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    Sikkim: A Trip of Cultural Potpourri

    Cultural Milieu of Sikkim

    Cultural Milieu of Sikkim

    The fascinating cultural extravaganza of Sikkim is an experience by itself. The People of Sikkim consist of three ethnic groups, that is, Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepali. Communities beginning to different ethnicities, languages, beliefs, cultures intermingle freely in Sikkim and create a harmonious and homogenous social fabric. There are breath-taking Hindu Temples that coexist with stupendous Buddhist Monasteries, peaceful Churches, picturesque Mosque and remarkable Gurudwaras.

    A cultural trip through the land of Sikkim will thus be an enriching and lively experience and very unique in its flavour. It is one of the most fascinating Indian states. Sikkim is beautifully located in the folds of the mighty Himalayas and is thus the hub of breath-taking landforms all around.

    Looking to experience Sikkim? Explore our tailor-made Sikkim Tour Packages.

    Monasteries of Sikkim: Platform for cultural commingling

    A trip interspersed with the flavourful and enchanting monasteries shall be a true picture of Sikkim’s culture. There are numerous monasteries that are not only known for their amazing architectural features, but they also are seats of deep-rooted Buddhist traditions.

    • The Rumtek Monastery, also known as the Dharma Chakra Centre, is a gompa located in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. Being the seat-in-exile of the Gyalwang Karmapa, the Rumtek Monastery is one of the largest and most prominent monasteries in the region and makes for a must-visit tourist attraction. Since the year of its inauguration in 1966 by the sixteenth Karmapa it is the home of vibrant rituals. You can listen to chanting by the monks and stay astonished at the stunning architecture and intricate murals.
    • Similarly, the Kartok Monastery is the sixteenth oldest Monastery established in 1721 during the time of Jigme Pawo and located in Pakyong, a town in the foothills of the Himalayas. It should be included in your Gangtok trip.
    • Apart from that, the Phensang Monastery of the Nyingmapa Order situated just 9 kilometres north of Gangtok and the Do Drul Chorten Monastery, which is basically a stupa in Gangtok built by Trulshik Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism in the year 1945 will further reflect the beauty and splendour of Buddhist culture in Sikkim.
    • The Gythang Monastery, which was situated in Upper Dzongu, in North Sikkim, built by hermit Abi Putso Rangdrol in 1914 and the Doling Monastery with its old and new version located opposite to each other at a distance of 6 kilometres from Ravangla attracts a considerable crowd.
    • The Chawayng Monastery situated closer to Phensang on the highway between Gangtok and Mangan can be easily included in the Sikkim itinerary.
    • The Samdruptse Monastery occupies a special place with its giant statue of Guru Padmasambhava, gleaming with bronze, copper and pink luminescence and sitting atop the Samdruptse Hill, also known as the ‘wish fulfilling hill’, is a special tourist attraction of Sikkim.
    • Sinon Monastery was constructed in 1716 by PediWangmo and is located on a hilltop, 10 kilometres from Tashiding, in West Sikkim and is a major seat of Buddhist ways of worship and inordinate beauty and magnificence.
    • Guru Lhakhang Monastery in Lhodrak was founded by the First Pelling Sungtrul, Tendzin Drakpa. It is a seat of the Pelling Sungtrul line, the incarnation line of treasure revealer Pema Lingpa.

    Suggested Read: Places to visit in Sikkim & Things to do in Sikkim

    Gangtok: The Irresistible Seat of Sikkim Cultural Fusion

    Gangtok The Scintillating Mountain Magic

    Gangtok, the vibrant and lively capital city of Sikkim, is a brilliant cultural hub that charms tourists and travellers with its unique traditional and modern elements. There are interesting and beautiful tourist spots in and around Gangtok to visit. The Enchey Monastery, the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology to know more about Tibetan Buddhism and the region’s history, the Ranka Monastery, Hanuman Tok, Banjhakri Waterfalls and the Himalayan Zoological Park are some must visit places when in your Gangtok trip. A walk through the bustling markets and the city streets will give a lot of information about the local culture of Sikkim in general. On one hand you will experience the invigorating atmosphere of Tibetan Buddhist centre, and on the other hand you will witness a bustling base for hikers with its flurry of activities such as organizing permits and transport for treks for the innumerable trips across the Sikkim’s Himalayan mountain ranges.

    Read More: Best Time to Visit Sikkim & How to Reach Sikkim

    The Lake Culture of Sikkim

    Gurudongmar Lake
    Image Source

    The lakes in Sikkim are inexplicably mesmerising and are also inherently an integral part of Sikkim culture.

    • Tsomgo Lake, which is located at an altitude of 3,753 meters, is a sacred lake and definitely a very popular tourist attraction. The crystal-clear waters of these innumerable big and small lakes surrounded by snow-capped mountains provide a breath-taking setting for absolutely frenetic cultural submersion.
    • The lakes such as Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world and in India is located at an elevation of 5,430 metres.
    • Tso Lhamo lake which is famous for being the source of the Teesta and is one of the highest lakes in the world at an altitude of 6,200 metres. It is strategically situated in Mangan district of Sikkim just 4 kilometres southwest of the international border with China. The prominent glaciers of Zemu and Kangtse or Pauhunri feed the lake.
    • Changu Lake, which is brilliantly spectacular located amidst lofty hills and snow-capped mountains.
    • Menmecho Lake with its surreal beauty at a height of 12,500 about 20 kilometres ahead of Tsomgo Lake.
    • Khecheopalri Lake, which is located 47 kilometres west of Gangtok.
    • Kathok Lake with its spellbinding and charming locale.
    • Samiti Lake is a splendid glacial lake located at the bottom of Onglakthang Valley
    • Elephant Lake or Hati Lake sitting at the edge of the mountain gives it a striking beauty.

