72kms from Gangtok near Namchi in South Sikkim is Samdruptse which means in Bhutia language “The Whish Fulfilling Hill”. A 135ft. unique statue of Guru Padmasambhava is installed at the top of Samdruptse. It is said to be the highest statue of Guru Padmasambhava in the world. It took 1000 labours and scores of experienced engineers and highly skilled architects and sculptors nearly took three years to complete this awe inspiring and towering statue.
Namchi, meaning ‘Sky High’, nestled among the hills at an elevation of 4400 ft. commands a panoramic view of the snow-capped mountains and vast stretches of valley. This headquarters of the South District is fast developing into a tourist destination with its immense potential for all round tourist activities. It is about 78kms from Gangtok and 100 kms from Siliguri.
Flower exhibitions are organized twice a year at Namchi during the months of February-March and October. One can see the rare species of orchids with a riot colours. A large flower pavilion with basic amenities, food, entertainment and craft display centers etc. is being constructed to boost flower production in the area.
Located between Namchi town and Samdruptse, this popular garden has many attractive plants, flowers and species of trees. A number of waiting sheds view points and water bodies along its footpaths have been provided. A neat and clean cafeteria serves the tourists and visitors well.
Above Damthang, overlooking Namchi, there is a small flat stretch of land at an altitude of 8,530 ft surrounded by lush green ancient forest which is popularly known as Tendong Hill. Historically, this has been a place to rest for Buddhist Lamas who spent years in meditation amidst the silence scenic grandeur. Legend has it that the Tendong Hill saved the Lepcha tribe from the ravages of deluge when the whole world was flooded – similar to Noah’s Ark of the Bible. Even today, the Lepchas perform pujas to pay reverence to the Tendong Hill on the occasion of Lho Rham Faat. The view from the top of the Tendong Hill is something to be cherished and enjoyed as it spans across the plains of Bengal to the majestic heights of the Himalayan Ranges. Trek to Tendong from Damthang Bazaar, the nearest road head, is just about two hours. One can also proceed to Namchi by trekking via Tendong Hill.
The one and only tea estate existing in the State produces one of the top quality teas for the international market. The tea garden spread out on a gentle hill slope originating from the Tendong Hill provides a magnificent view of the surrounding villages. The visit to the factory could be an eye opener for those wanting to know about tea processing methods. A night spent in an old British bungalow or a Getaway facility located at the tea garden could be an enthralling experience of linking the past to the present.
A visit to the garden, enroute to the Tendong Hill, could be a rewarding experience for those who want to combine nature and culture as they keep trekking.
At the base of Maenam Hill is Rabong, a sub-divisional headquarter and transit point for beautiful spots such as Chozo Lake, Ralong Monastery, Manilakhang, Sakyamuni Cultural and Pilgrimage Centre and various tourist destinations of West Sikkim. It has a Tourist Base Camp for trekkers to Maenam Hill and Borong. A trek down to the sacred cave ‘Shar Chok Bhepu’, one of the four holiest caves in Sikkim, would be a memorable experience.
The ancient roots of Bon religion grew from a profound respect for nature and emphasizes the healing of physical, natural and spiritual environments. While the origins of the ancient culture have been traced back to pre-historic times, current Bonpo followers practice a living doctrine dedicated to perpetuating the teaching of their founder Lord Tonpa Shenrab, who occupies a prominent position in bon culture none as Yungdrung Bon or Tradition of Eternal Wisdom, they include the nine ways of Bon that outlines the laws of cause and feects on path to spiritual liberation.
Situated at an altitude of 10,300 ft the scenic view from this height is, perhaps, unmatched in this part of the world. Mt. Khangchen Dzonga and its surrounding ranges loom above to dwarf the richly forested and rugged hills. On a clear sunny day, it is possible to see the plains of Bengal spanning across Kalimpong and Darjeeling hills in the South and right across the Indo-China border towards the North. A short distance away is the legendry Bhaley Dunga, a kind of rocky spur which juts out from the ridge top and remains suspended in the air above Yangyang village. The trek to Maenam from Rabong takes about 3 hours. From Maenam hill top one has the option to take the gentle trek to Borong village or follow the more challenging trail taken by the famous botanist, Sir Joseph Hooker, down to Yangang village.
Facing the snow-capped mountains is Borong, motorable from Rabong or by a trek via Maenam. A picturesque village, its beautiful landscape and magnificent view is also host to the hot spring, ‘Borong Tsachu’. The trek trail, originating from Namchi or Damthang to Tendong – Rabong Maenam – Borong (5-6 days) is one of the most interesting trails scaling all the hill tops along the route. The trekker can continue to Tashiding or terminate at Borong and then drive back to Rabong.
Sikip is located on the banks of River Rangeet in the South District. The drive from Gangtok to Sikip takes about five hours via Legship and is also accessible from Siliguri and Darjeeling via Jorethang. This place, an Anglers paradise also has a charming natural surrounding. Together with this one can also avail the facility of rafting down the Rangeet River.
Situated on the bank of River Rangeet is the hot spring ‘Phur Tsa Chu’, half an hour drive from Legship and one hour drive from Jorethang. Pilgrims from all walks of life come to dip in this hot spring during the month of January to March.
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