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Sikkim and Darjeeling Monastic Tour

Sikkim and Darjeeling Monastic Tour

Tours of monasteries in Sikkim and Darjeeling

11

Days

CULTURE

Trip highlights

• Visit the ancient monasteries and religious monuments and learn more about the Buddhist Philosophy.
• Take a guided tour of places of historic and religious importance.
• Drive through spectacular alpine valleys and placid lakes and cascading waterfalls.
• Enjoy the spectacular mountain views and lovely meadow with yaks grazing.
• Take a heritage toy train joy ride in Darjeeling.

Historically, Sikkim was a small Buddhist kingdom governed for over 300 years by the Chogyal dynasty of Tibetan origin. In their care Himalayan Buddhism and the seemingly accessible Nathula pass via Chumbi valley (Tibet)  contributed to the propagation and flourish of Buddhism in Sikkim and Darjeeling. Although monarchy is long gone but the vestige of their spiritual legacies featuring some sacred and medieval monasteries and chortens, still loom large with mighty Mt Kanchenjunga at the backdrop.

This spiritually contemplative tour envelops west and north Sikkim – historically bedrock of Buddhist traditions in Sikkim and also Darjeeling, which was historically part of Sikkim. These underlying regions permeate with so much of sacredness that they are considered as pilgrimage circuits. Starting from youthful capital Gangtok, home to some important monasteries such as Rumtek, Enchey monasteries etc. At north Sikkim, explore some meditative & mural filled monasteries that adorn the valleys and secluded ridges with breathtaking landscapes at backdrop.

Come spring, it’s a visual primer of the grand with technicolor blooms of wild flowers & rhododendrons. West Sikkim is deeply immersed in history as the first Chogyal (king) was coronated in Yuksom; consequently, surrounding areas have some religiously prominent and sacred collection of monasteries. Also you will discern reflective traits of Buddhism in the way people conduct daily ways of life. Seemingly, Darjeeling may give in an impression of contemporary or to some extent colonial character but there are sizable Buddhist practitioner and all-important monasteries.

Incorporated short hikes are what provide opportunities to strike conversation and interaction with people and one can’t sign out without the mention of ever-congenial people, wearing smile even in most trying circumstances. It is often said that people may come for mountain & monasteries, they return here for people.

Outline Itinerary 

Day 1. Bagdogra-Gangtok: (1700mts/124 kms/4-5 hrs)
On arrival at Bagdogra drive to Gangtok, the road passes along the mountain foothills traversing vegetation & small roadside villages until Rangpo, from Rangpo it climb up to the town of Gangtok. In the evening take a short walking tour through MG Marg Avenue – a pedestrian boulevard and browse the colorful Lal Bazaar food/vegetable market. Overnight in Gangtok.

Day 2: Gangtok- Rumtek-Gangtok. (24kms)
Gangtok the capital of Sikkim, offers a typical contemporary appearance with some primordial, sacred and prominent religious edifices and also some other attractions. We start with a visit to Enchey monastery –affiliated to Nyimapa order of Himalayan Buddhism. After the visit drive down to explore Directorate of Handicraft and Handloom – it houses workshop for carpet weaving, Bamboo craft, Back Strap loom, religious painting and handicraft. Followed by museum – showcasing tradition, culture and religious iconography and Sale Emporium. Next visit Namgyal Institute of Tibetology – a repository for finest Tibetan work, religious iconography and religious arts. A short walk takes us to Do Drul Chorten – a massive Stupa sitting amidst 108 prayer wheels. After lunch drive to the opposite ridge, where stands the beautiful Rumtek Monastery also called Dharma Chakra Center. It’s the main seat of Karma Kagyu linage in exile. The monastery is the largest in Sikkim, and a replica of its Karmapa’s monastery in Tsurphu, Tibet. In the evening, return to Gangtok. Overnight in Gangtok.

