In the local language, this journey literally means "into the heart of Paradise". One of the areas that this holiday takes you through is northern part of Sikkim, Dzongu, home to the original inhabitants of Sikkim. We visit some imposing monasteries and live, breathe and experience the culture and the people of Dzongu.
Route: Gangtok Bagdogra Dzongu Tingvong Kusong Lingzya Kalimpong Bagdogra
Activities: Handicraft centre, monastery visit, hiking, country side walks, Tibetology, monastic schools, waterfalls, culture and heritage programs, bird & butterfly watching, pilgrimage
Duration: 12 days
Gangtok: You land at Bagdogra and drive to Gangtok (4.5 hours).
Gangtok: We spend the morning roaming Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. We visit the Handicraft Centre, flower show and the Institute of Tibetology. In the evening visit the Rumtek monastery, a 16th century monastery, which is the home of the Karmapa.
Dzongu: We drive through the hills to Dzongu in North Sikkim. En route we stop midway at Kabi Lungchok, which is said to be the site of the blood brotherhood treaty between Lepcha's and Bhutias. We visit the Phodong and Labrang monasteries and reach Namprikdang.
Dzongu: From Namprikdang we hike uphill for 3 hours to Lingthem village. After Lunch at Lingthem village, we explore it and interact with the local people. We visit the handicraft center and monastery of Lingthem.
Dzongu: We hike downhill to Passingdang and drive to Tingvong village. After Lunch at Tingvong village, we explore it and interact with the local people
Dzongu: We hike to Kusong village, pass through lush paddy fields and cardamom forests. We observe the spectacular mountain views of Khangchendzonga and get to experience Lepcha lifestyle. We return to Tingvong village.
Dzongu: From Tingvong we drive to visit the Lingzya monastic school for an interaction with the monks. On the way stop at Rukshyot waterfalls, the highest waterfall in Sikkim and soak in the pristine surroundings. We then hike to Bay village.
Dzongu Trek: We take a moderate trek to Tholung Monastery (4 hours). This ancient monastery is believed to be built by spirits. The sacred objects and artifacts are opened for tourists only once in every three years. We return to Bay village in the afternoon.
Dzongu Trek: We hike down to Lingzya and drive to Hee Gyathang, and meet with some local NGO members to interact with them. We go for a walk around the village in the evening.
Kalimpong: We drive to Kalimpong via Dikchu and Singtam. In the evening we visit the flower nurseries in Kalimpong.
Kalimpong: We visit the Lepcha Museum and interact with intellectual Lepchas who have been working for the welfare of Lepcha tribal community.
Kalimpong: We depart for Bagdogra.
How your travel makes a difference to the local community & environment:
- During this impressive trip we often stay in homestays. This promotes village tourism and helps the local communities benefit fully from the economic opportunities of tourism. The concept of homestays was introduced in the rural areas of Sikkim with an aim to facilitate alternative source of income directly for the rural people in a sustainable way. The system of homestay brought in a very efficient way of sharing the income from tourism among several families. Depending on the number of visitors, the hosts have agreed upon a system where they circulate the guests amongst themselves so that everyone benefits out of tourism. This is a productive way of complementing rather than competing with each other!
- Numerous village walks give you a good insight in the traditional life of the Lepchas and Bhutias living in NorthSikkim. Cultural activities in Sikkim are part of all our trips, in order to support and preserve Sikkim's age old lively culture. In Hee Gyathang, a cultural evening program is organized by the locals. Your interest in these performances and the economic benefits of these sharings, prompts the locals to strike a balance between cultural heritage and financial requirements. It encourages young kids to also learn the traditional music and dance arts. Hence ensuring that these cultural treasures are being kept lively in the future as well.
- The Sikkimese people especially Lepchas and Bhutias are famous for their weaving and wood carving. Buying these souvenirs will not only give your family back home a special and exclusive presents, you also support the local craftsmen.
- The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology we visit is promoting research on the religion, history, language, art and culture of the people of the Tibetan cultural area which includes Sikkim. The NIT's library holds one of the largest collections of Tibetan works in the world outside Tibet as well as a museum of Tibetan iconography and religious art. The library has published the Bulletin of Tibetology since 1964 and numerous books over the years. We ensure contributions towards funds that are used for renovation and maintenance of works and artifacts.
- In North Sikkim we work together with a local organisation promoting sustainable tourism. This ecotourism initiative was born from the desire of a group of Lepcha youth who had concerns for the upcoming generation of Dzongu. They were keen to explore alternatives for the educated youth that would help provide opportunities for self employment and in the process help the Lepcha community to protect their vanishing identity.
- To begin the work in Dzongu, partnerships were forged with NGOs, local authorities and community representatives. Several community consultations as well as awareness and training programs were conducted for the local residents by our local partners like Eco Tourism and Conservation Society. The extensive community mobilization process has brought about some changes in the thinking of local people and positioned them to conduct tourism that is locally operated and where benefits can accrue to all levels of the community.
Glimpse of Sikkim
Sikkim has a lot to offer, from the charming village of Rumtek in East Sikkim which houses the largest Buddhist monastery of Sikkim to the idyllic village of Pastenga.
Sikkim Trekking Trail
Khecheopalri Lake, which is considered to be a holy lake by both the Buddhists and the Hindus.
In Search of the Red Panda
In this journey we take you along two trekking trails. The bamboo trail takes you to Khedi through the trail used by traders for centuries.