    These lakes offer incredible natural beauty along with a variety of smaller joys of Sikkim tourism that Sikkim tourists dream of, such as a merry joyride on a yak, savour local snacks, and interact with the local vendors.

    Village and Small-Town Culture of Sikkim

    Village and Small-Town Culture of Sikkim

    Lachen and Lachung are quaint picturesque villages of Sikkim that offer an opportunity to experience the pulsating cultural traditions of the Lepcha and Bhutia communities. You can visit the Lachen and Lachung monasteries, take an active participation in the local and witness traditional and authentic folk dances and enthralling music.

    Traditional Cuisine Culture of Sikkim

    Traditional Cuisine Culture of Sikkim

    Indulge in the food fest and imbibe the authentic flavours of Sikkimese cuisine. The taste of aroma of the mingled infusion of flavours from the spice and ingredients of Tibetan, Nepali and Bhutanese culinary traditions will leave you wanting for more. Try the signature and authentic dishes of Sikkim such as momos that are nothing but steamed dumplings, thukpa which is an incredibly tasty noodle soup, gundruk that is made from fermented leafy greens and chhang the authentic local millet beer to complete savouring the taste of the region.

    Festival Culture of Sikkim

    Festival Culture of Sikkim

    Sikkim celebrates various festivals throughout the year that provide a glimpse into its cultural vibrancy. The Saga Dawa festival, Losar (Tibetan New Year), and Pang Lhabsol or the worship of the mountain deity worship are some of the prominent festivals where you can witness traditional rituals, masked dances and colourful processions.

    Read More: Fairs & Festivals in Sikkim

    Homestays and Cultural Exchanges

    A stay in traditional homestays in the vicinity of the local villages will give you a chance to experience the warmth and hospitality of the Sikkimese people. Enjoy the innocent charm of rusticity and rooted culture of Sikkimese people and be a part of the rich tapestry of social medley. Talk to the common folks, take long walks across the countryside, find your peaceful haven at some corner of a mountain fold, witness the traditional activities from close corners, and gain powerful insights into the daily lives and customs of the locals.

    Remember to respect local customs, dress modestly, and seek permission before photographing people or religious sites. Sikkim’s cultural trip offers a truly immersive experience, allowing you to appreciate the region’s rich heritage and create lifelong memories.

    FAQs

    1. What do you know about the main culture of Sikkim?

    The population of Sikkim is composed of three primary ethnic groups, Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepali. Communities of different composition mix with each other freely in Sikkim and create a homogenous commingling. Hindu Temples coexist with equal grandeur besides Buddhist Monasteries, Churches, Mosques and Gurudwaras.

    2. What is so special about Sikkim culture that people love?

    Sikkim is a distinct fusion of different customs, religion and traditions flavoured by various different communities. Historically, Sikkim was occupied by three tribes, namely, the Lepchas, the Bhutias and the Nepalese. They continue to comprise the majority of the section of population and culture in Sikkim even today.

    3. How many different cultures does Sikkim have?

    The state of Sikkim is an excellent example of the pure blend of various traditions, religions and customs belonging to diverse communities. Since the olden days, Sikkim has been occupied by three major tribes: Bhutias, Lepchas and Nepalese.

    4. What is Sikkim’s unique food culture?

    The authentic Sikkimese cuisine is a true blend of Tibetan, Nepali and Lepcha dishes which originate from various ethnic tribes and communities of Sikkim. Sikkimese food largely comprises rice and vegetables from jungle like ningro (Fern), nakima (wild lily), baas ko tusa (bamboo shoot) and cheuw (mushrooms).

    5. Does Sikkim have any rich cultural heritage?

    One the richest cultural heritage of Sikkim are the Monastic Dances or Sikkim’s famous and spectacular mask dances. Chaams are performed as a part of ceremonies and festivals. These dances differ in style and theme, but mostly they portray the victory of good over evil.

    6. Which language is spoken in Sikkim?

    Sikkim has English as its official language. Other than that it also has 11 different languages spoken across the state such as Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Limbu, Newari, Rai, Gurung, Mangai, Sherpa, Tamang, and Sunwar.

    7. How many lakes are there in all across the state of Sikkim?

    It is fabled that there are 109 sacred lakes dedicated to various protective Deities revered by the locals of Sikkim. These lakes are often considered the divine abodes of various local gods and goddesses such as Devas, Yakshas, Nagas, Nymphs and Demons. Some of the lakes are even ascribed to numerous Tantric deities.

    8. Which is the largest lake in the state of Sikkim?

    Gurudongmar Lake is located at an altitude of 5,425 metres or 17,800 feet, in Sikkim. It is considered sacred by all communities such as Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus. It is one of the highest lakes not only in Sikkim, but also in India and the entire world.

    9. Which are the Holy Lakes of Sikkim?

    • Khecheopalri Lake is held sacred by the people of Sikkim.
    • Kathok Lake is located on the way to Norbugang Throne in Yuksam. It is beautiful and sacred. Kathok Lake is also popular by the names Kathok Tsho or Kathok Lake.

     

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