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About Sikkim

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Preface.

“The land of orchids”,” The land of tranquility”, these are the few ways in which
Sikkim has been described. Infact in all its manisfestations Sikkim has been
projected as a naturalists paradise. A tourist visiting Sikkim is all praises for the
richness in nature which no doubt has been the basic ingredient of tourism in
Sikkim. It is here that Khanchendzonga-the third highest mountain in the world
stands tall. Blessed with snow capped mountains, lakes, rivers and varieties of
flora and fauna Sikkim is in par with other ecological hotspots of the world .Eco-
tourism is the buzzword and Government ,NGO’S and individuals have all
geared up for contributing to it.
     Eco-destinations of India “Sikkim Chapter” is an entire gamut of information
about Sikkim- a humble attempt to showcase its rich bio-diversity .Through
surveys and information through internet and books we have tried our best to
bring-forth the rich natural wealth of Sikkim. We hope that this book will be found
useful not only by those for whom it has been written-researchers and students
but also proves to be highly beneficial for the tourists visiting Sikkim.

                                                               ENVIS TEAM




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                         CONTENTS
      FOREWARD
       PREFACE
1. SIKKIM-A Background
   • Physical Setting
   • Climate
   • Temperature
   • Rainfall
   • Demographic Features
   • Macro ecological Feature.
   • People and Religion
   • Festival
   • Costumes
   • Cultural and Historical background:
2. ECO TOURISM-A Concept
   Brief Profile of Eco Tourism Status in Sikkim.
3. ECO DESTINATIONS OF SIKKIM
   • East District
      Gangtok: Tsomgo:Nathula: Epicac Garden (Saramsa):Martam (Home
      stay) Aritar (Rhenock): Water Garden (32 no): Khedi: Jhandi Dara
   • West District
       Pelling: Khecheopalri Lake: Goechala: Dzongri:Tshoka: Yuksam/
      Yoksum: Tashiding Legship-Reshi: Rinchenpong: Uttarey: Barsey /Hillay .
      Trekking Circuits Around
   • North District
      Dzongu:Gurudongmar:Lachen:Yumthang:Lachung:Chungthang:Mangan:
      Kabi Lungchok:
      Trekking circuits around.
   • South District.
      Namchi: Ravangla: Tendong hill: Ralang/Borong: Kewzing: Temi tea
      Garden: Jorethang.
      Trekking circuits around.

4. NATIONAL PARKS AND WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES
 Khangchendzonga National Park (North Sikkim), Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary
(East Sikkim), Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary (North Sikkim), Shingba
Rhododendron Sanctuary (North Sikkim), Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary (South
Sikkim), Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary (West Sikkim), Panglakha National
park (East Sikkim)
 -Do’s and Don’ts at Parks and Sanctuaries.



                                                                            3
5. NGO’S AND STAKEHOLDERS COMMITTED TO ECOTOURISM.
The Mountain Institute(TMI), Khanchendzonga Conservation Committee(KCC),
Ecotourism Conservation Society of Sikkim(ECOSS),Sikkim Paryavaran
Samrakshan Sangh(SPSS)..Alliance for Better Tourism(ABT),Yambong
Ecotourism    Committee(YEC),Sikkim     Ecotourism    and   Conservation
Federation,Hee Bermiok Tourism Development and Heritage Conservation
Society,Kewzing Tourism Development Corporation. Besides regional NGO’S
like Dzongu Eco-Tourism Committee(DETC), Chakung Tourism Development
Corporation(CTDC), Ravangla Tourism Development Corporation(RTDC),
DRISTHI etc.
   ECO-TOURISM ETHICS
      BIBLIOGRAPHY




                                                                       4
                                      1
                              SIKKIM-A Background
        Small but beautiful, Sikkim is       mountainous with altitudes varying
situated in the Eastern Himalayas.           from 800 ft in the south to the 28,199
Spread       below        the        Mount   ft.   Mt.     Kanchenjunga,    in     the
Khanchendzonga, (8598 mts.), the             northwest (India’s highest peak, and
third highest Mountain in the world          the third highest in the world). The
and revered by the Sikkimese as              awesome mountain is revered by the
their protective Deity, this tiny state,     Sikkimese as their protecting deity.
bigger only than Goa and Delhi and           The capital of the state, Gangtok is
India’s least populated, lies tucked in      an attractive and interesting town in
between Nepal and Bhutan in India’s          eastern Sikkim, well developed and
eastern region.                              with absolutely amazing views of the
       Sikkim   is     picturesque     and   snow        clad   Himalayan        peaks
verdant with clean crisp air, deep           including the Kanchenjunga.
blue    mountain       lakes,    gorgeous
Buddhist monasteries and hillsides           Physical Setting
ablaze with rhododendrons against a          Sikkim, which is situated in the
backdrop of snow-clad mountains. If          eastern Himalayas, from longitude
you are looking for exciting trekking        88 degree 03'40" to 88 degree 57'19"
routes in unspoilt terrain, or a quiet       East and from latitude 27 degree
communion       with    the     mountains,   03'47" to 28 degree 07'34" North,
there are few places in India that           became the twenty second state of
would match the Himalayan state of
Sikkim.
Just 110 kms from north to south
and 60 kms across, Sikkim is entirely




                                                                                     5
India     on     April     26,      1975.   temperate zone (with an altitude of
                                            above 1,600 meters). The genetic
                                            diversity, of both forest vegetation
                                            and agricultural crops, is enormous.
                                            The state has about 600 plant
                                            species   and    more    than    4,000
                                            species of flowering plants


                                            •   Climate


                                                  Sikkim is the wettest part of
                                            the north eastern region; the climate
   It has a total area of 7,096 sq.km.      varies from the Sub-tropical to the
114 km from north to south and 64           Alpine depending upon the altitude.
km from east to west. The entire            (Sub-tropical up to 1500 meters:
state is mountainous, with altitudes        Temperate-1500-2000             meters;
ranging from 300 to 8,586 metres.           Alpine up to 4000 meters; snowline
There are 440 villages, eight towns         at 5000 meters and above). The
and four districts in Sikkim. The state     relative humidity remains above 70
has     three   major    ethnic   groups,   per cent throughout the year at most
namely      Lepchas,      Bhutias    and    places. The temperature varies with
Nepalis.The climate of the state            altitude and the slope (generally 6
varies from cold temperate and              degree to 10 degree). The area
alpine in northeast to subtropical in       experiences a heavy rainfall due to
the south. Agro climatically, the state     its proximity with the Bay of Bengal.
is divided into four zones, viz., the       The rainfall in North District is
subtropical     zone     (below     1,000   comparatively less than that of the
meters); the humid zone (1,000-             other Districts. Pre- monsoon rain
1,600 meters); the mid-hill dry zone        occurs in April-May and monsoon
(again in altitudes ranging from            (South-West) operates normally from
1,000-1,600 meters); and high hill



                                                                                  6
the month of May and continues up          Singhik, Dikchu, Gangtok, Rongli
to early October.                          etc. (ii) South - West corner including
                                           Hilley. In between these two regions,
                                           there is a low rainfall region e.g.
                                           Namchi. Rainfall in this area is about
•   Temperature                            half of that in the former areas.
       The mean temperature in the         There is an area in the North- West
lower altitudinal zones varies from        Sikkim, which gets very little rainfall
4.5º C to 18.5º C, whereas at higher       (even less than 4.9 mm.). This area
altitudinal zones, it varies from 1.5º C   has mainly snow-covered mountains.
to 9.5º C. Temperature varies with         Rainfall is heavy and well distributed
altitude and slope. The maximum            during the months from May to early
temperature      is   recorded   usually   October. July is the wettest month in
during July - August, and minimum          most of the places. The intensity of
during December - January. Fog is a        rainfall during Southwest monsoon
common feature in the entire state         season decreases from South to
from May to September. Biting cold         North, while the distribution of winter
is experienced at high altitude places     rainfall is in the opposite order. The
in the winter months and snowfall is       highest    annual      rainfall   for     the
also not       uncommon during this        individual stations may exceed 5000
period.                                    mm. and average number of rainy
                                           days (days with rain of 2.5 mm. or
•   Rainfall                               more) ranges from 100 at Thangu to
       An examination of available         184 at Gangtok.
rainfall data shows that the mean
annual rainfall is minimum at Thangu       •   Demographic Features
(82 mm.) and maximum at Gangtok
(3494 mm.). An isohyetal analysis of       Sikkim     is   a    multi-ethnic       state.
these data reveals that there are two      Broadly,    the     population    can      be
maximum rainfall areas (i) South-          divided into Tribal and Non-Tribal
East quadrant, including Mangan,           groups. Lepchas, Bhutias, Sherpas,



                                                                                       7
Tamang and Subba are categorized                   groups,the Lepchas still maintain
as scheduled Tribes. The Lepchas                   many of their traditional ways.
are the original inhabitants of             the
state .Compared to other ethnic
Over 70% of the population consists
of Nepalese. They are today the                    NUMBER OF
                                                                   4
dominant ethnic group in the state.                DISTRICTS
The populations also constitute the
                                                   AREA            7,096 Sq.Km.
business class from the plains. East
district   is    the        most     populated     POPULATION

whereas North Sikkim with a density                Persons         5,40,493
of only 7 per sq. km is least
                                                   Males           288,217
populated. Sex ratio (Females per
thousand Males) in 1981 was 835,                   Females         252,276

whereas it has improved and now is                 DENSITY OF
                                                                   76 per sq.Km.4
878. There are only eight urban                    POPULATION
towns and urban population is 0.37
                                                                   875    Females      per
of total population. Scheduled Caste               SEX RATIO
                                                                   1000 Males
and Scheduled Tribe population is
                                                   POPULATION                 Percentage
5.93%      and     22.36%          respectively.
                                                   IN        AGE- Absolute to         total
North district is a tribal district as it
                                                   GROUPS 0-6                 Population
has about 55.38% tribal population.
Literacy    rate       is    56.94%       (19th    Persons         77.170     14.28
position), higher than the all India               Males           38,856     13.48
average literacy rate of 52.11%.
                                                   Females         38,314     15.19
.total population of the state is 4,
                                                   LITERACY        Absolute Rate
06,457, whereas in 1981 it was 3,
16,385 only. Decennial growth has                  Persons         322,828 69.68
come down, as in 1971-81 it was                    Males           191,326 76.73
50.77%, whereas for 1981-91 it is
                                                   Females         131,502 61.46
28.47% onl



                                                                                         8
Note: The statistics are with 1991
census and the figures are approximate
                                                  capable            of        resisting
Macro-ecological Features                         denudation.Thecentral and Southern
                                                  portion is formed of comparatively
Sikkim     encompasses           the     lesser   soft, thin, salty and half-schistose
Himalaya, Central Himalaya, and the               rocks, which denudes very easily.
Tethys Himalaya. It is essentially a              The trend of the mountain system is
mountainous state without flat piece              in a general east-west direction.
of land of any extent anywhere. The               However, chief ridges run in a more
mountains         rise      in     elevation      or less North South direction. The
northward. The northern portion of                Rangeet and the Teesta, which form
the state is deeply cut into steep                the main channels of drainage, run
escarpments, and except in the                    nearly North-South. The valleys cut
Lachen and Lachung valleys, is not                by these rivers and their chief
populated. Southern Sikkim is lower,              feeders are very deep.
more open, and fairly well cultivated.                   The valleys are rather open
This configuration of the state is                towards the top, but usually attain a
partly due to the direction of the main           steep gorge like structure as we
drainage, which is southern. The                  approach the bed of the rivers. There
physical configuration of Sikkim is               are 180 perennial lakes of different
also     partly    due      to    geological      altitudes.   The   many    hot   water
structure. Major portion of state is              springs i.e. Phur-cha-chu, Ralang
covered by Pre-Cambrian rock and                  cha-chu, Yumthang, Yumesamdong
is   much     younger       in    age.     The    are also found in the State. The
Northern,     Eastern       and        Western    perpetual snow line in Sikkim may be
portion of the State are constituted of           approximately at 5500 m.
hard     massive         gneissose       rocks




                                                                                       9
Parameters         Features

                   Two major river systems originating from glaciers, Rangit (West
Rivers
                   Sikkim), and Teesta (North Sikkim)

                   Alpine (>4,000 m), sub-alpine (3,000-4,000 m), cool temperate
Ecological
                   (2,200-3,000 m), warm temperate (1,400-2,200 m), and
Zones
                   subtropical (300-1,400 m).

                   Mostly sloping land only with scarce flat lands in valley. These
Terrain
                   are marginal lands

                   Lush green board-leaved mixed forests in subtropical and
Forest             temperate zones. Silver fir and rhododendron forests in the
                   sub-alpine zone.

Plants        of Rhododendrons, orchid, medicinal plants, and a large variety of
Special interest wild edible plants apart from plants of academic interest.

                   Specific habitat degradation and loss have caused a threat to:
                      1. Wildlife such as Red Panda, Thar(s), and Musk Deer,
                         etc.
                      2. Plant diversity such as medicinal plants (Aconitum sp,
Issue         of
                         Nardostachys jatamansi, Picrorhiza kurrooa, Swertia
concern
                         chirata, Podophyllum hexandrum), wild edibles (Machilus
                         edulis, Bassia buteracea, Elaeocarpus sikkimensis,
                         Elaegnus latifolia, etc.), wild orchids, and some species
                         of rhododendron.

                   Creation     of   natural   conservation   areas   such   as   the
Policy
                   Kanchanjunga        National   Park,   Shingba     Rhododendron
initiatives
                   Sanctuary, Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary




                                                                                    10
•   People & Religion                            force of acceptance has binded all
The people of Sikkim are warm,                   the communities to live in peace
simple and friendly. The customs                 here.
and rituals of Sikkim are as diverse
as the ethnic groups that inhabit the            Sikkimese People with their rare
land; the Lepchas, the Bhutias, and              tradition and rich culture, add more
the Nepalese are peace and fun                   fragrance    to   the    diverse   and
loving people .The population also               composite culture of India. These
includes the business community                  three ethnic communities display a
from the plains. The people of Sikkim            remarkable feature of Sikkimese
love to get together and celebrate.              society with its cultural harmony and
The colourful lifestyle of the hill              peaceful coexistence.
people      finds   expression      in     the
splendour      of   their   festivals     and    Festivals of Sikkim
dances.       The     Hindu       Nepalese            Life in Sikkim is an endless
observe       Dusshera       to     worship      celebration, for there are vibrant
Goddess Durga. For the Buddhist                  festivities throughout the year. They
there are two important festivals- one           are the reflections of the rich cultural
dedicated to the mountain deity                  heritage of the state. A rich blend of
Kangchendzonga          and       other     in   beliefs, legends and rituals find
celebration of the New Year. The                 expression in the most colourful
warrior dances are performed during              celebrations and traditional dances.
the celebration of the Snowy Range               Folk Dances and songs are an
and is a dance peculiar to Sikkim                ingrained part of Sikkimese culture.
only.                                            Many of the musical instruments that
Though the major religions of the                accompany the dances are unique to
State are Hinduism, Buddhism, and                Sikkim.
Christianity, it is not uncommon to
see     a   Hindu    bowing       before    a
monastery or a Buddhist joining
hands at the temple. Perhaps this



                                                                                      11
Some of the s festivals of the state         to their kingdom after 14 years of
are:                                         exile. To celebrate their return, the
>> Dasain (10 days. - Hindu month            people of Ayodhya are believed to
of                               Ashwin)     have lit up their houses and streets
                                             with lamps and this tradition is
It is the most important festival of         followed   till    date.    People    also
the Nepalese Hindu and begins on             conduct Lakshmi Puja to please the
the first day of the lunar month of          Goddess of Wealth.
Aswain        (approximately     October).   It falls on the last two days of the
The Nepalese decorate their houses           dark    half      of   Kartik   (October-
doors and pillars with banana leaves         November). For some it is a three-
and string of marigold flowers and           day festival.
pray for goddess Durga. On the eight                In Sikkim the festival honours
day, or Ashtami, many families               certain animals on successive days.
sacrifice goats or buffaloes and on          The first day known as "Kak(crow)
the tenth day or Vijaydashami, they          Tihar" is dedicated to crows and they
visit   the    elder   family    members     are offered rice and some if caught
seeking their blessing. During the           are even garlanded. On the second
festival, all Nepalese, both young           day, which is known as "Kukkur(dog)
and     old     smear     each      others   Tihar", dogs are garlanded. On the
foreheads with a mixture of rice and         third day the cows are honored with
curd and string marigold garlands            garlands and their horns are painted
around their necks.                          in bright colors. It is the turn of the
                                             bullocks on the fourth day. The fifth
>>Tihar or Tyohar/Diwali                     day is also known as Bhai Tika in
                                             which brothers visits the homes of
This festival of lights also known as        their sisters who apply tikas on their
the Deepavali means "a row of                foreheads. It is also an occasion for
lights". This festival is celebrated to      exchanging        gifts.   During    Tihar,
mark the return of Lord Rama, his            traditional carols called Bhailo or
consort Sita and brother Lakshmana,          Deusi are sung.



                                                                                      12
                                            Kanchenjunga (the guardian deity of
>> Enchey Chaam (11th Tibetan               Sikkim) is evoked and worshipped
month)                                      on the occasion of Pang Lhabsol.
                                                   The day also signifies the
Ritual dances at Enchey Monastery,          signing of the blood-brother-hood
with elaborate costumes and masks.          pact   between    Khye      Bumsa,   a
                                            descendant of the Kham minyak
                                            dynasty in east Tibet and the great
>> Guthor Cham (2 days prior to             ancestor of the Namgyal dynasty of
Losar)                                      Sikkim and Thekong Tek, a Lepcha
                                            chieftain with divine powers in the
Dances at Rumtek and Pemyangtse             12th Century A.D. This bond of
monasteries welcome the Tibetan             brotherhood marked the emergence
New Year.                                   of a new era in Sikkim.
                                            The uniqueness of Pang Lhabsol is
>> Pang Lhabsol (15th day. - 7th            that the Pang toed dance as it is the
Tibetan Month)                              only religious dance performed by
                                            Zigtempas or laymen, while all other
Ravangla (Situated at a height of           dances are performed by monks.
6,800 ft) is well known for the Pang        The Chaam begins with the 13 Pang
Lhabsol festival, celebrated annually       toed warriors, stepping one by one
by the locals with great pride and          into the square, swaying to the
enthusiasm.      Its popularity has, in     rhythmic beasts of the drums and
fact, turned it into a major event in       cymbals.     They are clad in full
the   region’s   social   and    cultural   ceremonial battle regalia, helmets
calendar.                                   festooned with silk flags and carrying
In a place whose very name means            swords,     shields   and     daggers,
a “wet goat”, it’s only natural that it     dramatic     in   their     flamboyant
should rain even on the 15th day of         costumes.
the seventh month of the Buddhist                  After the completion of the
Lunar       Calendar      when        Mt    first dance sequence, the figures



                                                                                 13
representing Dzonga and Mahakala          Ravangla is the only place in the
(the one sequence of the pangtoed         state that sees the Pang toed
Chaam      performed   only   by    the   Chaam share the same stage with
monks) comes out of the Lakhang.          community events such as volleyball
as the Champey or the lead dancer         tournaments, rural sports and Boogie
rounds off the recital with a solo        Woogie dance competitions during
performance, Pang Lhabsol was             the      Pang   Lhabsol          celebrations!
traditionally held at Tsuklakhang, the    Going by the popularity of the festival
royal chapel in Gangtok where it was      in Ravangla, no one seems to be
a very solemn occasion, an event          complaining even a bit. After all, its
patronized by the royal family. Since     all   about     unity,    friendship      and
its discontinuation at Tsuklakhang,       brotherhood.
Pang Lhabsol has moved out of the
sate capital to the interiors.       In   >> Lhabab Dhuechen (End of May
Gangtok it is celebrated at the Statue    or Early June)
of Unity Park as the “Unity Day.”
         Ravangla, in less than five      This festival symbolizes the descent
years, has become the epicenter of        of Lord Buddha from the heaven.
Pang Lhabsol celebrations in the          According to legend, Queen Maha
state.     Not only has the locals,       Maya, the mother of Lord Buddha,
through their undaunted spirit and        did not live long, took rebirth in
hard work, kept this important aspect     Trayastrimsa or the heaven of the
of the Sikkimese culture alive, but       thirty     gods.         After       attaining
has also added to the local economy       enlightenment, Lord Buddha through
by ways of tourism promotions. The        spiritual powers came to know about
Ravangla Pang Lhabsol turning into        the whereabouts of his mother and
a three-day event, which draws huge       at the age of forty one ascended to
crowds from all over Sikkim and           heaven along with thousands of his
outside. It’s a fine blend of ancient     followers. Lord Buddha stayed in
cultural heritage and modern-day          heaven for three months during
entertainment dictums.        Perhaps,    which he devoured sermon to his



                                                                                      14
mother and other celestial beings                   throughout Sikkim. It generally falls
Lord Buddha had left behind on                      around first week of February.
earth      one    of         his       disciples,   Celebrated for several days, at home
Maugalyayana,                    as          his    and in monasteries. Government
representative. This             disciple and       offices are closed
other devotees of the Lord could not
bear the long separation and longed                 >> Tashiding Bhumchu (15th day. -
to       hear         his          preaching’s.     1st Tibetan month)
Maugalyayana,          who            possessed     This festival takes place in Tashiding
miraculous powers, was exhorted to                  Mo-nastery in west Sikkim, in the
go up to the heaven to request the                  month of January-February. During
Lord to return back to the earth. The               this festival, the pot containing the
gods were not willing to let Lord                   holy water is opened by the lamas of
Buddha       return         to     earth     but    the monastery. The level of water in
Maugalyayana suggested that as the                  the pot foretells the future for the
earthly beings did not have the                     forth coming year. If the water is to
powers to visit heaven, the celestial               the         brim,     it    prophesizes
beings could come to the earth to                   disturbances. If the pot is almost dry
attend his preaching. Lord Buddha                   it indicates famine and a half full pot
finally relented and descended to the               foretells a year in which peace and
earth at a place called Sankasya                    prosperity will prevail. A part of the
along    a   triple    ladder         that   was    holy water is distributed among the
prepared especially for the occasion                participants and then the pot is
by      Viswakarma,          the       god    of    replenished with river water and
Machines.                                           sealed at the end of the festival to be
                                                    opened only in next Bumchu festival.
>> Losar (Tibetan New Year’s Day).                  This sacred water festival is a
                                                    religious       tradition   unique   to
The Tibetan New Year, celebrated in                 Tashiding Monastery only. Devotees
inimitable Himalayan fashion with                   come from far and near to get the
feasting         and             merrymaking        blessings of the holy water.



                                                                                         15
                                                 grand maghe mela where games,
>> Sagadawa (15th day full moon -                displays and cultural events are the
4th Tibetan month)                               main attractions.


Buddha      was             born,     attained   >> Losoong
Buddhahood and achieved nirvana
on Saga Dawa which is celebrated                 This Bhutia festival marks the end of
on the full moon day of the fourth               the harvest season and also the end
month of the Tibetan calendar, a                 of   the     Tibetan   year.     Chaams
very holy month for the Sikkimese                (religious dances) symbolizing the
Buddhist.   A        long     procession    of   victory of good over evil is performed
monks, local people accompanied                  at the Tsug Lakhang, Phodong and
with holy books winds its way                    Rumtek        monasteries.       Archery
through the main thoroughfares of                competitions are held amidst much
Gangtok. Devotees gather to touch                feasting and merry making.
their heads on the holy books. Also
prayers     are       held      in     various   >> Tendong Lho Rum Faat
monasteries throughout this month.
                                                 Tendong Lho Rum Faat has always
>> Tse Chu Chaam (10th day - 5th                 been one of the oldest religious
Tibetan month)                                   festivals of the Lepchas.            The
                                                 Lepchas       being    the     indigenous
Spectacular 'Black hat' dances at                people of this part of Himalaya has
Rumtek                              Monastery.   named each & every mountains,
                                                 hills, rivers, valleys and ravines of
>> Maghe Sankranti (Ist day. Nepali              Sikkim.      Some of these mountains
month Magha)                                     and rivers carry very beautiful &
                                                 romantic folklores as well as their
To celebrate the onset of spring this            historical    importance     since    the
festival        is           marked        by    ancient ages.
tarul(tapioca)and the celebration of a



                                                                                        16
Touching upon the history of this                thus saving the Lepchas from great
particular celebration, our folklore             deluge.
describes about the time when the                Hence        the    Lepchas     began   to
Himalayas was in its infancy and the             observe the ‘Tendong Lho Rum
rivers Teesta & Rangit were yet to               Faat’ (Worship of the Mt. Tendong)
start    their    respective       journeys      since that time.
downward from their sources i.e.                         .
Naho and Nahor lakes.
                                                 •   Costumes
* Historical Significance                        Traditionally the Lepcha men wear
In the wake of a heavy earthquake                tego, tomo (gyado) thokro, tingip
which damaged the said lakes the                 nyiamrik, ban, thektu, while the
legend tells us the PARILBU (King                women wear dungdem, tego thetuk,
Serpant) and TUTFO guided the two                nyiamrik, and ngajo (sickle). The
new rivers upto their confluence at              ornaments          include    chyap-chyap
POZOK (New Peshok) unfortunately                 shambrang bur, kukip alyak, nay-
they (Teesta & Rangit) flooded the               kong,       and    akager.    The    women
entire Mayellyang (the then Sikkim).             maintain their hair in two braids.
The     Lepchas     residing      near     Mt.   The traditional attire of Bhutia men
Tendong to save their lives climbed              consists of hentachi kho tied by kera
upto its peak and prayed to IT-BU-               gyaado jaja, thuri shyambo and
RUM (the Almighty God).                  The     shampo        (shoes).       Women    wear
legend    further    tells   us     that    a    hanju, kho (sleeveless) tied by kera,
KOHOMFO (Partidge bird) appeared                 ceiling, shyambo, tapsu (hair band)
there and offered its prayer with                and shampo. Married women wear
MONGCHEEBEP (the brewed millet)                  pangden below waist in the front.
and another earthquake shook the                 The traditional ornaments comprise
whole earth creating several high                khow, kesung, nyandap, and diu.
mountains around the northern zone               The women keep their hair in two
of MAYEL-YANG which forced the                   braids. Nepalese males wear daura,
flooded water to flow southwards                 suruwal, topi patuka (waist coat) and



                                                                                         17
a khukri, while the women wear                       According to their own tradition they
chowbandi choli, gunew tied by                       came to Sikkim from the east in
patuka, hembari (shawl tied round                    company with Jindaxs, who went to
the chest) majetro. The ornaments                    Nepal and shared their tradition. The
include chyapte sun, gadavari (ear                   Lepchas were a very peace loving
rings) tilhari kantha (hanging from                  people, deeply religious and shy,
the neck) chura, dungri, mundri                      which characteristics they still have
(nose ring), kallis (ankle ornaments),               retained. They were in fact the
sirbandi charrani har and tikmala are                children of nature, and worshipped
female      ornaments.             The      sindur   nature or spirits of nature. These
(vermilion) and the potey (bottle                    Lepcha lived quite close to the
green) are the signs of married                      nature     by     way     of     leading
women                                                sustenance. Some of them practiced
                                                     shifting cultivation and raised grains
                                                     like maize and millets. They led a
Cultural                  and         Historical     tribal life at the beck and call of their
background                                           tribal leader.


Sikkim was inhabited in pre-historic
times by three tribes namely Naong
Chang and the Mon. The Lepcha                        The credit of organizing them into
who entered Sikkim sometimes later                   some sort of a society goes to a
absorbed         them         completely.      The   person called Tur ve pa no. He was
origin of Lepchas is shrouded in                     eventually elected leader of king
mistery but it seems that they                       called "Punu" sometimes in A. D.
belonged to the clan of the Nagas of                 1400. He was killed in a battle and
the Mikir, Garo and Khasia hills                     was succeeded by three Kings - Tur
which     lie        to    the    south   of   the   Song Pa No, Tur Aeng Pa No and
Brahmaputra valley. Some believe                     Tur Alu Pa No. The monarchy came
they came from somewhere on the                      to an end with the death of the last
borders         of        Tibet    and    Burma.     king. The Lepchas now resorted to



                                                                                           18
the practice of electing a leader                   Kingdom of Minvang in eastern Tibet
whose advice and counsel was                        in 9th century A.D. This dynasty
sought     on      crucial       matters      and   ruled in the Chumbi and Teesta
followed. The Tibetan migration in                  valley for a long time.
early 17th century led the Rongs to                 Somewhere in the Thirteenth century
shift their habitats so as to avoid                 a prince named Guru Tashi of
conflict. Meanwhile the struggle and                Minyang dynasty in Tibet had a
conflicts among the followers of the                divine vision that he should go south
"Yellow hats" and the "Red hats" in                 to seek his fortune in "Denzong- the
Tibet forced the latter to seek refuge              valley of rice". As directed by the
in Sikkim, where they attained the                  divine vision he along with his family,
status      of      aristocracy.           Being    which included five sons, headed in
aggressive        they        occupied     lands,   the southern direction. The family
which were not registered by the                    during their wandering came across
docile     Lepchas.           These      Tibetan    the Sakya Kingdom in which a
migrants (the Bhutias as they came                  monastery was being built at that
to be known) who were followers of                  time. The workers had not been
the sect of 'Red Hats' now tried to                 successful in erecting pillars for the
convert            these              Sikkimese     monastery. The elder son of Guru
"Worshippers             of      nature"       to   Tashi    raised   the     pillar   single
Buddhism. They succeeded to some                    handedly and thereby came to be
extent, though the Lepchas tried to                 known as "Kheye Bumsa" meaning
keep themselves aloof as far as                     the superior of ten thousand heroes.
possible. In order to avoid any                     The Sakya King offered his daughter
possible         opposition        from       the   in marriage to Khye Bumsa. Guru
Lepchas,     these        immigrants          now   Tashi subsequently died and Khye
chose      one       venerable           person     Bumsa settled in Chumbi Valley and
Phuntsok Namgyal as the temporal                    it was here that he established
and spiritual leader of Sikkim, whose               contacts with the Lepcha Chieftain
ancestry     they         traced       from     a   Thekong Tek in Gangtok. Khye
legendary prince, who founded the                   Bumsa being issueless went to



                                                                                           19
Sikkim in the 13th century to seek           absorption     of   the    foreign     ruling
the blessing of Thekong Tek who              house into the native soil and also
was also a religious leader. Khye            paved a way for a regular monarchy.
Bumsa was not only blessed with              This way Guru Tashi became the
three sons by the Rong chief but he          first ruler of Sikkim and was crowned
also prophesied that his successors          as such. He was followed by Jowo
would be the rulers of Sikkim. Out of        Nagpo,     Jowo         Apha   and     Guru
gratitude    Khye      Bumsa       visited   Tenzing who pursued the policy
Thekong Tek a number of times. In            creating      progressively      amicable
due course of times the relationship         relation with Lepchas.
ultimately culminated in a treaty of         Phuntsok (or Penchu) Namgyal was
brotherhood      between     the      two    the    next    ruler.     He   was     Guru
Chieftains at a place called Kabi            Tenzing's son (great grandson of
Longtsok. This treaty brought about          Guru     Tashi)     and    was    born     in
new ties of brotherhood between the          1604.Phuntsok Namgyal's crowning
Lepchas and the Bhutias.                     was charged with all the vivid fantasy
Mipon Rab the third son of Khye              and miraculous phenomenon that is
Bumsa assumed the Chief-Ship after           befitting to so important an occasion.
the death of his father. He had sons         Three venerable lamas are said to
and the four principal clans of Sikkim       have entered Sikkim from three
are said to have sprung from these           different directions at the same time.
four sons. The fourth son Guru Tashi         They met at Yoksam (meaning three
succeeded Mipon Rab and shifted to           wise men) and began a debate on
Gangtok. On the other hand after the         the desirability of having a temporal
death of Thekong Tek the Lepchas             and religious head to rule over
broke into minor clans. They also            pagan Sikkim. Two of the lamas
gradually turned to Guru Tashi for           furthered their own claims but the
protection    and    leadership.    Guru     third lama reminded them of the
Tashi appointed a Lepcha, Sambre             prophecy of Guru Padamsambhava
as his chief adviser and lieutenant.         that a man coming from east and
Guru   Tashi's      rule   marked     the    Phuntsok      by    name       would     rule



                                                                                       20
Sikkim. It was also told that none of        him as Chogyal (Heavenly king or
them came from east hence the real           king who rules with righteousness) to
man must be looked for. Messengers           seek recognition from Dalai Lama of
were sent to seek Phuntsok. Near             Tibet. The Dalai Lama recognized
Gangtok the desired Youngman was             Phuntsok Namgyal as the ruler of the
found and lamas lost no time in              southern slopes of the Himalayas
crowning him the king. They seated           (Sikkim) and is also credited to have
him on a nearby rock slab and                sent ceremonial present such as the
sprinkled water on him from the              silken scarf bearing Dalai Lama's
sacred urn. He was given one of              seal, the mitre(hat) of the Guru
Lhatsun Chenpo's (the lama told              Rimpoche, the devil dagger (Phurpa)
about prophecy) names, Namgyal,              and the most precious sand image of
and the title of Chogyal or religious        the Guru. Consequently, the newly
king. It happened in the year 1642.          established    Bhutia   principality     of
The Namgyal dynasty ruled over               Namgyal       Dynasty   was     tied     to
Sikkim as hereditary kings for about         Tibetan theocracy. Since then up to
332 years.                                   19th century, the Bhutia rulers of
Phuntsok     Namgyal,       the      first   Sikkim    looked   up   to    Tibet     for
consecrated ruler ruled over a vast          protection    against   political     foes.
territory, many times the size of            Phuntsok Namgyal proved to be an
present Sikkim. His kingdom touched          efficient and capable administrator.
Thang La in the Tibet in the north,          He divided his kingdom into twelve
Tagong La near Paro in Bhutan in             Dzongs i.e. districts and appointed
the east and the Titalia on the              Dzongpana i.e. governor for each.
borders of West Bengal and Bihar in          He    also      declared      Mahayana
the south. The western border Timar          Buddhism as the state religion,
Chorten on the Timar River in Nepal.         which continued to be the state
Phuntsok     though     a         distant    religion under all the Namgyal rulers.
descendant of Indrabodhi was now a           He very tactfully kept the Lepchas,
Bhutia by his domicile. He was               Bhutias and Limbus together. The
persuaded by the lamas enthroning            Governors were appointed from the



                                                                                      21
lepchas who were then in majority.            Chakdor Namgyal a minor son from
Since      Yatung         the      greatest   Tensung's second wife succeeded
commercial Tibetan center being               on the death of his father. Pedi, the
nearer to Gangtok posed some                  daughter from the first wife who
danger, he shifted his capital to             came from Bhutan challenged the
Yuksom.                                       succession and invited Bhutanese
Phunstok Namgyal and the three                intervention. Having come to know
saints immediately got to the task of         about this secret move Yungthing
successfully bringing the Lepcha              Yeshe a loyal minister took the minor
tribes   under     the     Buddhist   fold.   king to Lhasa. During his asylum in
Politically,    Sikkim     expanded     its   Lhasa,        Chador         Namgyal
borders,       which     include   Chumbi     Distinguished himself in Buddhist
valley, the present Darjeeling district       learning and Tibetan literature. By
and a part of present-day Nepal and           dint of his acumen and scholarship
Bhutan. The capital of Sikkim was             he rose to the position of state
established in Yoksam itself.                 astrologer to the Sixth Dalai Lama.
Tensung Namgyal succeeded his                 The Dalai Lama was so much
father Phuntsok Namgyal in 1670               pleased with the erudition of this
and moved his capital to Rabdentse.           young scholar that he bestowed high
He had three wives - a Tibetan, a             honors and titles on the young king.
Bhutanese and Limbu girl. The latter          The young king also received an
was the daughter of the Limbu chief           estate in central Tibet with sovereign
Yo Yo-Hang. The chief's daughter              rights. On the other hand Bhutanese
brought with her seven girls who              forces had captured the Rabdentse
were later on married into important          palace and imprisoned the son of
families of Sikkim. Many of them              Yugthing    Yeshe.     But   on   the
rose to the rank of councilors to the         intervention of Tibet, King Deb of
King. These councilors later on came          Bhutan withdrew Chador Namgyal
to be known as Kazis who enjoyed              came back and drove out the rest of
immense power and privileges.                 Bhutanese forces. The south-eastern
                                              tract was, however, lost to Sikkim as



                                                                                  22
it had been heavily colonized by               executed and Pediwas strangled to
then. The Bhutanese after a short              death by a silk scarf.
while made a second attempt to                 Gyurmed Namgyal succeeded his
capture    Sikkim     territory.    Chador     father Chakdor. Consequently upon
Namgyal gave a tough resistance                a Mongol (Dzungar) invasion on
but areas now called as Kalimpong              Tibet to persecute Nyingma sect, the
and Rhenock were lost forever.                 Mindoling Abbot's sister. In his times
Chador was himself religious and               the people were forced to work on
took steps for the propagation of              the fortification of Rabdentse in the
Buddhist religion in his territory. He         fear of Gurkhas and Bhutanese
commanded that the second of every             raids. Many Tsongs who were not
three sons of Bhutia family must be            prepared to yield to forced labor fled
ordained     a       monk          of    the   to Limbuana, which became a rebel
Pemayangtse Monastery, which was               district and broke away from Sikkim
also open to the Tsongs. He not only           even earlier to Gurkha expansion. A
built the Guru Lhakhang in Tashiding           boundary dispute with Bhutan also
(1715) and patronized the sacred               arose. The Magar Chieftain Tashi
places but also adapted the religious          Bidur also revolted, though he was
dances (mystery plays) to keep alive           subdued. Limbuana was, however,
the martial and native traditions and          lost to Nepal. Gyurmed had no issue
invented    an      alphabet       for   the   but while on his death bed at the age
Lepchas. However, Pedi, the half               of 26 (1733) gave out that a nun in
sister of the ruler did not reconcile.         Sanga Choling was carrying his
She conspired with a Tibetan man of            child. But some people do not
medicine    and      caused        Chakdor     believe it. It is said; he was impotent
Namgyal's death by way of blood                and generally shunned his wife.
letting from a main artery while the           Therefore, the story goes that in
king was holidaying at Ralang hot              order to keep the Namgyal Dynasty
water spring in 1716. A force was              going, the lama priest of Sikkim
sent to Namchi, the doctor was                 concocted a story that a nun was
                                               carrying the child of the King.



