Must see attractions in Sikkim

  • Top ChoiceSights in Ravangla (Rabongla)

    Buddha Park

    With a breathtaking backdrop of Himalayan peaks, the gigantic, 41m-tall Buddha statue is one of Sikkim's most iconic sights. Finished in 2013, it's beautifully set in a large area of manicured lawns with piped mantra music adding a meditative atmosphere. Inside the huge plinth, a spiral gallery showcases scenes from the Buddha's life, wrapping around an inner cylinder of murals containing holy relics from 11 countries.

  • Sights in Rumtek

    Rumtek Gompa

    Rumtek is Sikkim's most spiritually significant monastery complex. It's essentially a self-contained village with a colourful main prayer hall that was built (1961–66) to replace Tibet's Tsurphu Monastery, destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (though since rebuilt). The interior's centrepiece is a giant yellow throne awaiting the long-overdue coronation of the Kagyu spiritual leader, the (disputed) 17th Karmapa. The main claimant, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, currently resides near Dharamsala due to the Karmapa controversy, sensitivity over which explains all the armed soldiers and why foreigners must show their passport and Sikkim permit on entry.

  • Sights in Pelling

    Pemayangtse Gompa

    One of Sikkim’s oldest and most significant Nyingmapa monasteries, Pemayangtse (literally ‘Perfect Sublime Lotus’) is 500m off the Geyzing road – turn north 2.2km east of Upper Pelling. It can get overwhelmed by domestic tourist groups, but it's atmospherically backed by traditional wood-and-stone monastic cottages descending from a 2080m hilltop towards the Rabdentse ruins.

  • Sights in Tashiding

    Silnon Gompa

    Like Tashiding Gompa way, way below, Silnon (see-non) was founded by Ngadhak Sempo Chempo. Its fairly modest central temple has a spectacular backdrop of snow-tipped mountains Narsing and Siniolchu and a ridge of mountains sharpened in Patagonian splendour. While not necessarily worth a special trip, starting from this monastery is a good way of shortening the reverse-version of the Yuksom–Tashiding Hike.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kuluk & Rinchenpong

    Resum Gompa

    This wobbly old temple is a peaceful, half-forgotten delight with appealingly naive paintings and an incredible 360-degree mountain panorama. There's no road so you'll have to walk around 20 minutes up from Rinchenpong gompa, climbing through the forest. En route you'll encounter occasional collapsing stupas and mani walls (Tibetan stone walls with sacred inscriptions).

  • Sights in Tashiding

    Tashiding Gompa

    The ridge between Ralang and Yuksom ends with an upturned promontory (1450m) on which sits the multibuilding complex of Tashiding Gompa, an important Nyingmapa monastery. At its heart, a beautifully proportioned prayer hall has a delicate topknot that contrasts with the two lower stone floors. The murals inside are somewhat time-darkened and the main images are fronted with numerous colourful butter sculptures. Behind the Guru Lakhang building, shaded by two ancient Kashmir cypress trees, is a 'forest' of chorten stupas and mantra stones plus a dharma bell that rings out resonant prayer-tones.

  • Sights in Gangtok

    Ganesh Tok

    If you're visiting the zoo, whose ticket booth is 50m away, it's well worth stopping at this viewpoint tower to survey a vast sweep of cityscape: notice the Royal Palace visible amid trees way beyond Enchey Gompa.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Yuksom

    Norbugang Park

    All aflutter with prayer flags, the Norbugang 'coronation park' is a historic woodland garden containing a small temple, a huge prayer wheel, a chorten containing earth from each corner of Sikkim, and the simple but deeply significant four-seat Coronation Throne (Norbugang).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Namchi

    Samdruptse

    Visible for miles, this 45m-high statue of Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche) is painted in shimmering copper and gilt and sits on a lotus plinth high above Namchi on the forested Samdruptse ridge. Completed in 2004 on a foundation stone laid in 1997 by the Dalai Lama, the statue turns his back on a superlative view of the Khangchendzonga Massif, which is best seen from beside his right haunch.

