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. Precipitous river valleys cloaked in rhododendron forest blaze with colour in the spring. Ancient Buddhist monasteries still cling to many ridgetops, and the northern horizon is dominated in clear weather by the glaciers and ice peaks of the Kangchenjunga massif.
Views of the mountains are a defining feature of Gangtok, Sikkim’s capital. To the southwest, Rumtek is the site of one of the largest monasteries in the Himalayas. It is usually visited en route to Pelling, in West Sikkim, whose popularity derives from its location close to Pemayangtse monastery – one of the most important Buddhist gompas in the region – along with the magnificent views of Kanchenjunga and the Parkh Chu watershed to the north.
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