                                                                                    23
Fortunately the nun delivered a male             the regent to appoint the deceased's
child and he was accepted as heir to             son as chieftain. But the regent
Gyurmed.       He        was     named     as    expressed his inability to comply with
Phuntsok after the first temporal and            their demand. This act enraged the
the spiritual head of Sikkim.                    Magars who sought the help and
Phuntsok Namgyal II was opposed                  protection from Bhutan. This way
by many people including some                    Sikkim         lost   Magars        allegiance
Bhutias on the plea of illegitimacy.             forever. In the year 1752 the Tsongs
Tamdang a close confident and                    rose in arms, but were subdued and
treasurer     of    Gyurmed        not    only   won over by tactfully by Chandzod
opposed the succession but assured               Karwang. The rise of Gurkhas also
the   powers        of    the     ruler   and    posed a threat for Sikkim. The later
continued to rule Sikkim for three               years     of     Phuntsok      II   witnessed
years in spite of the opposition by              Gurkhas inroads in Sikkim under the
pro-king     faction.      The      Lepchas      leadership of Raja Prithvi Narayan
backed the baby king and fought the              Shah of Nepal. Bhutan also invaded
pretender under the leadership of                Sikkim and captured all area east of
Chandzod Karwang. Tamding was                    Teesta, but withdrew to present
defeated and fled to Tibet to seek               frontiers        after      negotiation     at
guidance and help. But to keep                   Rhenock. A peace treaty with Nepal
Sikkim under their Tutelage the                  was signed in 1775, and Gurkhas
Tibetan     authorities        favoured   the    promised to abstain from further
minority of the king. A convention               attacks        and       collaboration    with
representing all shades of Sikkimese             Bhutanese. But the Gurkhas at a
population was held which defined                later stage occupied the land in
the       functions,       powers         and    western Sikkim. Phuntsok II had
responsibilities of the Government.              three queens but had a son Tenzing
The system of annual taxation was                Namgyal from his second queen in
also introduced to augment the state             1769.
treasury. The Magar tribe lost its               Tenzing           Namgyal           succeeded
chieftain during this time and asked             Phuntsok Namgyal in 1780. During



                                                                                             24
the reign of Tenzing Namgyal, Nepali       and it was felt that the route through
forces occupied large chunks of            Sikkim was the most feasible one.
Sikkim     territory.   They   attacked    War between Nepal and British India
Rabdantse and the Chogyal had to           broke out in 1814 and came to an
flee to Tibet. The Nepalis excursions      end in 1816 with the defeat of the
emboldened them to penetrate even          Nepalis and the subsequent signing
into Tibet. This led to the Chinese        of the Treaty of Sugauli. As a direct
intervention      and     Nepal     was    spin-off, British India signed another
defeated. In the Sino-Nepal treaty,        treaty with Sikkim in 1817 known as
Sikkim lost some of its land to Nepal,     the Treaty of Titalia in which former
but monarchy was allowed to be             territories,     which       the      Nepalis
restored in the country. Tenzing           captured, were restored to Sikkim. H.
Namgyal died in Lhasa and his son          H. Risley writes in the Gazette of
Tsudphud Namgyal was sent to               Sikkim, 1894, that by the Treaty of
Sikkim in 1793 to succeed him as           Titalia British India has assumed the
the monarch. Rabdantse was now,            position of Lord's paramount of
considered too insecure because of         Sikkim and a title to exercise a
its proximity to the Nepal border and      predominant influence in that State
Tshudphund Namgyal shifted the             has remained undisputed.
capital to a place called Tumlong.         The British became interested in
         The defeat of Nepal by the        Darjeeling both as a hill resort and
Chinese did little to weaken the           an outpost from where Tibet and
expansionist       designs     of    the   Sikkim would be easily accessible.
Nepalese. They continued to make           Following a lot of pressure from the
attacks into the neighboring British       British,       Sikkim       finally    gifted
territories and Sikkim. British India      Darjeeling to British India on the
successfully befriended Sikkim. They       understanding that a certain amount
felt that by doing so the expanding        would be paid as annual subsidy to
powers of the Gorkhas would be             Sikkim. The gift deed was signed by
curtailed. British also looked forward     the Chogyal Tsudphud Namgyal in
to establishing trade link with Tibet      1835.      The    British     appointed    a



                                                                                      25
superintendent in the ceded territory.             stoppage of the annual grant of Rs.
The British however did not pay the                6000/- to the Maharaja of Sikkim and
compensation          as        had         been   also the annexation of Darjeeling
stipulated and this led to a quick                 and a great portion of Sikkim to
deterioration of relation between the              British India.
two    countries.       There      was      also   Sikkim resorted to making attacks
difference      between         the      British   into British territories and it was in
Government and Sikkim over the                     November 1860 that the British sent
status of people of Sikkim. Because                an expeditionary force to Sikkim.
of    the    increased     importance         of   This force was driven back from
Darjeeling, many citizens of Sikkim                Rinchenpong in Sikkim. A stronger
mostly of the labor class started to               force was sent in 1861 that resulted
settle there as British subjects. The              in the capture of the capital Tumlong
migration disturbed the feudal lords               and the signing of a Treaty between
in Sikkim who resorted to forcibly                 the British and Sikkimese the same
getting the migrants back to Sikkim.               year.
This        annoyed          the         British   His     son      Sidekeong         Namgyal
Government,          which         considered      succeeded Tsugphud Namgyal in
these as acts of kidnapping of British             1863.     The     British    Government
citizens. The relations deteriorated to            started   the    payment      of    annual
such    an     extent    that      when      Dr.   subsidy of Rs. 6000/- in 1850 for
Campbell, the Superintendent of                    Darjeeling. In an attempt to keep
Darjeeling and Dr. Hooker visited                  good relation with Sikkim, the British
Sikkim in connection with the latter's             enhanced the subsidy to Rs. 12000/-
botanical      research;        they        were   per annum.
captured and imprisoned in 1849.                   Chogyal Sidekong Namgyal defied in
The British issued an ultimatum and                1874 issueless and was succeeded
the two captives were released after               by his half brother Thutob Namgyal.
a month of detention. In February                  There     were     serious     difference
1850, an expedition was sent to                    between the Nepalese settlers and
Sikkim,      which      resulted       in    the   the inhabitants of Sikkim and this led



                                                                                           26
to      British      intervention.    The    the few British soldiers who died in
settlement went in favour of the             the engagement.
Nepali settlers and made Thutob              The      Britishers    appointed     Claude
Namgyal have ill feeling for the             White as the first political officer in
British. He retreated to Chumbi and          Sikkim in 1889 and Chogyal Thutob
became more aligned towards the              Namgyal was virtually under his
Tibetans.                                    supervision. Thutob Namgyal shifted
The British meanwhile were making            the capital from Tumlong to Gangtok
concerted efforts to establish a trade       in 1894. The Sir Thutob Namgyal
links with Tibet and also imposed            Memorial (STNM) Hospital built in
their influence. A delegation led by         1917 is named in the memory of
Colman            Macaulay,      Financial   Thutob Namgyal who died in 1914.
Secretary to the Bengal Government           Alarmed by the growing Russian
of British India was sent to Sikkim in       influence in Tibet and also to assert
1884 to explore the possibility of           itself, the British sent an expedition
establishing a trade route with Tibet        led by Col. Young husband to Lhasa
through the Lachen Valley. This              via Jelepla in 1904. The expedition
delegation        visited   Tumlong   the    met with resistance from the Tibetan
capital where it met the Maharaja.           army, which was defeated, and a
The Britishers started building of           treaty     was     dictated    by    Young
roads in Sikkim. This was viewed             husband       on      Tibet.   The   Treaty
with suspicion by Tibet and in 1886,         secured monopoly-trading privileges
some Tibetan militia occupied Lingtu         in Tibet for the British. Thutob
in Sikkim near Jelepla pass. In May          Namgyal was succeeded by his son
1888,       the      Tibetans    attacked    Sidekong           Tulku       in     1914.
Gnathang below Jelepla but were              Unfortunately he did not live long
driven away. In September of the             and died in the same year. He was
same year the British called for             succeeded by his half brother Tashi
reinforcements and the Tibetans              Namgyal who promulgated many
were pushed back from Lingtu. A              reforms in the state.
memorial was built at Gnathang for



                                                                                      27
In     1947        when     India         became    September     1947,         the   leader    of
independent, Tashi Namgyal was                      Sikkim Congress, Kazi Lendup Dorji
successful in getting a special status              was elected as the Chief Minister of
of protectorate for Sikkim. This was                the state. The Chogyal however still
in face of stiff resistance from local              remained as the constitutional figure
parties like Sikkim State Congress                  head monarch in the new setup. Mr.
who wanted a democratic setup and                   B. B. Lal was the first Governor of
accession of Sikkim to the Union of                 Sikkim.
India between India and Sikkim                      Events leading to the confrontation
ratified the status of Sikkim as a                  between     the     Chogyal       and      the
protectorate with Chogyal as the                    popular Government caused Sikkim
Monarch. Tashi Namgyal died in                      to become a full-fledged 22nd state of
1963 and was succeeded by his son                   the Indian Union on 16th May 1975.
Palden Thondup Namgyal. By the                      The   institution      of    Chogyal       was
beginning        of     1970       there    were    subsequently abolished.
rumbling in the political ranks and file            Since then Sikkim has been a state
of the State, which demanded the                    of the Indian Union like any other
removal       of      Monarchy        and     the   state. The 1979 assembly election
establishment of a democratic setup.                saw Mr. Nar Bahadur Bhandari being
This    finally       culminated      in    wide    elected as the Chief Minister of
spread     agitation        against        Sikkim   Sikkim. He has been returned to
Durbar      in        1973.There       was     a    office in the election held in 1984
complete           collapse          in       the   and   1989.       In    1994      assembly
administration.             The            Indian   election      Mr.       Pawan        Kumar
Government tried to bring about                     Chamling became the fifth Chief
semblance of order in the state by                  Minister of Sikkim.
appointing a Chief administrator Mr.
B. S. Das. Further events and
election led to Sikkim becoming
transformed from a protectorate to
an     associate          State.      On      4th



                                                                                                28
                                                2

                              ECOTOURISM – AaConceptpaying
                                       paved  way of                         for nature
                                             conservation    and      increasing   the
Only a few years back, the word
                                             value of land left natural. And now it
“Eco-tourism’ didn’t exist in the
                                             has been realized that one cannot
dictionary. There have been some
                                             save nature at the expense of local
natural travelers for quite a long time
                                             people and they should be given a
in the history. But their experiences
                                             fair share. Eco-tourism, therefore,
were not meager to produce any
                                             incorporates      both      a      strong
significant socio-economic benefits
                                             commitment to nature and a sense
to the places they visited, nor do
                                             of social responsibility.
their activities seem to be intended
as a tool for conserving natural area,
                                                    Eco-tourism is not only the
native     culture     or     endangered
                                             fastest growing branch of the travel
species. But with the advent of the
                                             industry; it has also been hailed as
technology, the popularity of nature
                                             a hopeful new approach to both
and      travel   documentaries        on
                                             preserving fragile and threatened
television, and the interest in the
                                             wild areas. It is about creating and
conservation      and       environmental
                                             satisfying a hunger for nature, about
matters, eco-tourism is becoming a
                                             exploiting tourism’s potential for
phenomenon characteristic of the
                                             conservation and development and
beginning of the 21st century.
                                             about averting its negative impact
                                             on ecology, culture and aesthetics.
         The root of eco-tourism lies in
                                             The enormous opportunities and
nature and outdoor tourism. It is an
                                             awesome risks of nature tourism lie
amalgamation of interest arising out
                                             at the heart of the Eco-tourism
of    environmental,        economic   and
                                             mission.
social concern. Tourism has now
become one of the largest global
                                                    Eco-tourism is a complex and
economic activities;
                                             multi-disciplinary phenomenon. As


                                                                                     29
a logical component of sustainable               active socio-economic involvement
development,           it      requires    a     of local population."
multidisciplinary approach, careful              Hector Ceballos Lascurian
planning and strict guidelines and
regulations     that        will   guarantee     "Tourism that involves traveling to
sustainable                        operation.    relatively undisturbed areas with the
Governments, private enterprises,                specified object of studying, admiring
local         communities                 and    and enjoying the scenery and its wild
non-governmental organizations all               plants and animals, as well as any
have an important role to play.                  existing cultural aspects (both of the
                                                 past or the present) found in the
"Ecotourism is responsible travel to             areas."
natural areas that conserves the                 World Tourism Organisation
environment and sustains the well
being of local people."                          In    short,   ecotourism       can   be
The International Ecotourism                     conceptualised as:
Society                                          Any tourism programme that is-
                                                 (a) nature based,
"Ecotourism       is         tourism      and    (b) ecologically sustainable,
recreation that is both nature based             (c) where education and
and sustainable."                                interpretation is
K. Lindberg, B.McKercher                         a major component and
                                                 (d) where local people are benefited
"Environmentally responsible travel
and       visitation         to     relatively
undisturbed natural areas, in order to
appreciate nature (and any cultural
features - both past and present) that
promote conservation, has low visitor
                                                 Fundamentally, ecotourism means
impact, and provides for beneficially
                                                 making as little environmental impact
                                                 as possible and at the same time


                                                                                       30
helping to sustain the indigenous                  started gaining importance as a
populace, thereby encouraging the                  major ecotourist destination. It has
preservation of wildlife and habitats              everything which a tourist can
when      visiting    a    place.     This    is   dream of as a land of fairs and
responsible form of tourism and                    festivals, snow-clad mountains, holy
tourism         development,            which      lakes and peaks, religious centers,
encourages going back to natural                   hot springs, trekking, water-rafting,
products in every aspect of life. It is            pleasant valleys flora and fauna and
also      the    key       to     sustainable      so on.
ecological development.
                                                            Sikkim, one of the smallest
Brief     Profile     of      Eco     Tourism      state in the northeast India and the
Status in Sikkim                                   second smallest state in the country

                                                   lies between 27.50 and 28.10 N and
Tourism is one of the mainstays of
                                                   88.40 and 88.580 east longitude.
the mountain and hill economy and
                                                   Spread across an area of just 7,096
Sikkim is second to none in this
                                                   sq. km, this state has a varied
regard.               The              mighty
                                                   terrain climate and altitude resulting
Khangchendzonga               offer   brilliant
                                                   in a wide range of bio-diversity.
mountain scenery, healthier and
                                                   Three foreign countries surround it
invigorating climate. The snowy
                                                   – Nepal in the West, Bhutan in the
winter and cooler summer serve to
                                                   East and Tibet and China in the
invite many tourists to this tiny hilly
                                                   North and West Bengal in the
state. Sikkim is a place where
                                                   South. Till the middle of 70’s Sikkim
fusion of culture is distinctly visible.
                                                   was        under         the    monarchy
Sikkim has great beauty ranging
                                                   government         when        the        35th
from the mountains and multitude of
                                                   Amendment          Act     made      it    an
rivers     and       lakes,     which        are
                                                   associate State of Indian Union and
considered as the sine-qua-non of
                                                   finally on 16th of May 1975 (38th
Ecotourism. Sandwiched in the hills
                                                   Amendment Act), it was made a
and mountain, Sikkim has now



                                                                                               31
full-fledged state of India. Since                 glaciers (largest in state), Rathong
then there has been a constant flow                and    Lonak       glaciers.    Mountain
of tourist in Sikkim, which has                    ranges     are    incomplete         without
played, great roles in boosting up                 passes, so numerous passes are
the economy of the state.                          found in the huge mountain range
                                                   of Sikkim, the most important of
         Sikkim     is    a      hilly    state    which are- Nathu La (La meaning
traversed by rivers and mountains                  Pass) (14,140 ft), Jelep La (14,350
that define its boundaries. Two                    ft), Chiwabhanjang (10,300 ft).
principle mountain ranges- Singalila
on the western border that marks its
boundaries with Nepal and the                      Sikkim is gifted with a number of
Chola on the eastern border with                   lakes, which are unexpected on
Tibet.     A      low     altitude       range     such a rugged terrain. The serene
Panglakha         marks    the     boundary        lake Tsomgo Lake (12,320 ft),
between Sikkim and Bhutan. Most                    Bidan Tso, Memencho, Kheceopalri
of the peaks above (20,000-ft) are                 Lake      are    the   few     to    name.
on the western border of Sikkim                    Gurudogmar Lake is the largest
(Khangchendzonga-28,                168      ft;   lake in the State located in the
Kabru-20, 000 ft; Sinolchu, Pandim,                northern part of the state. Teesta
Simvo). Paunhri peak (22,000 ft) is                and Rangit are two important rivers
the highest point on the eastern                   of Sikkim, which gives off numerous
border of the State.                 Another       tributaries along its course. Starting
mountain ridge separate Teesta                     from a height of 18,000 ft, Teesta
and Rangit valley, which include the               travels down in 100 km to a height
peaks like Tendong (8660 ft), and                  of just 3000-ft. These rivers never
Maenam (10,612 ft).                                dry out, even in the winter as they
                                                   are fed both by snowmelt as well as
                                                   rains. There are numerous hot
Glaciers are too many in Sikkim,                   springs    in    Sikkim,     which     have
important of which are the Zemu                    medicinal as well as therapeutic



                                                                                             32
value.      Phurchachu,         Yumthang,            Sikkim is one of the hottest
Yumey Samdong, Ralang are the                 tourist destinations in India. What
important hot springs of Sikkim               oil is to Arab, tourism is for Sikkim.
which are rich in Sulphur content             Ecotourism as we know form the
and have an average temperature               definition      given         by     TIES    is

of 500 C.                                     responsible travel to natural areas
                                              that conserve the environment and

         The climate of Sikkim ranges         sustain the well being of local

from the tropical to alpine. Places           people.

with an altitude of 19,900 ft and
above are snowbound and places                Sikkim has an excellent setting for

as low as 9,850 ft come within the            Ecotourism.          This state is purely

snowline      in     the   winter.     The    rural in nature with about 40% of

temperature in the lower altitudes            the total land comprises of fixed
                                              land and another 30% land is under
fluctuates between 40-350C and
                                              snowcapped mountain, glaciers and
places with moderate height like
                                              rivers. Here one can travel form a
Gangtok            faces    temperature
                                              level of 300 m to 8598 m in a span
between      10-250C.      In    the   high
                                              of just 110 km.           This variation in
altitude area (above 13,100 ft), the
                                              altitude     has given rise to a rich
mercury never rise above 150C and
                                              biodiversity in Sikkim. So, this
slides down below the freezing
                                              region is one of the most sought
point in winter. Because of its close
                                              ecotourist          destinations.           The
proximity to Bay of Bengal and the
                                              demand of tourist to see the culture
obstruction of the path of monsoon
                                              of local people helped in the revival
clouds by mountains, most of the
                                              of the interest of local people in
part of the state receives heavy
                                              their culture. The people of Sikkim
rainfall throughout the year. It is
                                              make it a natural tourist destination
only during the month of October –
                                              because        of     their    friendly     and
March that the State remains drier.
                                              hospitable          nature,        peace    and
                                              tranquility.    Most of the areas are



                                                                                           33
virtually virgin and unspoiled thus               (B) Trekking
creating an area of mystery around                Trekking     in   Sikkim    can   be   a
it.                                               wonderful experience- an antidote to
                                                  the stress of daily life and a memory
Most of the tourism resources in the              to cherish rest of life.          While
area could be utilized to develop                 trekking, are relish the pure air and
Ecotourism. There are numerous                    the silence of wilderness and feels
Ecotourism products available in                  the awakening of senses dolled by
this    region.    “Wildlife    in    natural     urban living.      Though each and
setting”    is    the   most        important     every nook and corner of the state is
product while the nature based                    worth trekking, following trek routes
recreational activities like camping;             are worth will to be discussed here.
rafting, hiking and trekking are also             •   Gangtok – Penlong – Tinjure -
found       to     contribute        towards             Rumtek
promotion of Ecotourism.                          •   Lachung -- Yumthang – Yumey
                                                      Samdong.
(A) Adventure Tourism                             •   Damthang        –      Tendong     –
                                                      Ravangla – Maenam - Sirwani
        Adventure tourism is one of               •   Ravangla - Maenam - Borong -
the     most      neglected     forms        of       Tashiding
tourism, which has an enormous                    •   Yuksom - Dzongri
potential         of     growth             and   •   Hilley - via Sombarey - Varsey –
development in Sikkim.               Today’s          Soreng
generations       are   more         fond    of   •   Hilley   -Varsey    –   Dentam     –
adventure         and       Sikkim          has       Singalila – Chiwabhangang.
everything to contribute to the
                                                  •   Mangan – Lingzin –Sakyong -
adventure tourism of the state.
                                                      Royot Patam – Dzongri -Yoksum
Adventure         tourism      in     Sikkim
includes mountaineering, trekking,
                                                  (C) Mountaineering
mountain biking and water rafting.




                                                                                         34
         The first European to explore          motorbikes, this sport can gain
Khangchendzonga               area       was    momentum in the         near future.
Douglas          W.Freshfield     in    1899.   Following routes are advisable.
Famous            Sikkimese       Everester         • Gangtok – Rumtek – Sang -
Sonam Gyatso climbed the summit                        Sirwani-Temi
of         Siniolchu.                  Though
mountaineering activities now a                 •   Damthang – Rabongla – Kewzing
days       is    not   frequent    yet    the       –Tashiding-Yuksam-
activities is usually taken by Sonam                Khecheopalri
Gyatso Mountaineering Institute.                •   Jorethang-Sikip-Reshi-
                                                    Rinchenpong-Bermiok-Dentam.
(D) Rafting in Sikkim                           •   Jorethang      –   Melli-Rangpo-
                                                    Singtam-Gangtok
Under the category of water sports,             •   Gangtok- Phodong – Rangrang -
White River rafting is the latest                   Dikchu -Makha – Sirwani –Temi-
adventure sport in Sikkim. Teesta                   Singtam-Gangtok
and Rangit are the ideal rivers for             .
rafting.        The following two routes        (F) Wildlife Tourism
are the most desired by the rafters.
         (i)       On River Teesta:                  Due to the variation of altitude
Chungthang – Dikchu – Singtam –                 from sea level to the mountain tops,
Melli                                           Sikkim possess a wide and varied
         (ii)      On River Rangit:             spectrum of flora and fauna. It has
Legship – Jorethang – Melli                     one of the richest assemblages of
                                                habitat in the world. The zoological
(E) Mountain Biking                             and botanical richness and diversity
                                                is excellent ,boasting of more than
This class of adventure tourism is              4000 species of plants, 300 species
recently introduced in this hilly state         of fern and its allies, 11 species of
of Sikkim. Since most of the roads              Oaks, 8 species of tree fern 30-40
of      Sikkim      are   accessible       by   species of primula, 20 species of


                                                                                   35
bamboos, 144 species of mammals,             region of Sikkim harbors snow
500-600 species of birds (30% of all         leopard    and     wild   ass   roaming
birds found in Indian sub continent),        amongst rhododendron, the state
over 400 species of butterflies and          hosts     around     30    species    of
moths, together with many reptiles,          Rhododendron.                        The
medicinal herbs and shrubs. The              Rhododendron Nevium is delivered
state can be broadly classified into         as the state tree of Sikkim. Parks
three zones: -                               and Sanctuaries play an important
                                             role in promoting ecotourism.
(a) Tropical (Sea Level –1500 m)
(b) Temperate (from 1500m to 3500
   m)
(c) Alpine (above 3500m)


   The jungle of lower altitude
harbor   Jungle        cuts,   Mongoose,
sparrow and has abundance of
bamboos, trees firm, walnut and
oak. More than 600 species of
orchids are found in Sikkim, which
are indeed the jewels in the crown.
The most important of them are –
Cymbidiums,           Vanda     Cuttaleya,
Haberina,        and     Paphiopedilum.
Nobile orchid (Dendrobium nobile)
is declared as the State flower. The
fauna       of        Temperate     Zone
comprises        of    common     Langur,
Leopard cats, Red Panda, Musk
deer, Himalayan black bear and the
flying squirrel. The arid cold alpine



                                                                                   36
                                          3
                           Eco-destinations of Sikkim


East District                               with loamy skeletal soils on steep
With Gangtok, the city capital              slope (30 -50%) and gravelly loamy
situated here, East District is the hub     surface. This type of soil is prone to
of all administrative activity in Sikkim.   severe erosion and moderate
It is situated at latitude ranging from     stoniness. The scenic view of
27:08:08 N – 27:25:03 N and                 Kanchenjunga, the guardian deity for
longitude ranging from 88:26:25 E –         the locals is something that cannot
88:55:24 E. Besides the usual               be surpassed by a visiting tourist.
shopping for momentos and artifacts
in Gangtok, the East District offers            • Natural Resources
many interesting places to visit. With      In spite of Gangtok being the capital
the highest density of population           of state with the highest density of
East district covers an area of about       population, the
954 km. square. The approximate
population of this district is about 2,
44,790.

GANGTOK
• Physical Setting
Gangtok is a hilly town and spreads
down the western side of a long
ridge flanking the Ranipul River.
Famous for its many important
monasteries, and for the picturesque
views of the Himalayas, Gangtok is
one of the important hill stations of
the country. With a population of
about 50,000, it is situated at a
height of about 1,870 metres above
sea level. The town experiences a lot
of rainfall throughout the year and
temperatures are mild. Sometime the
people living in Gangtok do                           EAST DISTRICT
experience snowfall during winter
seasons,      which    lowers     the       places in an around Gangtok is rich
temperature of places around. Soil          in biodiversity. A wide variety of
type of places in and around                birds, trees, orchids, medicinal
Gangtok is deep, moderately shallow         plants, animals are found here.
and somewhat excessively drained            Gangtok has Sub Tropical mixed


                                                                                37
Broad-Leaved Hill Forest, dominated        Mixed punch ( Dodena ovida ovida)
mainly by Alnus nepalensis (Uttis),        Common evening brown ( Melanitis
Macaranga (Malata), Castanopsis            leda isimene), Dark evening brown
(Kattus),     Engelhardtia      spicata    (Melantis pheduma bela), Common
(Mahua), Michelia (Champ), Toona           forester (Lethe isana dinarbas),
ciliata (Tooni), Machilus (Kawla),         Moeller’s silver fork (Zoophoessa
Symplocos (Kharane), Cinnamomum            moelleri), Lilac fork (Zoophoessa
(Sinkoli),    Pine     (Dhupi)      etc.   Sura), Lilane bush brown (Mycalsis
interspersed with shrubs like Rubus        fransisca Santana ), Bright eye bush
(Aiselu),       Daphne         (Algeri),   brown (Mycalsis nicata) etc are
Leucosceptrum (Ghurpis),Banmara,           found in this region
Nigaley etc. There are also dense
bushes of bamboos at the lower
altitudes, mostly belonging to the
genus Arundinaria which forms an           Eco-spots in the vicinity:
ideal habitat for animals like the Red
Panda, Ailurus fulgens that thrive on      •   Ganesh Tok & Pinetum
their shoots. Trees like Mahua,
Kattus, Tooni, Champ and many              Up in the top of the ridge, near
more are hardly found nowadays in          Himalayan         Zoological      Park
and around Gangtok.                        (Bulbulley) is Ganesh Tok which is 7
Bird life in Gangtok area, is good for     kms from Gangtok. A small temple
a variety of Laughing thrushes with        of Lord Ganesh rests on this
frequent sightings of White-crested,       beautiful hilltop with a size that can
Chestnut-crowned, Striated and             hold only a person who has to crawl
Blue-winged Laughing thrushes.             to get inside it. A sip of coffee on a
Red-faced Liochicla, Black-faced           chill hilltop available in a cafeteria
and Grey-sided Laughing thrushes           nearby adds warmth to your visit on
are also seen. Small birds like            a cold winter day.
Golden-spectacled and Whistler's           Pinetum garden rests nearby giving
Warbler, Fulvettas, Coal Tit, Wren         one a memorable experience of a
Babblers      and     Redstarts     are    walk amidst the smell of pine trees.
abundant as are Leiothrixs, Sibias
and Slaty-backed Forktails. Raptors        A bird’s eye view:
include Common Kestrel, Eurasian           From this spot, one gets a bird’s eye
Sparrowhawk, Himalayan Griffon,            view of sprawling Gangtok ,a sight
Steppe Eagle and Oriental Honey            you can never miss from here at
Buzzards.                                  night when the city comes alive with
Gangtok has butterfly fauna typical        lights as if stars twinkling in the
of hilly region butterflies. Butterflies   distant sky while Mt. Kanchendzonga
like    Spangle (Princeps protentor        and Mt. Sinolchu gazes over the
protenor ), Paris peacock (Princeps        horizon. One can also get the
paris paris),      Great orange tip        spectacular view of other parts of
(Hebomoia glaucippe glaucippe), Hill       Sikkim like Pakyong, Rumtek,
jezebel (Delias bellanona ithiela)         Ranipool, Tinjurey, Ranka and Luing.
,Lesser punch,       (Dodena dipaea)



                                                                               38
•   Hanuman Tok.                          of 205 hectares this park has a
                                          collection of rare rhododendrons.
Hanuman Tok, a name derived from          There is a paved cement path that
a small temple of Ganesha situated        passes by fenced open air enclosure
here is at an altitude of about 6200      housing the Red Pandas, barking
feet and is about 11 Kms from             Deer, spotted deer, bears in a semi
Gangtok town. Everyday lots of            natural habitat.
devotees come and offer prayer.
Also frequented by young lovers the       A bird’s eye view:
silence here is naturally romantic        Inside the park one gets to see rare
.Besides it also has a zoological park    and      endangered     species    of
managed by the forest department          butterflies. The Park echo to the
which is now a home to the rare           sound of the Barking Deer which
endangered species of the state.          share its habitat with the adorable
                                          little Red Panda ( also the State
A bird’s eye view:                        animal”), the Musk Deer, Leopard
Because of its locational advantage,      cats and flying squirrels, Himalayan
the view of the mountain along the        Black Beer, Fox, Jackal and many
horizon is just magnificent, especially   more.
on a clear sunny day. Just a few
minutes of walk takes one to the          •   Flower Show Centre:
graveyard of Chogyals of the
kingdom of Sikkim. One can also           Fifteen minutes walk from the town
have a view of the army                   this centre has exhibits of flowers.
cantonments settled there.                Flower exhibitions are organized
                                          around the year at the Flower Show
•   Tashi View Point:                     Venue near the White Memorial Hall
                                          Complex, Gangtok. Orchid Shows
Situated along the North Sikkim           held during the spring tourist season
Highway, it is only 8 kms from            is one of the most popular shows
Gangtok.                                  organized in the state.
                                          • The       Sikkim     Flower    Show
A bird’s eye view:                            Complex is a showcase of the
From this point you get a                     world famous Sikkim Orchids.
breathtaking    view     of   Mount           Displayed here are the rare and
Khangchendzonga and Mt. Sinolchu,             exotic varieties, also available in
one of the most graceful peaks in the         a convenient retail outlet within
world.                                        the complex where visitors may
                                              take bulbs and saplings at
•   Himalayan Zoological Park:                nominal rates.

