My Sikkim trip started after many uncertainties; although the atmosphere of the state was tense and unsafe when I visited, I was happy I went to Sikkim. After spending the first two days driving and exploring east Sikkim, I decided to turn to the south of the state. North Sikkim was already out of bounds because of landslides, so south was the only other option. I didn’t mind it because I had enough waiting for us in that direction. South Sikkim is the religious side of the state, but what made it interesting was that a number of sites I visited were religious sites for different religions.
Places to Visit in South Sikkim
To promote religious and cultural tourism in the state, the state government has built something extraordinary. About 5 km from the town of Namchi, on the top of Solophok Hill and spread across 7 acres of land is the “Char Dham” built by the state government. It has a 26.5-meter high Shiva statue surrounded by the replicas of 12 Jyotirlingas, along with the four Dhams—Badrinath, Jagannath, Dwarkanath and Rameshwaram. It is a beautiful site for Hindus. The huge Shiva temple under the statue of Shiva is also a gem. The complex also has the exact replica of the Shirdi Sai Temple. The weather on top of the hill and the religious ambience of the temple makes it an extremely popular site for Indian (especially Hindu) tourists. The site can be visited any time of the year. However, if you choose to go from March to May or September to January, you will be treated with the spectacular view of Mt. Kangchenjunga and the colourful flowers blossoming around the complex. So if you ask me, you will be doing yourself a favour if you decide to visit this amazing complex.
Sai Mandir, Namchi:
The Golden Sai Temple is a piece of art. Located just a few kilometres from Namchi town, it’s a two-storied building painted in golden hues. The beautiful temple was a gift from the Chief Minister of the state to the people of Sikkim. The marble statue of Sai Baba and the decorations inside the temple are not the only amazing parts, you have to see the time when the sun rays fall on the outer walls of the temple through the clouds. Sparkling like gold in the middle of mountains, this peaceful temple is a must visit. The best thing about the temple is that you don’t have to go out of the way to visit it; the temple falls on the way to the Char Dham road. If you visit it at the right time of the year, the view of Mt. Kangchenjunga stays with you all along, making everything else feel even more magical.
Guru Padmasambhava Statue:
If you have been following my posts from Bhutan, I talked briefly about Guru Padmasambhava in my post about Tiger Monastery in Paro. Moving from Hinduism to Buddhism, just 5 kilometres from Namchi, is the “Wish Fulfilling Hill” called Samdruptse Hill. On the top of this hill is the 150-feet tall Guru Padmasambhava statue. It is believed that the hill is actually a silent volcano, and this statue was planned here to keep it silent and monks offer their prayers every day to keep the disaster at bay. The statue is a very famous destination for Buddhist tourists and considered a pilgrimage site for Buddhists. The view of this statue with Mt. Kangchenjunga in the background is breathtaking.
About 30 kilometres from Namchi, it is time to get a little deeper into Buddhism. The Buddha Park is spread over 23 acres with a magnificent 135-feet tall statue of Buddha coated with 3.5 kilograms of pure gold. Until the Buddha Statue of Bhutan is open officially, this is the tallest Buddha statue in the world. What makes this park even more beautiful is the colourful garden around it and the view of the surrounding Himalayan peaks. The pictures below can do more justice than I can do with words. The temple below the statue has an interesting design; it has a spiral staircase that takes you through different phases of Lord Buddha’s life and his teachings.
With this, I am going to wrap up my Sikkim series, and I can say it without exaggerating that Sikkim is the most humble, clean and beautiful state of India that I have visited. I have heard the same words used for Kerala, but I will be the judge of it when I visit there. I am really glad I didn’t cancel my plan to go to Sikkim. I would suggest you go there in the recommended time of the year so that you can enjoy the beauty of Mt. Kangchenjunga.