Day 3: Gangtok – Lachen: (2750m/135kms/6-7hrs)
Today the drive is the longest but scenic with great landscapes, villages, valleys, waterfalls etc. We stop regularly to stretch our legs and visit around. We will stop to visit Phensang monastery – affiliated to Nyingmapa tradition. Further 18 km drive take us to Phodrang monastery, another prominent Karma Kagyu institution. At a distance of 2 kms from here is the village of Mangan, which houses the Labrang monastery belonging to Nyingmapa order. Lunch at Chungthang – it’s a one-horse town surrounded by bountiful nature. The road bifurcates here, one leads to Lachen and other one to Lachung. Continue to Lachen and reach Lachen in the late afternoon or in the evening. Overnight in Lachen.

Day 4: Lachen-Lachung: (2700 m/47kms/ 2-3 hrs)
Lachen(2750m), a beautiful alpine village comprising of less than 200 houses belonging to Bhutia tribe and Tibetans. Atop sits the important Ngodup Choling monastery – affiliated to Nyingmapa order. Morning visit the monastery which also offers commanding view of town and surroundings and continue to Chopta valley through Thangu valley with lush green pastures and yaks grazing to get the amazing views of the alpine valley and frozen lakes. After exploring the valley drive back to Lachen for lunch. After lunch continue to Lachung via Chungthang. En-route visit the Holy Rock and the Bhim Nala waterfalls. (Foreigners are issued RAP only up to Thangu valley) Overnight in Lachung.

Day 5: Lachung-Yumthang-Gangtok: (126 kms/6-7hrs)
Lachung is a small mountain village close to the Tibetan border, inhabited by Lepchas and Bhutia tribes. It houses one of the most important Nyingmapa monastery, Lachung monastery. Early morning visit Lachung monastery. After breakfast drive to Yumthang, the valley of flowers. In spring the valley erupts in riots of colors as Rhododendrons and many other Alpine flowers are in full bloom. After exploring the valley return to Lachung for lunch. On the way visit the hot springs known for its therapeutic benefits. After lunch retrace our drive back to Chungthang and continue to Gangtok. Overnight in Gangtok.

Day 6: Gangtok – Ravangla: (2150m/69kms/3-4hrs)
Today we drive south traversing through small villages and changing vegetation and across the green Temi tea garden. At Temi, we may choose to take a quick exploration of the tea factory and continue to Ravangla. In Ravangla we visit the Buddha park with a giant statue of the Buddha at the centre and continue for about 13km to visit Ralang monastery, another important Karma Kagyu monastery in Sikkim. After lunch, drive for about 4 km to Barfung village and visit the Doling monastery –linked to Nyingmapa tradition. Its idyllic location also offer grand vista of Himalayas and the surrounding foliage. Bon traditions predate Tibetan Buddhism so it is believed that Tibetan Buddhism is largely influenced by its elements. So we will visit the only Bon monastery in Sikkim, Yung Drung Kundrak Ling monastery in Kewzing and return to Ravangla. Overnight in Ravangla.

Day 7: Ravangla -Yuksom: (1780m/55kms/4hrs)
Three places in West Sikkim sits atop in the annals of Sikkim history in terms of social-economic and religious renaissance. We’ll explore the history behind the collection of monasteries enveloping Yuksom, Pelling & Tashiding popularly known as the “Monastery Loop”.
After breakfast drive down the hill towards Yuksom. A small hamlet with history of being the coronation site of the first Chogyal (King) in 1641 and is also the base camp for treks in west Sikkim. On arrival, we can either choose to hike or drive for 3 km to visit Dubdi monastery, the oldest monastery in Sikkim. Later we can visit the Kartok monastery and the Norbugang Chorten and throne. Overnight in Yuksom.

Day 8: Yuksom-Pelling:(2150/40kms/2hrs)
Pelling houses the historical Pemayangtse Monastery. As it sits on the hillock, the views of Himalayan ranges are astounding on clear days. Upon arrival check into the hotel, later we will embark on 2 short hikes to visit Sangacholing and Pemayantshe monastery. It is approx. 3 km to Sangacholing Monastery located at wooded hills and takes around 1 hour. Another one-hour hike from hotel enables to visit historical Pemayantse Monastery (2085m)followed by a visit to Rabdtense ruins. Overnight in Pelling.