Himalayan Zoological Park also            •   Gangtok Ropeway:
known as Bulbuley is about 8 Kms
away from Gangtok. Established and        •   With the lower terminal station at
maintained by the Department of               Deorali,the intermediate terminal
Forest and spreading across an area           at Nam-Nang and the upper


                                                                               39
    terminal station below Secretariat   •   Unique Selling Proposition
    the cabin has a capacity of 24
    passengers .One can truly enjoy      Gangtok –a city one has to see to
    the panoramic view and a thrilling   believe. Amongst the mist -laden
    ride as the ropeway traverses the    prayer flags that whip in the breeze
    city from Nam-Nang to Deorali ,a     and wheels that spin in the hands of
    distance of a kilometer in only 1    Lamas mumbling invocations to God
    minute.                              and the distant snows not so far
                                         from the streets of brightly painted
• Hur-Huray Dara:(Nam-Nang)              pagoda roofed houses and lined
Famous for a view point ,this place is   with friendly smiling people are
ideal to sit and relax.The sight of      silver, silk and spice and jewellery to
lush green dense forest and streams      gladden a maiden's heart . From
meandering through the valleys, one      across the seven seas are gadget
can imagine of a farmer singing to       and goods to delight the collector of
his cattle in the distant village.       "imported goods', while directly
                                         overlooking the city is the hill
                                         Lukshyma, the 'Mother of Pearl'
                                         citadel of the magic mountain,
•   Do- Drul Chorten:                    Khang-Chen-Dzod-Nga. An air of
                                         enchantment hangs over the city,
One of the most important Stupas of      indeed the whole valley; the
Sikkim built by Trulsi Rimponche,        mysticism,       the    stupas,     the
head of the Nyingma order                monasteries reach out as soon as
containing rare Mandalas of Dorjee       one has crossed the border and
Phurpa(Bara Kilaya),holy books,          across the hills and valleys comes
mantras and encircled by 108 prayer      the sounds of the long trumpets by
wheels is at distance of a kilometer     the robed lamas that mesmerize a
from the heart of the capital. For the   visitor for months.
adventure lovers there is a cable car
that leads to the chorten thus giving    •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
one an opportunity of flying over the        by the Government, NGO,
hills.                                       Stakeholders

                                         Gangtok being the focal point of
                                         Sikkim attracts a large number of
•   Research        Institute      of    tourists. Because of high inflow of
    Tibetology:                          tourist the place tends to get
                                         overcrowded leading to congestion
Worldwide centre      for study of       and use of resources in an
Buddhists philosophy and religion ,a     unsustainable way. Keeping this in
treasure house of rare Thankas,          view, M.G market in the heart of the
statues, over 200 Buddhists icons        capital is kept traffic free after five in
and prizes and other objects of art.     the evening so that the tourists can
                                         move along freely for shopping and
                                         take a healthy stroll along the street



                                                                                40
which is a spit free zone now.               Sikkim      Hotel     and  Restaurant
Government,             NGO’s         and    Association      (SHRA)     and    the
Stakeholders have now awakened to            Transport Association have been
growing menace of irresponsible              doing their bit in promoting
tourism and devised certain code of          ecotourism.         They      organize
conduct for visitors and stakeholders        cleanliness       drives,  awareness
alike for conserving the fragile             programmes for their guides, and
environment.                                 publish pamphlets enlisting dos and
     The government has taken lots           don’ts     for     tourist and     the
of initiatives like maintaining parks in     stakeholders. These organizations
and around the vicinity of Gangtok,          often conduct workshops and
regulation of carrying capacity to eco       summer trainings for capacity
fragile zones and outlining certain          building. Besides when it comes to
guidelines        to     visitors     and    tourism every individuals are ready
stakeholders for environment friendly        to make their contribution thus giving
tourism. It also encourages the travel       a visitor a clean and green Sikkim.
agency and tour operators to
organize eco friendly travel. Most           TSOMGO
importantly the government has               • Physical Setting
banned the use of non bio-                   It literally means “Source of the
degradable           substances       like   Lake” in Bhutia language. Just about
polythene bags which can pose an             40 kms away form Gangtok; the
environmental hazard.                        capital of the State, this serene lake
     Beside        the       Government      is situated at an altitude of 3780
initiatives many NGO’s have realized         meters. The lake is about 1 km long,
the importance of sustaining the             Oval in shape, 15 meters deep and
natural environment and have                 is considered sacred by the local
started working head on with the             people. This placid lake remains
government         machinery      towards    frozen during the winter months up
preserving and protecting the natural        to mid-May during which visitors get
environment.                                 an     opportunity    to    experience
Some of the NGO’s like Concern               snowfall.
Sikkim, Green Circle, ECOSS (Eco             Tsomgo has moderately shallow,
Tourism and Conservation Society of          somewhat       excessively    drained,
Sikkim), have conducted cleanliness          coarse-loamy soils on steep slope
drives and awareness programmes              (30-50%)      with   gravelly   loamy
to educate the masses about the              surface; moderate erosion and
environment. They have come out              moderate stoniness.
with books and publication to
propagate the ethics of ecotourism.          •   Historical  and          Cultural
A Plantation drive has also been                 Background:
carried out by various NGO’s and
Stakeholders.                                The literal meaning of TSOMGO is
Likewise,       the     Travel     Agents    the source of the lake in Bhutia
Association of Sikkim (TAAS) and             language. TSO means lake and
other stakeholders such as the               MGO means head.        Around the



                                                                                 41
picturesque Tsomgo Lake is woven          snow covered at higher elevations.
a rich legend. Folklore tells the story   This place has a breath-taking
of how Tsomgo initially at Laten,         variety of flowers between May and
several kilometers away form the          August.
present Tsomgo (lake), came to take           The earliest to flower are the
present position. An old woman, one       different species of Rhododendron,
night dreamt that the lake at Laten       though they each have slightly varied
was shifted to Tsomgo and she and         timings of peak flowering. In the
her two other herder friends were         open areas, you can see a flowering
warned, to leave the place as soon        succession of variously colored
as possible. The old lady hastened        primulas, blue poppies, and Clematis
to inform her friends but they paid no    in June; purple irises, pale yellow
heed.      Sensing danger, the old        poppies (Maconopsis paniculata)
woman hurriedly milked her dri            and Friti1laria together with the little
(female Yak) and poured the milk on       local strawberry Fragaria dotting the
the ground to seek good luck and          ground in July. The season ends in
decamped for a place called               August in a blaze of golden
Lhachungkar near Thegu. As she            scenarios and bright purplish-pink
was leaving, she saw an old lady          Pedicularis siphonantha. The last to
with strikingly white hair and of fair    flower is Polygonum which covers
complexion enter Tsomgo where             the landscape, after which the area
immediately the place turned into         awaits its first snowfall.
water and formed this Tsomgo              Many rare and highly endangered
(lake). The two yak herders are           plants, some of great medicinal
believed to be sub-merged in the          value is found here such as
lake along with their herd of yaks.       Podophyllum emodii, Aconitum spp.
The lake is held sacred by the local      and Nardostachys grandiflora. The
inhabitants. On the lakeside is a         orchid Cypripedium elegans in
small temple of Lord Shiva. Although      particular is endemic to this area.
the lake abounds in trout, nobody         Some solemn, majestic silver firs,
goes fishing here. In times gone by,      Abies densa, stand sentinel over the
lamas (Buddhist monks) are said to        area towering above the thickets of
have foretold the future by observing     rhododendron and fields of tiny
the color of lake’s water. If the water   flowering plants. There are also
had a dark tinge, it foreshadowed a       dense bushes of bamboos at the
year of trouble and unrest in the         lower altitudes, mostly belonging to
state.                                    the genus Arundinaria which forms
                                          an ideal habitat for animals like the
•   Natural Resources                     Red Panda, Ailurus fulgens that
                                          thrive on their shoots.
Tsomgo (3780 mts) abounds in              Bird life is represented by different
alpine flowers like Poppies, Primulas     types of laughing thrushes in shrubs
and Rhododendron. It gives clear          and on the forest floor; the
picture of the Dry Alpine Forest, The     ubiquitous blue whistling thrush,
Vegetation in this zone is practically    redstarts and fork tails near
of scattered shrubs, often barren and     waterfalls and hill-streams; mixed



                                                                               42
hunting parties comprising small           the outskirts, thereby freeing the
species such as warblers, tit-             area near the lake of congested
babblers, tree-creepers, white-eyes,       hamlets serving as cafeterias and
wrens, rose finches, yellow- bellied       restaurants. The government also
fantail flycatchers, raptors such as       regulates the tourist traffic keeping in
black eagle, black winged kite and         mind the carrying capacity of this
kestrel patrolling the skies and           region. NGO’s like Concern Sikkim
pheasants such as monals and               and other stakeholders like TAAS,
blood pheasant, now becoming rare.         SHRA have also played a crucial
It is a home of Brahminy ducks             role in preserving and maintaining
besides many migratory birds also          the sanctity of this holy lake. It
use Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary            conducts cleanliness drives and
(around Tsomgo) as a stopover              plantation programmes in and
before going down to the Indian            around the vicinity of the lake.
plains or back to Siberia.                 Further, it also encourages the
Animals, though present are very           tourist to be eco friendly through its
difficult to spot during a casual visit;   leaflets and pamphlets. The local
but one may expect to see signs of         populace also helps in preserving
musk deer, serow, goral, common            and protecting the environment by
langur and the red panda here in the       using eco friendly methods for their
higher ranges of Tsomgo. There are         daily chores.
records of leopard and black bear
too.                                       NATHULA
                                           • Physical Setting
•   Unique Selling Proposition:
                                           The Indo-China border at Jawahar
Tsomgo boasts of a lake which is           Lal Nehru Road at 54 kms from
considered as one of the holiest of        Gangtok lies Nathula whereby Indian
lakes found in Sikkim. In addition to      troops and the Red army stand face
this, the landscape dotted with            to face. At an altitude of 14790 ft, it's
rhododendron trees in full bloom in        the closest an Indian Tourist can
the    vicinity   is    breathtakingly     travel and pose a photo or two with
beautiful. During winter season the        the Red Army. Nathula means the
lake remains entirely frozen               whistling pass. Tourist visit is
                                           restricted and one needs to be
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up        applied at least 24 hrs in advance for
    by the Government, NGO,                permit. The days permitted to visit
    Stakeholders                           Nathula are Wednesday, Thursday,
                                           Saturday      and      Sundays      and
Tsomgo has been identified as one          permissible for Indian Tourists only.
of the most eco fragile region in the      Nathula has moderately shallow,
state. Therefore the government has        somewhat       excessively     drained,
taken ample steps to protect and           coarse-loamy soils on steep slope
conserve the environs of Tsomgo            (30-50%)     with     gravelly   loamy
and its adjoining places. Plans are        surface; moderate erosion and
afoot to relocate the inhabitants to       moderate stoniness:



                                                                                 43
                                          Tibetan Gazelle, Snow Leopard,
•   Natural Resources                     Tibetan Wolf, Tibetan Snowcock,
                                          Lammergeier, Raven, Golden Eagle
Nathula gives a clear picture of the      and Ruddy Shelduck.
Dry Alpine Forest, The Vegetation in      Bird life is represented by different
this zone is practically of scattered     types of laughing thrushes in shrubs
shrubs, often barren and snow             and on the forest floor; the
covered at higher elevations. Some        ubiquitous blue whistling thrush,
dominant     species      are,   Dwarf    redstarts and forktails near waterfalls
Rhododendrons i.e. Rhododendron           and hill-streams; mixed hunting
anthopogon, R.setosum, Juniperus,         parties comprising small species
etc.   while the meadows consist          such as warblers, tit-babblers, tree-
primarily of the genera Poa,              creepers, white-eyes, wrens, rose
Aemone, Meconopsis, Pedicularis,          finches, yellow- bellied fantail
Potentila,     Primula,      Aconitum,    flycatchers; raptors such as black
Delphinium,      Caltha,      Bergenia,   eagle, black winged kite and kestrel
Heracleum,        Iris,    Hedychium,     patrolling the skies and pheasants
Myricaria bistorta etc.                   such as monals and blood pheasant,
The region has a short four-month         now becoming rare.
growing season during which
grasses, sedges and medicinal
herbs grow abundantly supporting a
host of insect fauna as well as the
wild and domestic herbivores, larks       •   Eco-spots in the vicinity
and finches. There are no permanent
settlements.     Human       population   Memencho Lake:
consists of a small number of             It is a beautiful lake located 20 Kms.
nomadic      Tibetan     graziers    or   ahead of Changu Lake. It lies
‘Dokpas’ (who herd yak, sheep and         cradled between the mountains
pasmina-type goats) and large             below the Jelepla Pass and is source
number of Defence personnel as the        of river Rangpo-chu. It derives its
area forms the international border       water from melting snows around.
with Tibet (China). Closure of the        The lake is famous for its trout and a
border to trans-humans over the last      farm to cultivate these fish also
three+ decades has led to intense         exists nearby.
grazing pressure by both the
domestic and wild herbivores on the       •   Unique Selling Proposition
land. The area also suffers from the
presence of landmines causing              This destination has been recently
casualties among yak, Nayan, Kiang        opened for the tourist and has been
and Tibetan wolf. Existence of feral      attracting visitors from all over the
dogs is a major hazard in this region.    country. The very fact that the
This ecoregion is the most                tourists can be standing next to the
threatened as it contains mostly          Chinese soil stimulises a visit to this
endangered       species.     Dominant    place. This is also the place where
among these are Kiang, Nayan,             the fabled Silk Route passes through
                                          to China. With the Government


                                                                               44
planning to open the route again, this     Established and maintained by the
place is bound to get tourist from all     Department of Forest, Ipecac
over the world, a boost towards            Garden is about 14 kms from
business tourism. Nearby, is the           Gangtok and 2 km from Ranipul.
“Baba Mandir” which also attracts a        This garden has an altitude of 932
large number of followers from all         mts.
over .Mystery surrounds the mandir         Epicac garden also called as
where it is believed that a sepoy who      Saramsa Garden has an area of 6
died a long time ago still gets the        acres. Deep, well drained, Fine
army privileges where he is said to        loamy soils on moderately steep
visit his home accompanied by a            slope (15-30%) with Loamy surface,
guard and all reservations made for        moderate     erosion    and     slight
his travel. An offering in the form of a   stoniness are found in places in and
pair of slippers for the Holy Spirit is    around garden. Saramsa garden is
made and it is believed that if worn it    the home of Sikkim’s many exotic
heals the aching foot. ‘Langar’ a free     orchids and other rare tropical and
meal is served here once in every          temperate    plants.   Beside      the
week.                                      Garden, One can also view the
                                           smooth flow of river Rani Khola
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up        which is the main contributor to river
    by the Government, NGO,                Teesta.
    Stakeholders
                                           •   Historical      and       Cultural
After opening up of the Nathula Pass           Background
for the general public lots of
initiatives has been taken to              Beside a Garden, this place is also
preserve the fragile environment.          famous for the Maghe Sangkranti
The Government regulates the flow          mela, which is held from 13th - 15th of
of tourist at a bare minimum keeping       January every year. Hundreds of
in mind the carrying capacity of the       people     from    different    places
region. Any tourist wishing to visit       especially children’s visit during this
this place has to get the necessary        time to have glamorous experience
permission from the concerned              of different games, plays and many
authorities, as this place happens to      more in mela. Ladies come here
share its borders with China.              especially to buy decorative items,
The Army deployed along these              clothes etc in cheap rates. Lots of
areas also plays a vital role in           people coming to mela visit the
preserving and conserving the fragile      garden too.
eco system of this place.
                                           •   Natural Resources
IPECAC GARDEN (Saramsa)
                                           Ipecac Garden and around, has Sub
•   Physical Setting                       Tropical                     mixe

d broad-leaved hill Forest. Alnus          (Malata),    Engelhardtia      spicata
nepalensis   (Uttis),  Macaranga           (Mahua),      Machilus        (Kawla),



                                                                                45
Symplocos (Kharane), Cinnamomum           Mela which attracts a large number
(Sinkoli), Pine (Dhupi) etc are found     of local artisans selling their unique
here. Shrubs like Rubus (Aiselu),         indigenously built wares. In addition
Daphne (Algeri), Leucosceptrum            to this, the picturesque landscape
(Ghurpis), Arundinaria hookeriana         dotted with exotic plants and trees
(Pareng) etc are also found here.         makes this place a hit with the
Inside Ipecac garden, plant Ipecac        tourist. The sprawling compound of
(after which garden is named) is          this garden with the swimming pool
grown here. One can experience the        also acts as a picnic spot.
fragrance of night queen along the
path leading inside the garden.           •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
Flowering plants like bougainvillea,          by the Government, NGO,
petunia, orchids, camellia, roses etc         Stakeholders
can be seen here. In addition to that
it contains a wide variety of other       Ipecac garden is maintained by the
flora including numerous types of         forest department of Sikkim State. It
medicinal plants and varieties of         has deployed an employee to collect
bamboos. It is an excellent               the entry fee, which goes to
recreation and picnic spot and a          maintenance     of    the    garden
leisure spot.                             eventually. Local NGO’s, Travel and
  These lowland forests of Sikkim are     Tour Operators and other voluntary
home to several endangered species        organization also take part in
of birds like the Rufous-necked           cleanliness drives and plantation
Hornbill Aceros nipalensis, Great         programme.
Indian Hornbill Buceros bicornis
homrai locally called ‘Hongraio’,         WATER GARDEN (32 no):
Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Black-
breasted Parrotbill, Grey-crowned         •   Physical Setting
Prinia and Ward’s Trogon. Other
lowland      fauna    includes      the   Sikkim Water Garden situated at an
introduced Peafowl, Python, Geckos,       altitude of 589 mts beside Martam
Porcupine, Assamese Macaque and           Khola is on 31(A) National Highway,
Barking Deer; a host of butterflies       16 kms South of Gangtok. With the
and other invertebrates, riverine fish,   small swimming pool for children this
frogs and toads. Several species of       place has a wide variety of flowers
migratory water birds use the river       blooming throughout the season
systems during transit. Lantana is a      which makes this place an ideal spot
major weed in this region. This eco       for picnic. Places in an around this
region has not yet been included in       garden       has    deep,    somewhat
the protected area network of the         excessively drained, fine loamy soils
state                                     on steep slope (30-50%) with
                                          gravelly loamy surface, severe
•   Unique Selling Proposition.           erosion and slight stoniness. Lots of
                                          people from in and around Sikkim
The Unique Selling Proposition of         visit this place to enjoys the pinch of
this garden is the yearly held Maghe      luster provided by the undisturbed



                                                                               46
environment in their life. The Martam
Khola beside this garden is ideal         •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
spot for the people who come here             by the Government, NGO,
for fishing.                                  Stakeholders

•   Natural Resources                     This garden is beautifully maintained
                                          by the Forest Department of Sikkim.
Water Garden (589 mts) fall under         During spring the garden sees a riot
the Tropical zone with steep sided        of colours with seasonal flowers
valleys and gorges with well-drained      sprouting from every nook and
flanking slopes. Various species of       corner of the garden. The local
orchids,     Rhaphidophora,       wild    people living near the vicinity of
banana, Pandanus, Nettles and giant       garden play a very important role in
bamboo are found in this region.          maintaining the garden. Likewise lots
Forests around the garden are             of social organizations, NGO’s helps
home to several endangered species        in maintaining the garden by
of birds like the Rufous-necked           undertaking     cleanliness    drives,
Hornbill Aceros nipalensis, Great         plantation programmes etc.
Indian Hornbill Buceros bicornis
homrai locally called ‘Hongraio’,
Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Black-
breasted Parrotbill, Grey-crowned
Prinia and Ward’s Trogon. Other           MARTAM:
lowland     fauna     includes      the
introduced Peafowl, Python, Geckos,
Porcupine, Assamese Macaque and           •   Physical Setting
Barking Deer; a host of butterflies
and other invertebrates, riverine fish,   At an altitude of around 1400 mts.
frogs and toads. Several species of       Martam Village is located 5 kms
migratory water birds use the river       ahead of Rumtek (Well known for
systems during transit. Lantana is a      famous Rumtek Monastery). The
major weed in this region.                charming simplicity and beauty of
• Unique Selling Proposition              this place enchants each and
                                          everyone who flock this place. In
This place usually serves as a            Martam Village one can find, one of
resting place for tired and weary         the `five heritage houses of the
travelers visiting Sikkim. A dip in the   Himalayas'. From far, one will not be
swimming pool and wandering               able to make out that there are
among the bushes nearby relaxes           resorts, as the 11 cottages in the
the tired muscles and minds of the        resort, from a distance, mingle with
visitors. The clean ambience and the      the huts in the village, amidst the
cool breeze blowing across the            green. Areas in and around Martam
majestic Martam Khola rejuvenates         has deep, somewhat excessively
the jetlagged visitors flocking from      drained loamy skeletal soils on steep
across the length and breadth of the      slope (30-50%) with gravelly loamy
globe.                                    surface,    severe    erosion     and



                                                                              47
moderate stoniness. There are             Himalayan Griffon, Steppe Eagle
paddy fields all over in terraced         and           Oriental       Honey
gardens and small houses in               Buzzards. Reptiles like Japalura
between them. There is a narrow           lizards, Cobra, Krait and Himalayan
road meandering through the village       Pit Viper; Himalayan Bullfrog;
in a gentle slope.                        butterflies and leeches.

                                          •   Eco-spots in the vicinity:

•   Natural Resources                     Rumtek Monastery:

The trek is a very pleasant one along     About a 45-minute drive away on the
a ridge and up through forest, with       hill frm Gangtok       is the Rumtek
views over the river valleys below        Monastery , the headquarter of the
and of the mountains. The forest          Dharma Chakra Centre, and the
here     consists    of   trees    like   seat of His Holiness,the Gyalwa
Castanopsis (Kattus), Macaranga           Karmapa,Head of the Kagyurpa
(Malata),     Engelhardtia     spicata    order of Tibetan Buddhism sect.Said
(Mahua), Michelia (Champ), Toona          to be the replica of the monastery of
ciliata (Tooni), Machilus (Kawla),        Tsurpu,Tibet with its traditional
Symplocos (Kharane), Cinnamomum           architecture ,exquisite paintings and
(Sinkoli), Alnus nepalensis (Uttis),      intricate woodwork and housing
etc interspersed with shrubs like         treasures of manuscript and icons-
Rubus (Aiselu), Daphne (Algeri),          this is a splendid example of Tibetan
Leucosceptrum        (Ghurpis)     etc.   monastic art.Behind the main
Martam forest has Sub Tropical            monastery is the lavishly decorated
mixed Board-Leaved Hill Forest.           Karma Nalanda Institute of Buddhist
                                          Studies,which attracts students from
    Wildlife and birds may be spotted     the world over.Opposite the entrance
along this ridge. For birdwatchers;       to the Institute is a small hall
Martam has about 53 varieties of          featuring a beautiful jewel studded
birds so it is possible to visit areas    chorten the Golden Stupa,which
where birds abound. Variety of            contains the ashes and remains of
laughing thrushes with frequent           His     Holiness,the     XVI   Gyalwa
sightings of White-crested, Chestnut-     Karmapa.
crowned, Striated and Blue-winged
Laughing       thrushes.    Red-faced     Jawaharlal   Nehru         Botanical
Liochicla, Black-faced and Grey-          Garden (Rumtek):
sided Laughing thrushes can be
seen here. Small birds like Golden-       Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden
spectacled and Whistler's Warbler,        is situated at an altitude ranging
Fulvettas, Coal Tit, Wren Babblers        between 1800 mtrs to 2200 mtrs in
and Redstarts are abundant as are         east district of Sikkim near Rumtek
Leiothrixs, Sibias and Slaty-backed       Dharma Chakra Centre. It was
Fork tails. Raptors included Common       established in the year 1987, it
Kestrel, Eurasian Sparrow hawk,           comprises of virgin temperate forest



                                                                             48
of oaks and as many as 50 different      breathtaking. The sweet smell of wet
kinds of trees species.                  mud and vegetation after rain gives
The garden is situated at a place        the feel of the rural. Entire area
which is not only a scenic beauty for    resembles a green carpet from July
the tourists but also adjoins Rumtek     to Sep. Later, during Oct-Nov, which
Monastery and Fambongla Wildlife         is the harvest season, the entire
Sanctuary. It is open for the visitors   place is a sight to behold with golden
from 1000 hrs to 1600 hrs.               paddy swaying in the breeze. From
                                         Dec onwards, the paddy is harvested
Lingdum Monastery:                       and the hill takes on a brown hue. In
                                         the resort also, one can visit the
A spectacular monastery on the           resort's decently stocked library, with
Gangtok-Ranka route is the seat of       some books on Sikkim as well. From
Zurmang Charwang Rinpoche.The            most of the resort’s One can also
present Gharwang Rinpoche is the         have a picturesque view of Rumtek
XII successive incarnation in this       Monastery across the paddy fields
lineage.                                 on the other side of the small valley

•   Unique Selling Proposition           •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
                                             by the Government, NGO,
The serenity of this place and the           Stakeholders
lush green paddy fields just within
the outskirts of Rumtek is a tourist’s        This area has been chosen by
delight. Besides, a number of eco        the Government of Sikkim to develop
friendly Village Resorts, the simple     the concept of homestays, where a
village folk and little hamlets          tourist stays with the villagers, eats
scattered all over the landscape         food cooked by them and basically
makes this place a unique tourist        experiences the lifestyle of their host.
destination.                                   To promote this kind of tourism
                                         the government, often conducts
•   A bird’s eye view                    orientation programmes to train the
                                         villagers,     on     subjects       like
One can walk to a small monastery        cleanliness, proper disposal of
called Mani Lhakhang, a 10min hike       waste,     environmental      pollution,
up the hill just above the resort. The   negative       impacts      of      non
view from here is beautiful and you      biodegradable substances, proper
can see the Tinjure hills looming        sanitation etc.
right behind you and in front is         Likewise,    various NGO’s and
sprawled the charming paddy fields       stakeholders have conducted similar
that make up Martam. Way to              kind of orientation programmes to
Martam gently drive up the narrow        make the villagers aware of this
meandering road. It is a lovely drive    recent trend in tourism.
to Rumtek and Martam as the road
snakes through typical Sikkimese         ARITAR (Rhenock):
villages and a great many paddy
fields. The sight of so many paddy       •   Physical Setting
fields and greenery all around is


                                                                               49
                                            banana, Pandanus, Nettles and
Situated at an altitude 891 mts, Aritar     Giant bamboo are characteristics.
is an ideal location for those              Plants like Juglans regia (Okhar),
interested in spending a night or two       Spondias axillaries (Lapsi), Pyrularia
in the peaceful environment. The            edulis (Amphi), Rhus semialata
Aritar Lake also known as “Lam              (Bhakimlo), Alnus nepalensis (Uttis),
Pokhari” is about 4 hours from              Castanopsis (Kattus), Macaranga
Gangtok and about 30 min from               (Malata),     Engelhardtia       spicata
Rhenock located at East District of         (Mahua), Michelia (Champ), Toona
Sikkim which is worth visiting.             ciliata (Tooni), Machilus (Kawla),
Boating has been started here to            Symplocos (Kharane), Cinnamomum
give a boost to the tourism in the          (Sinkoli),    Pine       (dhupi)     etc.
area and is maintained by the               interspersed with         various other
department of Tourism, Government           medicinal plants like Artemisia
of Sikkim. An old British-built             Vulgaris (Titepate), Bergenia ligulata
bungalow of 1895 located half km            (Phakhan bet) etc. are also found
below the lake could be an                  here.
enthralling experience for the people       It is home to several endangered
coming here to spend a night. A few         species of birds like the Rufous-
trekkers’ hut, few lodges and a             necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis,
private resort is available at Aritar.      Great Indian Hornbill Buceros
This place is also an ideal location        bicornis    homrai      locally   called
for picnic.                                 ‘Hongraio’,         Chestnut-breasted
Aritar     has    moderately       deep,    Partridge, Black-breasted Parrotbill,
somewhat        excessively      drained    Grey-crowned Prinia and Ward’s
coarse-loamy soils on moderately            Trogon.     Other     lowland     fauna
steep slope (15-30%) with loamy             includes the introduced Peafowl,
surface, moderate erosion and slight        Python,      Geckos,          Porcupine,
stoniness. It is also associated with       Assamese Macaque and Barking
deep, well drained fine loamy soils         Deer; a host of butterflies and other
with     gravelly    loamy       surface,   invertebrates, riverine fish, frogs and
moderate erosion and moderate               toads. Several species of migratory
stoniness.                                  water birds use the river systems
Other attractions include visiting and      during transit. Lantana is a major
exploring lifestyle of the villagers and    weed in this region. This ecoregion
also visit to monasteries like Lingsay      has not yet been included in the
Monastery etc. A short trek in and          protected area network of the state.
around Aritar is also possible.
                                            •   Unique Selling Proposition.
•   Natural Resources
                                            The very fact that this beautiful place
Aritar has Sub Tropical mixed Board-        has not been exploited by the tourist
Leaved Hill Forest with steep sided         makes it an ideal tourist destination.
valleys and gorges with well-drained        A beautiful boating lake nearby and
flanking slopes. Various species of         an old bungalow built by the British,
orchids,     Rhaphidophora,      wild       where one can spend the night, adds



                                                                                  50
to its charm. The place is not only         governmental organization has been
famous for its Lam Pokhari,but is           deployed as the caretaker of this
also surrounded by a viewpoint              tourist spot located about 5 kms
called Manghim Dara from where              away from Rhenock bazaar.
one can view the Khanchendzonga
range in all its glory. If one wishes for   KHEDI
a trek, there is a trekking route upto
Rachela, a village in the Indo-             •   Physical Setting
Tibetan border. Mingling with the
simple, fun loving village folk, is         Khedi, situated at an altitude of
another experience which will be            around 2786 mts is one of virgin
etched in the memory of anyone who          paradise of Sikkim. This place dotted
visits this enchanting place.               with huge collection of flora and
                                            fauna is around seven to eight hours
A bird’s eye view                           trek from Pakyong via Assam
This     beautiful place   located          Lingzey. The places around here has
majestically at hill top has a              a moderately shallow, some what
magnificent view of some place of           excessively drained, coarse –loamy
West Bengal like Lava, Pedong and           over fragmental soils on steep slops
Budubarey. The view of Mountains            (30-50%) with loamy surface, slight
around the meandering River Rangit          surface stoniness and moderate
is breathtaking.                            erosion. Enroute Khedi, Pastanga at
                                            an altitude of 1425 mts is an
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up         enchanting village that provides
    by the Government, NGO,                 magnificent view of the mountain
    Stakeholders                            ranges. One can wander along the
                                            lush green mountain trails where one
This quaint township has been               comes across beautiful waterfalls
adopted by the Government of                along the path. There are rare
Sikkim to promote it as a tourist           species of bamboos in dense
destination. For this purpose, many         rhododendron and magnolia forest
initiatives have been undertaken like
renovating the infrastructure in and        Natural Resources
around Aritar. This place also has
been started to be promoted as a            The place here has Sub Alpine
tourist destination.                        forest. As one climbs up the way to
To complement these initiatives by          Khedi along the midst of forest one
the State Government various                can see that the forest is mainly
NGO’s and local organization have           dominated by Lithocarpus (Bantey),
also taken initiatives to beautify this     Quercus (Buk, Bajrant), Tsuga
place. Plantation drives, awareness         dumosa (Hemlock) mixed with
programmes, cleanliness drives              Rhododendrons (Guransh, Chimal)
have been carried out keeping in            Magnolia (Ghoge Champ) etc.
view the importance of this place as        Undergrowth consists of Dwarf
a tourist destination. At present,          Bomboo-Arundinaria        (Malingo),
Tourism Development Society, a non          Viburnum (Lekh Asare), Eurya (Bara



                                                                               51
Jhingani). As one approaches the          Travels has tied up with KEEP to
higher    elevations     Hemlock     is   give the clients to the houses here
replaced with silver Fir (Gobre Salla).   who also buys the produces at a
                                          higher price and sells it to the clients
•   Unique Selling Proposition:           from the locals thereby bringing
                                          benefits to them.
The locational advantage with its
proximity to the capital makes it         JHANDI DARA
easily accessible to the tourists
coming to the capital. Enroute to         Quite popular with local tourists
Khedi one comes across two small          especially     during    Ramnavami,
lakes referred to as ‘bhale’ and          Jhandi dara at a three hour walk
‘pothi’ in local terms meaning male       from Pakyong is famous for its share
and female. Khedi is festooned with       of Rhododendrons and particularly
rhododendrons and orchids and the         Orchids that grow in the wild.
dzo’s grazing all the way with            Nowhere can one find such varieties
spectacular view of the scenic            of orchids as here. Come April and
mountains gives one an ‘altogether a      Jhandi dara is bedded with orchids
picture of a different world’. The        of every colour thereby satisfying the
destination makes ideal for camps         thirst of a nature enthusiast. A small
with tented accommodation.                lake by the name Budang pokhari
.At Pastanga the tourists are             exists at a short distance from here
provided with home stay facilities        which is significant as it is the only
with organized cultural programme         source of water in the whole area.
and local handicrafts show. It is also    This place can be an ideal spot for
worthwhile to visit traditional houses    short treks or perhaps develop into a
of ethnic communities which are one       picnic spot.
hundred and fifty years old.
Pastanga is also the take off point for
Khedi trekking route.

Ecotourism initiatives taken up by
the      Government,         NGO,         West District
Stakeholders
                                          With an area of about 1,166 km.
It has been proposed to take a trail      square and population of 1, 23,174
upto Khedi and build tourism              and latitude ranging from 27:06:35 N
infrastructures at the destination.       – 27:36:58 N and longitude ranging
KEEP- A local NGO has taken an            from 88:12:47 E – 88:21:36 E, west
initiative to develop a traditional       district lives up to its proverbial name
village of Pastanga with the overall      as being wild and free.
motive of development of village
people with the local participation              Though economically and
and utilizing the village produces        agriculturally unsound as compared
adding to the village economy. A          to the other three districts of Sikkim,
travel agency with the name Jungle        west no doubt is an adventurer’s



                                                                               52
delight with its undaunted trekking      2,070 m shoulder to shoulder with
routes and frothing rapids. It is here   the other mountains around, Pelling
that Pelling, Yuksom, Kheceopalri,       is just 10 km from Gayzing, the
Pemayangtse, and Tashiding the           district headquarters. Pelling and
brand names in Sikkim tourism is         places around has moderately
located                                  shallow,    somewhat    excessively
                                         drained course–loamy soils on steep
                                         sloop (30-50%) with moderate
                                         erosion and stoniness.

                                         •   Natural Resources

                                         Pelling’s     forest is dominated by
                                         Quercus         (Oak),    Castanopsis
                                         (Kattus), Acer (Kapasi), Juglans
                                         (Okhar), Machilus (Kawla), Michelia
                                         (Champ),        Cinnamomum (Sinkoli)
                                         associated with shrubs Rosa (Rose),
                                         Rubus (Aiselu), Berberis (Chutro),
                                         and Viburnum (Asare). This type of
                                         forest can be categorized as
                                         Himalayan Wet Temperate Forests.
                                         There are a few patches of pure oak
                                         (Quercus lamellose) stands with
                                         undestroyed species such as Eurya,
                                         Viburnum and Symplocos and an
                                         abundance         of   mosses      and
                                         epiphytes. Most of these forests are
                                         well stratified and rich. Q. lamellose
                                         and C. tribuloides constitute the top
                                         or canopy layer with Machilus sp,
                                         Acer and Symplocos species forming
                                         the second layer. Below this is a
                                         shrub layer dominated by Viburnum,
                                         Rosa and Eurya. A Pelling forest is
PELLING:                                 home for many endangered species
                                         like Red Panda, Common Langur,
•   Physical Setting                     Lesser cats, Goral, Serow, Monal
                                         Pheasant, Firetailed Sunbird, Blue
A     breathtaking   view    of    Mt.   Magpie etc. In the flanking slopes of
Khanchendzonga is what makes             Pelling surrounding village, villagers
Pelling so popular to the tourist..Ask   grow potato and cabbage as cash
a tourist for his choice of Pelling to   crops. Subsistence farming of wheat,
other destinations in Sikkim and you     barley and maize is carried out while
will hear them say ‘rest and             beans, peas, peach and pear are
relaxation’ Situated at an altitude of   grown on homesteads. Some



                                                                             53
amounts of cattle rearing are
practiced with stall fed hybrid milky   A bird’s eye view
cows and the rest grazed in forest      One can see the three-storey
areas.                                  structure filled with wall paintings
   Pelling is well wooded and the       and sculptures. On the third floor
moist forests hold Maroon-backed        you’ll find Santok-palri, a seven-
and Rufous-breasted Accentors,          tiered painted wooden model of the
Green-tailed    Sunbirds,     Rufous-   abode      of    Guru    Rimpochee.
gorgeted Flycatchers, Blue-fronted      Complete with rainbows, angles and
Redstarts, Brownish-flanked Bush        whole panoply of Buddha’s and
Warblers, Scarlet and Long-tailed       Bodhisattvas on the third floor. The
Minivets, Coal, Green-backed and        model was built single-handedly by
Black-throated Tits, various Yuhinas,   the late Dungzin Rimpochee in five
Fulvettas, Shrike Babblers, Scimitar    years. The Monastery located on a
Babblers, Laughing thrushes and         hilltop at an altitude of 6840 ft
Babblers.     Overhead,     migrating   commands a magnificent panoramic
Steppe Eagles, Greater Spotted          view of the Himalayan ranges and
Eagles and Oriental Honey Buzzards      the      surrounding    hills    and
add colour in cold November             countryside.

