Sikkim is a beautiful hill state in the North East of India. It is bordered by the Himalayan range and Nepal in the west, Tibet in the North and Bhutan in the East. To the south is the state of West Bengal, India. The VBB SARAH project is situated in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim.
Sikkim is interesting place to visit for the sightseer, the trekking adventurer and those interested in Buddhism. With high mountain ranges and alpine foothills to explore, festivals and cultural events it is surprising that Sikkim is relatively un-spoilt by tourism.
The climate in Sikkim is diverse and ranges from sub-tropical to Alpine. In the same day you can visit a jungle filled valley and a snow covered mountain. Winter is November to February and temperatures can drops as low as -4 C so if travelling at that time you will need your woolies!. Spring is March to May with sunny days and average temperatures up to 22 C. Summer is May to October with average temperatures up to 28 C. Monsoon season with heavy rainfall is during June, July, August. This can close roads so VBB has a break from work during this time.
Sikkim has many buddhist monasteries adorned with intricate paint work and decorated with skilful carvings on the exterior. Rumtek is the largest monastery in Sikkim, it is situated 28km outside of Gangtok. It is home to a large community of monks and hosts cultural and festival events. Tashiding monastery is also scenic, it is situated on a hill with a backdrop of the sacred Mt Kachanjenga. The architecture features skilful stone carving and the monastery is vibrant with buddhist cultural practices.
Gangtok is a popular tourist destination for both Indians and Westerners alike so there is a great range of foods available. For the culinary explorer there is the best of north Indian foods available, from the simplest chai shop with a set menu chickpea and flat bread meal to the top end restaurants that can serve a delicacy from any corner of the subcontinent. There are also bakeries and Italian style restaurants serving a more familiar fare.