15 Oct 2014....Kolkata, India CCU — Bagdogra, India IXB
21 Oct.............Bagdogra IXB — New Delhi DEL
22 Oct.............New Delhi DEL — Istanbul IST — Washington DC IAD — Pittsburgh PA PIT
Two pages of photos to keep you interested...
Sikkim is the little nubbin of India that sits north of West Bengal, sandwiched between Nepal, China, and Bhutan. It is almost completely covered by the steep valleys of the Himalaya Mountains, and the world's third highest peak, at 28,169 ft/8586 m, Mt. Kangchenjunga, lies on the border with Nepal.
The indigeneous inhabitants were the Lepcha, a Tibeto-Burman group which still comprises 15% of the population. The majority group is Nepalese in origin, descended from centuries of incursions by Nepal, and there is also a significant number of Tibetan refugees who maintain their Tibetan Buddhist culture.
The first historical mention of Sikkim is in the records of the 8th century travels through the area by the Buddhist Guru, Padmasambhava, who blessed the land and left behind his version of Vajrayana Buddhism. Traveling in Sikkim today is very much like traveling in Tibet or Bhutan– Buddhist temples, monasteries, and monks around every corner.
There are no airports, railways, or river transport in Sikkim, and because of the geography, road travel is time-consuming and treacherous. But spectacular views of the snow-covered mountains, lush tea plantations, and colorful prayer flags make the journeys rewarding and relieve the absolute terror of the roadways.
I have wanted to visit Sikkim for a long time and finally achieved this quick visit to the cultural high points with Voyages Jules Verne, a UK-based company offering tours to many out-of-the-way places at reasonable prices; an added benefit was that my tour had a total of 5 travelers.
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