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gujratSIKKIM : Spread below the Mt. Kanchanjunga (8534 m), the third highest mountain in the world and revered by the Sikkimese as their protective Deity, Sikkim shares her borders with Tibet in the north; Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west and state of Bengal in the south. Kanchanjunga's five snowy peaks soar high above the Himalayan landscape of Sikkim, sometimes wrapped in mists and wreathed in clouds, sometimes blazing while against a brilliant blue sky. Below Sikkim unfolds its magic and its charm : a garden state with rich green tropical forests; brilliant birds and butterflies; an amazing variety of orchids, rhododendrons and wild flowers; rushing tumbling streams and torrents; and endless vistas of snow-crowned peaks. Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, 1600 metres above the sea level is a picturesque town which cascades down the mountain side from a ridge 1520 mts. high. Gangtok means the Lofty Hill, which has grown into a busy, bustling city with pagoda style houses, painted turquoise roofs and colourful people. Famous for its Royal Chapel, The Institute of Tibetology, Orchid Sanctuary, Gangtok is more popularly known for Rhumtek Monastery, an exact replica of the monastery of Chhofuk in Tibet.

DARJEELING : Nestled in the Himalayas, approx. 700 kms from Calcutta, at 2134 metres, Darjeeling surrounded by tea plantations is one of the most popular hill stations of India. Until the beginning of the 18th century, Darjeeling (then called Dorje Ling) was with the rajas of Sikkim. It was invaded by by Gurkhas in 1780 and later by the British after series of war. The major development of this pretty hill station took place between 1840-1857. Darjeeling is famous for Tiger Hill, the highest point (2590 m) and an excellent spot to see the world's third highest peak Kanchenjunga (8598 m) at sun-rise as its snowy peak emerges from darkness into light; Ghoom Buddhist Monastery enshrines the image of Maietrya's Buddha. The other places of interest are the Zoological Park, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Museum, Botanical Gardens and Tibetan Refugees Self Help Centre. Darjeeling is most famous for for export of Tea. It has over 75 tea gardens employing over 40,000 people. The most convenient plantation to visit is the Happy Valley Tea Estates, only two km from the town. The best time to visit plantations is between April to November when plucking is in the progress. Toy Train, the journey to Darjeeling from New Jalpaiguri (main station connecting to east and north India) on the miniature railway (popularly called Toy Train) is a superb experience. The train runs daily, although services during the monsoon are often disrupted due to the track being washed away. The train passes through interesting tea plantation areas; provides a panoramic view of the valley.

KALIMPONG : Another small Hill Station of West Bengal lies at an altitude of 1250 metres. It was once part of the lands belonging to the rajas of Sikkim until the beginning of the 18th century when it was taken away by the Bhutanese. In the 19th century it passed into the hands of the British and thus became part of West Bengal. It became a centre for Scottish missionary activity in the late 19th century, and Dr. Graham's orphanage and school is still running today. Kalimpong's main attraction is Tharpa Choling Monastery, established in 1922, belonging to the Yellow Hat Sect of Tibetan Buddhism founded in the 14th century in Tibet. This monastery is not visited by very many due to its location. It is a 40 minute walk (uphill) from town. The other monastery which is situated down the hill, the Thongsa Gompa, or Bhutanese Monastery, is the oldest monastery in the area and was founded in 1692.

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