  • Sights in Yuksom

    Dubdi Gompa

    Said to be Sikkim’s oldest still-functioning monastery, this compact, peaceful gompa is beautifully set in tended gardens on the ridge above Yuksom, with dawn views of white peaks between high green folds of forested foothills. Part of the delight of a visit is walking there on a 1.2km footpath of steps and mossy stones, taking nearly an hour from Yuksom’s primary health centre (half that back). The path passes water-turned prayer wheels, trumpet lilies and some lovely mature forest.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Gangtok

    Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

    The NIT's 1958 core building feels like a Tibetan fantasy palace, with corner towers, colourful mural frontage and a forest-glade setting. The main hall houses a priceless and well-explained collection of culturally Tibetan/Buddhist iconography and artefacts, including tantric skullcap bowls and trumpets made from human thigh bones. Beautiful Buddhist statuary includes an eight-armed bronze image of victory goddess Namgyalama, who appears to be texting on an invisible phone.

  • Sights in Rumtek

    Lingdum Gompa

    Layered amid peaceful forests, Lingdum Gompa is arguably the most photogenic monastery in the Gangtok area. Its centrepiece is a large, attractive quadrangle leading to a five-storey main prayer hall. Inside, the central gilded-metal statue of Sakyamuni Buddha is flanked by Guru Rinpoche and the 16th Karmapa, plus a library of wrapped scriptures. The tastefully colourful centrepiece dates from 1999 and beside it is a large, new monastic university.

  • Sights in Pelling

    Sanghak Choeling Gompa

    Near the foot of the vast new Chenrezig Statue, this monastery complex is a contrastingly calm, meditative place with fabulous views, with seven stone stupas on its south side that are attractively unpainted.

  • Sights in Pelling

    Rabdentse

    A few partially rebuilt wall stubs are all that remain of the palace complex at Rabdentse, which was Sikkim's royal capital from 1670 until it was sacked by Nepali forces in the 18th century. However, it's worth the 1km forest walk from the main car park to contemplate the fabulous viewpoint on which the ruins are located, best photographed between a trio of small, bare-stone stupas.

  • Sights in Kuluk & Rinchenpong

    Rinchenpong Monastery

    Built in the 1730s and set on a flat field surrounded by monks' quarters, Sanaienchi Gompa's main three-level prayer house has a real sense of age. Even if you can't find anyone with the key to let you in, there's a peephole in the front door through which you can spy on the central indigo Buddha figure, who's saucily straddled by a tantric damsel.

  • Sights in Tashiding

    Chorten 'Forest'

    At the southern end of the Tashiding Gompa complex, this unusual compound contains a 2008 dharma bell, two giant Kashmir cypress trees and a series of large chortens (Tibetan stupas).

  • Sights in Gangtok

    Himalayan Zoological Park

    Among India's best-maintained zoos, this lushly forested park occupies an entire hillside. The star attractions are Sikkim's animal emblems, the red pandas, looking a little like cuddly toy foxes. There are also Himalayan bears and snow leopards roaming enclosures so large that you'll need patience to see them. With a vehicle, allow around two hours to see everything; walks total over 2km from the three parking areas.

  • Sights in Ravangla (Rabongla)

    Palchen Choeling Monastery

    A spectacular feast of coloured walls and gilded roofs, this 1995 monastery temple is set in a wide courtyard with swastika-patterned tiling and contains a superb, two-storey-high golden Buddha with an iridescent-blue alms bowl.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Namchi

    Char Dham

    This unmissable feast of colour is a remarkable Hindu religious theme park crowning Solophuk hilltop, 5km southwest of Namchi. It brings together replicas of several great Indian pilgrimage sites including Rameswaram, Dwarka and Jagarnath, all set beneath a towering 33m Shiva statue. Whether you find it moving or kitschy, the views and photo opportunities are spectacular.

  • Sights in Pelling

    Chenrezig Statue

    Officially unveiled in November 2018, this huge, four-armed statue of Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) sits around 500m beyond the attractive little Sanghak Choeling Monastery, via a newly asphalted lane that climbs some very steep hairpin bends from Upper Pelling (walking takes around 45 minutes). In front of the statue is a loop of vertigo-inducing raised glass walkways, from which around 170 steps lead to the base of the statue's plinth.