Day 9: Pelling – Darjeeling. (2042m/72kms/5-6 hrs)
Today it is relatively long drive to Darjeeling with some rough section of road. On the way, we ‘ll visit the sacred Tashiding monastery – belonging to Nyingmapa order, known for its sacred water ceremony called Bumchu Festival. Once we cross bad roads in some sections in Sikkim and as we climb Darjeeling, the drive gets scenic with lush green vegetation, tea gardens and interesting roadside villages. In the evening take a leisurely walk in pedestrian Chowrastra mall. Overnight in Darjeeling.

Day 10: In Darjeeling.
Darjeeling is a small hill station, historically a part of Sikkim. Under patronage of Chogyal (King of Sikkim) Himalayan Buddhism flourished here and also there are sizeable Tibetan refugee community. Some of the oldest Buddhist monasteries were founded here, which stand testimony to Buddhist lineage and practice.
Today will be a mixture of drive and hike and we will also visit some contemporary non-Buddhist attractions that are synonymous to Darjeeling. We’ll begin with a short hike to Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and the Tibetan refugee center. Afterwards we will visit a tea estate. After lunch we will drive to Dali Monastery –affiliated to Kagyu order. Then, visit Yiga Cheoling monastery at Ghoom, the oldest monastery, built in 1850 A.D, Samten Choling monastery and the Guru Sakya monastery. Later take a ride on the UNSECO toy train. Free evening – you can choose to rest, relax or go for souvenir shopping. Overnight in Darjeeling.

Day 11: Departure:
After breakfast transfer to the airport/railway station for your onward journey. However please note that we should allocate enough time to cover notoriously chaotic traffic in Darjeeling, Siliguri and airport area.

  • Group SizeDepending upon the no. of participants minimum 2 members.

  • MealsFull Board

  • Trip Accommodation3 - 4* standard hotels. Also there is option to stay at homestay with local family.

  • RouteBagdogra-Gangtok-Lachen-Lachung-Ravangla-Yuksom-pelling-Bagdogra

  • Trip TypeMonastery tour

  • Trip SeasonsBarring Monsoon season, the rest of the time is good for tour.

  • Best MonthsMarch, April, May

  • Good MonthsSeptember

  • Lean MonthsJune, July, August

  • Not RecommendJanuary, February, October, November, December

Prices & Dates

Cost will be provided on request.

Included

• Accommodation in listed or similar hotels.
• All land transfers and transportation by exclusive good quality vehicle
• Bottled mineral water in drive.
• Sightseeing and monuments entrance fee.
• English speaking guide throughout the tour.

Not included

• Indian Visa.
• International and domestic flight cost.
• Personal expenses such as bar/beverages in the hotels, optional tips/gratuities to staffs, laundry, gifts etc.
• Any additional cost of forced upon by changing itinerary due to your health/medical, political situation, or    inclement weather.
• Travel medical insurance.

Accommodations


Hotels in Darjeeling

Hotels in Gangtok

Hotels in Yuksom

  • Tashi Gang Hotel

    Hotel Tashi Gang is located strategically beside the Karthok lake with panoramic view of the Yuksam valley and Mt. Khangchendzonga. To add a personal touch to an ethereal experience, Hotel Tashigang offers the tourist all the comforts of the modern a...

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  • Yuksom Residency

    Yuksum Residency is an elegant ethnic architecture that reflects local heritage, located high above the main village, amidst groves of evergreen trees in serene environment and spectacular mountain vista of Mt. Kabru and other peaks of Kangchendzong ...

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Hotels in Pelling

Hotels in Ravangla

Hotels in Gangtok-East Sikkim

Hotels in

  • Newa Regency

    Newa Regency is situated in this magical land facing Mt. Kanchendzonga and bestowed with natures beauty Pellings. It offers 20 elegantly appointed guest rooms and an executive suite. Extensive handcrafted woodwork adorns the interiors adding a touch...

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Hotels in Lachen

Hotels in Lachung

Trip Guide/Leader


  • Nima Dhondup Bhutia

    Nima Dhondup Bhutia

  • Karma Lama

    Karma Lama