•   Prominent Eco-spots                 Sang Gnak Choling monastery

Pemayangtse:                            Situated on a hilltop on the other
                                        side of Pelling it is the second oldest
Standing at the height of 2085 m and    monastery in Sikkim .The monastery
framed on two sides by snowcapped       is situated in the higher altitude than
mountains, Pemayangtse (perfect         Pemayangtse and takes 40 minutes
Sublime lotus) is a premier             to reach it .The view of the snowy
monastery in the state. All the         peak in the north and of the
religious function of the erstwhile     mountains and valleys in the south
monarchs (Chogyals) of Sikkim used      are panoramic and simply beautiful
to be performed here .It was founded
in 1705 by Lhatsun Chempo, one of
the lamas to have performed the
consecration ceremony of the first      Rabdentse
king of Sikkim., but was badly
damaged in the earthquakes of 1913      On the lower hillock, south east of
and 1960. It has been reconstructed     Pemayangtse monastery, lies the
several times and belongs to the        ruin of the old Rabdentse palace.
Nyigmapa      sect,      which   was    Rabdentse was the second capital of
established by Padmasambava in 8th      Sikkim established by the second
century. The Sangtokpalri, which        Chogyal in the latter half of the 17th
means Guru Rimpoche’s heavenly          century. It was the capital of the
place, was built inside the monastery   erstwhile kingdom till 1814 A.D. The
by the late Dungzine Rimpoche and       old palace and monastery complex
is a masterpiece creation.              are in ruins, and the Archaeological



                                                                             54
Survey of India is carrying out repair     •   Unique Selling Proposition
and restoration works .The place is
surrounded by dense forest and             Perched on a ridge between
there also is a small lake.                Pemayangtse and Sang Gnak
                                           Choling monasteries in Sikkim’s west
                                           district, Pelling is fast growing to be
A bird’s eye view                          an urban settlement due to tourist
The scenic view from the top of the        influx. Situated at an altitude of 2070
ruins scanning across deep valley to       m. it offers a good view of the entire
the       mystic         heights      of   mountain ranges and due to its
Kanchendzonga ranges is something          locational advantages, many hotels
to be cherished and etched in              and lodges have mushroomed in and
memory. Here one can visualize the         around Pelling offering various
remains of a once flourishing colony       categories       of     accommodation
around the palace which was                facilities. There is a bus service,
constructed after the consecration of      which links Pelling with Siliguri the
Chogyal Phontsok Namgyal in the            window to the north-east and Bhutan
1641 AD. On walking through the            and Nepal as well thus giving it an
chestnut trees with the mosses             advantage of getting tourists from
dripping down, one can come across         these parts of the world. The focal
a stone throne with three standing         point of Pelling is the junction of the
stones known as Namphogang from            four roads that converge at a ridge- a
where the judge used to give his final     gateway to all the major destinations
judgment in those days. One can            in the west like Pemayangtse,
also see Taphap Chorten, from              Yuksom, Khercheopalri, Uttarey etc.
where the visitors had to take off         Above all the quiet environment
their hats to enter the palace. After
crossing the fourth and the final          •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
courtyard wall we can see the palace           by the Government, NGO,
ruins in the centre. It is situated in a       Stakeholders
most commanding place from where
we can clearly see the entire              Pelling stands majestically in hilltop
southwestern region of Sikkim.             with magnificent surroundings and is
Adjacent to the place is “Dab              the hub of tourism activities in the
Lhagang” Where the royal family            western part of Sikkim. Considering
used to offer incense to the deities.      Pelling as an eco-fragile zone due to
Here we can find a white marble slab       the heavy influx of tourists, various
as big as 7 ft. by 5 ft. on which stood    communities        based     N.G.O’s,
the “Risum Gompa” the Three                Stakeholders,      Sikkim     Tourism
defeasorers ‘Fidei. It is believed         Department       and    other    local
that this slab was brought from the        organizations are gearing up towards
river and installed by a single            conserving the environment
person. This was a palace till 1814                 The Sikkim Conservation and
AD after which it was transferred to       Enterprise Project operating in and
Tumlong in North Sikkim.                   around Pelling is a collaborative
                                           initiative designed to help conserve



                                                                                55
Sikkim's natural resources and to          •   Developing marketing strategies
develop       economic        livelihood       for community-based ecotourism
opportunities, including ecotourism.           activities  and     travel   agent
It     envisages      an     innovative        operation.
participatory approach to strengthen       •   Conducting market research and
the capacities of local residents and          developing     new      ecotourism
organizations to link enterprise               products,     e.g.,     off-season
operation with actions leading to              activities.
conservation of Sikkim's unique
natural and cultural heritage. The         Policy-making in conservation
project is a joint effort of The           and ecotourism include:
Mountain Institute and the G.B. Pant
Institute of Himalayan Environment         Scientific     and       participatory
and         Development.         Project   monitoring of project activities and
collaborators include the Travel           impacts;
Agents      Association    of     Sikkim   • Applied research in conservation
(TAAS), and local organizations, and          and ecotourism;
communities at the sites.                  • Sharing      of    research     and
     Some of activities under this            monitoring findings among policy-
project include:                              makers, communities and the
• Community based ecotourism                  private sector; and
    plans covering site-enhancement,       • Promoting public-private sector
    trail and site maintenance,               dialogue through workshops,
    natural resource management               exchanges and policy review
    and monitoring, and conservation
    education;
• Supporting fuel wood reduction           KHECHEOPALRI LAKE:
    measures by trek operators and
    local lodges; and                      •   Physical Setting
• Supporting local NGOs working
    in ecotourism and conservation.        Situated at a distance of 43 km from
    Increase economic returns from         Pemayangtse amongst the dense
    community-level      and     private   forest cover is the Khecheopalri
    sector enterprises.                    lake,a must visit destination for a
                                           pilgrim tourist to Sikkim . Also known
Activities also include:                   as the ‘wishing lake’ it rests at an
• Training in ecotourism services,         altitude of about 1979 M above the
   e.g., for guides, lodge-owners,         sea level. Places in and around this
   cooks, porters;                         lake have moderately deep well-
• Supporting       new    community        drained, fine-loamy soil on very
   ecotourism       enterprises    -       steep slope (>50%) with severe
   vegetable growing, indigenous           erosion and slight stoniness.
   foods,      fuel      wood-saving
   equipment hire for treks, short         •   Historical     and       Cultural
   guided treks;                               background




                                                                               56
Tso-shok-tso as it is called is one of      Scimitar    Babblers,    Laughing
the sacred lakes of this state both to      thrushes and Babblers. Overhead,
the Hindus and the Buddhists .It is         migrating Steppe Eagles, Greater
believed that even birds contribute to      Spotted Eagles and Oriental Honey
its cleanliness by picking up the           Buzzards add colour in cold
leaves falling in it .A ‘wishing lake’ to   November.
many, this is a lake to fulfill the
prayers                                     •   Unique Selling Proposition

Natural Resources                               Among the flutter of the prayer
                                            flags and a monastery for lighting
Forest around the Khecheopalri Lake         prayer lamps nearby, Khecheopalri
can be classified as Himalayan Wet          Lake is considered to be one of the
Temperate Forests dominated by              most sacred and pristine lake in
Quercus        (Oak),      Castanopsis      Sikkim. It is believed that one’s
(Kattus), Acer (Kapasi), Juglans            wishes can be fulfilled if one pays a
(Okhar), Machilus (Kawla), Michelia         pilgrimage to this holy lake. The
(Champ),       Cinnamomum (Sinkoli)         most striking features of this lake is
associated with Rosa (Rose), Rubus          its pristine and crystal clear water
(    Aiselu),     Berberis    (Chutro),     which is kept clean by the swans
Viburnum (Asare) etc. Moss, Ferns,          wading by believed to pick up even a
Lichens and other epiphytes are             leaf falling on it.
found abundantly here. Red Panda,
Common Langur, Lesser cats, Goral,          A bird’s eye view
Serow, Monal Pheasant, Firetailed           If one looks down from the copy of
Sunbird, Blue Magpie and few                the ridge, the entire ridge complex
species of reptiles and amphibians          around the lake looks exactly like the
are characteristic. Potato and              shape of goddess Tara Jetsum
cabbage are grown as cash crops.            Dolma with her right leg stretched
Subsistence farming of wheat, barley        and left leg bent with this sacred lake
and maize is carried out while beans,       as her lap.
peas, peach and pear are grown on
homesteads. Some amounts of                 •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
cattle rearing are practiced with stall         by    the   Government,NGO,
fed hybrid milky cows and the rest              Stakeholders
grazed in forest areas.
    Bird life here in well wooded and       Realizing the importance of this lake
the moist forests hold Maroon-              to the tourism of the state, the
backed        and     Rufous-breasted       government, the local people and the
Accentors, Green-tailed Sunbirds,           other N.G.O’s have joined hands for
Rufous-gorgeted Flycatchers, Blue-          its maintenance Local population is
fronted Redstarts, Brownish-flanked         engaged in cleaning the lake through
Bush Warblers, Scarlet and Long-            preservative     and      preventive
tailed Minivets, Coal, Green-backed         measures. Revenue in the form of
and Black-throated Tits, various            entry fees is utilized for the
Yuhinas, Fulvettas, Shrike Babblers,        maintenance of the lake. The



                                                                                 57
footpath that leads one from the gate      Mount Pandim, and a spur of the
to the lake is kept clean with             Kabru Peak that form the pass.
signboards delivering a message to         Goechala because of its altitude has
avoid polluting the environment            shallow     somewhat     excessively
around .For those interested in            drained, loamy-skeletal soil on high
spending a night or two in the             relief glaciated land (>50%) with
peaceful environment a trekker’s hut       loamy surface, moderate erosion
has been provided by the tourism           and stoniness.
department      which   provides    a
comfortable stay with a taste of local     •   Natural Resources
cuisine which may include ‘chaang’-a
brew made of fermented millet.for              The Vegetation in this zone is
pilgrim tourists there is also a           practically of scattered shrubs, often
pilgrim’s hut managed by the tourism       barren and snow covered at higher
department. .                              elevations. The vegetation of this
                                           place mostly comprises of xerophytic
Sikkim         conservation         and    alpine shrubs interspersed with
enterprise project operating in this       meadows like Aemone, Meconopsis,
region is a joint effort of the Mountain   Pedicularis,     Potentila,   Primula,
institute and the G.B. Pant Institute      Aconitum,      Delphinium,     Caltha,
of Himalayan Environment and               Bergenia,        Heracleum,       Iris,
Development Project in collaboration       Hedysarum, Myricaria, Bistorta etc.
with the Travel Agent Association of       Tree growth is completely arrested
Sikkim       (TAAS)         and    local   due to low temperature. There are
organization and communities at the        some alpine meadow with scattered
sites. Various code of conduct for         scrubs and often barren at higher
ecotourism has been developed              elevation. Most of the species are
which includes informing the visitors      shunted and thorny scrub. Some
in maintaining the sanctity of the         dominant species in this area are
lake, avoiding smoking or indulging        Pedicularis, Primula and short forms
in activities which may disturb the        of rhododendrons.
serenity of this           sacred lake.    This eco region has not yet been
Initiative also has been taken to          included in the protected area
develop the infrastructures like           network of the state and is perhaps
lodging to the pilgrim visitors.           the most threatened as it contains
                                           mostly       endangered       species.
                                           Dominant among these are Kiang,
GOECHALA:                                  Nayan, Tibetan Gazelle, Snow
                                           Leopard, Tibetan Wolf, Tibetan
•   Physical Setting                       Snowcock, Lammergeier, Raven,
                                           Golden Eagle and Ruddy Shelduck.
Goechala is the ultimate trekking          The region has a short four-month
destination of your dream, situated at     growing season during which
an altitude of 4941 meters. Goechala       grasses, hedges and medicinal
also has a pass known as lock pass         herbs grow abundantly supporting a
which is a depression between              host of insect fauna as well as the



                                                                                58
wild and domestic herbivores, larks      sight instills a feeling of standing in
and finches. Their is also a small       the very lap of Khangchendzonga,
Gocha lake which is revered by the       and gazing up at its face.
passing visitors. It also holds a cave
in the proximity which is said of        •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
being visited by the king to offer           by    theGovernment,      NGO,
prayers and even today people from           Stakeholders
every corner of the state visit this
place during Pang Lhabsol                Most of the activities here is
                                         managed by the representatives of
•   Unique Selling Proposition           the travel agents and one can find
                                         tents springing like mushrooms all
Goechala offers one a unique             over. Khanchendzonga Conservation
experience of standing in the lap of     Committee (KCC) a local NGO has
great Himalayas. The fascinating         been playing a significant role in the
wall of massive cluster of peaks of      promotion and management of
Kanchendzonga          leaves     you    tourism in the area and even has
breathless. The magnificent views of     established various guidelines for the
the       peaks       of       Pandim,   trekkers to follow.
Kanchendzonga, North and South
Kabru, Talung Ration, Kokthang,          DZONGRI:
Gocha Peak tends to create an
illusion of storehouse of tons and       •   Physical Setting
tons of ice cream.
The sound of falling boulders and ice    Dzongri is a lovely undulating
due to the small avalanches from the     plateau, used as a yak pasture, lying
massive walls into the small lakes       at the foot of Kabur peak and
creates a reverberating splash! into     extending nearly to the Kabru and
the silence and stillness of the whole   Pandim glaciers on either side.
environment.                             Dzongri perhaps one of the most
                                         beautiful areas in this belt in the
A birds eye view                         entire Sikkim is situated at an
The Goechala Trek offers a superb        altitude of 4,320 m and is among the
alternative. The route traverses         best trekking destinations in India.
through forests and alpine meadows,      The sights of the milky white peaks
to reach the 4941 Meters high view       all around Dzongri are bound to keep
point, at Goechala. Looking down         you gazing awfully. Snowfall is
the Talung Valley one can see the        common around Dzongri especially
mighty Talung Glacier, winding its       during the winter months. The
way down below the lock pass             temperature may go below freezing
.Surrounded by great white peaks-        point any time around the year.
Khangchendzonga, 8596 M, Simvo,          Dzongri has shallow somewhat
6812 M, Sinolchu, 6888 M, Pandim,        excessively drained, loamy-skeletal
669I, Kabru, 7338 M, and Rathang,        soils on high relief glaciated land
6087 M one is left wandering at          (>50%)       with  loamy     surface,
god’s creation. The awe inspiring        moderate erosion and stoniness.



                                                                              59
                                          leaves are used for burning as
•   Historical              &Cultural     incense. This region has very little
    background:                           resident human population, mainly
                                          Bhutias and mostly pastoral herding
The four stupas at Dablakhang in          livestock like yak, dzo (cow-yak
Dzongri used to be a place from           hybrid) and domestic cattle. Many
where the king used to offer his          wild edibles are collected form the
prayers during Pang-Lhabsol to Mt.        forest floors like Arisaema sp.
Khanchendzonga. Their also exists a       Tubers, ‘Khendu’ and mushrooms.
holy lake nearby where the trekkers
stop and pray.                            •   Prominent Eco-spots

•   Natural Resources                     Nub-Dechén Phug:

Dzongri (4000m) gives a clear             Nub- Dechén Phug, also known as
picture of a Dry Alpine Forest, The       the ‘Cave of Great Happiness, is
vegetation     of     Dzongri    mostly   located near Dzongri, a blissful
comprises of xerophytic alpine            welkin deemed as one of the
shrubs, interspersed with grasslands      eminent trekking destinations of
or meadows. The meadows consist           Sikkim. This holy abode of Guru
primarily of the genera Poa,              Padmasambhava is believed to be
Aemone, Meconopsis, Pedicularis,          associated with the ‘God of Infinite
Potentila,     Primula,       Aconitum,   Light’.
Delphinium,       Caltha,     Bergenia,       It is believed that this cave,
Heracleum,        Iris,     Hedysarum,    which is as big as a three storied
Myricaria, Bistorta etc. Tree growth      building, contains sacred images
is completely arrested due to low         representing the body, speech and
temperature, and instead one finds        mind, ritual objects, and complete
xerophytic, prostrate shrubs like         sutras and tantras translated in
rhododendron, Juniperus recurva           Tibet. Legend has it that treasured
and Berberis.        There are some       stores that could feed almost half the
alpine meadow with scattered scrubs       population of the world are also
and often barren at higher elevation.     hidden here. Just by going to this
Most of the species are shunted and       cave one can acquire ‘Supreme
thorny scrub.         Some dominant       Higher Attainment’.
species in this area are Pedicularis,     At the main cave are two lesser
Primula and short forms of                caves      of     ‘Supreme      Higher
rhododendrons.                            Attainments’ and three lesser caves
Dominant wild fauna found in              of ‘Common Attainments’. Besides
Dzongri forest includes Musk Deer,        these there are numerous large and
Himalayan Tahr, Blue Sheep, Blood         small caves where enlightenment
Pheasant, Ibisbill and toad. River        was attained. On the right side of the
systems harbour some (introduced)         cave grows a fragrant medicinal tree
trout. Most of the flora of this region   which bears many kinds of flowers
attracts   interest     for   medicinal   and fruits believed to cure diseases.
purposes.     Dwarf       rhododendron



                                                                              60
•   Unique Selling Proposition          Committee (KCC) a local NGO has
                                        been playing a significant role in
                                        promotion and management of
                                        tourism in the area
Remote yet beautiful, this area is an
ideal trekking destination .A walk
along the quiet valleys with dzo, yak
and Tibetan sheep grazing along the
green pastures instills a singsong      TSHOKA:
note in your hearts.
                                        •   Physical Setting
•   A bird’s eye view
                                        Tshoka situated at an altitude of
The first view as you step on to the    around 3400 mts is one of the ideal
meadows is indeed breathtaking, as      places to watch the sunrise over Mt.
you suddenly come face to face with     Pandim. Settlement is sparse but
the great peaks. The view from this     cultivation of various crops in
place has too much to be                summer is a common practice.
recommended: a patchwork of green       Tshoka has moderately deep,
and gold streaked with blue -           somewhat     excessively    drained,
reminiscent of an abstract etching,     loamy, skeletal soil on very steep
framed by the majestic snowcapped       slope (>50%) with loamy surface,
peaks shining not very far away. The    moderate     erosion   and     slight
awesome presence of the great           Stoniness.
mountains thrusting their snowy
peaks deciphers the strength of the     •   Natural Resources
Tethys Sea bulging its muscles to
reach this towering height. No less     Tshoka (3,040m) has Sub Alpine
than 14 of them soar majestically to    forest, where Himalayan Hemlock
20,000 ft. plus. The centers of         (Tsuga      dumosa)     mixed    with
attraction of course remain the         Rhododendron spp and Betula spp
Kanchenjunga. One gets to see,          occur at lower altitudes and as the
meadows of grazing yaks, wild           elevation rises, the Hemlock is
flowers, and rhododendrons, with        replaced by Silver fir (Abies densa).
spectacular views of Mount Pandim.      The forest type has a dense canopy
The river comes cascading down          layer    of    rhododendrons     with
from the Snow Mountains                 Viburnum, Daphne and Eurya. Most
                                        of the forested area is dominated by
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up     Abies densa, which attain heights of
    by    theGovernment,      NGO,      40-50 m and are densely distributed,
    Stakeholders                        and associated with compact
                                        rhododendron undergrowth. There
There is a trekkers hut managed by      are some areas with small patches
the    department      of  Tourism,     of bamboo (Arudunarbia spp).
Government          of       Sikkim.    Further above, at Gomchen (3,400
Khanchendzonga          Conservation    m), there is a mixed forest of Abies



                                                                           61
densa, Rhododendron Decipiens,           Yuksam was the first capital of
R.barbatum, Betula Alnoides and          Sikkim and houses the oldest
species of Sorbus. The dominant          monastery. Yuksam literally means
shrubs are prostrate form of             ‘three lamas’ in lepcha, nomenclated
rhododendrons, Viburnum and Rosa.        after the meeting of the three lamas
Dominant wild fauna includes Musk        here.
Deer, Himalayan Tahr, Blue Sheep,            Yuksam has moderately shallow,
Blood Pheasant, Ibisbill and a toad.     somewhat       excessively    drained
This region has very little resident     course – loamy soils on steep slope
human population, mainly Bhutias         (30-50%) with loamy surface,
and     mostly  pastoral,    herding     moderate erosion and stoniness.
livestock like yak, dzo (cow-yak
hybrid) and domestic cattle.             •   Historical     and       Cultural
                                             background
•   Unique Selling Proposition
                                         In the 8th century AD, Guru
The low lying hills with herds of yaks   Padmasambhava went to Tibet via
,dzos and domestic cattle that           Sikkim .During that time he is
change into black ,blue and yellow       believed to have hidden many
during sunrise over Mt Pandim is a       treasures or Ters. Therefore the
sight to long for .Not much houses       whole region surrounding the
are built here and for those who want    Khanchendzonga is regarded as a
to be lost in the wilderness Tshoka      guardian deity of Sikkim by the local
makes a perfect destination .            people. Yuksam is considered to be
                                         a ‘Lhakhang’ or altar for offerings to
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up      the Khanchendzonga deities. Every
    by    theGovernment,      NGO,       landscape of highland, middle and
    Stakeholders                         lowland and every stream, cave, big
                                         trees are believed to have presiding
A stopover destination for the           deities (yullha, Zibda) of their own
trekkers the Department of Tourism       and therefore no one is to pollute or
has constructed a trekkers hut and       litter as this is believed to bring
the locals have also paved the way       natural disaster in this area.
for accommodation providing only              The Dubdi Monastery, an hour’s
the basics –a concept of homestays.      walk uphill from Yuksam is the place
                                         where the first Chogyal of Sikkim
YUKSOM/YOKSUM:                           was consecrated in 1641 AD by
                                         three learned lamas viz... Lhabtsum
•   Physical Setting                     Namkha Jigme Kunxang Namgyal,
                                         Nadak Sampah Chempo and Kathok
Yuksam (1630 mts) (also spelt            Ringzin Chenpo. The evidence of
Yoksum ), 32 Kms, by road from           consecration ceremony is still alive
Pemayangtse, is the farthest north       at Norbugang Chorten in the form of
you can get by road in western           stone seats and foot-prints of the
Sikkim, and the trailhead for those      Head Lama on a stone. Since the
intending to the trek to Dzongu.         history of the state began here, this



                                                                             62
area is still considered sacred by the      prior, three learned Lamas,Gyalwa
people of Sikkim. What is so special        Lhabtsun Chempo, Karthok Rikzin
about this coronation is that he did        Chenpo, Gnadak Sempa Chenpo,
not become a king by conquest or            gathered at Yuksam in 1642 from
force but he was selected for this          various directions and enthroned
task.                                       Chogyal Phuntsok Namgyal as the
                                            first religious king of Sikkim.
•   Natural Resources

Yuksom has Sub Tropical mixed               A stone throne shaded by a 300 year
Board-Leaved Hill Forest. The forest        old fir still stands here today. A foot
around Yuksom is dense with tall            print in stone in front of the throne is
evergreen trees, mainly dominated           said to belong to Lhabtsun Namkha
by oaks, Alnus nepalensis (Uttis),          Jigme, and a nearby chorten (stupa)
Castanopsis (Kattus), Macaranga             contains soil and water from all over
(Malata),     Engelhardtia       spicata    Sikkim. Thus Yuksam occupies an
(Mahua), Michelia (Champ), Toona            important place in Sikkimese history
ciliata (Tooni), Machilus (Kawla),          as the first capital, and Norbugang
Symplocos (Kharane), Cinnamomum             as an important cultural site
(Sinkoli) etc. Undergrowth in this          maintained by the Archeological
area includes shrubs like Rubus             Survey of India. Norbugang is easily
(Aiselu),       Daphne          (Algeri),   reached on a 15 minute walk from
Leucosceptrum                 (Ghurpis),    Yuksam.
Edgeworthi, Arundinaria maling,
dwarf       Rhododendron,          ferns,   •   Unique Selling Proposition
epiphytic mosses and orchids etc.
under planted cardamom cultivation
is quite common in this region. This
area is also rich in birds including the    A visit to Yuksam gives a picture of a
Rusty-bellied         and        Lesser     once old capital and leaves
Shortwings,      Kalij    and       Satyr   wondering of how busy the place
Tragopan; reptiles like Japalura            would have been then Perhaps
lizards, Cobra, Krait and Himalayan         horses frequented on this silenT
Pit Viper; Himalayan Bullfrog;              land, perhaps it was the
butterflies and leeches. Eupatorium         administrative centre of all the official
is a major weed competing out               activities. Dubdi monastery, the
Artemesia and other secondary               oldest of Sikkimese monasteries
growth                                      which is marked with the
                                            establishment of Nyingmapa order of
•   Prominent Eco-spots                     Buddhism is the pilgrimage centre
                                            for many. However the most
Norbugang:                                  important aspect of Yuksam is that it
   Fifteen min walk from Yuksam.            is the starting point of one of the
True to the prophecy of Tibet's             major trekking destination of Sikkim
founder    of   Buddhism,   Guru            ,a division of a civilization with the
Rimpoche, some nine centuries               wild. The region also boasts of
                                            Khanchendzonga National Park lying


                                                                                   63
between the lowland of Yuksam and          training for guides, cooks, porters
the Mt. Khanchendzonga which               and yak- man with an objective of
today has been identified as a             promoting quality services and to
biosphere reserve.                         make them aware on conservation
                                           and responsible tourism practices.
                                           Hotels, ranging from budget to luxury
                                           have come up in the area besides
A bird’s eye view                          there are also trekkers hut for the
The        Norbugang           Chorten,    visitor’s stay managed by the
commanding the whole area is               department of Tourism, Government
where Lhatsun Chenpo had buried            of Sikkim
all his belongings offered by the          TASHIDING:
people. There is also a lake known
as Karthok Lake. Although small in         •   Physical Setting
size, it also has the serenity and
calmness which corresponds to the          Tashiding known for Bhumchu
Tso-Shok-Tso (lake) at Khechopalri.        festival is around 16 km away from
The ruins of Karthok Monastery can         Yuksam and about 40 Kms from
still be seen beside the two pine          Gyalshing, via Legship is located at
trees at the bank of this lake.            an altitude of 1465 mts. above sea
                                           level. It is here that an important
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up        monastery       belonging    to   the
    by    theGovernment,      NGO,         Nyingmapa order is built. This
    Stakeholders                           monastery was built on top of a heart
                                           shaped hill with the back drop of the
     The       local     NGO,       KCC    sacred Mt. Khangchendzonga by
(Khangchendzonga           Conservation    Ngadak Sempa Chembo in 1717.
Committee) runs a visitor information      According to Buddhist scriptures,
centre      to     provide    additional   Guru Padma Sambhava (Guru
information and attend to any              Rimpoche) blessed the sacred land
queries on local environmental             of Sikkim in the 8th century AD from
initiatives. It also has a collection of   this spot. All around the monastery
books, which is useful to the tourists.    lies skillfully carved holy Chortens
An initiative from the KCC has led to      known as 'Thong-Wa-Rang-Dol'
the development of the concept of          which literally means 'Saviors by
home stays thus providing a unique         mere sight'. Places in and around
opportunity for the visitor to know        Tashiding is somewhat rocky with
and experience local culture and           moderately deep well drained, fine-
tradition, taste local cuisine giving an   loamy soils on very steep slope
experience of a home away from             (>50%) with loamy surface, severe
home, a one in the family. The home        erosion and slight stoniness.
stays help local economy through
sharing benefits from tourism among
many families. Besides the NGO in
collaboration with TMI (The Mountain
Institute)also has been organizing



                                                                              64
•   Historical     and       Cultural    also rich in birds including the Rusty-
    background                           bellied and Lesser Shortwings, Kalij
                                         and Satyr Tragopan; reptiles like
At first only a small Lhakhang was       Japalura lizards, Cobra, Krait and
built by Ngadak Sempa Chempo in          Himalayan Pit Viper; Himalayan
the 17th Century. The main               Bullfrog; butterflies and leeches.
monastery was built by Pedi              Eupatorium is a major weed
Wangmo during the reign of Chakdor       competing out Artemesia and other
Namgyal and some of the statues          secondary growth. Various species
built then still exist. The sacred       of Cardamom underplanted in forest
objects of worship in Tashiding are      patches.
the Chorten Thongwa Rangdol and
Bumchu (holy water). The Chorten         •   Prominent Eco-spots
was built by the Lhatsun Chenpo and
it is believed that merely to view the   Kongri-Labdang:
Chorten is enough to cleanse one of      Besides Tashiding Monastery there
all sins. Carved skillfully on           are other attractions in and around
flagstones       surrounding       the   Tashiding like Sinon Monastery, Tso-
monastery      are    holy    Buddhist   Nim-Dawa (Pokhri dara), Hungri
mantras like 'Om Mane Padme Hum'         Monastery and Pao Hungri.The
by the master craftsman Yanchong         Paha Khola falls on the way to
Lodil. The heart of Sikkimese            Kongri is worth visiting.The wild-
Buddhism as Guru Padmasambhava           beehive on the side of the falls adds
considered      houses the Tashiding     interest to the visit.It is also a point
Monastery along with Sacred              for the trekkers visiting Kastura Orar
Thongtwa          Chorten.        Rich   adjoining the Dzongri trail.
environment flooded with oranges
and cardamom with a perfect              Byang      Lhari-   rinchen-     nying
sikkimese village on the setting         Phug:
makes it ideal for soft treks
                                         This cave considered to be the
•   Natural Resources                    holiest of all the sacred caverns is
                                         situated in the western part of
Tashiding has Sub Tropical mixed         Sikkim. Associated with the ‘God of
Board-Leaved Hill Forest. Dense tall     Wrath’, Byang Lhari- rinchen- nying
evergreen forests dominated by           Phug is reached after taking a three
trees like Alnus nepalensis (Uttis),     days trek from the holy town of
Castanopsis (Kattus), Macaranga          Tashiding.
(Malata),     Engelhardtia    spicata    This cave is associated with wrathful
(Mahua), Michelia (Champ), Toona         activities. It has three caves facing
ciliata (Tooni), Machilus (Kawla),       eastwards. The cave in the south
Symplocos (Kharane), Cinnamomum          has      the     self-arisen  figures
(Sinkoli) , oaks etc. The undergrowth    surrounded by a pantheon of
consists of Arundinaria maling, dwarf    longevity deities. The cave in the
Rhododendron,        ferns,  epiphytic   north houses wrathful deities in their
mosses and orchids. This area is         fearsome costumes. The eastern



                                                                              65
cave has figures of eight fabulous       from the Legislature, administration
horses of wealth. It is believed that    and of the monastery       looks after
going there will produce signs           the management of affairs during the
favorable to the growth and spiritual    Bhum-Chu festival and maintenance
realization. To the west of this is      and cleaning of the monastery. The
located the goddess of wealth along      Government has constructed a well
with three goddesses of bountiful        built cc footpath which winds up
harvests. Further, to the west, is       along the hills up to the monastery.
located the lord of death along with     The Government is also keen to
the assembled messengers of death.       develop smaller destinations in and
Below this is a triangular pit. It is    around Tashiding like Pokhrey Dara
believed that if the names of the        where building infrastructures like
powerful demonic clans are written       proper roads and lodges have been
down and thrown in the pit during the    given a due consideration.
annual casting off of evil, the
messengers of death will flee to their
own abode. Nearby, are three stone
charm boxes containing seven paper       LEGSHIP:
scrolls inscribed with the names of
the ten wrathful deities. Legend has     •   Physical Setting
it that if the wrathful mantras are
recited three times when the             This gateway to western Sikkim has
powerful life threatening enemies of     a holy Hindu Shrine of Lord Shiva on
the earlier and later periods have       the banks of river Rangit. Situated at
assembled, your prayer shall be          an altitude of 600 meters above sea
answered with in seven days.             level Legship is widely known for Hot
                                         Spring due to its healing power and
•   Unique Selling Proposition           Holy Hindu Shrine of Lord Shiva.
                                         Legship also houses the first ever
A Buddhist hymn on a rock as one         built dam in the state for hydro
enters the town gives a picture of an    electricity purpose. The water
old Buddhist town and true to this       accumulated in the dam is used for
feeling   Tashiding    houses      an    Rangit Water World and local folks
important    monastery     for    the    come here for picnics and rafting.
Buddhists. Bum-Chu, the festival         Legship lying beside the River
associated with holy water is an         Rangit     has   moderately     deep,
important event where the level of       excessively drained, fine-loamy soil
water forecasts what lay in store for    on escarpments with granually loamy
another year.                            surface and moderate erosion.

•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up      •   Historical     and       Cultural
    by    theGovernment,      NGO,           background
    Stakeholders
                                         Legship temple of Lord Shiva is
The     Bhum-Chu     organizing          widely known for the festival Bala
Committee comprising members             Chaturdesi, which takes place in the



                                                                             66
month of December. Devotees from          quantity of superb butterflies, large
all around India and from Nepal           tropic- al swallowtails black, with
come here during this festival to offer   scarlet or yellow eyes on their wings.
prayers. This month long festival is      They are seen everywhere, sailing
also accompanied by a Mela which          majestically through the still hot air,
is also a main tourist attraction.        or fluttering from one scorching rock
                                          to another, and especially loving to
•   Natural Resources                     settle on the damp sand of the river
                                          edge; where they sit by thousands,
Legship valley falls under the            with     erect    wings,     balancing
Tropical zone, with well-drained          themselves with a rocking motion, as
flanking slopes. Dominant flora in        their heavy sails incline them to one
this region include various species of    side or other; resembling a crowded
giant bamboo, Rhaphidophora, wild         fleet of yachts on a calm day. Such
banana, Pandanus, Nettles, Alnus          an entomological display cannot be
nepalensis       (Uttis),   Symplocos     surpassed.
(Kharane),Gagun, Chilauney, etc.
Forests around Legship home to            •   Prominent Eco-spots
several endangered species of birds
like the Rufous-necked Hornbill           Rangit water world:
Aceros nipalensis, Great Indian
Hornbill Buceros bicornis homrai           A handful of locals with a nose for
locally called ‘Hongraio’, Chestnut-      business and initiative to boost have
breasted Partridge, Black-breasted        transformed the 60-mw Rangit
Parrotbill, Grey-crowned Prinia and       hydroelectric     power    corporation
Ward’s Trogon. Other lowland fauna        reservoir in Legship to a water
includes the introduced Peafowl,          kingdom complete with picnic spots,
Python,       Geckos,       Porcupine,    boating       and rafting facilities
Assamese Macaque and Barking              .Paddleboats, flotillas and rock
Deer; a host of butterflies and other     climbing facilities are also in the
invertebrates, riverine fish, frogs and   pipeline.. The water world holds so
toads. Several species of migratory       much promise that it can be a major
water birds use the river systems         destination in the tourist’s brochure
during transit. Lantana is a major        to west Sikkim
weed in this region.
On the forest skirts, parasitical         Phur-cha-chu( Reshi hot Spring):
orchids and ferns bounded, the
Chaulmoogra, whose fruit is used to        Enroute Reshi at a distance of
intoxicate fish, are very common; as      about 5 kms this hot spring is located
is an immense mulberry tree that          on the banks of River Rangit. One
yields a milky juice and produces a       has to walk about ten minutes from
long green sweet fruit. Large fish,       the highway across the river Rangit
chiefly Cyprinoid, are abundant in        by a ‘phadke’- a temporary bamboo
the beautifully clear water of the        bridge to reach the hot spring. The
river. But by far the most striking       water of these springs has a
feature consisted in the amazing          medicinal value as it contains



                                                                               67
sulphur and can cure skin diseases.          whole body, its imprints, his
People from all over the state and           headgear, and the imprints of this
neighboring Darjeeling, Bhutan and           hand, which can be seen clearly.
Nepal come here during the winter            Then proceeding downwards, one
months and spend days together               comes upon a secret passage. It is
lying submerged in the soothing              believed that making a pilgrimage to
water of the hot spring. There are a         this sacred place and going round it
couple of pilgrim huts for the               with reverence will cleanse the sins
convenience of the visitors. This            committed during lifetime.
spring is also considered very holy
as it is here that Lho-Khandro-Sang          Reshi baudha:
Phug, one of the four holy caves of
Sikkim is located                             Merely 5 kms from Reshi on the way
                                             to Mangalbaria, Reshi baudha is a
Lho Khandro- Sang Phug:                      must visit destination for the pilgrims
                                             to Lho-Khandro-Sang-Phug. It is
Also known as the cave of occult             believed      that     pilgrimage     is
fairies. Lho Khandro- Sang Phug is           incomplete if one of the three centers
said to be associated with the ‘God          i.e. Tashiding, Lho-Khandro-Sang-
of Increasing Knowledge’. It is              Phug or this baudha is left out. This
believed that Guru Padmasambhava             baudha is a sacred cave where
had lived and meditated here                 prayers are held and offerings made.
sometime in the seventh century. It          It is believed that a small tunnel from
flaunts of a hot spring nearby,              this cave leads to Lho-Khandro-
believed to hold medicinal powers,           Sang-Phug thus joining the two
and footprint inscribed rocks which          caves,a story supported by the fact
are attributed to that of the fairies..      the even today a cat left at the
Lho Khandro- Sang Phug is believed           opening in this tunnel can reach the
to be the cave of longevity and              other end,a truth lost in the darkness
increased knowledge.          Here, all      of the cave.
wishes for longevity, Virtues and
abundance is believed to be fulfilled.
Upon entering the cave, one can see
on the ceiling, the lungs and heart of
a demoness emitting the nectar of            Bisthang:
longevity, and below, is the vase of
longevity surrounded by about seven          Very close to Mangalbaria ,Bisthang
ritual offerings. Under the vase lie         is a virgin tourist destination. A
the remains of the demoness,                 picturesque      view     of     Mt.
including head, arms and other               Khanchenjunga is what it offers. A
parts. On their right are the figures        promising destination on a make,
of animals. As one moves forward,            Bisthang already has a resort
one comes to twelve narrow                   coming up and a project of
obstacles. Passing over the first,           developing village tourism has been
one reaches the shrine hall of Guru          proposed.
Padmasambava,         containing       his
                                             Sikip


                                                                                  68
                                            •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
 Located on the banks of river                  by    theGovernment,      NGO,
Rangit,      Sikip,    an     upcoming          Stakeholders
destination falls partially in west and
partially in south only to be               To give a boost to tourism in
separated by a suspension bridge            Legship, government has built a
and      is an angler’s paradise and        tourist information centre with a
also has a charming natural                 cafeteria .Manav seva samiti a local
surrounding. It is also a starting point    N.G.O has taken the responsibility of
for other water sports like rafting and     maintaining the rangit water world
kayaking. Vast banks of sand makes          and the Kirateswar temple as well. At
it a popular picnic destination The         Phur-cha-chu the locals come up
drive from Gangtok to Sikip takes           with building huts and the bridge for
about five hours via Legship and is         the pilgrims during the hotspring
also accessible form Siliguri and           season. The monastery here is
Darjeeling via Jorethang .Efforts are       looked after by the ecclesiastical
underway to start tourism projects in       department, government of sikkim.
the area                                    Consciousness has crept in among
                                            the locals of Bisthang who are on a
•   Unique selling proposition              lookout for finding ways to get their
                                            share of tourists.
This Sikip-Mangalbaria –Legship
circuit if taken as a single destination    RINCHENPONG:
can      be    a    promising     tourist
destination thus offering water             •   Physical Setting
sports, pilgrimage and relaxation -a
variety in a single package. The            Situated at an altitude of 1700
gushing rapids of river Rangit make         meters in the western part of Sikkim
it ideal for adventure sports like          is this small picturesque village
rafting and kayaking at the same            named Rinchenpong. The drive form
time the other face of the same river       Gangtok to Rinchenpong takes
–the quiet still water made by the          about four hours via Jorethang. It is
dam has favoured boating .For the           about two hours drive from Pelling
pilgrim goers, where can be an ideal        and an hour drive from Jorethang.
place than Phur-cha-chu holding a           Places in and around has a
hotspring and a holy cave nearby,           moderately    shallow,     somewhat
the healer for skin diseases and sins       excessively drained course – loamy
as well. An adventure filled day            soils a steep sloop (30-50%) with
followed by        a pilgimage and a        loamy surface, moderate erosion
relaxed evening in the quiet                and moderate stoniness.
Bishthang hilltop to end the tour
would be a magnificient experience          •   Natural Resources
to crave for . Above all the well
carpeted roads gives a jolly ride to        Kaluk/Rinchenpong has Sub Tropical
the visitors.                               mixed Board-Leaved Hill Forest.
                                            Forest here is Dense, dominated


                                                                               69
mainly by Alnus Nepalensis (Uttis),      also enjoy a two and a half hour trek
Castanopsis (Kattus), Macaranga          to Varsey.
(Malata),     Engelhardtia    spicata
(Mahua), Michelia (Champ), Toona         Dentam:
ciliata (Tooni), Machilus (Kawla),
Symplocos (Kharane), Cinnamomum          Dentam is famous for its Alpine
(Sinkoli) etc. The undergrowth           cheese –a product of Indo-Swiss
consists of Arundinaria maling, dwarf    collaboration. Ma Durga mandir in
Rhododendron,      ferns,   epiphytic    the heart of the town is an important
mosses and orchids.                      pilgrim centre for the visitors. Two
This area is also rich in birds          important gompas the Reshum and
including the Rusty-bellied and          Gurung gompa is located here.
Lesser Shortwings, Kalij and Satyr
Tragopan; reptiles like Japalura         Singshore Bridge
lizards, Cobra, Krait and Himalayan
Pit Viper; Himalayan Bullfrog;           Towards Uttarey one comes across
butterflies and leeches. Eupatorium      Singshore Bridge supposedly the
is a major weed competing out            highest suspension bridge in Asia. It
Artemesia and other secondary            is said that a stone dropped from the
growth.       Large        Cardamom      bridge can be seen for 5 minutes till
underplanted in forest patches, are      it plunges to a small stream below.
dominant features of the landscape       Enroute to Pelling one can see the
as much as the naturalized exotic        famous Changey falls. Besides
Cryptomeria japonica patches             Mangmo Gurung gaon and Radu-
                                         Khandu-Sanku gaon provides one
•   Prominent Eco-spots                  an insight to ethnic Nepali customs.
                                         It is also believed that the water from
Kaluk:                                   Guransay dara nearby cures gastric
                                         problems.
Kaluk at a distance of 3 kms from
Rinchenpong      is   perhaps     the
stoppage for the tourists on a tour to   •   Unique Selling Proposition
this area.. A night spent at an old
British bungalow could be an             A picturesque village, Rinchenpong
enthralling experience of linking the    with beautiful landscape, view of
past to the present.                     mountain range and visit to Ringsum
                                         Monastery makes one or two days
Hee Bermiok:                             interesting for the visitors. One can
                                         also trek to Jhandi Dara/Menlapso
Hee Bermiok at about 8kms from           which is the richly forested area
Rinchenpong is famous for mountain       known to be home for various
biking, nature walk, Boom Falls,         species of wild animals and birds
Yuma Manghim and Sri Junga cave              The silence in the hills only to be
belonging     to    the     Subba        broken by the sounds of birds and
community.The adventure lovers can       cowherds calling their grazing herds,
                                         far from the hustle and bustle of the



                                                                              70
city life makes it ideal for village     UTTAREY:
tourism. Ethnic remote villages
clustered in the sloppy hills            •   Physical setting
untouched by the evils of civilization
and yet so rich in culture is            At an altitude of 6700 ft Uttarey is
something a visitor from the             surrounded by hills and small lakes.
maddening crowd would long for.          Vegetation mainly comprises of
The nicely pitched roads make it         Michelia sps, Prunus sps and Orchid
ideal for mountain biking too. Above     sps. It is from this place that one can
all a view of the guardian mountain      view the entire ranges of Mt Everest
Khanchendzonga is a sight that           and Mt. Khanchendzonga at the
cannot be surpassed by a visitor.        same time it is an important tourist
                                         destination and the starting point of
                                         the world famous Singalila Trekking
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up      route in the Khanchendzonga
    by    theGovernment,      NGO,       Biosphere reserve. Right next to the
    Stakeholders                         town is a flat land where there used
•                                        to be a beautiful lake once which has
                                         today dried and lined with Acorus
The Government of Sikkim has given       calamus(Bojo) which is an important
a     special   emphasis    in    the    medicinal      plant.    The     stream
development of tourism in the area       discharging from this lake usually
with projects being planned for the      flowed north (or Uttar) towards the
promotion. The guest houses at           snow      capped      Khanchendzonga
Rinchenpong and Dentam has been          range and that’s how the town
playing a significant role in the        derives its name, its identity.
accommodation sector. The need to
safeguard the fast vanishing culture     •   Historical      and       Cultural
has led the Government to initiate           background
measures for the preservation
through building Srijunga temple of      A temple of Bhagwati Devi holds a
the Subba community at Hee               significant place in the history of
Bermiok and Sadhu Dham belonging         Uttarey. The water that flows north
to the Rai community at Pareng           from the temple is the source of the
gaon where rituals and ethnic            name Uttarey. The water from the
dances      are  performed     during    temple flowed to a lake which was
festivities. Besides NGO’S like          named as Niya Pokhari-the Lake of
Himali Vikash Sansthan, Gyanodaya        Justice. It is believed that the lake
Sansthan has been actively engaged       served as Dharma Kacheri wherein a
in cleanliness and plantation drives     coin wrapped in a cloth and
contributing to the environment          suspended from the string to the
ultimately to the tourism of these       water did not get wet if the man was
areas.                                   innocent and soaked if guilty. This
                                         lake today has transformed into a
                                         herbal garden with growths of
                                         Acorus     Calamus(Bojo),     Swertia



                                                                              71
chirayta     (chirayto),     Bergenia    Eco       Tourism        Development
spp(Pakhanbet)and others holding a       Association) and Sopakha Samaj
medicinal value. It is still believed    Kalyan Sangh (SSKS).At present
that the water from the temple is        about 15O porters ,10 naturalist
warm till 4am and as the daybreaks       guides,16 animal pack operators are
the water becomes freezing cold.         registered with the association. They
Besides the village is surrounded by     also have framed operational
Pherek Singtam-a Lepcha typical          guidelines to ensure that everyone
village, Gumpa dara Sherpa village       gets an equal opportunity and the
and Sopakha Limbu village, rich with     tourists get a quality service. A
cultures of the corresponding            rotation system is in place to ensure
communities.                             that the porters get their opportunity
                                         in time and there is no competition
•   Unique Selling Proposition           among them leading to undercutting
                                         of the wage rate .The association
Uttarey is an entry point to the         also provides basic facilities like
Chewabhanjyang pass (a boarder           good footwear (gumboot) for its
between Nepal and India). This also      members .This has resulted in a total
has been the base camp of multi          of Rs 9 lakhs income for villagers in
treks that prolongs for 15 to 16 days    2003 from 400 tourists. Besides TMI
covering more than 30 to 40 small        (The     Mountaineering      Institute),
lakes on the way .A walk to Gumpa        TAAS (Travel Agents Association of
dara which holds a Kagyu monastery       Sikkim), ECOSS (Ecological Society
and a small lake nearby is a place a     of Sikkim) KCC (Khanchendzonga
tourist cannot surpass for its           Conservation      Committee)        and
isolation. A very unique thing about     ENVIS Centre for Ecotourism has
the place is the whistling of Sim        been playing a significant role in
Kukhra (local term for a bird) that      assisting the UETDA to manage and
can be heard from the herbal lake        promote Tourism in the Area.
especially during rains.

•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up      BARSEY/HILLAY:
    by    theGovernment,      NGO,
    Stakeholders                         •   Physical Setting

Although it has been proposed by         It lies at an elevation of 10,000 ft and
the Government to build an artificial    has motorable road access upto
boating lake in the area the villagers   Hiley. An easy 4 kms trek form there
are trying to preserve and promote       takes one up to the Barsey
the already existing herbal lake         Rhododendron Sanctuary. Spread
giving     the   tourist  a    unique    over a total area f 104 sq.kms it
opportunity to enjoy this natural        forms a vital corridor in the larger
treasure. In order to ensure that the    Khanchendzonga                Biosphere
community benefits from this tourism     Reserve with the Shingalila National
the    villagers    have    organized    Park of the West Bengal. One can
themselves into the UETDA (Uttarey       also reach here on a trek from



                                                                              72
Soreng and Uttarey.       The place      Barking Deer ,Himalayan Black
provides magnificent view of the         Bear, Wild Boar, Red Panda, Flying
mountains; visitors can halt at ‘Guras   Squirrel,   Crestless   Porcupine
Kunj’ trekkers’ hut. Located in the      ,Himalayan Mouse-Hare,etc
extreme west Barsey is noted for
rhododendrons. It's      a        huge   •   Prominent Eco Spots
Rhododendron forest, is a must visit
experience trip during the flowering     Chakung(Durpindara) and Soreng:
season from mid march to April end.
The whole forest is aflame with riot         The newly developed Durpin dara
of Rhododendron Flowers with hues        at Chakung is an adventure tourist
raging from blood red to pure white      destination on a make. Successful
and against the back drop of the         paragliding has already been tested
mountains a truly unforgettable          from here. Tanky dara, the last
experience. Barsey and around has        motorable point has the potentiality
a moderately shallow, somewhat           to develop as a picnic destination in
excessively drained course – loamy       itself with a rested land amidst pine
soils a steep sloop (30-50%) with        trees and a hut shed nearby. A trail
loamy surface, moderate erosion          from here amidst thick jungle leads
and moderate stoniness.                  one to Durpiney. This infact used to
The climate is wet and cold favoring     be a place from where the Lepcha’s
the spread of the dominant genus         defended from their enemies by a
Rhododendron. July is the wettest        warfare made up of tying stone on a
month, with the average annual           rope and pelting them upon their
precipitation being in excess of 250     enemies
cm. This reaches above 2500m and          Durpindara, the name derived from
receives regular snowfall in winter.     the fact that the place offers a
Clear skies can be experienced only      binocular vision of hills in and around
from November to May.                    and a beautiful sunrise has
                                         demanded prospects for it to develop
•   Natural Resources                    as an important destination in the
                                         near future .It has been proposed to
The altitudinal range of 2200m to        develop the spot as an ecotourism
4100 m supports a wide variety           destination with wayside amenities,
biodiversity values ranging from the     cafeteria, a watchtower, a ropeway
Sub-Tropical      Forests,     Mixed     and a children’s park at Bhotey
Broadleaf Forests, Conifer Forests       Ground.      A    gate      has    been
and    finally   Alpine    Meadows.      constructed at Chakung,an opening
Hundreds of bird species are found       to     Durpindara       and          the
in this sanctuary including three        CTDC(Chakung                    Tourism
species of spectacular pheasants         Development Corporation)is gearing
namely ,Satyr Tragopan, Impeyan          up towards building up village
Monal and Kaleej Pheasant .Notable       tourism in the area and organize
large mammals include Leopard,           events like culture and food festival.
Leopard-Cat,     Yellow    –Throated     Besides the Government has
Marten, Palm Civet, Wild Dog, Goral,     constantly        supported         and



                                                                              73
encouraged the local stakeholders to
promote tourism in the area. Soreng        The Khecheopalri and Yuksam –
is the other destination that is finding   Dzongri Trekking Trails are windows
its place on the tourist brochure to       to wonders of natural beauty,
Sikkim. Jhandi dara is a prominent         biodiversity, sacred lakes and snow
trekking destination of this area          capped-mountains. The trails are
Local NGO’S are gearing up towards         located in Sikkim’s West District
developing village tourism and             covering an elevation of 1785m to
Ecotours and Homestays are                 4000m alms. Khecheopalri (1800) –
constantly coming up as important          the holy lake is situated in between
tourism activities in the area.            Pelling and Yuksam, and is famous
                                           for its sacredness and clear water.
•   Unique Selling Proposition             The Yuksam- Dzongri trail takes the
                                           visitor      into      Khangchendzonga
A beautiful Tourist Trekker's hut          National Park (KNP), Samiti and
exists in Barsey, amidst the               Goecha La. It is a rare opportunity to
Rhododendron forests at 10,000             enjoy the wide biodiversity. Alpine
feet, commanding a glorious view of        non-forested areas- such as cliff,
the Singalila Range. A 4 km trek           high alpine meadows, cascading
from Hilley to Barsey is a wonderful       streams and lakes-all provide places
experience especially during the           for birds to feed, rest and raise their
flowering season from mid March to         young. A wide variety of residential
April end when the whole forest is         and non – residential birds can be
aflame with riot of Rhododendron           seen along the trail at different
flowers with hues raging from blood        elevations and in different seasons.
red to pure white and against the          The       trail     lies   within     the
back drop of the mountains                 Khangchendzonga National Park
                                           (KNP) and has high tourism value
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up        and gives one and opportunity to
    by the Government, NGO,                enjoy bird watching. The Sikkim
    Stakeholders                           Biodiversity and Ecotourism Project
                                           – a collaboration of the Mountain
A forest bungalow that rests at            Institute, G B Pant Institute of
Barsey amidst the backdrop of the          Himalayan          Environment       and
Mt. Khanchendzonga adds to the             Development,           Travel     Agents
delight of the surroundings. An            Association of Sikkim (TAAS), The
artificial boating lake is on its way of   Green Circle and local NGO’s is
completion. A joyride on a boat after      taking special efforts to conserve the
about a couple of hours walk from          biodiversity of the area and to protect
Hilley-the last motorable point would      and provide necessary habitats for
be relaxing as well.                       birds, butterflies and other wildlife of
                                           the     area      through     appropriate
TREKKING CIRCUITS AROUND:                  conservation         management      and
                                           ecotourism development.
Khecheopalri Lake & Yuksam-
Dzongri Trekking Trials



                                                                                 74
North Sikkim                                    It is situated at latitude ranging
                                            from 27:22:32 N –28:07:43 N and
To     fully appreciate the term “NEY       longitude ranging from 88:7:47 E –
MAYAL LYANG”, it is imperative that         988:53:26 E. Yumthang alone is
the northern region of Sikkim be            enough to satiate the most
visited. NEY MAYAL LYANG is what            demanding, with its panoramic
the Lepchas the original inhabitants        Valley of Flowers. During springtime
of Sikkim named their motherland.           the lush meadows abound with
The tern connotes heaven and the            delicate wildflowers that carpet the
Lepchas perhaps one of the few hill         valley floor in a rich riot of colors. A
tribe to boast a highly developed           must-see here is the Hot Springs
linguistic history were not being           and the vibrant Sikkimese tribal
extravagant with words when they            culture and customs. North district
named Sikkim so. It takes but a visit       has an area of about 4,226 km.
to North Sikkim and its abundant            square and has population of about
beauty quickly dispels any doubts           41,023
one might have of the etymological
skills of the Lepchas. Few places
can equal North Sikkim’s natural and
scenic grandeur. North Sikkim is the
home of high passes, glaciers, lakes
and off course Mount Siniolchu,
perhaps       the   prettiest    of   all
Himalayan peaks. The view of Mount
Khanchendzonga that the District
offer is also one of the best. It would
not be a contradiction to say that this
region of Sikkim is “Home” for those
smitten by wanderlust. Indeed North
Sikkim is the places that arouse
one’s insatiability for exploration –
both internal and external. North
Sikkim was only recently opened to
tourism and the tremendous rate at
which it has grown as a destination
                                            NORTH DISTRICT
over the last couple of years, stands
proof of its inherent appeal with
travelers. Its people still unaffected      DZONGU:
by the cold commercialization that
tourism often brings, make North            •   Physical Setting
Sikkim a must visit destination. The
land is full of legends; folklore, myths    Located in the North West of Sikkim,
and the stories start the moment one        Dzongu established in early 1960s,
heads out of Gangtok and hit the            is the territory reserved for the
North Sikkim highway.                       Lepcha community and borders the
                                            Khangchendzonga           Biosphere
                                            Reserve. Dzongu’s elevation ranges


                                                                                 75
between 800m and 6,000m above                 Legends hold that this festival is
sea level. The area has panoramic         a celebration for the killing of Laso
views of Mount Khangchendzonga            Moong, the demon who was said to
(8585 m), the third highest mountain      trouble the Lepchas of these areas.
in the world, and has a particularly
rich fauna and flora that is endemic      •   Natural Resources
to the area. Dzongu has deep well
drained, fine loamy soils and steep       Together with the Khanchendzonga
slopes (30-50%) with loamy surface,       Biosphere Reserve to the west, the
moderate     erosion    and     slight    combined        area   encloses     a
stoniness.                                gargantuan number of species,
• Historical       and       Cultural     including around 144 mammals. 300
    background                            plus birds, and 400 and more
                                          butterflies recorded in Sikkim alone.
The Lepchas are the only residents        Dzongu’s elevation ranges between
of Dzongu and are considered to be        800m and 6,000m, therefore regions
the indigenous people of Sikkim.          in Dzongu belong to different
Their traditions and culture have         ecological zone. The floristic wealth
their roots in the Buddhist culture but   of the Dzongu and its surrounding
with variations of their own in           area is rich and diverse, both in
practice and belief. The Lepchas of       composition and value. Forests
Dzongu have generally lived in a          represent a variety of plant
relative isolation and are primarily      communities that include diverse
dependent         on      subsistence     vegetation types corresponding to
agriculture and the cultivation of        variation in climate and edaphic
native cardamom.        Unfortunately,    factors.
hard times, mostly in the form of             Dzongu contains steep sided
falling cardamom prices, have             valleys and gorges with well-drained
plagued this community which has          flanking slopes. A wide variety of
led to the migration of the Lepcha        woody tree species, shrubs, lichens,
youth to urban areas (Including the       epiphytes      and   mosses     have
capital Gangtok) looking for other        enriched the valley.      Among the
ways of subsistence, leaving an           woody trees, Quercus (Oak) and
increasingly elderly population in        Castanopsis (Chestnut) are few
Dzongu.                                   among the dominant species of
     As the Dasai is for Hindus,          temperate region whereas Abies
Namsoong a religious festival is a        densa        (Silver     Fir)     and
grand celebration for the Lepchas         Rhododendrons are the dominant
held during the month of December.        species in the sub-alpine zones.
During this festival, Mela held at        There are some pure patches of
Nampricdang is a gala event, the          Castanopsis at temperate region and
prime attractions of which are            Magnolia (Ghoge Champ) at sub-
Archery Competition, Traditional          alpine areas. The area is equally
dances and the showcasing of the          rich in Rhododendrons in their
culture of the Lepchas – the ethnic       shape, size and colour. The variety
tribe of Sikkim.                          include Rhododendron arboretum



                                                                              76
(Guransh) at temperate conditions to           Dzongu’s forests of North Sikkim
small     Rhododendron          setosum    are home to several endangered
(Sunpati)       and     Rhododendron       species of birds like the Rufous-
anthopogon (Sunpati) Apart from            necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis,
these, the area is equally rich in         Great Indian Hornbill Buceros
other flowering plants such as variety     bicornis    homrai      locally   called
of Primula, Meconopsis, Aconitum           ‘Hongraio’,         Chestnut-breasted
(Bikh, Bikhma), Potentialla, Bistorta      Partridge, Black-breasted Parrotbill,
and GJentiana which provide an             Grey-crowned Prinia and Ward’s
additional      charm to the alpine        Trogon.     Other     lowland     fauna
meadows.                                   includes the introduced Peafowl,
    Many species of Bamboos                Python,      Geckos,         Porcupine,
(Dendrocalamus            spp       and    Assamese Macaque and Barking
Arundanaria spp) are used by the           Deer; a host of butterflies and other
communities for house construction         invertebrates, riverine fish, frogs and
and local handicrafts. A number of         toads. Several species of migratory
wild plants such as Rhus semialata         water birds use the river systems
(Bhalayo), Litsae citrate, Juglans         during transit. Lantana is a major
regia (Okhar), Machilus edulis             weed in this region. This eco region
(Kaula), M. odoratissima, Bassia           has not yet been included in the
butyraea       (Chiuari),     Girardinia   protected area network of the state.
palmate (Allo Sisnu), Laportea
terminalis (Patle Sisnu) and Tupistra      •   Prominent Eco-spots
nutans are eaten in different ways by
the villagers. Apart form these about      Rong Lungten Lee:
seven       edible      varieties     of
Mushrooms, numerous Diplazium              This Lepcha traditional house at
spp (Ningro) and Dioscorea (Ban            Namprikdang,Dzongu comprises of
Tarul) are also found recorded from        three rooms.The ceiing called
in the area.                               ‘Phahong’ an attic is used to store
    Medicinal plants recorded from         valuable items.This house is open to
the area include Artmesia vulgaris         tourists both foreign and domestic
(Titepate), Eupatorium adenophorum         throughout the year.
(Banmara), Hydrocotyle asiatica are
widely used for different purposes         Nampricdang botanical garden:
and are not marketed. On the other
hand, Aconitum spp (Bikh, Bikhma),         Nampricdang      botanical    garden
Berginia     liglata   (Pakhan-bhed),      situated nearot the meeting place of
Heracleum nepalense (Chimphing),           two rivers Teesta and Kanaka is
Litsae citrate (Siltimbur), Oroxylum       established and maintained by the
indicum      (Totala)     are     openly   Department of Forest. Nampricdang
extensively marketed in the local          garden is situated at an altitude of
markets. Some of these species are         around 1000m and is the home of
also used by the local practitioners       Sikkim’s many exotic orchids and
(Bijuwa and Baidya) as herbal              other rare tropical and temperate
medicines.                                 plants. Beside the Garden, this place



                                                                                77
is famous for Namsoong festival,          educated youth which would provide
held at every New Year. People from       avenues for self employment within
all over the Sikkim come here to          Dzongu and in the process help the
offer prayer.                             Lepcha community to preserve their
                                          vanishing identify.       The idea of
•   Unique Selling Proposition            ecotourism       as   a     means    of
                                          conservation        and       economic
                                          development was further developed
Dzongu in North Sikkim, which also        and supported by ECOSS.
boasts of tropical mountain forests            To begin the work in Dzongu
with views of snow-capped peaks,          partnerships were forged with NGOs
which can altogether make up a            like Dzongu Ecotourism committee
memorable and unique experience.          (DETC),       local  authorities   and
Dzongu has been declared as a             representatives of Dzongu. Several
protected zone for the indigenous         community         consultations    and
Lepcha tribes. Any influence from         awareness and training programs
the outside world has been barred,        were conducted for the local
thereby, preserving the local culture,    residents. The extensive community
tradition,     and     other     social   mobilization process has brought
manifestations. One can enjoy             about some changes in the thinking
unadulterated local culture and           of the local people and positioned
customs in and around this place          them to conduct tourism that is local
which is considered as the abode of       and benefits that accrue tall levels of
the original inhabitant of Sikkim.        the community.          Some of the
                                          initiatives led by NGO’s include
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
    by the Government, NGO,                  Training of local tourist Guides.
    Stakeholders                             Orientation to the local driver
                                             about tourism and their role in
Dzongu was established in the early          hospitality.
1960s, and its elevation ranges              Cooks Training.
between 800m and 6000m above                 Lodge-Home Stay Management
sea level. Dzongu provides the               Training.
perfect backdrop to learn about the          English Speaking Training.
fast-vanishing Lepcha culture and            Tourism sensitization to the
lifestyles, the immense diversity of         monks and lamas of the
plants and wildlife and enjoy the rich       monastery
lush tropical mountain scenery.              Porters Training
Keeping in view the above                    Trail     development        around
mentioned fact, the idea of the              villages.
ecotourism project was born from the         Interpretation signs along trails
desire of group of Lepcha youth who          and sites/viewpoints.
has concerns for the up coming               Handicraft      and       Handloom
younger generation of Dzongu.                promotion for tourists.
They were keen in looking for                Information brochure
alternative opportunities for the            Cultural Programme promotion.



                                                                               78
    Viewpoint beautification              Primula,    Aconitum,    Delphinium,
    Marketing activities.                 Caltha, Bergenia, Heracleum, Iris,
    Development of a Code of              Hedysarum, Myricaria, Bistorta etc.
    Conduct.                              Tree growth is completely arrested
    Evaluation of project progress.       due to low temperature, and instead
                                          one finds xerophytic, prostrate
                                          shrubs like rhododendron, Juniperus
GURUDONGMAR:                              recurva and Berberis. There are
                                          some alpine meadow with scattered
                                          scrubs and often barren at higher
•   Physical Setting                      elevation. Most of the species are
                                          shunted and thorny scrub. Some
Situated at an attitude of over 17000
                                          dominant species in this area are
ft and encircled all around by snow-
                                          Pedicularis, Primula and short forms
covered mountains, the sacred lake
                                          of rhododendrons.
has a great religious significance as
                                          This eco region has the most
well. This snow-fed milky water of
                                          threatened as it contains mostly
the lake is one of the major sources
                                          endangered      species.   Dominant
of Teesta, the most important river in
                                          among these are Kiang, Nayan,
Sikkim and North Bengal. The road
                                          Tibetan Gazelle, Snow Leopard,
to Gurudongmar from Thangu
                                          Tibetan Wolf, Tibetan Snowcock,
passes through the high alpine
                                          Lammergeier, Raven, Golden Eagle
pastures     carpeted     with    thick
                                          and Ruddy Shelduck.
rhododendron bushes. One can get
a prized view of rare Bramhakamal
                                          •   Unique Selling Proposition
peeping through the bushes in
inaccessible terrain or of a herd of
                                          Gurudongmar gets its name from a
mountain sheep grazing in the
                                          Gurudwara established by a Sikh
distant valley.
                                          Regiment which exists even today
    Gurudongmar and the places
                                          and is maintained by the Army. The
around have moderately shallow,
                                          Lake is probably the highest and
somewhat        excessively    drained
                                          largest lake in Sikkim. This pristine
coarse-loamy soil on steep slope
                                          lake with high medicinal significance
(30-50%)      with   gravelly   loamy
                                          is believed reverentially by the
surface; moderate erosion and
                                          Hindus and by the local Buddhists. A
moderate stoniness:
                                          sight, which makes one sigh in
• Natural Resources
                                          disbelief – “a paradise on earth”, the
                                          lake is a makeup mirror for the
Gurudongmar has Dry Alpine Forest,
                                          mountain, which holds its mirage so
The Vegetation in this zone is
                                          clear, as if trying to bind the majestic
practically of scattered shrubs, often
                                          mountains in it. A veritable Mecca for
barren and snow covered at higher
                                          the nature lovers Gurudongmar has
elevations. The vegetation of this
                                          a prized possession of Yaks, Blue
place mostly comprises of xerophytic
                                          Sheep’s and other high altitude
alpine shrubs, interspersed with
                                          animals. This lake freezes during the
meadows,          like       Aemone,
                                          winters except at one spot, which the
Meconopsis, Pedicularis, Potentila,


                                                                               79
devout believe to have been                 The village comprises of barely 150
specially blessed and the blessed           houses, earlier inhabited only during
water of this lake is believed to           winters by their owners who spend
posses the miraculous power of              the summers on the alpine pastures
granting children to issueless              along the Tibet boarder tending to
couples.                                    their yaks.
                                               Lachen has moderately shallow,
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up         some-what excessively drained,
    by the Government, NGO,                 coarse loamy soils on moderate
    Stakeholders                            steep slope (15-30%) with gravelly
                                            loamy surface, moderate erosion
The Government has joined hands             and slight stoniness
with the local NGO’s and the
Stakeholders and with an immense            •   Historical      and       Cultural
support from the local people                   background
dwelling in the vicinity of this region
are able to promote eco tourism in          Lachen – a Bhutia term means a
this region. Tourists are made aware        wide pass, a name derived from the
of the preventive measures to be            fact that it was a wide passage to
taken during their travel to this fragile   Tibet .Lachen has its own culture
eco region in advance thereby               different from the rest. The habitation
lessening the negative impact as            in majority is seasonal when the
much as possible. For security              populace migrates to Thangu for
reasons foreign tourists are not            cultivation, mainly potatoes during
permitted to visit Gurudongmar Lake         May to end of October. A unique
and even domestic tourist need              event on its own, few days before
permission from Government of               the festival of Losoong which falls on
Sikkim to travel to this region. During     December a mass slaughtering of
the peak tourist Season various             Yaks and Sheep is held when
measures      are     taken,    thereby     Lachen looks like a battle field
maintaining the carrying capacity of        draped in blood. “Chaam” a mask
this area. Government has even              dances is a colourful event held in
employed people for cleaning and            the Lachen Monastery during the
maintaining this holistic lake.             first week of January. Lachen too like
                                            Lachung has a highly centralized law
LACHEN:                                     with Zhumsa taking all the major
                                            decisions.
•   Physical Setting
                                            •   Natural Resources
Lachung’s sister village, Lachen is
only a recent introduction to tourism.      Lachen forest can be categorized as
Situated at an altitude of 2,694m,          Himalayan Wet Temperate Forests.
Lachen stands on a grassy and flat          The mountain slope of Lachen is
bush from the periphery of which rise       almost covered by the Silver fir. One
with the pine clad mountains with           could find some trace of Quercus
their snowy peaks and black cliffs.         spp., Castanopsis triuloides, Acer


                                                                                 80
spp, Machilus spp and Cinnamomum          Chopta Valley:
spp associated with shrubs Rosa,
Rubus, Berberis and Viburnum.             Wonder never ceases in North
There are a few patches of pure oak       Sikkim with each turn, each valley,
(Quercus lamellose) which stands          and each rivulet trying to outdo the
with other species such as Eurya,         other in the scenic beauty that it
Viburnum and Symplocos and an             offers. Few places come close to the
abundance       of     mosses     and     virgin appeal of Chopta Valley (4,020
epiphytes.     Some      species     of   m). Just a 20 – minute drive from
Rhododendrons are also found in           Thangu, this valley provides one of
this region.                              the few accessible places in Sikkim
The region preserves an astonishing       where visitors can actually walk over
diversity of wildlife. Yak and Horse      frozen rivers during winter. The riot
are       commonly       used       for   of colors during spring belies this
transportation of goods in these          aspect though.
areas. Blue Sheep’s, Sapi (Domestic
Sheep) Kiang, Nayan, Tibetan              •   Unique Selling Proposition
Gazelle, Snow Leopard, Tibetan
Wolf,        Tibetan       Snowcock,      The ‘On its own’ type of lifestyle of
Lammergeier, Raven, Golden Eagle,         people keeps the visitor on a thirst
Ruddy Shelduck and some species           for wanting to know more about
of Deer are also often observed           them. Lachen is perhaps one area
here. A flock of birds which look like    where the ‘ills’ of urban has not crept
cranes are often seen here. These         in. The silence is as musing to the
birds are migratory probably coming       urban visitor as is the surrounding.
from the northern latitudes.              Above all the regulation set by the
                                          Zhumsa gives the area a perfect
•   Prominent Eco-spots                   clean tourism. The smell of incense
                                          (Saang) burning during early hours
Thangu:                                   of the day warms one           up and
                                          mesmerizes for months and months.
 The Ultimate destination for a
foreign tourist to North Sikkim,          •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
Thangu at a altitude of 3,960m is 30          by the Government, NGO,
km beyond Lachen . The months of              Stakeholders
May June sees this valley carpeted
with colorful alpine flowers which are    Lachen, a recent introduction to
replaced by snow from October             tourism has few hotels which are
through March. A stop over                fully packed during the tourist
destination     for    a   visitor  to    seasons. Sinolchu Society a local
Gurudongmar, Thangu has a forest          NGO has taken initiative for
Dak Bungalow for accommodation.           managing tourism activities like
Enroute Thangu to Gurudongmar             trekking,        tours,     plantation,
one comes across a herbal Garden          cleanliness drives, and other tourism
and Kalep Cave.                           related activities to put Lachen on a
                                          tourist brochure to North Sikkim. A



                                                                               81
tourist information centre is an effort    rhododendrons provide a riot of color
of the Department of Tourism, Govt.        to this small park. The rare and
of Sikkim to regulate tourism in the       endemic Rhododendron nevium, the
area. A well built cc-footpath makes       State Tree occurs only in this region
an ideal walk upto the monastery. It       which is also rich in ground flora
has been proposed to start the work        such as primulas, potentillas,
of carpeting the road and lighting the     gentians, saxifrages, poppies and
hamlet with lamppost, altogether a         aconites. In Nov/Dec/Jan one can
picture of a well developed Lachen.        enjoy the scenic and the panoramic
                                           views of the valleys and surrounding
                                           mountain ranges with snow-capped
YUMTHANG                                   peaks.
                                              The fauna here consists of the
                                           Serow, Goral, Blood Pheasant , and
•   Physical Setting                       Common Hill Partridge. The beautiful
                                           and highly endangered Spotted
Yumthang the “valley of flowers” is at
                                           Linsang or Tiger-Civet (Prionodon
an elevation of 11,800 feet and
                                           pardicolor) has been reported from
about 140kms from Gangtok,
                                           here. Grazing by yaks, dzos and
Yumthang is a paradise for nature
                                           sheep are widely practiced by
lovers with a fascinating blend of
                                           grazers here.
flora and fauna and breathtaking
scenic grandeur. The valley is also
                                           •   Unique Selling Proposition
the home for Singbha Rhododendron
Sanctuary with around 24 species of
                                           Very close to Tibetan border,
Rhododendrons. Yumthang Hot
                                           Yumthang is that unique place where
spring, popularly known as ‘Tsa-chu’,
                                           the     tree-    line   ends,    but
on the left bank of Lachung Chu is
                                           rhododendrons still bloom covering
immensely popular for its curative
                                           the whole area in a surreal hue. It
properties and healing power.
                                           can be called a paradise for nature
    Yumthang has moderately deep,
                                           lovers with a fascinating blend of
excessively drained, loamy skeletal
                                           flora and fauna and breathtaking
soils on moderately steep slope (15-
                                           scenic grandeur. The valley is also
30%) with Loamy surface, severe
                                           the home for Singbha Rhododendron
erosion and moderate stoniness.
                                           Sanctuary with around 24 species of
                                           Rhododendrons. Yumthang Hot
    Natural Resources
                                           spring, popularly known as ‘Tsa-chu’,
                                           on the left bank of Lachung Chu is
In April/May/June this Lush green
                                           immensely popular for its curative
valleys is struck by the riots of colors
                                           properties and healing power.
with Rhododendron, Alpine &
Primula flowers. Yumthang is known
                                           A bird’s eye view
for its unique abundance of
                                           Surrounded by mountains the place
Rhododendron trees and shrubs,
                                           seems to touch the heaven as one
about 40 species/varieties of which
                                           has to face vertically upwards to see
are recorded from Sikkim are alone
                                           the mountain top. The scenic view is
found here. When in blossom the


                                                                              82
breathtaking. With the rhododendron        LACHUNG:
and blooming primula covering the
whole area in a surreal shade              •   Physical Setting
Yumthang offers the view of a
stunning array of peaks with               Resting silently on the foot of
Pauhunri and Shundu Tsenpa. A              massive rocky mountain and spread
number of hot springs are scattered        on either side of the roaring Lachung
in the valley providing an unexpected      Chu, one of the tributaries of river
opportunity to feel the warmth of the      Teesta, Lachung reminds one of an
water even in freezing temperature.        old cowboy town. At almost 2684mts
Rich in sulphur these springs are          in North Sikkim, a drive to Lachung
believed to have miraculous healing        is a passage through villages
power.                                     memorable as time, picturesque
                                           spots for stoppage, waterfalls, great
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up        views. Lachung has emerged as a
    by the Government, NGO,                tourist destination with the soaring
    Stakeholders                           popularity of Yumthang Valley, which
                                           is just 25kms away from Lachung.
Yumthang valley known for it alpine        The village, spread out on either side
meadow and hot spring is also the          of Lachung Chu, has managed to
home for Singbha Rhododendron              retain its unique culture and tradition.
Sanctuary. This region has been            The Lachung Monastery on the
declared as protected area years           slope opposite to the highway is a
back in order to keep eco fragile          focal point of all religious function of
region protected. Government has           the local inhabitants. Sikkim with its
build up Forest Guest house in             proximity to Kangchendzonga and
Yumthang and various officials from        the fact that it lies in the direct path
departments have been employed to          of the monsoon is much the wettest
ensure law and order in the region.        portion of the whole area, and has a
Government along with various              heavy rainfall, about 50 inches even
NGO’s, Stakeholders has been               in the dry upper valley of Lachung
regulating carrying capacity of this       and Lachen, increasing to 140
region even.                               inches in other district.
                                           Lachung has moderately shallow,
TAAS, Department of Tourism, Govt.         some-what excessively drained,
of Sikkim and the various local            coarse loamy soils on Moderately
NGO’s      have    already     initiated   Steep slope (15-30%) with gravelly
measures to provide trainings to the       loamy surface, moderate erosion
local people, Lodge Operators, Taxi        and slight stoniness.
Drivers,    Potters,    Cooks        and
Yak/Horse Owners for the better            •   Historical      and       Cultural
promotion of sustainable tourism in            background
the area. Infrastructural development
in this region has been promoted           A Bhutia village with a unique local
with due consideration given to the        self-governing body called the
concept of eco tourism.                    Zumsa     which    substitutes   the


                                                                                83
Panchayat is a stop over destination       Lammergeier, Raven, Golden Eagle,
to the tourists to Yumthang.               Ruddy Shelduck and some species
A perfect blend of ancient with the        of Deer are also often observed
modern, the mass flow of tourist has       here. A flock of birds which look like
not polluted the culture and tradition     cranes are often seen here. These
of the area. At least one member of        birds are migratory, probably coming
the house hold are out of Lachung          from the northern latitudes.
either as Government Officials or as
students. However, once they are           •   Unique Selling Proposition
back to Lachung they a perfect
Lachungpa following those age old          Lachung, one of the most exquisite
customs and traditions.                    valleys     resting     amidst     the
                                           snowcapped        mountain      crown,
•   Natural Resources                      breathtaking waterfalls and sparkling
                                           streams. Situated at a height of
Lachung forest is dominated by             2684m, Lachung has been described
Quercus        spp.,       Castanopsis     as the “most picturesque village in
triuloides, Acer spp, Machilus spp         Sikkim”. This place is an ideal nature
and Cinnamomum spp associated              spot of Sikkim and has been recently
with shrubs Rosa, Rubus, Berberis          opened to foreign travelers in an
and Viburnum. The forest can be            organised manner. This visit gives a
categorized as Himalayan Wet               rare chance to the visitor to
Temperate Forests. There are a few         understand Sikkim at its best and the
patches of pure oak (Quercus               traditions of the local people and
lamellose) stands with understorey         culture. If one is looking for
species such as Eurya, Viburnum            Shangrila-then its here.
and Symplocos and an abundance
of mosses and epiphytes. Some              •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
species of Rhododendrons are also              by the Government, NGO,
found in this region. Most of these            Stakeholders
forests are well stratified and rich. in
Q. lamellose and C. tribuloides            The Zhumsa, has signed an
constitute the top or canopy layer         agreement with travel agents
with Machilus sp, Acer and                 association with Sikkim (TAAS)
Symplocos species forming the              entrusting the latter with the sole
second layer. Below this is a shrub        authority and responsibility of
layer dominated by Viburnum, Rosa          handling tourist inflow into North
and Eurya.                                 Sikkim. Agreement signed on May
     The    region     preserves     an    04, 2001 lifts all restriction on
astonishing diversity of wildlife. Yak     movements of tourist vehicles in
and Horse are commonly used for            Lachung – Yumthang sector and
transportation of goods in these           also does away with the fees levied
areas. Blue Sheep’s, Sapi (Domestic        on vehicles plying on this route. The
Sheep) Kiang, Nayan, Tibetan               move it is learnt was forced to be
Gazelle, Snow Leopard, Tibetan             made as unbridled tourist traffic
Wolf,        Tibetan        Snowcock,      generated by agents not registered


                                                                               84
with TAAS was causing social               loamy surface, moderate erosion
problems in the area. TAAS has             and slight stoniness.
reported stepped in when tourist
were meted out shoddy treatment by         •   Historical       and       Cultural
unscrupulous travel agents who                 background
were also causing problems with the
local populace.                            This small town is full of legends.
                                           One such legend identifies this to be
The association in consultation with       the place from where the word
Sikkim Department of Tourism               Demazong (the Hidden Valley of
supports advice and provides               Rice as Sikkim is known) first
training to the local people Lodge         originated.                The valley is
Operators, Taxi Drivers, Potters,          believed to be blessed by Guru
Cooks and Yak/Horse Owners for             Rimpoche and one can visit the Holy
the better promotion of sustainable        Guru Lhedo to see the foot and the
tourism in the area. There is an           palm prints left behind by the patron
agreement between TAAS and the             saint as he rested on the rock while
Taxi Drivers of Lachung that the           flying across to Tibet.
vehicles    would   be    constantly             It displays a foot imprint to drive
maintained and kept in good                the point home. The rock also has
condition to meet the safety               imprints of various animals and
measures as per the motor vehicles         birds. A groove in the rock is always
regulation.                                filled with spring water and a small
                                           patch of land nearby grows paddy
                                           every year. The natures defying
CHUNGTHANG:                                miracle is believed by locals to be
                                           the blessing of Guru Padmasambhav
•   Physical Setting                       who sprinkled a handful of grain on
                                           the spot which has sprouted paddy
A major sub-divisional settlement in       ever since.
North Sikkim, Chungthang straddles
along the confluence of Lachen Chu         •   Natural Resources
and Lachung Chu. It is the nodal
junction for the two passes Lachen         Chungthang has Sub Tropical mixed
and Lachung . It lies about 95kms          Broad-Leaved Hill Forest. The forest
from the state capital and lies about      is represented by Alnus nepalensis
23kms and 29kms from Lachung and           (Uttis),   Castanopsis      (Kattus),
Lachen, respectively. Chungthang           Macaranga (Malata), Engelhardtia
with an altitude of 1560 mts above         spicata (Mahua), Michelia (Champ),
sea level is the starting point of River   Toona ciliata (Tooni), Machilus
Teesta.                                    (Kawla),   Symplocos      (Kharane),
Chungthang has moderately shallow,         Cinnamomum (Sinkoli) etc. Shrubs
some-what excessively drained,             include Rubus (Aiselu), Daphne
coarse loamy soils on Moderately           (Algeri), Leucosceptrum (Ghurpis)
Steep slope (15-30%) with gravelly         etc




                                                                                 85
        These forests region of Sikkim     of visitors. A keeper has been
are home to several endangered             appointed     to   look   after  the
species of birds like the Rufous-          Gurudwara         Complex       thus
necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis,         maintaining its sanctity.
Great Indian Hornbill Buceros
bicornis     homrai     locally   called
‘Hongraio’,          Chestnut-breasted     MANGAN :
Partridge, Black-breasted Parrotbill,
Grey-crowned Prinia and Ward’s             •   Physical Setting
Trogon.
Fauna includes Peafowl, Python,            Mangan,       the     north  district
Geckos,       Porcupine,      Assamese     headquarters is a primary business
Macaque and Barking Deer; a host           centre for the large cardamom trade.
of butterflies and other invertebrates,    Tourism also has picked up in the
riverine fish, frogs and toads.            town which offers a panoramic view
                                           of the eastern face of Mt.
•   Unique Selling Proposition             Khanchenjunga. Trekking routes
                                           have been opened recently with
The unique feature of this place is        Mangan as a base for eastbound
the existence of a monastery and the       treks towards the beautiful Tosar
Gurudwara at the same place with a         Lake at the base of Chola range and
name so unique and so rich with a          northwest towards the fort of the
message        –     ‘Nanak    Lama        Khanchenjunga.
Gurudwara’. Revered as Gurunanak
by     the     Sikhs     and    Guru       Mangan has deep, somewhat
Padmasambhava by the Buddhist              excessively drained fine loamy soils
the footprint of the rock is               on steep slope (30-50%) with
worshipped by the Buddhist and             moderate     erosion    and   slight
Sikhs as well.                             stoniness.

•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
    by the Government, NGO,                •   Historical     and      cultural
    Stakeholders                               background

The focal point for the roads              Mangan was founded in the year
separating Lachung and Lachen,             1903 by local landlord and explorer
Chungthang has the entire basic            Rinzing Namgyal as a ration outpost
infrastructure. A Suvidha Complex          for British troops during Colonel
dedicated to Tourist visiting North        Young husband’s incursion into Tibet
Sikkim is maintained by 86 RCC             through Lachen in North Sikkim. The
wives welfare association which also       town has since grown to become the
holds a Tea/ Coffee stall, Xerox,          headquarters of North district and a
STD/ISD/FAX        and        Toilets.     primary business centre for the large
Government      has     built     two      cardamom trade.
Bungalows maintained by the
Government of Sikkim for the welfare       •   Natural Resources


                                                                              86
                                           accommodation for visitors.        The
Mangan has Sub Tropical mixed              area also has a number of
Board-Leaved Hill Forest. It contains      interesting short nature trails for 1to
steep sided valleys and gorges with        3 days along the higher ridges of the
well-drained flanking slopes. Various      surrounding hills.    One can also
species of orchids, Rhaphidophora,         savour the most graceful peak in the
wild banana, Pandanus, Nettles and         world – Mt. Siniolchu.
giant bamboo are characteristic.
Also, in this region it is possible to     •   Unique Selling Proposition
see     Alnus      nepalensis   (Uttis),
Castanopsis (Kattus), Macaranga            A spectacular view      from Singhik
(Malata),       Engelhardtia    spicata    giving the most of Khanchendzonga
(Mahua), Michelia (Champ), Toona           is a view that cannot be surpassed,
ciliata (Tooni), Machilus (Kawla),         indeed it is a photographer’s delight
Symplocos (Kharane), Cinnamomum            Mangan is the most developed of all
(Sinkoli) etc.                             the places in the north and vehicles
These forests region of Sikkim are         plying to other places can be easily
home to several endangered species         available. Come December and you
of birds like the Rufous-necked            can witness the greatest of rock
Hornbill Aceros nipalensis, Great          concerts in the state with bands
Indian Hornbill Buceros bicornis           coming from as far as Darjeeling and
homrai locally called ‘Hongraio’,          Nagaland.
Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Black-
breasted Parrotbill, Grey-crowned          •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
Prinia and Ward’s Trogon.                      by the Government, NGO,
Fauna includes Peafowl, Python,                Stakeholders
Geckos,       Porcupine,     Assamese
Macaque and Barking Deer; a host           With tourism given the major priority
of butterflies and other invertebrates,    in the state, Mangan is also gearing
riverine fish, frogs and toads.            up for the development of Tourism.
                                           Trekking routes have been opened
•   Prominent Eco-spots                    with Mangan as a base. The Mangan
                                           music festival started in 2003 is the
Singhik:                                   modest effort of popularizing the
                                           town and placing it on the tourist
The place offers one of the most           itinerary. Music and dance is the
spectacular and closest views of Mt.       core activity but food and game stalls
Khangchen-Dzonga and its ranges.           add spice to the proceedings.
For those with time a half an hour
uphill takes one to the ancient
Labrang Monastery suspended in
time with beautiful moral paintings        KABI LUNGCHOK:
adorning the walls and manned by
monks who look just about as old as        •   Physical Setting
the monastery itself. Its name literally
means “The lamas dwelling”. A well         This historical place is 17 kms form
located Tourist Lodge provides             Gangtok on the North Sikkim


                                                                                87
Highway. This is where the historic
treaty of blood brotherhood between       A prominent spot for a tourist visiting
the Lepcha Chief Te-Kung-Tek and          Gangtok and on the way to north
the Bhutia Chief Khey-Bum-Sa was          Sikkim is the Seven Sister waterfalls.
signed ritually. The spot where the       Seven identical falls that gushes
ceremony took place is marked by a        down the rock as if from heavens, a
memorial stone pillar amidst the          replica of each is in fact a single
cover of dense forest. The statue of      stream of waterfall that finally lands
Unity erected near the Thakur Bari        near the road with a single splash.
Temple in Gangtok is in memory of         The     Department     of    Tourism,
this event.                               Government of Sikkim has built a
Kabi Lungchok has deep, somewhat          viewpoint with a cc footpath leading
excessively drained fine loamy soils      to a watch tower from where the fall
on steep slope (30-50%) with              can be captured in the camera.
moderate      erosion   and    slight
stoniness.                                • Unique Selling Proposition
                                          The site has a historic significance
•   Natural Resources                     marked by the signing of a blood
                                          brotherhood treaty between the
As one meanders along the way to          Lepcha’s and the Bhutia’s, ‘a symbol
North Sikkim via Kabi Lungtshok,          of unity’ for the two major
one can find Alnus nepalensis             communities     of    Sikkim.    One
(Uttis),     Castanopsis     (Kattus),    important feature is that it is easily
Macaranga (Malata), Engelhardtia          accessible from Gangtok and
spicata (Mahua), Michelia (Champ),        therefore can be easily visited.
Toona ciliata (Tooni), Machilus
(Kawla),     Symplocos     (Kharane),     •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
Cinnamomum (Sinkoli) etc as the               by the Government, NGO,
dominant species of the forest cover,         Stakeholders
characteristic of Sub Tropical mixed
Broad-Leaved Hill Forest. The             The memorial stone pillar amidst the
vibrant splashes of water fall in Kabi    cover of dense forest signifying the
Lungtshok region with the whistling       historic treaty of blood brotherhood is
of various species of Birds like the      preserved and maintained with ritual
Pariahkite, Crested Serpent eagle,        prayers held once a year. Trekking
shahin      falcon,    Rufous-necked      destinations have been identified
Hornbill Aceros nipalensis, Chestnut-     and the Department of Tourism,
breasted Partridge, Black-breasted        Government of Sikkim is formulating
Parrotbill,   Grey-crowned      Prinia,   measures to promote them. The
Ward’s Trogon and         a host of       Seven Sister waterfalls on the way
butterflies and other invertebrates,      to Gangtok         is promoted as a
riverine fish, frogs and toads            viewpoint      by the Department of
fascinate the nature lovers.              Tourism with footpaths leading to a
• Prominent Eco-spots                     shade from where a better glimpse
                                          of the falls can be obtained.
Seven Sister Water Falls:



                                                                               88
                                         many places, through thick forests
TREKKING                  CIRCUITS       and cardamom fields. The track
                                         itself is easy but is surrounded by
AROUND:
                                         precipitous    cliffs  from     which
                                         waterfalls travel in white plumes
Tolung Monastery                         hundreds of feet into the narrow
                                         gorges to the valley floor. Birds
trek:                                    tweet louder to make themselves
                                         heard over the sound of the
The Tolung Monastery was first           waterfalls and the rivers. Perched
built in the reign of' Chogyal           precariously on these cliffs here and
Chakdor Namgyal in the early part        there are the huts of the Lepchas.
of the eighteenth century. It            As one walks towards Tolung, the
contains     rare    and    valuable     surrounding mountains on the top of
scriptures and artifacts of other        which ice clings tenaciously even
Monasteries that were brought here       during the summer seem to close
for safety during the late seven-        in. On reaching Tolung one can
teenth century and the early             understand why the Sikkimese
nineteenth century. A brass chorten      chose this place to keep the relics.
within the monastery contains the        It is so secluded and perhaps
ashes of one of the incarnates of        because of its high altitude it was
Lama Latsun Chembo, the patron           easy to guard.
saint of Sikkim. All the relics arc      At Tolung there is a Pilgrims Hut. A
kept sealed in thirteen boxes under      further walk of about an hour along
the supervision of the Government        the Tolung River takes one to a
of Sikkim. Every three years in the      religious spot called Devta Pani.
month of April the relics are shown
to the public in the monastery com-
plex. The old monastery has been
demolished because its structure
becoming weak and a new one has
been built in its place which was
completed in April 1991.
Tolung at an altitude of 8,000 ft lies
in the sparsely Lepcha populated
Dzongu area of North Sikkim and a
permit is required from the District
Collectorate at Mangan to visit it. To
reach Tolung monastery, one has to
travel by road upto Linzey. There is
a daily bus service from Gangtok to      Lachen-Green         Lake
a place slightly short of Linzey.
From Linzey to Tolung is a 20 kms
                                         Trek:
walk and takes approximately five
                                         The Green Lake area is fast
hours along the thundering Tolung
                                         developing into a take off point for
River, which has boiling torrents at
                                         mountaineering expeditions to the


                                                                             89
peaks of this area. Green Lake may      From the Green Lake, the
in the minds of many conjure up an      Kanchendzonga ceases to be an
image of a beautiful, exotic water      object of restful meditation. The
body, but sadly this is not true.       apparently smooth ridges resemble
Instead of a lake there is just a       the blade of a knife, and here and
small shallow pond. It seems that       there harsh granite shows through
the lake did exist here a sometime      the snow. The slopes are broken
ago: one can still see the hollow       and jagged. Winds roar, avalanches
clearly but the water got drained       thunder     and      glaciers     groan.
away into the adjacent Zemu glacier     Powerful forces here create and
that is gradually eroding the base of   destroy natural features just in a
the landmass on which the Green         manner a sculptor shapes a statue
Lake is situated. In fact, even in      and destroys it if it does not catch
1899 the lake had disappeared and       his fancy ,to build it afresh. The
according to Douglas W. Fresh field     terrain here itself is in a state of flux
who writes: "The hollow enclosed        - mountains are moulded into
between the converging moraines         different shapes, streams frequently
of the Zemu and Green Lake              change course and lakes appear
Glaciers has been very lately a         and disappear. Here man is
lake, and was now a lake basin,"        humbled      and       nature     reigns
But the absence of a lake is            supreme.
sufficiently compensated by the
splendid view around. Just a few        The nearest vehicle point for Green
kilometers away, the huge mass of       Lake lies on the Lachen- Thangu
Kanchendzonga towers above. The         road. From Lachen 6 kms by vehicle
peaks of Simvo are just a short         on the road to Thangu and across
distance away on the left. At the       the river Zema takes you to point
base of the Kanchendzonga is the        called Zemal. Here you get down
Zemu Glacier full of a sea moraines     and start the trek taking about three
- rocks and boulder and debris          days to reach Green Lake. Mules
created by moving ice scrapping the     and Yaks cannot negotiate on this
mountainside - a veritable natural      track, because of treacherous
pulveriser. Once in a while the         landslips enroute so you have to hire
distant thunder of avalanches can       porters from Lachen to carry your
be heard resounding in the              provisions. From Zema (9,800 ft) to
emptiness.                              Talem (10,400 ft), which is a walk of
                                        about 4 hours, the route is trailless,
                                        rocky and strewn with boulders.
                                        Shattered tree trunks are piled in an
                                        inextricable confusion. You have to
                                        also cross many landslips and ford
                                        across a stream that sounds very
                                        pleasing. While wading across the
                                        stream, you cannot help thinking that
                                        if it were not for the rocks in its bed,
                                        it would have no song. Watch out for



                                                                                90
shooting boulders and never attempt         but some good souls have setup
to cross this stretch if it is raining as   cairns, which are a few-stones
shooting stones from above are              stacked         over      one     another,
inevitable. The Zemu river thunders         prominently placed over boulders to
below you and at places you have to         indicate the way. These cairns have
cross almost a vertical hillside with       many times helped save lives of
no track at all and one wrong step          travelers who have lost their way
can take you tumbling down into the         when the area is snowbound. Sona
river. At Talem which is on a flat          camp has a small stone hut. You rest
stretch of land there are a few             for the night here and the sound of
abandoned army bunkers. After a             the river flowing just a few feet away
refreshing cup of tea you are ready         lulls you to sleep. On the third day,
to move further. From here onwards,         you start walking early in the morning.
the track becomes slushy at places -        It is still dark but the stars shine bright
sometimes even a foot deep. So do           in the sky and cast a ghostly light on
not forget to bring along a pair of full    the landscape. Soon dawn starts
length gum-boots. From here                 breaking on the eastern sky. The
Jakthang takes about 3 hours to             peak of Siniolchu, just a few
reach after crossing the Lonak La           kilometres away across the Zemu
River. At Jakthang (10,800 ft), there       glacier, becomes crimson as the first
is a 2 roomed wooden shed on stilts         rays of sun strike it. It seems that God
constructed      by       the      Forest   took special care when making
Department. You spend the night             Siniolchu. It is perfectly symmetrical
here.                                       and conical in shape and a sharp
Next day morning again sees you on          contrast to the shapeless masses of
the track. The walk from Jakthang to        mountains around - a triumph of
Yabuk at 12,700 ft takes about 4            mountain architecture. Its summit a
hours. You have to literally wade           mere needle seems to pierce the
through bushes at many places. At           fabric of the blue sky. After walking
other places the branches of trees on       for about 2 hours from Sona Camp
both sides of the track entwine to          you are on a flat stretch of land called
form a cage giving you an eerie             the Rest Camp or the Marco Polo
feeling that you are inside the skeletal    Camp at 15,000 ft- so called because
remains of a huge prehistoric animal.       it is believed that the great adventurer
The track gets muddier. The last            Marco Polo once halted here. After
stretch of the route to Yabuk is steep.     catching your breath here in the
Yabuk has a two storied 4 roomed            rarefied air and marveling at the
wooden shed on a stone foundation.          snowy peaks around, you start
After resting here over a cup of tea        trudging again. The few small trees
you are ready to move again.                look almost luxurious given the harsh
From Yabuk to Sona Camp the next            landscape around. The stillness is
halt is a grueling walk of about 2          tangible- holy. To walk here is to feel
hours on a boulder strewn trailless         the very pulse of creation. The only
area. These boulders and stones             sounds that you hear are those of
have spilled over from the Zemu             your breathing and the pounding of
glacier. One can easily lose the way        your heart. Instinctively, you tend to



                                                                                    91
talk in whispers lest you disturb the     except for a few enterprising
silence of the wilderness, About three    Rhubarbs; plants on the almost
hours of walk in this untrampled          inaccessible cliffs and crags here and
remoteness on a slight gradient track     there. With the moving sun,
and you are at Green Lake at 16,800       surrealistic colours; play on the rocks.
ft. The walk from Sona Camp to            It is a harsh landscape of forbidding
Green lake is in fact along a moder-      grandeur. The Lungna-la pass itself is
ately wide valley and the climb is only   narrow and festooned with prayer
slight. You sight a couple of herds of    flags. From here the view of the
wild Blue Sheep on the way. The           Lonak valley is marvelous and
Sheep are in fact greyish in colour       spellbinding. The valley is wide and
and you think that their name is          flat and slightly undulating and green.
definitely a misnomer. It is said that    The Nak-chu stream lazily meanders
when these sheep walk on the snow         through it glistening white in the
the reflection of the sky tends to give   sun-light.
them a blue tinge. Surprisingly you
may also see many birds that look
like crows at Green Lake.

Thangu-Muguthang-Chorten-
Nyimala-GreenLake trek:

This is an arduous trek that begins
from Thangu that is 28 kms away
from Lachen on the highway. It
involves altitudes ranging from
14,000 ft to almost 19,000 ft. From
Thangu at 13,800 ft a vehicular side      A knee wobbling downhill walk of
road of about 5 kms takes you to          about an hour and you are at the
Kalapathar at 14,500 ft. From this        valley at about 17,000 ft. above you
point, the steep climb begins. If you     the mountains rise sharply. It is these
feel that you cannot walk the high        mountains that do not permit moisture
altitudes, you can take a yak from        laden clouds to reach the Lonak
Thangu. These sure footed animals         valley which thus gets very low
are well adapted on walking on this       rainfall. However, anointed by the
route. Yaks meant for riding are of a     sparse summer rain, the valley
cool temperament but even they can        exudes the green breath of life. You
be unpredictable.. Within the next        walk along the narrow Naku River
three hours, a murderous uphill walk      stopping once in a while to drink its
reaches you to Lungna-la at slightly      mineral rich water.
less than 19,000 ft. Panting and          The Alpine plants, around give a
drained of energy, you take a long        strong scent, which at this high
well-deserved rest. Nothing moves         altitude tends to give the traveller a
except the few whisps of clouds           headache. Aconites, which are said
overhead. The terrain is strewn with      to be very poisonous ironically
boulders and bereft of any vegetation     blossom in different colors. Jatamasi


                                                                               92
plant which is renowned for its             down at one place thus leaving
medicinal value and also used as an         exposed the ground and vegetation
incense grows wildly here and the           which the yaks feed on.
locals do good business selling it          An event which everybody looks
although     it    means      sometimes     forward to in Muguthang is the
climbing     dangerous        precipitous   annual Yak race which takes place
slopes. One also comes across a lot         during the festival of Drukpa Tseshi.
of Rhubarbs which adorn the                 A further five hours walk on the Lonak
mountainsides.                              valley from Muguthang takes you to
Muguthang at 16,500 ft consists of a        wind-beaten Janak at 18, 00011
few huts built in typical Tibetan style.    where the herders move their yaks
It is remote and undisturbed and            during win. ter. From Janak a few
preserves the murmurs of an ancient.        hours walk ahead and you are at
life. Surprisingly, there is a lot of       Chorten Nyimala- a pass that opens
greenery around although this               into Tibet. From Muguthang, it is also
consists mainly of small scrubs. The        possible to reach the Green Lake
Government has even opened a                Base Camp. It involves a journey of
school here although there are just         five hours to reach Thechala and then
two students in its roll and one            a further five hours to Green Lake. As
teacher. Herds of yaks and sheep are        yaks can ply on this route,
seen all around. It is amazing to see       mountaineering expeditions using the
how these beasts sit on the snow and        Green Lake Base Camp, to attempt
doze off to sleep as though the snow        peaks in this area prefer to send their
was a mattress of cotton. The               equipment this way.
mainstay of the livelihood of this          On the map this land may belong to
place are in fact these animals-the         the Government but this rolling
yaks for their milk, cheese, butter,.       wilderness seems an inheritance of
meat and skin and the sheep for their       the nomads who stay here. They can
wool- making life almost self               pitch their tents anywhere, graze their
supporting here. These products are         yaks anywhere - there are no
highly in demand and the profits are        restrictions at all.
good. Even the dropping of the yaks
finds good use as fuel. The yak dung        Zadong-Donkiala
is patted into cakes and stuck to the       pass-Cholamu Trek:
stone walls of the huts and let to dry -
in the same manner as cow dung is
                                            From Yumthang the road goes a
dried in the villages in the plains.
                                            further 30 kilometres via Yumey
.    A peculiar feature of the people,
                                            Samdong to a place called Zadong
who are semi-nomadic, is that during
                                            where the road ends. Zadong is at an
winters when Muguthang becomes
                                            altitude of about 15,500ft. From here
snowbound, they move their herds to
                                            to Cholamu Lake via the Donkiala
higher altitudes instead coming
                                            pass takes about 4 hours for the
down. There is a rationale behind
                                            average walker. You start walking
this - at most of high altitude areas
                                            along the narrow Donkiachu. river.
the winds blow stronger and this
                                            The climb is moderate but the
prevents the snow from settling
                                            progress is relatively slow because of


                                                                                93
rarefied air. After walking about 2                 A knee wobbling downhill
hours, the Donkiala pass becomes           walk of another one hour takes you
visible. It looks quite near but takes a   to the Cholamu lake which is on the
full hour to reach. You come across        plateau that juts into Sikkim from
two small muddy lakes from which           Tibet. From this moderately sized
the river Donkiachu originates and         lake, the Teesta river takes birth as a
flows into the Lachung valley. The         trickle, hardly a foot wide - the feeble
last stretch of 100 metres to Donkiala     beginning notes of which would
pass is very steep and involves,           transform to a thunder few
almost a vertical climb. Your body         kilometers downstream. The water in
suddenly seems to weigh more than          the lake flirts with ice before getting
a ton and the legs almost crumble as       frozen in winter. The reflection of the
the stress caused by rarefied air          surrounding mountains doubles its
begins to take effect. Gasping and         beauty.      Everything     looks    so
panting for air and feeling like a fish    prehistoric that you almost expect to
out of water, you finally reach the        a see a dinosaur amble by.
pass. But all your tiredness vanishes      Khangchung Tso Lake at the base of
at the sight of the spectacular            the glacier Tista Khanste which also
scenery around. Donkiala pass at an        feeds the river Teesta is considered
altitude of 18,500 ft separates the        as the source of the River Teesta by
Lachen valley from the Lachung             many.
valley and Hooker in his book The            The      plateau     preserves     an
Himalayan Journal has rated it the         astonishing diversity of wildlife. A
most treacherous passes he ever tra-       flock of birds which look like cranes
versed. Above the Donkiala pass            swim on the placid ice-cold water of
spires of peaks rise their gloomy          Cholamu. These birds are migratory
granite brightened by snow. The peak       probably coming from the northern
of Paunhri is silhouetted against the      latitudes A herd of Tibetan wild
eastern sky. From the Donkiala pass        asses or kiangs as they are locally
the view of the Tibetan plateau - the      called graze on the other end of the
Roof of the World- below you is            lake.
marvellous. The plateau is flat as far     As there is a dearth of water on the
as the eye can see but is broken here      Tibetan side, many animals cross
and there by small hillocks. Through       over the border towards the Cholarnu
powerful binoculars one can see the        Lake. Some of them get killed in the
Tarksing Monastery and the town of         minefields. The army personnel have
Geru in the Tibetan side. About 1,000      to push back the yaks from the other
ft below is the lake of Cholamu and        side that attempt to enter Sikkim for
many other smaller lakes that look         water. The plateau is teeming with
like emeralds -relics of the last ice      mannots (bigmice), woolly hares and
age. Slightly towards the west Teesta      foxes. Once in a while a flock of snow
meanders and breaks into many              flinches (birds) fly overhead. Although
channels enclosing small oases of          deprived of any vegetation except
green vegetation. Although it is late      sparsely growing scrubs, the plateau
autumn, many of the streams already        offers stark beauty unparalleled
lie frozen awaiting spring.                perhaps anywhere in the world. The



                                                                                94
landscape here is similar to the fiery
desert while the climate is that of the
Tundras. Violent winds rage their
force broken by neither trees nor
scrubs. Howling with such ferocity,
these winds also sweep snow from
the grass uncovering it for the yaks.
The air is so rarefied and clear that
the stars shine bright enough in the
moonless sky to cast faint shadows
and cause the Snowclad Mountains
around to glisten eerily.
Herds of yaks graze on the sparse
vegetation and the few herders here
make their livelihood by selling yak
products. These herders follow
lifestyles unchanged through the
centuries.     For    hardwork      and
acceptance of nature's sway, this
moody and elemental place offers the
herders in return the splendor of
scenery. For a man from the city,
staying in such a hostile environment
would be unthinkable. But wouldn't a
yak herder also find the city hostile,
with its high decibel ear splitting
noises and pollution that makes the
air almost unbreathable ? Such
contemporary troubles like nuclear
explosions and the depletion of the
ozone layer seem deceptively far
away. But these herdsmen are
affected apparently in terms of
increased Ultra-violet radiation and
acid rain because of the avarice of
their urban brothers. The average
altitude of the plateau is 17,500 ft but
winds which instantly blow here day
and night thwart ice from completely
covering the around thus leaving the
vegetation exposed. It is because of
this reason that yaks do not require to
be moved down to lower altitudes
during winters.




                                           95
SOUTH District


South district has an area of about
750 km. square with latitude ranging
from 27:04:46 N – 27:32:04 N and
longitude ranging from 88 :26:25 E –
88:55:24 E. Buddhism is widely
practiced in the area and the district
is dotted with monasteries that
propagate Buddhist art, culture and
religion. Hindus, Muslims, Christians
are other religions which are
practiced. Some of the oldest
monasteries of Sikkim are located
here and a 108 ft high image of Guru
Padmashambhava the patron saint
of Sikkim, is near the district
headquarters at Namchi. Adventure
Trekking is being promoted in a big           SOUTH SIKKIM
way here with a base camp being set
up at Ravangla for treks up to            NAMCHI:
Maenam and Tendong Hill, the root
of Lepcha folklore. One can also          •   Physical Setting
indulge in mountain biking and
Nature Trails here. Be it handicrafts     Namchi, meaning Sky-High, nestled
or profusion of orchids, primulas and     among the hills at an elevation of
rhododendrons or snow-capped              5500ft. commands panoramic view
mountain view all are there for the       of the snow-capped mountains and
tourists to savour in South District.     cast stretches of valley. It is also the
Be it a trekker, nature's admirer, bird   Head Quarter of the South district.
watcher or a peace seeker, South          Anyone visiting West Sikkim has to
District will provide you all. South      traverse through the South District
district has a population of about 1,     before entering the West. The area
31,506.                                   is fast developing into a tourist
                                          destination     with   its     immense
                                          potential for all round tourist
                                          activities. It is about 78 kms form
                                          Gangtok and 100 kms from Siliguri.
                                          Namchi has moderately shallow,
                                          somewhat       excessively       drained
                                          course – loamy soils a steep sloop
                                          (30-50%) with loamy surface,
                                          moderate erosion and moderate
                                          stoniness.



                                                                               96
                                          represented by Gulls,         Puffms,
•   Natural Resources                     Jezebels and Orangetips.

Namchi (1723m) forest is dominated        •   Prominent Eco-spots
by Michelia (Champ), Toona ciliata
(Tooni), Alnus nepalensis (Uttis),        Tshamgang Park (Rock garden):
Engelhardtia      spicata    (Mahua),
Machilus      (Kawla),     Castanopsis    Situated at around 4 km above
(Kattus),     Macaranga       (Malata),   Namchi, just below the towering
Symplocos (Kharane), Cinnamomum           structure of Guru Padmasambhava
(Sinkoli) etc. There are a few            on the Namchi-Gangtok State
patches of pure oak (Quercus              Highway lies this beautiful garden.
lamellose) stands with understorey        This place usually serves as a picnic
species such as Eurya, Viburnum           spot for the tourist. One can also get
and Symplocos and an abundance            a panoramic view of Mount
of mosses and epiphytes. The region       Khanchendzonga,                Pelling,
here has Sub Tropical mixed Broad-        Pemayangtse,         Gyalshing     and
Leaved Hill Forest.                       Darjeeling. This place is specially a
    This area is also rich in birds       hit with the children because of its
including the Rusty-bellied and           recreational amenities.
Lesser Shortwings, Kalij and Satyr
Tragopan; reptiles like Japalura          Samdruptse:
lizards, Cobra, Krait and Himalayan
Pit Viper; Himalayan Bullfrog;            Sikkim’s homage to its patron saint
butterflies and leeches. Eupatorium       Guru     Padmasambhava          is   at
is a major weed competing out             Samdruptse 8 kms from Namchi and
Artemesia and other secondary             it is already attracting visitors by
growth. Large Cardamom planted in         hundreds. The 135 ft. tall statue of
forest     patches,    are   dominant     Guru Rimpoche, which can be seen
features of the landscape as much         from west and south Sikkim and
as       the     naturalized    exotic    even as far as from Darjeeling is a
Cryptomeria japonica patches              marvel of architecture.It also offers a
                                          panoramic        view       of      Mt.
    This region is occupied by the        Kanchendzonga, Darjeeling , Kalim-
typical hilly region butterflies. The     pong and the eastern border of
Lycaenidae and Hesperiidae are            Nepal. And it is from these places,
highly diversified. Many of the type      along with West Bengal and Bhutan
specimens of Hesperiids have been         that hordes of religious tourists come
collected      from    Sikkim.     The    here everyday. The statue, a lavish
Nymphalids        and Danaids are         thanks giving to Sikkim’s patrons
abundant in this region. They include     saint who blessed the land, stands
butterflies like the Barons, Pansies,     tall over the Samdruptse hill and
Sailers, Sergeants, Tigers, Crows         sparkles in the winter sun attracting
etc. These butterflies have affinity to   everyone’s attention. The project
Oriental fauna. The Swallowtails also     was brought to its present stage at
abound this region. Pieridae is           the cost of Rs. 6.76 cores. The



                                                                               97
foundation stone of the Rs 8 cores         convenient for the visitors to visit
projects was laid in 1997 by the           other places of tourist interest much
Dalai Lama, who took a pony ride           easier. Places like Pelling, Barsey,
upto the site. Now a road leads to         Gangtok, Kalimpong and Darjeeling
the site.                                  lies in close proximity. In addition to
                                           this, the infrastructure available is
The Namchi Mahotsav:                       second to none.

A 5 day long tourism and cultural          •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
festival held at Namchi is a recently          by    theGovernment,      NGO,
started phenomenon yet already                 Stakeholders
popular with the tourists. The main
attractions are traditional food stalls,   The government has identified the
traditional fashion shows, cultural        potential of this place as a religious
shows and folk night where one gets        tourism destination, more so after
to see the fast vanishing ethnic           the installation of the towering statue
dance forms like dohori, sangini,          of     Guru      Rimpochee       (Guru
balan and maruni etc. Indeed it is a       Padmasambhava) at Samdruptse
modest effort to preserve the              near Namchi. Eco parks like
Sikkimese culture and showcase             Tendong Biodiversity Park and Rock
them       through      varieties     of   Garden have been created to
danceforms, cuisine, artifacts etc.        preserve the flora and fauna in the
                                           locality. Awareness programmes are
Flower festival at Namchi:                 conducted at regular intervals to
                                           sensitize the local populace about
Flower exhibitions are organized as        environmental       issues.    Similarly
an annual feature at Namchi during         various NGO’s and local bodies
the month of February. The venue is        actively participate in plantation
at Children’s park, Namchi (South          drives and cleanliness drives.
Sikkim). Rare species of orchids in a      DRISHTI, a Namchi based Non
riot of colours is indeed something to     Governmental Organization has
witness.                                   taken up projects such as ‘Green
                                           Namchi’, where elaborate plantation
•   Unique Selling Proposition             drives are conducted throughout the
                                           locality.    Other initiatives include
Namchi happens to be a virgin              proper         garbage        disposal,
paradise which has ample places            environment education through quiz
that can be explored. The fact that        competition, debates, seminars etc.
this low profile welkin is not
frequented by mass tourist makes it        RAVANGLA:
an ideal destination for visitors who
seek solitude and serenity from the        •   Physical Setting
constant hustle and bustle of their
daily lives in their polluted metros.      This picturesque town in the
Furthermore, the strategic location        backdrop of Mt.Khanchendzonga
commanded by this place makes it           with horses grazing on the grassy



                                                                                98
stretches reminds one of a western       and covers an area of about 36.34
countryside. At the base of Menam        sq km with its highest point being at
Hill Ravangla is a transit to various    Maenam. This sanctuary located at
tourist destinations in South and        an altitude of about 10,600 ft above
West Sikkim. It is also and up-          sea level shelters Red Panda,
coming tourist spot and transit point    Goral,    Serow,    Barking    Deer,
for trekkers to Menam Hill and           Marbled-Cat, Leopard-Cat, Civet-
Borong. There are accommodation          Cats, Blood Pheasant, Common Hill
facilities and numerous short nature     Partridge, Magpies, Black Eagle,
trails. A trek down to the sacred        Blue necked Pitta, Sunbirds and
cave “Shar Chok Bephu”, one of the       many other        animals of the
holiest caves in Sikkim, would be a      temperate forest.
memorable experience. Ravangla
has deep somewhat excessively            Ravangla itself has scrub forest
drained loamy skeletal soils on steep    which attracts a rich variety of
slope (30-50%) with gravelly loamy       Himalayan        birds.      Verditer
surface,     severe   erosion     and    Flycatchers, Blue-fronted Redstarts,
moderate stoniness;                      Grey Bush chats, Dark-throated
                                         Thrush,     Blue-whistling   Thrush,
•   Natural Resources                    Green-backed Tit and White- browed
                                         Fantails are very common and
Ravangla has Himalayan Wet               cannot be missed. The forests
Temperate     Forests,    which     is   around Ravangla resound with the
dominated by Quercus (Oak),              unmistakable calls of Laughing
Castanopsis (Kattus), Acer (Kapasi),     thrushes, Babblers, Cuckoos and Hill
Juglans (Okhar), Machilus (Kawla),       Partridge. The rare Satyr Tragopan
Michelia (Champ),      Cinnamomum        makes Maenam a home and the
(Sinkoli) associated with shrubs         lucky can hear its breeding call from
Rosa (Rose), Rubus ( Aiselu),            the higher reaches of Ravangla.
Berberis        (Chutro),         and
Viburnum(Asare). There are a few         •   Prominent Eco-spots
patches of pure oak (Quercus
lamellose) stands with undestroyed       Maenam Hill
species such as Eurya, Viburnum
and Symplocos and an abundance           Maenam, 12 km Uphill trek from
of mosses and epiphytes. Most of         Ravangla is a traditional meditation
these forests are well stratified and    site for the monks. It is also a
rich. Q. lamellose and C. tribuloides    vantage location for a spectacular
constitute the top or canopy layer       view of the mountains at sunrise.
with Machilus sp, Acer and               Maenam hilltop is at 10,600 ft is 3
Symplocos species forming the            km through the Maenam wildlife
second layer. Below this is a shrub      Sanctuary teeming with Magnolia
layer dominated by Viburnum, Rosa        Rhododendron and small bamboos.
and Eurya                                The forest is a riot of colors during
                                         spring (March – April). A Natural
Maenam      Wildlife   Sanctuary is      habitat of the Red Panda, Himalayan
located above the town of Ravangla


                                                                            99
Black Bear and many species of            Believed to be the first cave to be
dear. This wild life Sanctuary lives on   blessed by the revered Guru
the motto of leaving only footprint       Padmasambhava, Shar-chok Be
and taking back only photographs          Phug, lies between the hillocks of
and Sweet memories. Flowers               Tendong and Maenam, 5 kms away
clamor over trees while mosses, fern      from the southern town of Ravangla.
and creepers more reckless, and           It is a vast cavern, about a quarter of
ambitions climb the soaring trunks.       a mile in length, with a height varying
A small hermitage containing the          from five feet to two hundred feet.
image of Guru Padmasambhava               The dark channels have to be lighted
nestles here.                             with torches as people come here to
                                          worship the spirits of the cave, which
A bird’s eye view                         is said to be associated with the
The view from the Maenam summit           ‘God of Purification’.
is the picturesque town of Ravangla       Shar- chok Bé Phug is also known
that lies sleeping far below and          as the abode of the ‘Peaceful White
through the mountains one can see         Deity’. It has an infinite number of
the rolling plains of west –Bengal        self-arisen figures.        Above the
lazily stretching out with clouds         entrance of the cave, inscriptions in
resting on them. As the sun rises,        a codified language can be seen.
these screen of clouds is pulled          Upon entering the cave, one can
away to show the Khangchendzonga          see, on the right, the figures of 42
range.                                    peaceful deities, and on the left, the
                                          figures of 69 wrathful deities. In the
Bhaledunga                                threshold, lies the seat occupied by
                                          Guru Padmasambava. After walking
Another half an hour walk on the          for a few meters one can see a
same ridge takes you to Bhaledunga        figure of a demon emitting elixir of
a peculiar looking cliff that resembles   life from her heart. As you move
the head of a cock (Bhale in local        ahead, there is a shrine where the
language).     This distinctive looking   deities are said to reside.
feature can be seen from miles away            On the right side of the cave, one
and during the olden days it was          sees self-arisen figure of Garuda (a
used as a guiding landmark for            winged deity), which when seen by
travelers.                                local spirits, will disappear and
                                          depart to their own abode. Above it
A bird’s eye view                         resides Guru Padmasambava.
From the top of this cliff, there is a
vertical fall of five to six thousand     •   Unique Selling Proposition
feet and one needs a strong heart to
be able to look down from here. Far       Ravangla town and the surrounding
down, one can see river Teesta            villages is an ideal destination to
gurgling through the valley.              experience the rich cultural & natural
                                          heritage of Sikkim. This place is
Shar- chok Bé Phug:                       placed in the cradle of nature’s
                                          unblemished beauty where every



                                                                              100
detail of the topography exudes          •   Physical Setting
heavenly charm and magnificence. A
unique natural spa, the first of its     Above Damthang, overlooking South
kind ever, for those who are not         District headquarter town Namchi,
pampered still, rejuvenates your         there is a small flat stretch of land at
senses, and feels the arcave beauty      an altitude of 8,530 ft surrounded by
of nature working on you.                lush green ancient forest which is
                                         popularly known as the Tendong Hill.
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up      From other parts of Sikkim Tendong
    by    theGovernment,      NGO,       Hill looks like a volcano - and legend
    Stakeholders                         has it that it was in fact once an
                                         active volcano which is now
The concept of home stay for             dormant.
tourists wherein a tourist gets a
community based initiative has been      •   Historical      and       Cultural
started by the Ravangla Tourism              background
Development Committee (RTDC) a
local NGO formed by the people of        “Tendong Lho Rum Faat” or the
Ravangla to develop and promote          worship of Mount Tendong is one of
responsible tourism in the area. The     the oldest festivals of the Lepchas.
Village Home Stays are located in        Legends hold that in the wake of a
villages around Ravangla in South        heavy earthquake which damaged
Sikkim.    The     initiative is    in   the said lakes, Parilbu (king serpent)
conjunction         with       Sikkim    and Tutfo guided the two new rivers
Development       Foundation      with   up to their confluence at Pozok(New
support from AUSAID, AFAP and            Peshok) unfortunately they (Teesta
KEEP.                                    and Rangit)flooded the entire Mayel
                                         Lyang      (the     then   Sikkim)The
Sikkim Development Foundation and        Lepcha’s residing near Mt. Tendong
NGO’s like ECOSS often conduct           to save their lives climbed up to its
training program for the local guides    peak and prayed to It-Bu-Rum(The
of Ravangla. The main objective of       almighty god).The legend further
the training program is to improve       tells that     a Kohomfo (Patridge
the skills of the guides, and impart     bird)appeared there and offered its
basic knowledge on interpretation of     prayer with Mongcheebep (the
flora and fauna, monasteries and         brewed         millet)and      another
bird     watching    and     develop     earthquake shook the whole earth
responsible tourism practices. It        creating several high mountains
involves intensive classes and field     around the northern zone of Mayel
based activities like trekking, bird     Lyang     which forced the flooded
watching etc.                            water to flow southwards thus saving
                                         the Lepcha’s from great deluge.
                                         Hence the Lepcha’s began to
                                         observe the ‘Tendong Lho Rum
TENDONG HILL:                            Faat’(worship of Mt Tendong from
                                         that time. During this day the



                                                                             101
Bongthings (Lepcha priest) offers         for its collection of various species of
their prayers at the summit of Mount      plants. Added to it, the ambience can
Tendong for peace, protection from        itself be a major attraction. A log
natural calamities and long life of all   house comprises the main office and
beings.                                   there are hut sheds on a grassy
    In      spring       when      the    stretch. The gate built up of piling
Rhododendrons and Magnolias are           pieces of small stones is a
in full bloom the locals celebrate        craftsmen’s excellence. An ideal
Ramnavami (Chaitey Dasai).On this         destination to relax enroute Gangtok.
day villagers of all faiths congregate
at the summit of Mount Tendong to
offer their prayers at the Tendong        •   Unique Selling Proposition
Monastery.
                                          The verdant hill of Tendong
•   Natural Resources                     commands a spectacular bird’s eye
                                          view of rivers Teesta and Rangit
The Tendong Forests are classified        criss-crossing, the eastern and
under the Middle Hill Forest              western part of Sikkim and
(Champion’s type 7B/C1). The main         confluencing at Triveni near the
species in the upper storey are:          township of Teesta. The other areas
Kattus, Bulk, Champ, Ghoge Champ,         which can be seen from this hillock
Kaulo, Guransh, Chimal, Kapase,           include the Kalimpong Subdivision,
Angeri, Phunche, Mahuwa, Sinkauli,        the Darjeeling Hills, as well as the
Tarsingh, Saur, Uttis, Khanakpa,          plains of Siliguri and Dooars.
Ambake, Pipli etc. In the middle
storey Lali, Jhingni, Malata, Kharane,    A bird’s eye view
Kholme etc with an undergrowth of         Tendong at an altitude of 8,500 ft is
Lise, Ghurpis, Malingo, Ainselu and       situated on a small plateau on top of
Asare are present.                        the mountain. Perhaps no other
    Leopard is the top carnivore;         place in Sikkim offers a better view
others include Himalayan Yellow           of the mountain ranges in the state
Throated Marten, Common Otter,            then Tendong- it is like sitting in the
Himalayan Palm Civet, Leopard Cat,        centre of a huge amphitheatre. On
Himalayan Black Bear, Wild Boar,          the east one can see the full Chola
Red Panda, Barking Deer, Goral,           Range, on the west the Singalila
Assamese Macaque etc.                     range       and      the       towering
Crestless Porcupine, Rufose Tailed        Kanchendzonga. In the north-east
Hare, Chinese Pangolin, Parti-            can be seen the Gurudongmar peak
Coloured Flying Squirrel, Hoary-          with other mountains. Darjeeling,
bellied    Squirrel,   Orange-Bellied     Gyalshing, Nathula, a part of
Squirrel and Shrew are also present.      Gangtok and the rolling plains of
                                          Siliguri can be seen from here. Both
•   State Bio-diversity park:             the sunrise and sunset are
                                          breathtaking from Tendong. From
At Tendong, on the way to Gangtok         other parts of Sikkim Tendong looks
is the State bio-diversity park known     like a volcano- and legend has it that



                                                                              102
it was in fact once an active volcano      phased out in a participatory manner
which is now dormant. Two small            from within the Tendong Nature
one-room monasteries exist here-           Reserve. Then in 2002, SPSS
one quite old and in almost ruins and      launched the Pani Panchayat
the other a newly constructed one.         Programme for the conservation of
A three storied observation tower on       the water sources in Tendong. Joint
the pattern of Tiger Hill, Darjeeling      awareness       programmes        were
has been constructed for the               organized      during       Ramnavami
convenience of tourists.                   celebrations     and       the    Guru
                                           Padmasambhava Smriti van was
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up        created by the Forest Department.
    by    theGovernment,      NGO,         Some initiatives        led by SPSS
    Stakeholders                           (Sikkim Parayavaran Samrakshan
                                           Sangh) for the conservation of the
In the past the local community did        Tendong Forest are:-
not have a sense of ownership with         1. Awareness          programs       at
the Tendong Nature Reserve, most               grassroot level to convince the
of which is a Reserve Forest. This             villagers regarding long term
led to a unsustainable utilization of          benefits of conservation of the
natural resources. Consequently the            Tendong Forest.
vegetation composition in the              2. Environmental             Education
Tendong Nature Reserve was also                program for the school children.
altered with the valuable timber trees     3. Formation and strengthening of
namely Michelia excelsa (Rani                  the Pani-panchayats in the
Champ)         and       Cinnamomum            villages adjoining to Tendong.
cecidodaphne       (Malagiri)   almost         Brances of SPSS have also been
becoming locally extinct. Also the             opened in the adjoining villages
important climax vegetation of                 also strengthening the local
Chestnut and Oak, which are the                NGO’s, clubs and active youth.
water     reservoirs     have      been    4. Conservation of the water
increasingly, replaced by colonizers           sources and lakes by carrying out
like Symplocos theifolia (Kharane)             plantation activities and soil and
and     Vibernum       spp     (Asare).        moisture conservation works
Consequently       the     hydrological    5. Lobbying to ban illicit felling of
balance was also adversely affected.           trees, forest encroachment and
Streams that were earlier perennial            grazing.
started slowly becoming seasonal.          6. Transfer of low cost rural
Consequently in the year 2000 the              technology livelihoods and hence
Forest Department in order to                  reduce dependence on forests.
reverse this trend initiated institution
building under the Joint Forest            RALANG/BORONG:
Management Programme by forming
the Joint Forest Management                •   Physical Setting
Committees (JFMC) around the
Tendong Nature Reserve. In 2001            Facing the snow-capped mountains
the cattle sheds (Goth) were also          is Borong, motorable from Ravangla



                                                                               103
or a trek via Maenam. A picturesque       ciliata (Tooni), Machilus (Kawla),
village with beautiful landscape and      Symplocos (Kharane), Cinnamomum
magnificent view is also host to the      (Sinkoli) etc. interspersed with
hot spring "Borong Tsa-Chu". The          shrubs like Rubus (Aiselu), Daphne
trek trail, originating from Namchi or    (Algeri), Leucosceptrum (Ghurpis)
Damthang to Tendong-Ravangla-             etc. Ralang and Borong forest is
Maenam-Borong (5 to 6 days) is one        further beautified with colorful
of the most interesting trials scaling    Butterflies like Hill jezebel (Delias
the hill tops along the route.            bellanona ithiela,)Lesser punch,
Ralang/Borong has deep well               (Dodena dipaea) Mixed punch (
drained, fine-loamy soils on steep        Dodena ovida ovida) Common
slope (30-50%) with loamy surface,        evening brown ( Melanitis leda
moderate        erosion    and   slight   isimene), Dark evening brown
stoniness.                                (Melantis pheduma bela), Common
                                          forester (Lethe isana dinarbas),
•   Historical        and     Cultural    Moeller’s silver fork (Zoophoessa
    Background                            moelleri), Lilac fork (Zoophoessa
                                          Sura), Lilane bush brown (Mycalsis
Ralang and Borong are also famous         fransisca Santana ), Bright eye bush
for its old monasteries which were        brown (Mycalsis nicata) etc.
built in 1768 AD and legend has it
that the 9th Karmapa Head of              These areas is also heaven for
Kagyupa sect blessed the site of the      Ornithologist with good varieties of
monasteries with grains of rice           Laughingthrushes      and    frequent
thrown from Tibet.Pang Lhabsol, that      sightings of White-crested, Chestnut-
is     the   worship    of    Mount.      crowned, Striated and Blue-winged
Khangchendzonga and Kagyat that           Laughingthrushes.          Red-faced
is mask dances are held here.             Liochicla etc. Small birds like
Palchen choeling Monastic Institute,      Golden-spectacled and Whistler's
one of the biggest of monasteries in      Warbler, Fulvettas, Coal Tit, Wren
Sikkim was built by the 12th Gyaltsab     Babblers etc are also found here.
Rimpochee and completed in 1995.
The sacred Maha kala dance is held        •   Prominent Eco-spots
every year in November.
                                          Ralang / Borong Cha-chu:
•   Natural Resources
                                          Tsa-Chu or hot sulphur springs at
This region boast for its rich            Ralang & Borong are traditional
biodiversity, the forest can be           winter spas visited by the locals as
classified as Sub Tropical mixed          well as by people from far away
Board-Leaved Hill Forest. Wandering       Bhutan and Nepal. Visitors spend a
along the midst of forest one can see     week or more dipped in these
Alnus          nepalensis      (Uttis),   springs    that    have      medicinal
Castanopsis (Kattus), Macaranga           properties believed to cure many
(Malata),    Engelhardtia      spicata    skin & other ailments of joints, bones
(Mahua), Michelia (Champ), Toona          & muscles. Ralang Cha-chu can be



                                                                             104
reached after a 1 hr. downhill walk to   for the convenience of visitors which
the Rangit valley from the Ralang        are given on a rental basis at
monastery. Borong Cha-chu is a 7         nominal rates but all bedding and
km drive from Ralang and a further       cooking utensils have to be carried
45 min walk down hill. Both these hot    along. During the hot spring seasons
springs are located along the banks      small shops selling basic vegetable
of the Rangit River and can be           and provision are set up and the
visited from December to February.       local villager’s dairy products.
For overnight stays temporary huts       People also see to it that the hot
are available at nominal rates but all   water coming out of spring gets
bedding and cooking utensils have to     collected, enough to soak oneself
be carried along. During the hot         covering the body to cure skin
spring season small shops selling        diseases. Apart from its medicinal
basic vegetables & provisions are        value the place also has a religious
setup and the local villagers sell       significance    which     has    been
dairy products.                          maintained by the government
                                         through issuing penalty measures for
•   Unique Selling Proposition           any faulty action taken thereby trying
                                         to keep the negative impact as low
This     picturesque    village   with   as possible.
beautiful landscape and magnificent
view of landmarks around is also         KEWZING
host to the hot spring "Borong Tsa-      • Physical Setting
Chu” and “Ralang Tsa-Chu”. This
Hot springs with its great medicinal     A typical quiet Bhutia village,
significance      has     been     the   Kewzing or Kheozing is located 8 km
tremendous draw for the local            from Ravangla against the backdrop
visitors as well as those coming from    of a magnificent view of the
Nepal and Bhutan. Of all the Hot         mountains - an ideal place to
Springs that exist in Sikkim “Borong     experience rural life in Sikkim.
Tsa – Chu” is believed to be the         Kewzing has an altitude of around
hottest.                                 2076 m above sea level. Kewzing
                                         has deep somewhat excessively
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up      drained loamy skeletal soils on steep
    by    theGovernment,      NGO,       slope (30-50%) with gravelly loamy
    Stakeholders                         surface,   severe    erosion      and
                                         moderate stoniness.
Various local communities, NGO’s,
Stakeholders participate towards         •   Natural Resources
conserving this hostile place through
consideration to cleanliness and         Kewzing forest can be classified as
other    regulatory    measures     to   Himalayan Wet Temperate Forests
maintain the sanctity of the Tsa –       which is dominated by Quercus
Chu. As the seasons commences,           (Oak), Castanopsis (Kattus), Acer
various organisation take part in        (Kapasi), Juglans (Okhar), Machilus
cleanliness drives and builds up huts    (Kawla),     Michelia      (Champ),


                                                                            105
Cinnamomum (Sinkoli) associated           Sapphires,      Hedge    Blues     etc.
with Rosa (Rose), Rubus ( Aiselu),        Lybithinae occurs mostly in this
Berberis (Chutro), Viburnum (Asare)       zone. Punches and Judies are also
etc. Moss, Ferns, Lichens and other       seen. But the most diversified is the
epiphytes are found abundantly            subfamily Satyrinae, particularly the
here. There are a few patches of          tribes Lethini and Satyrini. Foresters,
pure oak (Quercus lamellose) stands       Walls, Golden and Silver Forks are
with undestroyed species such as          numerous. As many as 36 species of
Eurya, Viburnum and symplocos and         tribe Lethini are found in Sikkim. Of
an abundance of mosses and                the Swallowtails very few larger
epiphytes.                                butterflies occur in this region and
                                          include the Krishna and Blue
The dense forests of Kewzing are          Peacocks.
the habitat for a number of
mammals;        among      the   more     •   Unique Selling Proposition
commonly found animals are red
goral, Red Panda, musk deer, house        The silence as if in a quiet slumber
sparrow, jungle cat, mongoose,            far from the hustle and bustle of the
squirrels and kites. The variation in     city life, the place is an ideal
climate and abrupt telescoping of         escapade from the urban clusters.
terrain is responsible for the great      Participating in the daily or seasonal
variety and numerical abundance of        chores of the family or pursuing
a resident bird life. Some of the         special interests in birds, plants,
important birds found in this region      flowers etc or even just to spend a
are the red jungle fowl, the kalij        few days of relaxation and feel what
pheasant, the hill partridge and          it is like to live the life of a Sikkimese
quails of various qualities. Birds and    villager is what Kewzing village is.
Butterflies of exceptional beauty and
variety are a great attraction for        •   Ecotourism initiatives taken up
visitors and bird watchers. Among             by    theGovernment,      NGO,
the most commonly found are                   Stakeholders
cuckoo, wood pecker, horn bill and
pittas.                                   The Kewzing Home Stay is a
                                          community based initiative by the
This region has butterfly fauna           Kewzing     Tourism     Development
typical of temperate zones and has        Committee (KTDC), a local NGO
affinity to the Palaearctic fauna. The    formed by the people of Kewzing to
nymphalids which are found in this        develop and promote responsible
region       are      the     Admirals,   tourism in the area. The initiative is
Tortoiseshells, Silverstripes and         in    conjunction     with     Sikkim
Silverspots. Hardly any danaids           Development        Foundation     with
except for the Chestnut Tiger occur       support from Ausaid, AFAP and
in this region. Lycaenids mostly          KEEP. KTDC conducts packaged
consist       of    the     subfamilies   visit to Kewzing which include
Lyaceninae,        Theclinae       and    accommodation,       meals,    Guide,
Polyommatinae-             Hairstreaks,   Cultural activities. Kewzing Village


                                                                                106
Home Stay invites you to be a guest        (Kawla),   Symplocos   (Kharane),
of a local family and experience the       Cinnamomum (Sinkoli) etc. Shrubs
warmth of Sikkimese hospitality. The       include Rubus (Aiselu), Daphne
accommodation is simple but neat           (Algeri), Leucosceptrum (Ghurpis)
and comfortable and wholesome              etc.
local food is served from the family
kitchen giving the feeling of what it is   This area is also rich in birds
like to live the life of a Sikkimese       including the Rusty-bellied and
Villager.                                  Lesser Shortwings, Kalij and Satyr
       A training center has been          Tragopan; reptiles like Japalura
setup by the government to keep            lizards, Cobra, Krait and Himalayan
alive the tradition of Sikkimese           Pit Viper; Himalayan Bullfrog;
Handicraft and handloom.                   butterflies and leeches. Eupatorium
                                           is a major weed competing out
TEMI TEA GARDEN:                           Artemisia and other secondary
                                           growth. Large Cardamom planted in
•   Physical Setting                       forest patches and a tea estate, are
                                           dominant features of the landscape
Established only in 1965, Temi Tea         as much as the naturalized exotic
Estate is built over the remains of a      Cryptomeria japonica patches.
forestry and nursery. Its landmark,
an old British bungalow, was built by      •   Unique Selling Proposition
Scottish missionaries in the early
1900’s and used to serve as a              The tea garden is spread out on a
leprosy hospital but was later             gently hill slope originating from the
acquired by the state. . The produce       Tendong Hill and provides a
from this garden has a rare                magnificent view of the surrounding
combination of liquor and flavor and       villages. The Temi tea garden is the
fetches some of the highest rates          house of ‘Temi-Tea’ a popular brand
offered in the international markets.      known for its rich aroma and taste-a
Tea Garden has moderately shallow,         must to visit place for the tea lovers.
somewhat       excessively    drained      Temi’s tender tea bushes are in their
course – loamy soils a steep sloop         prime today fetching record prices in
(30-50%) with loamy surface,               the London tea market and
moderate erosion and moderate              considered by many to be one of the
stoniness..                                best in the world. It is also the one
                                           and only tea estate existing in the
•   Natural Resources                      State produces one of the top quality
                                           teas in the international market. The
Temi tea Garden has Sub Tropical           visit to Temi offers one an
mixed Broad-Leaved Hill Forest,            opportunity to see the plucking of the
dominated by Alnus nepalensis              tea leaves in the garden also to
(Uttis),  Castanopsis      (Kattus),       observe the processing of tea in the
Macaranga (Malata), Engelhardtia           factory. The meandering journey
spicata (Mahua), Michelia (Champ),         amidst the greenery of tea plantation
Toona ciliata (Tooni), Machilus            and the night in an old British built



                                                                               107
bungalow located just below the tea       experience. It has also been
garden could be an enthralling            projected to build a swimming pool
experience of linking the past to the     and a golf course in the vicinity. No
present                                   doubt will then be Jorethang a winter
   A visit to the garden, enroute         retreat. Moreover the river can be
Tendong Hill could be a rewarding         utilized for rafting and angling
+experience for those who want to         especially during winters. An Eco-
combine nature and culture. The           tourism park at Chirbirey, few
romantic view of the valleys which        kilometers from Jorethang with
change colour with the passing day        collection of varied species of plants
keeps a lover wandering of her            is fast turning into a picnic spot for
beloved in the distant village.           the nearby villages and Rolu mandir
                                          enroute Gangtok is an important
•   Ecotourism initiatives taken up       pilgrim destination.
    by    theGovernment,      NGO,
    Stakeholders

An Old British Bungalow is often          TREKKING CIRCUITS AROUND:
renovated, pertaining its architectural
values. And today serves as a guest       Ravangla to Meanam Bhaledunga
house for tourist. Plantation works       Trek
are carried out through cooperative
effort of government and local            Meanam hill towers over Tendong
NGO’s       an    initiation    towards   Hill on the other side overlooking the
beautifying the Garden. Planting of       Ravangla bazaar. The trek from
Pine (Dhupi) and Prunes (Cherry)          Ravangla to Meanam takes about
alternatively besides the road ways       four hours and from Meanam hill-top
adds to the delight of joy riders.        one has the option to take the gentle
                                          trek to Borong village or follow the
                                          more treacherous trails down to
JORETHANG:                                Yangyang village.

The business hub of the South,            Situated at an altitude of 10,300ft,
Jorethang is famous for Maghe Mela        the scenic view from this height is
and magnificently styled Akar             perhaps, unmatched in this part of
bridge.This also forms the border         the world. Mount Khanchandzonga
between Sikkim and West Bengal.           and its surrounding ranges loom
Jorethang has yet to make a mark in       above to dwarf the richly forested
the tourism scenario of the state         and rugged hills. On a clear sunny
however it is an important stopping       day, it is possible to see the plains of
point for the passengers to Pelling,      Bengal spanning across Kalimpong
Darjeeling, Namchi, Siliguri and          and Darjeeling hills in the south, right
Gangtok. To serve the purpose of a        across to the Indo-China border
overnight stay a night in the newly       towards the north. A short walk from
constructed P.W.D Guesthouse at           here takes one to Bhaledunga - a
Karfectar     is   a     memorable        peculiar looking cliff that protrudes



                                                                              108
out and resembles the head of a
bird.

The diversity in the plant world is
complemented by an equally rich
variety and abundance in the animal
kingdom. The dense forests of
Sikkim are the habitat for a number
of mammals, some of which are
today threatened with extinction
because of ecological changes and
indiscriminate poaching. Among the
more commonly found animals in the
region are yaks, blue sheep, snow
leopard, red goral, Red Panda, musk
deer, Himalayan black bear and
shapi. Muntjak or the 'barking deer'
is a commonly found animal in the
tropical region. Among the less
commonly found animals in the
region are house sparrow, jungle cat,
mongoose, squirrels and kites.

The variation in climate and abrupt
telescoping of terrain is responsible
for the great variety and numerical
                                         Damthang - Tendong Trek
abundance of a resident bird life.
Some of the important birds found at
an altitude of about 2,000 mts are       Damthang, a small village luring
the red jungle fowl, the kalij           sleepily on chill hilltop is around 14
pheasant, the hill partridge and         kms from Namchi on the Gangtok
quails of various qualities. Birds and   -Namchi (via Temi) motorable road.
Butterflies of exceptional beauty and    Trek to Tendong hill takes about two
variety are a great attraction for       hours on a footpath through the thick
visitors and bird watchers. Among        forest of the Tendong Forest
the most commonly found are fairy        Sanctuary. As one enters the region
blue bird, kingfisher, cuckoo, wood      different species of vegetation is
pecker, horn bill and pittas.            seen struggling with each other to
                                         obtain a roothold in this thick forest.
                                         The silence is broken by the trill and
                                         rasp of insects and whistling of birds
                                         as if singing a welcome note to a
                                         visitor.

                                         View from Tendong hill situated at an
                                         altitude of about 8,500ft, leaves the
                                         trekker spellbound. Perhaps no other


                                                                             109
place in Sikkim offers a better
panoramic view of the mountain
ranges in the state than Tendong - it
is like sitting in the centre of a huge
amphitheatre. The view from the hill
is something to be cherished and
enjoyed as it spans across the plains
of Bengal to the majestic heights of
Himalayan ranges. One can see the
full Chola Range in the east, in the
west the Singalila range and the
towering Kanchendzonga. In the
North East can be seen the Paunhri
peak       with      the    surrounding
mountains.          Also     Darjeeling,
Gyalshing, Nathula, a part of
Gangtok and the rolling plains of
Siliguri can all be seen from here.

Historically, this place has been a
place of recluse for Buddhist lamas
who spend years in meditation
amidst the silent scenic grandeur.
Legend says that tendong Hill saved
the Lepcha tribe from the ravages of
deluge when the whole world was
flooded- legend similar to Noah’s Ark
of the Bible. Even today, Lepchas
performs pujas (Tendong Lho Rhum
Faat) to pay reverence to the
tendong Hill.




                                           110
                                      4
              National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries
CONSERVATION INITIATIVES:
The Sikkim Himalaya, one of the hot
spots of bio-diversity, has               KHANGCHENDZONGA
rhododendrons forming forming a
                                          NATIONAL PARK :
major dominating group. The               Khangchendzonga National Park
conservation initiatives of the           (KNP)       named        after      Mt.
                                          Khangchendzonga,the third highest
government are highly                     peak in the world was notified in the
commendable,where large areas             year 1977 with an area of 850 sq.
                                          km. Owing to its rich bio-diversity,
have been ste aside as protected          this area was later extended to 1784
areas.There is one biosphere              sq km in 1997 on account of its intact
                                          continuous tract of mountain land
reserve,two national parks and six        reserved for conservation of native
wildlife sanctuaries.                     wildlife with many rare and
                                          endangered species.            On 7th
PROMINENT NATIONAL PARKS                  February 2000, the Ministry of
AND WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES                  Environment         and        Forests,
                                          Government of India notified KNP as
                                          a Biosphere Reserve with a total
                                          area of 2192 sq km in accordance
                                          with the concepts of UNESCO/MAB
                                          programme.This       BR falls in the
                                          North,West and South districts
                                          covering 36.92% of the Sikkim
                                          state.KBR has been named after the
                                          world’s third highest as well as one
                                          of the 14 mountain peaks above
                                          8000           mts,namely            Mt
                                          Khanchendzonga(8598                   m
                                          asl).Yuksam-Dzongri            trekking
                                          corridor passing through south-
                                          western part of the KNP Is very
                                          popular among tourists and needs
                                          maximumattention to reduce adverse
                                          impacts on BR.So far,this BR area is
                                          virtually undisturbed,rich in natural
                                          resources and diversity and falls in


                                                                              111
one of the globally recognized               value. Forests represent a variety of
biodiversity “hot spots” in India            plant communities that include
namely              the           Eastern    diverse         vegetation        types
Himalaya.Khanchendzonga is               a   corresponding to variation in climate
unique mountain ecosystem falling            and edaphic factors. A wide variety
within three different International         of woody tree species, shrubs,
boundaries of India,Nepal and                lichens, epiphytes and mosses have
China(Tibetan                Autonomous      enriched the valley.       Among the
Region)housing a large variety of            woody trees, Quercus (Oak) and
flora and fauna.There is a great             Castanopsis       (Chestnut) are few
variation     in     elevation     ,micro-   among the dominant species of
climate,landscape,habitat             and    temperate region whereas Abies
vegetation types together with rich          densa        (Silver      Fir)      and
ethno-cultural diversity and the             Rhododendrons are the dominant
socio-economic attributes of the             species in the sub-alpine zones.
people living in and around this             There are some pure patches of
unique mountain ecosystem.                   Castanopsis at temperate region and
          The northern limit follows the     Magnolia (Ghoge Champ) at sub-
boundary         of       the     notified   alpine areas. The area is equally
Khanchendzonga National Park up              rich in Rhododendrons in their
to the confluence of Goma Chu and            shape, size and colour. It shelters
the Naku Chu and includes Lungnak            the      Rhododendron        arboretum
La and the area west of Thangu.The           (Guransh) at temperate conditions to
western limit of this BR follows the         small     Rhododendron         setosum
Indo-China boundary in the Lhonak            (Sunpati)      and      Rhododendron
valley in North Sikkim and Indo-             anthopogon (Sunpati) Apart from
Nepal boundary in West Sikkim .In            these, the area is equally rich in
the east it is bound by the western          other flowering plants such as.a wide
banks of Teesta river from Thangu to         variety of Primula, Meconopsis,
Toong and in the south ,it includes          Aconitum       (Bikh,          Bikhma),
the      reserved       forests     above    Potentialla, Bistorta and Gjentiana
Toong,Tholung                                which provide an additional charm
valley,Hee,Taryang,Karchi,Yuksam,L           to the alpine meadows.
abdang                                               About 10 species of Bamboos
,Monmu,Kayam,Relli,Prek,Rimbi and            (Dendrocalamus           spp        and
Kajel       streams         .This      BR    Arundanaria spp) are used by the
encompasses 19 mountain peaks                communities for house construction
which include Mt.Khanchendzonga              and local handicrafts. A number of
as the highest peak.There are                wild plants such as Rhus semialata
numerous glaciers and high altitude          (Bhalayo), Litsae citrate, Juglans
lakes within the Khanchendzonga              regia (Okhar), Machilus edulis
range.                                       (Kaula), M. odoratissima, Bassia
        .                                    butyraea      (Chiuari),      Girardinia
        Floristic wealth of the KNP          palmate (Allo Sisnu), Laportea
and its surrounding area is rich and         terminalis (Patle Sisnu) and Tupistra
diverse, both in composition and             nutans are eaten in different ways by



                                                                                 112
the villagers. Apart form these about        Densa (Gobre Salla) and Tsuga
seven        edible      varieties      of   dumosa (Thengre Salla ) are also
Mushrooms, numerous Diplazium                found to be in use as decorative in
spp (Ningro) and Dioscorea (Ban              different form.
Tarul) are also found recorded from                  Edgeworthia           gardeneri
in the area.                                 (Argeli) and Daphne cannabina
        About 29 species of widely           (Lokta) are widely used by locals for
used medicinal plants are recorded           making fiber materials and tying
from the area. Artmesia vulgaris             cattle, etc. These plants, especially
(Titepate), Eupatorium adenophorum           Argeli grow abundantly in the low
(Banmara), Hydrocotyle asiatica are          hands        of     Khangchendzonga
widely used for different purposes           whereas Lokta are distributed at sub-
and are not marketed. On the other           alpine zone. Within the buffer zone
hand, Aconitum spp (Bikh, Bikhma),           of KNP, many species of plants and
Berginia      liglata    (Pakhan-bhed),      animals are facing threats from
Heracleum nepalense (Chimphing),             various activities. Selective felling of
Litsae citrate (Siltimbur), Oroxylum         trees for fuelwood and timber has
indicum       (Totala)     are     openly    brought       about     decrease      in
extensively marketed in the local            abundance of preferred species such
markets. Picrorhiza kurrooa (Kutki),         as Rani Chanp (Michelia exelsa),
Piper longum (Pipla), Orchis latifolia       Lapsi (Spondias axillaries), Mehel
(Panch-amli),        Rubia      cordifolia   (Eriolobus indica) and Mandane
(Manjito) are even exported to the           (Acrocarpus fraxinifolius).        Over
local agents. Most of these species          exploitation of high altitude medicinal
are also used by the local                   plants also resulted in rarity for
practitioners (Bijuwa and Baidya) as         species such as Kutki (Picrorhiza
herbal medicines.                            kurrooa), Jatamansi (Nardostachys
        It is also a source of varieties     jatamansi), Bikhma (Aconitum ferox),
of natural attractive materials in the       Khokim (Bergenia purpurascens)
form of decoratives. Roots of plants,        and        Chimphing        (Heracleum
dry       flower,      capsules,      dry    nepalense). Indiscriminate poaching
mushrooms, cones of conifers,                in the past have led to a marked
leaves of fern, fern shoots and seeds        decline in the population of the Snow
of different plant form decoratives of       leopard (uncial uncial), Red panda
all designs and types. More than             (Ailurus     fulgens),    Musk     Deer
eight types of such decoratives are          (Moschus moschiferrus), Blue Sheep
recorded from the area, which are            (Pseudois       nayaur)    and    some
mostly used for local purposes.              Pheasants such as Trgopan (Satyr
Dried       Anophalis     contorta,    A.    tragopan)      and Himalayan Monal
Triplinervis       and       Lycopodium      (Lophophorus impejanus).
clavatum are widely used as                          The prominent lakes in this
decoratives in different occasions           region which also serve as a
where as Pollinium mollis and                stopover point for migratory birds are
Raphidophora sp are used as                  Khecheopalri Pokhri, Laxmi Pokhri,
decoratives in houses. Cones and             Lam Pokhri, Dudh Pokhri, Jor Pokhri
Pinus longifolia (Aule Salla), Abies         and Daley Pokhri.



                                                                                 113
                                                come into bud .By June-July
                                                they are in full bloom.
                                                Flowering succession by the
KYONGNOSLA        ALPINE                        many species continues right
                                                through to October when
SANCTUARY (EAST SIKKIM)                         Polygonum sp, the last to
                                                flower dries up .First snowfall
Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary is                  is normally by December-
situated around the area adjoining              January.
the Tsomgo (Changu) lake along the
Nathula Road. Situated at a distance                   Faunal diversity include
of about 31km east of Gangtok, the              Goral, Serow, Red Panda
capital of Sikkim, this sanctuary               ,Himalayan Black Bear, Musk
covers an area of about 31 sq km.               Deer,     Common       Langur,
Kyongnosia Alpine Sanctuary                     Leopard      ,Tibetan      Fox,
extends from ‘15th Mile’ Police check           Yellowthroated Martens and
post up to and along the ridges                 Weasel .Himalayan Marmot
bordering RongChu and Tsomgo                    has been reintroduced here.
Lake. This Sanctuary is rich in both            Birds    found    are     Blood
flora and fauna. Rare,endangered                Pheasant(the state bird of
ground orchids and rhododendrons                Sikkim),Monal,        Laughing
interspersed among tall junipers and            Thruses,     Rose     Finches,,
taller silver firs are among the                Redbilled Choughs, Forktails,
important        plants       present.          Redstarts, Blackwinged kite
Rhododendron Nevium-The State                   ,Kestrel, Lammergier, Griffon
Tree of Sikkim and Cypripedium                  Vulture, Firetailed Sunbirds
tibeticum-the ground slipper orchid in          and various species of
the verge of extinction have been               migratory birds.
introduced here.Ground flora include
different species of primulas,wild
strawberries,irises,poppies        and
rarely     seen     Panax     pseudo-      Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary
ginseng.Medicinal plants such as
Kutki(Picorhiza
                                          (East Sikkim)
scrophulariflora),Jatamansi(Nardosta
ch                  ysgrandiflora),Nilo
Bikh(Aconitumferox       Podophyllum      Fambong      Lho      Wildlife
emodi) and even the wild onion are        Sanctuary is located about 25
not hard to see here.The lower levels     kilometers from Gangtok town. The
of the sanctuary are occupied by the      famous Rumtek Monastery is located
soil binding bamboo Arundinaria spp.      at the southeastern boundary. This
                                          sanctuary covers an area of about
             The area is snow             5,200 hectares above the road
       covered often upto May when        between Singtam and Dikchu with
       Primulas pop up through the        the highest point at a place called
       snow and rhododendrons             Tinjure at 2749m. where a wooden



                                                                            114
observation tower of the Forest            Entry to Sanctuary is permitted by
Department exists. The snowy               the    Chief   Wildlife   Warden,
ranges of Khangchendzonga are              Government of Sikkim, Gangtok.
clearly visible from Golitar, the buffer
area of the sanctuary towards              Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary
northwest.        This     Sanctuary’s
elevation starts from 1524m and the
                                           (North Sikkim)
highest peak Tinjurey, a triangular
hilltop is at 2749 m. The ridge            Shingba         Rhododendron
connects Fambong Lho peak and              Sanctuary at a distance of
Ragorathai peak. There are bridle          about 137 km from Gangtok
paths constructed along the ridges         covering an area of 43 sq km.
upto Rumtek peak. The main                 is located near Yumthang in North
vegetation is Oak( Quercus sp.),           Sikkim and contains a vast variety of
Katus(Castanopsis sp.), Champ              rhododendrons. The sanctuary is
(Michelia sp.), Kawlo(Machilus sp.),       bounded on its southern periphery
Kimbu( Morus sp.), thick bamboo            by the Yakchey La and on the
forests, ferns and a lone fir Tsug         northern periphery by the Yumthang
dumosa at Tinjurey.                        Valley known for its alpine meadow
                                           and      hot     springs.    Shingba
In the lower reaches of the
Sanctuary there are tree ferns             Rhododendron Sanctuary iis
Cyathea       sp.,      Rhododendron       hemmed on the east by the high
arboretum interspersed with Angeri(        rugged Chuba-Sagochen mountain
Lyonia      ovalifolia)    is    seen      ranges and on the west by part of
gregariously on high hills and             Chomzomei Tso extending up to
saddles. The sanctuary is also home        Lava       pass. The       picturesque
to a large number of wild orchids,         Yumthang Chu (river) flows through
mosses and Lycopodium sp. This             the Sanctuary, which is known for its
sanctuary is the home of Himalayan         unique abundance of Rhododendron
Black Bear, Red Panda, Civet cat           trees        and       shrubs,        40
and many varieties of butterflies. The     species/varieties of which are
Binturong or Bear-Cat is a rare civet      recorded      from    Sikkim      alone.
reported from here.                        Rhododendron nevium-the State
                                           Tree occurs only in this sanctuary
Many varieties of Birds found in this      which is also rich in ground flora
region includes Satyr Tragopan, Kalij      such as primulas ,potentillas,
Phesant, Hill Partridges, Brown            gentians, saxifrages ,poppies and
Wood Owl, Collared Scops Owl,              aconites. When in blossom the
Yellowbilled Blue Magpie, Black            rhododendrons provide a riot of color
Eagle, Green Pigeon, Slatyeaded            to this small park. One can also find
Parakeet, Yellowbacked Sunbird,            silver fir ,spruce ,larch ,juniper,
Collared Broadbill, Maroon Oriole          maple and rhododendron shrubs and
Orangebellied Chloropsis, Redtailed        trees festooned with trailing lichens.
Minla, Nepal Tree Creeper, Bulbuls,
Laughing Thrushes, Titmice etc.            The fauna here consists of the
                                           Serow, Goral, Red Panda,Himalayan


                                                                               115
Black Bear,Weasels,Martens and          Firetailed Myzornis, Rufous breasted
Common Langur.There seem to be          and Maroon backed Accentors, dark
two races of Musk Deer: one grey        breasted      and    pink      browed
with white specks in the alpine         Rosefinches. Flowers clamor over
region and one with a dark ashy coat    trees     while   mosses,fern     and
in the fir and rhododendron forest.     creepers      more    reckless    and
Blood Pheasant , and Common Hill        ambitious climb the soaring trunks.A
Partridge etc. also found here. The     small hermitage containing the
beautiful and highly endangered         image of Guru Padmasambhava
Spotted Linsang or Tiger-Civet          nestles here.
(Prionodon pardicolor) has been
reported from here.. Brown Trout
were introduced into Yumthang
Chhu at Phunyi in 1978 and have
been flourishing since. Lachung is
                                        Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary
the last frontier village before
reaching the sanctuary. There is a
Forest Rest House here, as well as      The        Barsey      Rhododendron
one at Yumthang.                        Sanctuary lies in the south west
                                        corner of the West Sikkim district.
                                        Spreading over 104 sq. km, across
                                        the razor sharp Singalila Range,
                                        which forms the natural international
Maenam Wildlife                         border with Nepal. In the South the
Sanctuary (South Sikkim)                Rambong Khola separates it from
                                        West Bengal. There are three points
Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary is            of entry, Hilley, Dentam and Soreng.
located in South Sikkim above the       Tourists generally prefer Hilley since
town of Ravangla which is 26 km by      it is approachable by road. The bridle
road from Namchi and 65 km from         path from Hilley to Barsey already
Gangtok via Singtam and covers an       exists      and    is    a     favorite
area of about 36.34 sq km with its      amongst tourists especially during
highest point being at Maenam. This     the       Rhododendron       flowering
sanctuary located at an altitude of     season. The faunal value of Barsey
about 10,600 ft above sea leavel        Rhododendron Sanctuary includes
shelters Red Panda, Goral, Serow,       Leopard cat,Marbled Cat Himalayan
Barking Deer, Marbled-Cat, Leopard-     Yellow Throated Marten ,Common
Cat, Civet-Cats, Blood Pheasant,        Otter,     Himalayan    Palm      Civet
Common Hill Partridge, Magpies,         ,Cannidae Wild dog, Indian fox,
Black Eagle, Blue necked Pitta,         Jackal, Himalayan Langur, Crimson
Sunbirds and many other animals of      Horned Pheasant, Monal Pheasant,
the temperate forest.Some of the        Kaleej             Pheasant,Crestless
birds    seen     here   are    Kalij   Porcupine,Rufous                 Tailed
Pheasant,Ashy      Woody     pigeon,    Hare,Chinese           Pangolin,Flying
Broad billed Warbler, Pygmy Wren        squirrel,Giant squirrel, Himalayan
Babbler, Hoary throated Barwing,        Mouse Hare.



                                                                            116
The        Barsey      Rhododendron     comparatively easier. This Range
Sanctuary spans over the razor          separates Sikkim from Bhutan to the
sharp Singalila Range. The climate      southeast. The sight of massive
is wet and cold favoring the spread     Khanchendzonga at par with its
of      the      dominant     genus     height and the sunrise is something
Rhododendron. July is the wettest       one will crave fro even months after
month, with the average annual          the visit .The roar of the Himalayan
precipitation being in excess of 250    black bear is something that will
cm. The reaches above 2500m             keep you waking . Red panda, gaur,
receive regular snowfall in winter.     and Tibetan Wolf also are found
Clear skies can be experienced only     here . The Sikkim stag was last
from November to May.                   reported      from     this    Range.
                                        Maintaining this area which is largely
A beautiful Tourist Trekker's hut       forest, will create a contiguous
exists in Barsey, amidst the            habitat with those forests of Bhutan.
Rhododendron forests at 10,000
feet, commanding a glorious view of
the Singalila Range. Boarding and
Lodging facilities are available.


Panglakha Wildlife        Sanctuary
(East Sikkim):

The Panglakha Wildlife Sanctuary is
the newly added to the Sikkim’s
wealth of    National Parks      and
Sanctuaries. A two days trek from
Rongli across a steep gradient leads
one to this.Their is also another
route   from    Aritar   which     is




                                                                           117
DO’S AND DON’TS AT PARKS AND SANCTUARIES
Certain code of conduct ahs been framed to maintain the sustainability of these
parks and sanctuaries. Visitors are requested to follow the following Code for
Conservation.

      Leave only footprints, take only photographs High altitude vegetation is
      frail;
      Avoid trampling, follow trails, and do not pick plants or flowers Do not
      disturb wildlife or its habitat;
      Do not buy endangered animal or plant products.
      Use kerosene or bottled gas for cooking, heating and lighting; avoid using
      firewood. Ensure that you and your staff are properly equipped with warm
      clothes and fuel. Carrying plastics within the sanctuary is banned.
      Avoid littering;
      Bring all your garbage back;
      Carry out all batteries.
      Keep all pollutants away from streams and lakes.
      Do not give treats to village children; It only encourages begging.
      Respect the sanctity of holy rivers and historical sites: No smoking,
      drinking or loud talks.
      Educate yourself about the ecology, customs, manners, and culture of
      Sikkim, specially the adjoining villages.
      Support local conservation programs, and local community level
      organizations




                                                                             118
                          5
NGO’S and Stakeholders committed to Ecotourism in Sikkim

THE MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE                    Nepal and the Tibet Autonomous
(TMI)                                     Region (TAR) China, with a
Advancing mountains Cultures-             combined are 34,000 km2 in the Mt
Preserving Mountain                       Everest ecosystem. Each protected
Environment.                              area uses principles of core nature
                                          preserves, national park zones, and
                                          inhabited buffer zones, strengthening
Introduction:                             local people’s capacity to conserve
       The Mountain Institute’s goal      biodiversity      protection      while
is     to      conserve      mountain     improving their livelihoods. Since
environments and cultural heritage        1995, TMI has worked in key
while improving the livelihoods of        biodiversity areas including Sikkim’s
mountain people. TMI is a non-profit      Khangchendzonga              Biosphere
conservation       and       education    Reserve, building local capacity for
organization, qualifying for charitable   conservation,       and      supporting
contributions.                            conservation-linked livelihoods. In
                                          Nepal, the Makalu Barun National
                                          Park and Buffer zone project
Organization     Capabilities     and     integrates conservation, community
Accomplishments                           development       ,     and     income
Since 1972, The Mountain Institute        generation and has served as a
has worked to conserve the world’s        model     for    community      –based
high priority mountain ecosystems,        conservation programs worldwide.
improve the livelihoods o mountain        In the Tibet Autonomous Region,
people, and increase awareness for        TMI      helped       establish     the
mountain issues through advocacy,         Qomolangma         Nature     Preserve
education, and outreach. TMI has          (QNP) in 1988, the first preserve in
field programs and regional offices in    China to include people, cultural
the Himalayas (Nepal, China, India),      heritage, and international agencies
Andes (Peru,. Ecuador, Bolivia), and      in planning and managing a
the Appalachians (West Virginia,          protected area and continues to work
Virginia). TMI has designed and           there. In Nepal, TMI has conducted
implemented 11 major community-           reconnaissance work in the Jaljale
based biodiversity conservational         Corridor area, which is outside the
and protected area projects in the        Kanchenjunga Conservation Area,
Himalayas and Andes since 1988.           completing forest inventories in the
TMI’s Asia Program helped establish       Meiwa        and      Maiwa       Khola
two new mountain protected areas in       watersheds, and identifying eight


                                                                              119
critical     forest    areas      linking   zone in Sikkim (1784 km2), and the
threatened habitats that are priorities     Kanchenjunga Conservation Area
for further work.                           (KCA) in Nepal (approximately 2000
         In Sikkim, TMI has strong          km2), where population is very low,
experience and working relationships        with 3000 persons in Nepal and only
with the local communities in the           90 persons in Sikkim. The project
Khangchendzonga                Biosphere    will also work in key and threatened
Reserve, with local organizations           adjacent habitats in the more heavily
such as the Khangchendzonga                 populated buffer zones of Sikkim’s
Conservation Committee (KCC),               Khangchendsonga              Biosphere
                                                                      2
ECOSS.         GBPIHED        and     the   Reserve (KBR) (800 KM ), and areas
Government of Sikkim line agencies          administered     by     four    village
and has conducted project activities        Development Committees (VDCs) to
in the project area since 1995.             the boundaries (approximately 950
         In Nepal, TMI has 18 years’        km2). These areas have populations
experience establishing core and            of 6,000-10,000 persons in Sikkim
buffer zones in the Eastern Himalaya        and 3,000 persons in Nepal. These
region and considerable experience          are areas outside and beyond the
working with local communities to           present WWF-Nepal Kanchenjunga
establish and manage community-             conservation Area Project (KCSP)
based projects in remote villages           working area.
and landscapes. TMI’s Nepal
experience also includes extensive          Goals
experience in community forest              Goals of the project is to promote
management,          income-generating      effective conservation management
programs, village-based training and        of the area in and around
establishing        conservation-linked     Khangchendzonga using TMI’s well-
community development projects.             tried and proven community-based
Since       1995     with     MacArthur     conservation approach.
Foundation       support     TM*     has    Objectives
promoted                  transboundary     1. First objective is o promote
conservation exchanges across the           community-based conservation in
Mt Everest ecosystem between                areas outside each of the protected
Nepal and China.                            area boundaries.       In Nepal, the
                                            project    will   work     in   village
MacArthur    Project:    “Countries,        development committees that bout
Communities and Conservation in             the Khangchendzonga Biosphere
Khagchenzonga”,                             Reserve, but fall outside the
Project Area                                Kanchendjunaga Conservation Area
The Project will focus on the               boundaries. In Sikkim, the project
Khanchendzonga            landscape         will focus on the communities
complex, linking the Nepal-India            located in the areas designated as
border regions.    It includes the          bugger zones within the existing
protected         areas           of        Bioshere Reserve.
Khangchendzonga           Biosphere         2. The project seeks to diversify
Reserve (KBR), especially the core          livelihood options, with a pronounced



                                                                                120
shift from unsustainable activities to
more sustainable activities to more       Contact Addresses:
suitable ones.                            Sikkim Office
3. The Project seeks to establish         “Abhilahsa’, Jewan Theeng Marg
transboundary            cooperation      Near Nepali Sahitya Parishad,
mechanisms         and       promote      Development Area
conservation     between      Nepal’s     Gangtok-737101, Sikkim, India.
Kanchenjunga Conservation Area,           Tel: (91)-03592-201012; 227942
plus surrounding areas and the
adjacent          Khangchendzonga         Asian Regional Office
Biosphere Reserve in Sikkim,              P.O. Box 2785
working     with   authorities    and     Baluwatar, Kthmandu, Nepal
communities and within protected          Tel: (977)-1-4414237, 4419356
area boundaries.                          Fax: (977)-1-4410073
                                          Email:tmi@regional.wlink.com.np.
Activities:
Models        of      community-based     Headquarters
management          with  biodiversity    1828L Street, NW Suite 725
elements and conflict resolution          Washington, DC 20036
(building upon community forestry         Tel: (202) 452-1636; Fax: (202) 452-
and     joint    forest  management       1635
frameworks);                              www.mountian.org.
Regional exchange and cooperation
at national and community levels:
and      support     for  sustainable     KHANCHENDZONGA
livelihoods, with an underlying           CONSERVATION
commitment to capacity growth.
                                          COMMITTEE(KCC)
The Project will also support
                                          KCC is a community based Non
community level programs including
                                          Governmental Organization, based
developing alternative livelihood
                                          in Yuksam, West Sikkim.         The
strategies, promoting complementary
                                          Organization     Comprises        of
veterinary programs to reduce
                                          representatives    of    community
livestock    disease     transmission,
                                          members and stakeholders in
trans-boundary             eco-tourism
                                          tourism enterprises working for
planning,       and         developing
                                          conservation of Natural and cultural
community- based incentive systems
                                          resources to mitigate negative
to control poaching and illegal trade
                                          impacts with skill development
of non-timber forest products.
                                          programmes,      micro     planning,
Important outcomes will include
                                          awareness campaigns, monitoring of
tested models of community-based
                                          natural   resources    along    with
conservation that have replication
                                          advocacy for appropriate policy
potential    across    the     Eastern
                                          changes.
Himalayan range in India, Nepal and
Bhutan,     and    a    network      of
                                          THRUST AREAS
practitioners.



                                                                             121
1. Conservation         Education:              management        of     waste.
   Awareness campaign among                     Strengthen the monitoring of
   the rural masses through                     wildlife status and poaching
   workshops, fairs, street plays               with the help of porters,
   and model demonstrations;                    cooks, tourist and guides.
   involving students actively in           6. Concept Development:
   conservation            activities;      Evolving      the    concept     of
   Conducting seminars and quiz             homestays in areas like Yuksam
   in schools and also training             and      maintaining     the    fair
   school teachers on how to                distribution of customers in each.
   impart conservation education
   to school children.                      Formation of Eco-Tourism
2. Training:        Different Skill         Service Provider Association
   development training at a very
                                            of Yuksam(ESPAY).
   basic level for porters, cooks,
   pack animal operators and
   local guides.                            Member of ESPAY:-
3. Microplanning: In order to               Porter,Cook,Guide,Pack animal
   ensure     a     more     holistic       operator,Local Travel Agent,
   approach to development, we              Hoteliers etc.
   carry out microplanning at the
   grass-root     level     exercise     Porter              120
   jointly   with     the    various     Yak/HorseOperator   48(240 No’s)
   government          departments,      Guide               12
   specially        the       Forest     Cook                10
   Department.                           Travel Agent        1
4. Advocacy with Government
   agencies:      Advocating and
   lobbying       with       various
   agencies      for    appropriate      Ecotourism Conservation
   policies     for     sustainable      Society of Sikkim(ECOSS)
   development, which would
   benefit the community and             Introduction:
   also conserve the natural
   resources.                            ECOSS is the result of a group of
5. Monitoring: Monitoring the            like-minded people getting together
   use of natural resources in           to accomplish a mission. A mission
   and          around             the   that seeks to see that there is a
   Khangchendzonga Biosphere             thorough and correct understanding
   Reserve.        Monitoring the        of the concept of 'ECOTOURISM'
   tourism enterprise that is            and that this cannot be viewed
   operating in the area to              without realizing the very nature of
   control illegal extraction of         'CONSERVATION'. These go hand
   herbs, incense and other              in hand.
   medicinal plants as well as
   proper        disposal         and



                                                                            122
ECOSS is indeed a Sikkimese’s                   beneficial       linkages       for
dream for the destiny and future of             marginalized             mountain
the Sikkimese children –a                       communities.
responsibility of doing something for       •   To help the people of Sikkim
the future.                                     become aware of the value of
                                                the      state’s      biodiversity
ECOSS was born for the                          through       education,       the
development of the state of Sikkim,             dissemination of information,
not by default.ECOSS sees an                    and awareness building.
opportunity to actually shape it which      •   To promote research in the
they think is fundamental to their              areas        of       ecotourism,
mission through the support of                  conservation,        and      the
stakeholders and partners.                      environmental impacts of
                                                development. Research will
Vision:                                         be undertaken with a view to
                                                the       formulation         and
ECOSS is dedicated to promoting                 implementation of policies that
ecotourism and conservation for the             promote               sustainable
benefit of people at all levels of              development.
Sikkimese society..They seek to             •   To     establish      ties   with
combine the strengths of rural                  ecotourism and conservation-
communities with the experiences of             oriented        national      and
national and international groups               international organizations to
who are leaders in the field of                 further our mutual goals.
ecotourism.

ECOSS believes that community self
determination       and       targeted   Activities :
assistance is the only formula that
can       lead     to     sustainable    The activities of ECOSS involves
development.     The     mission    of   planning meetings for the
ECOSS is to define the concept of        development of Ecotourism sites in
ecotourism in the context of the state   Sikkim, training for the guides,
of Sikkim. We firmly believe that        organizing workshops and seminars
ecotourism and conservation cannot       on Eco-tourism at the District and
exist without each other.                village levels, Entrepreneurship
                                         development programmes,
Aims and Objectives:                     Motivational workshop and Skill
                                         development training etc.
   •   To develop and promote
       Sikkim as an ecotourism
       destination on the national
       and international ecotourism      Contact Address:
       map.
   •   To ensure that ecotourism         Eco-tourism        &Conservation
       development has positive and      Society of Sikkim,


                                                                               123
Development Area,                       For sustainable rural livelihoods
Gangtok-737101,Sikkim,India             SPSS       has    been      promoting
ecoss@sikkiminfo.net                    appropriate low cost technology in
                                        agriculture, horticulture, floriculture
                                        and animal husbandry to reduce the
                                        dependence on forest resources.

Sikkim Paryavaran Samrakshan            Initiatives:
Sangh
Save Tree Save Life                         7. Awareness       programs         at
                                                grassroot level to convince
Introduction                                    the villagers regarding long
                                                term benefits of conservation
Sikkim Paryavaran Samrakshan                    the Tendong Forest.
Sangh (SPSS) is a community based           8. Environment            Education
organization located in Bikmat,                 program for the school
South Sikkim,       Comprising of               children.
energetic, active and dedicated             9. Formation and strengthening
members who help to conserve                    of the Pani-panchayats in the
natural resources and provide                   villagers     adjoining         to
training to community stakeholders,             Tendong. Branches of SPSS
other NGO’s, monitor resources and              have also been opened in the
advocate for appropriate policy                 adjoining villagers also by
changes.                                        strengthening     the        local
                                                NGO’s, clubs and active
Background                                      youth.
This organization was the outcome           10. Conservation of the water
of sustained efforts since early                sources and lakes by carrying
1990’s for conservation of the                  out plantation activities and
Tendong          Nature      Reserve.           soil       and          moisture
Sensitized      by     the    growing           conservation works
degradation, we began working for           11. Lobbying to ban illicit felling of
the protection and conservation of              trees, forest encroachment
this unique ecosystem over the past             and grazing.
ten years, and formally organized           12. Transfer of low cost rural
ourselves only in 1997.                         technology livelihoods and
SPSS is an action oriented NGO                  hence reduce dependence on
lobbying for conservation of the                forests.
Tendong forests which provide food      :
and water security for sustainable
rural livelihoods.      This can be
achieved by reducing instances of
illicit felling, encroachment and
grazing within Tendong.




                                                                              124
Contact Address:                          EAST SIKKIM.
Sikkim Paryavaran Samrakshan
Sangh
Bikmat, South Sikkim,       Sikkim
737126, India
Phone:+91-94341-27154(mobile)
Web:spss_sikkim@lycos.com                 Yambong Ecotourism
Spss_sikkim@rediffmail.com.               Committee:
ALLIANCE FOR               BETTER         Objectives:
TOURISM(ABT)                              *Promote       community        based
                                          ecofriendly tourism along Yambong
ABT is an effort by a team of             Singalila.
bonafide tourism postgraduates and        *To protect the forest, environment
graduates of Sikkim towards taking        and wildlife.
the tourism of Sikkim to higher           *To protect and preserve the natural
dimensions.An NGO started with a          and cultural values.
cause to work on such areas where         *To provide sustainable livelihood as
the state is lagging behind in need of    an alternative to unsustainable
professionalism and expertise this is     pastoralism.
a platform to offer something for the     *Ensure equal opportunity to all local
benefit of the State.The main             communities.
objective of ABT being sustainable        *Support the trekking parties for a
development, the NGO also aims at         successful trek.
spreading awareness about tourism
among the various stakeholders,           Members:
Government         undertakings    and    *YEC      executive  consists    of
grassroot            entrepreneurs.The    representatives from three village
members of the NGO has geared up          based NGO’S ,Panchayats and area
to share their expertise by organizing    MLA and local communities from all
various     training    programs    for   adjoining villages.
guides,travel         agents       and
stakeholders linked with tourism. T       *Registered Porters               85
       hrough co-ordinated efforts        *Pack animal owners
with the other regional tourism                 20
development        corporations    ABT    *Pack animals
would help        fostering tourism in          120
these areas for proper planning and       *Home Stays                       15
implementation of projects and the
post operation factors responsible for    Long Term Goal:
accruing benefits to these areas.         *Protect Yambong Singalila from all
                                          illegal activities
Contact Address:                          *Provide better service and promote
Alliance for Better Tourism               high quality tourism
Tempoling Hotel Building,                 *Conserve natural biodiversity
Daragaon,Tadong,                          *Ensure ecofriendly tourism.


                                                                             125
*Provide assistance to porters           Aims and Objectives:
(kerosene stove, mattress and            1.Provide quality service to the travel
sleeping bags.)                          agents
*Secure the life of its members          2.Facilitate effective coordination
(provide insurance)                      and     conflict   resolution    during
                                         trekking
Short Term Goal:                         3.Facilitate     better   unity    and
*Provide registered service providers    cooperation amongst the member
*Develop community campsite              organizations.
*Promote Homestays                       4.Provide effective advocacy in
*Prepare feedback mechanism.             policy related issues.
*Local capacity building       (cook,    5.Provide technical support for
guide,                                   upcoming new members.
nature guide, homestay managers)         6.Work for the welfare of village
*Construct porter’s hut at Yambong.      based ecotourism service providers.
                                         7.Build linkages with schemes of
Contact Address:                         various government departments.
www.yambong.com                          8.Provide uniform and standard
                                         operating      procedures     to    the
                                         members.
                                         9.Take initiatives for joint marketing
Sikkim     Ecotourism            and     of products.
Conservation Federation:                 10.Works towards providing financial
                                         assistance and support for member
Background:                              organizations.
Some       of   the   village   based    Members:
institutions that had been managing      AreylunchokEcotourism Committee
ecotourism and conservation came         (AEC)-Labdang, Narsing Ecotourism
together in Yuksam from 19th to 21st     Committee(NEC)-Pokhri,Yambong
Jan,2006 to organize themselves          Ecotourism            Committee(YEC)-
into a federation.This federation was    Nambu,         Ecotourism       Service
named the “Sikkim Ecotourism and         Providers         Association         of
Conservation          Federation”.This   Yuksam(ESPAY).
institution building initiative was      KhanchendongaConservationCommi
facilitated by The Mountain Institute.   ttee
                                         (KCC)-Yuksam,Eco          development
Mission:                                 Committee(EDC),Joint             Forest
To work with and through a range of      Management Committee(JFMC).
village    based    institutions and
collaborate with government and non      Contact Address:
government agencies to promote           www.tmi-india.org
initiatives that are ecologically        e-mail:info@yambong.com
sustainable and equitable in the
sphere of ecotourism, conservation       Hee     Bermiok              Tourism
and livelihoods in Sikkim.               Development    and           Heritage
                                         Conservation Society:


                                                                             126
                                            •   Provide              alternative
                   th
Established on 14 Nov 2005,it has               opportunities for the local
50% of the herders in it.                       people
                                            •   Generate additional income
Objective:                                      for local people
Born for the conservation of Hee            •   Community development
Reserve Forest.After this was                   through participatory
declared a sanctuary the local                  approaches.
people were displaced and therefore
tourism was started as a source of       Activities include.
sustenance for them.
                                                Training of local tourist
Kewzing Tourism Development                     Guides.
Corporation:                                    Orientation to the local driver
Established in the year 2002 with the           about tourism and their role in
main aim to develop Kewzing as a                hospitality.
Tourist      destination       thereby          Cooks Training.
preserving      the    culture     and          Lodge-Home                   stay
discouraging the villagers to migrate           Management Training.
from villages to other areas in search          English Speaking Training.
of sustenance.                                  Tourism sensitization to the
                                                monks and lamas of the
Initiatives:                                    monastery
        Deforestation stopped with a            Porters Training
        focus on tourism.                       Trail development around
        Cleanliness drives-dustbin in           villages.
        every household                         Interpretation signs along
        Introduction of home stays on           trails and sites/viewpoints.
        a rotation basis.                       Handicraft and Handloom
                                                promotion for tourists.
Besides awareness on sustainability             Information brochure
and ecotourism has evolved in every             Cultural             Programme
nook and corner of the State and                promotion.
NGO’S like Dzongu Eco-Tourism                   Viewpoint beautification
Committee,                                      Marketing activities.
Chakung Tourisn Development                     Development of a Code of
Corporation ,Ravangla Tourism                   Conduct.
Developmet Corporation ,DRISHTI                 Evaluation        of     project
etc have come up at local levels to             progress.
give a boost to the ecotourism
potentials of the respective areas
which are constantly working on the
following guidelines
    • Conserve the natural and
       cultural resources of the area.



                                                                             127
Eco-Tourism Ethics:
Do’s
• Carry back all non-degradable litter such as empty bottles, tins, plastic bags etc.
These must not litter the environment or be buried. They must be disposed in municipal
dustbins only.

• Observe the sanctity of holy sites, temples and local cultures.

• Cut noise pollution. Do not blare aloud radios, tape recorders or other electronic
entertainment , equipment in nature resorts, sanctuaries and wildlife parks.

• In case temporary toilets are set-up near campsites, after defecation, cover with mud
or sand. Make sure that the spot is at least 30 meters away from the water source.

• Respect people's privacy while taking photographs. Ask for prior permission before
taking a photograph.



Don'ts
• Do not take away flora and fauna in the forms of cuttings, seeds or roots or for
souvenirs. It is illegal, especially in the Himalayas. The environment is really delicate in
this region and the bio-diversity of the region has to be protected at all costs.

• Do not use pollutants such as detergent, in streams or springs while washing and
bathing.

• Do not use wood as fuel to cook food at the campsite.

• Do not leave cigarette butts or make open fires in the forests.

• Do not consume aerated drinks, alcohol, drugs or any other intoxicant and throw
bottles in the wild.

• Do not tempt the locals, especially children by offering them foodstuff or sweets.
Respect local traditions.

• Polythene and plastics are non bio-degradable and unhealthy for the environment
and must not be used and littered.




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                              BIBLIOGRAPHY

A Travel Guide To Sikkim-A.K. Verma.

Sikkim-The Hidden Paradise, Glimpses of Sikkim –Brochures of Sikkim Tourism

A Guidebooklet for Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary

A Guidebooklet for Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary-Brochures of the Wildlife Circle,Sikkim
Forest Department.

Websites:www.sikkiminfo.com




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