Sandwiched between Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet, Sikkim only became part of India in 1975 and much of it retains the feel of a remote Himalayan kingdom. Deep river valleys cloaked in rhododendron forest blaze with colour in the spring. Ancient Buddhist monasteries still cling to many ridgetops, above villages sheltering a mixed population of Gurung, Lepcha, Bhutia and Limbu people. And the northern horizon is dominated in clear weather by the glaciers and ice peaks of the Kanchenjung massif.
Views of the mountains are a defining feature of Gangtok, Sikkim’s ramshackle, rapidly expanding capital. Most visitors only use the town as a stepping stone to wilder points further west and north, but it holds a handful of fascinating monasteries, while to the southwest, Rumtek is the site of one of Sikkim’s largest gompas.