first_imgLord Padmasambhava’s statue at NamchiThere are monumental things happening in the ancient state of Sikkim. And that’s not just because of the giant Buddha Statue coming up at Rabong in South Sikkim. The proposed 125 ft statue of Sangay Chomden Dey sitting in meditation when complete should be the largest of its kind in the world. It began in 2006 to mark the 2550th birth anniversary of the Lord Buddha. Covering an area of 22.5 acres, the project includes an eco-garden and other amenities along with the giant statue. In Namchi you’ll find the current record holder, a 45m statue of the Padmasambhava, looking towards Sikkim and the mountains. This one was finished in 2004 after seven years of construction and the sun glints off its shining gold, making it visible for miles around.Across the valley, Solophok is hard at work constructing its own giant statue, this time a 108 ft one of Shiva sitting on a hilltop. Besides the Shiva statue there are a number of smaller statues, temples and visitor attractions under construction for what is hoped to be a major pilgrimage centre. But this is not all that’s happening in Sikkim.Beyond SpiritualityTraditional dance at the Hee Bermiok Heritage Tourism FestivalThe prosperous market town of Namchi also plays host to the recent Namchi Tourism Mahotsav. Thousands of tourists have started flocking to Namchi in October to meander through the stalls of handlooms and handicrafts that are put up along the traditional houses. Cuisines of Sikkim’s different communities are also on offer along with free-flowing rice wine. And in between all the music and entertainment there are pony rides and short treks to be enjoyed–you can even see how Sikkim’s different ethnic groups conduct their wedding rites.Aritar, in East Sikkim, hosts the Lampokhari Tourism Festival from the end of March to early April. This includes boating in the Lampokhari Lake, archery competition and short treks to scenic points on the hills. For the more adventurous, there are activities like rock climbing and paragliding. And of course there are cultural shows, flower exhibitions and plenty of local cuisine. Lampokhari, with its lush green surroundings, is one of the oldest lakes in Sikkim. An artificial embankment has been built to make boating easier, which is quite a first for the State.A Little AdventureSikkimese women performing traditional songsThe Hee Bermiok Tourism Development and Heritage Conservation Society has been hosting a heritage festival in West Sikkim since 2005. Apart from the usual art and culture the festival has an interesting display of items like the dhinki or wooden husking machine and the jhato, or grinder. The height of the festival is a spectacular mountain biking rally that draws tourists from all over. This festival coincides with SHAN, the Sikkim Heritage Adventure Nature International Camp. First held in 2008, the camp introduces participants to the East Himalayas, situated as it is next to the Rhododendron Sanctuary. Accommodation is organised in high altitude tents in camping areas, local lodges and homestays. Savour local Himalayan and Indian recipes.Flower PowerBeautiful yellow orchids are on display at the flower festivalIn May, Sikkim’s wealth of flowers and ferns are in full bloom. To showcase them Gangtok goes to town with a huge outdoor flower festival. You’ll find the State’s 600 varieties of orchids, 240 trees and 240 types of ferns, 150 kinds of gladioli, 46 varieties of the world-famous rhododendrons, different kinds of magnolias and many other leafy plants showcased. Experts gather from all over the world and there are seminars on the subject. It’s usually held next door to the Governor’s Residence at White Hall.Snow ManWhile all these are held in summer, Gangtok’s Winter Festival offers visitors a ‘taste of nature, culture and adventure’ for four days in December. Inaugurated in 2005, the festival consists of a colourful ethnic extravaganza with stalls serving piping hot local delicacies to combat the winter chill. Adventure sports and white water rafting add to the fun. The music festival contributes to the friendly rivalry.Along with traditional village homestays, Sikkimese heritage homes have been developing to provide a ethnic base for tourists. Among these are the Turuk Kothi Heritage House, a 160-year-old house and estate, 45 minutes down the dirt road from Malli Bazar. And there’s Gangtok’s tranquil Hidden Forest Retreat spread over three acres of lush green garden with all kinds of trees, bamboos, ferns, flowers and orchids. These beautiful places to stay provide the right backdrop to enjoy the colourful Sikkimese culture. What’s more, 2010 has been declared Sikkim Year of Tourism and things, one hopes, will only get better.advertisementadvertisement Fact fileNamchi Tourism Mahotsav In OctoberLampokhari Tourism Festival Scheduled for March-April this yearHee Bermiok Heritage Tourism Festival Held in MaySHAN May 10th-13th this yearInternational Rhododendron Festival May 3rd-20th this yearWinter Festival In DecemberTuruk Kothi Heritage House Malli Bazar, Turuk, South Sikkim; tel: (03595) 266 042; www.sikkimeco.comlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *