Wednesday, July 13, 2005

SIKKIM: a symphony of nature


Every tourist destination evokes a specific template response. Switzerland – for her alpine mountains, Mediterranean – temperate climate, Black Forest – flora and fauna, Grand Canyon – majestic gorge, Niagara – awe-inspiring waterfall, Kyoto- Mystic buddhist shrines nestled in green environs. If one were to create a montage of all the above templates, only one place would emerge. That is ‘a small and beautiful enchanting dreamland of Sikkim’. Add to this, a backdrop of snow clad Himalayan mountain range; this montage is transformed into a portrait that embodies munificence of nature at her best. We have not yet given a final touch. Rustling soundtrack of ever flowing water streams and mischievous crimson gold colored draped lama students of monastery turn Sikkim turn into a movie spectacle that no film or camera would be suffice to capture.

At Sikkim, one can go from 500 ft to 14,000 ft within few hours of drive. As one ascends, landscape gets magnificent. Hills rise to give mountains creating a valley all along its traverse. Teesta River runs along the valley pronouncing a roar that hums the eardrum day and night. In monsoon, cascading waterfalls and numerous streams from steep mountains makes nature demonstrate her breath-gasping attribute. As one reach pinnacle of mountain range, rivulets of Teesta River flanked by vertical cliffs soars through azure sky. On one side is valley and the other side is steep mountain with her peaks lined with pine tress all along her contour. Waterfalls creating mist with massive cloudbanks providing a blanket of fur. Moreover, if sunrays were to pierce, mystic Sikkim turns into sparkling Sikkim creating a perfect harmony of nature. From Monsoon to spring, make few replacements – waterfalls give away to spring flowers, cloud cover banished with sunshine. Valley in summer adorn her green carpet with emergence of spectacular colorful pattern of rhododendron and primula flowers and naked eyes gets transfixed on Kanjanjunga peaks.

It is unlikely that anywhere in the world an area as small as 7000 sq Km would house more than 4000 species of plants. Sikkim is dream place for Botanists and Bird Lovers. Over 400 varieties of butterflies and moths adorn the forest with color and life. Giant Lammergeyer Vultures, Eagles, Whistling Thursh, Minivets, Bulbuls, and Pheasants are some from among the 550 species of birds that embellish Sikkim. The hillsides and mountain slopes of Sikkim are strewn with bright patches of myriad colours. The lower mountain slopes are abundant with lush green bamboos and ferns. The northern valleys are spruced with wild cherry, oaks, chestnuts, pines and white magnolia with large plantations of cardamom, orange and tea.

If north Sikkim offers a mesmerizing scene with yaks grazing on flower-carpeted meadows against a backdrop of towering peaks surrounded by mist-shrouded mountains, West Sikkim, with chain of monasteries bring a divinity. South Sikkim offers unmatched views extending from the Himalaya to the plains of Bengal. East Sikkim too does not lag behind with Gangtok demonstrating a vibrant city life with its charming people.

When times comes to leave Sikkim , one just does not just carry a spirit of daredevil adventurer influenced by trekking on snow-clad mountains, river rafting on Teesta river but also a sublime spirit of divine land from the influence of Rumtek and Enchey Monasteries.

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