloom adds a riot of colours around the lake. One should not miss the rides on colourfully decorated yaks and mules available there. Visiting the Tsomgo lake should be a must on everybody’s itinerary.
The beautiful city of Gangtok can be savoured best on the ropeway ride or cable car. Providing a spectacular bird‘s eye-view of Gangtok and the surrounding mountain ranges, the ropeway has three terminal stations. People of all age groups, whether young or old, will find this ride memorable.