March 12, 2010

Miles to Go…in the Himalayas

I’ve been working on the itinerary for my upcoming trip back to the Himalayas this year and thinking about what an amazing, quirky and magical place Sikkim is high in the mountains.

Sikkim is an adventure traveller’s dream come true.  Deep in the lap of the Himalayas, on the border of Tibet and nestled between Nepal and Bhutan, is this tiny stretch of rugged land called Sikkim, or in Tibetan “Su-Khim” or “Land of Happiness”

Separated from the rest of the world by mighty peaks, Sikkim is a magical world. It was a small independent Buddhist kingdom until 1975 and until recently, it was inaccessible, and referred to as the Himalayan Shangrila for its remoteness.

An Indian Visa and Special Entry Permit is required to enter Sikkim, and the northern and eastern ranges along the Tibetan border are still restricted. Sikkim now welcomes a few visitors every year to share its rich heritage and natural bounty

Amazing mountains covered in flowers and forests, bursting with hidden valleys, mystical monasteries and snow-fed lakes. The remoteness, spectacular mountain terrain, varied flora & fauna and ancient monasteries makes Sikkim a true Shangri-La!

Sikkim’s geography is dominated by the Himalayas, with Khangchendzonga (8586m/28,169 ft), the third highest mountain on the planet, at the base. The Sikkimese are beautiful, radiant people who live in simple harmony with nature. They are descendants of vanishing Himalayan races, and religion forms an integral part of daily life. K3 is revered as the sacred and protective deity and guardian of this land.

All along the breathtaking mountain road to Sikkim are numerous signs – mostly slogans about driving carefully, such as “arrive home in peace, not in pieces”, and “better be late than ‘the late’ “, and “if you drive like hell others will have a story to tell”!

I was trying to remember some of the slogans and found this website which captures many of my favourite ones!

Sikkim Road Signs

Guess it helps to have a sense of humour as one travels along the wet roads, parts washed into the roaring Teesta River, precariously hanging off vibrant green hills.

Travelling these roads can be anxious and exciting., perhaps even terrifying to think of being caught in a landslide, or falling into the roaring river. One of our jeeps got pelted by monkeys and had to stop with a broken windshield. Hanuman’s army protecting mountain dieties…!

People here live under extreme conditions with roads becoming not traversable in winter, but the sheer beauty of the surroundings is magical.

Once you visit this valley, there is no escape from it calling you back…

The serenity and eternally enchanting mountain life and peoples fill every dream and memory with happy smiles, insane situations and magical mountain tales. With few travellers venturing to this valley, one leaves Sikkim with an aching desire to return.

If you have ever considered going to the Himalayas and exploring deep into the villages and peoples, we are bringing another group this October on the Annual Magical Mystical Yoga Tour in Sikkim!

From Wikipedia:

Sikkim is the least populous state in India and the second-smallest state in India.

Despite its small area 7,096 km2 (2,740 sq mi), Sikkim is geographically diverse due to location in Himalayas. The climate ranges from subtropical to high alpine. Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak, is located on the border of Sikkim with Nepal

Legend has it that the Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche visited Sikkim in the 9th century, introduced Buddhism and foretold the era of the monarchy. Accordingly, the Namgyal dynasty was established in 1642. Over the next 150 years, the kingdom witnessed frequent raids and territorial losses to Nepalese invaders. It allied itself with the British rulers of India but was soon annexed by them. Later, Sikkim became a British protectorate and merged with India following a referendum in 1975.

Sikkim has 11 official languages: Nepali (lingua franca), Bhutia, Lepcha (since 1977), Limbu (since 1981), Newari, Rai, Gurung, Mangar, Sherpa, Tamang (since 1995) and Sunwar (since 1996). English is taught at schools and used in government documents. It is the only state in India with an ethnic Nepalese majority. The predominant religions are Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Gangtok is the capital and the largest town. Sikkim has a booming economy dependent on agriculture and tourism.


Cora Wen is leading The Magical Mystical Yoga Tour, her 3rd group tour back to the Hiamalayas. As a Chinese National, it is important her Cora to connect with as many Tibetan nationals as possible to help make one step with each human to find peace in relations with China and Tibet. join us to help Tibetan Children’s Education Fund, and join us as we travel through the Hims this year!


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