Nineteen kilometres away, Tashiding is the destination for a fantastic day hike that starts at Yuksom. The hike starts with the climb to Dudbi Gompa, from where a path goes to Tsong. The trail splits into two here. The upper route goes past cardamom fields to Hongri Gompa, a small and old monastery that enjoys a solitary position. Local legend says the gompa was moved here from a higher spot due to the incessant attacks on monks by a yeti. Follow the signpost at the gompa that leads downhill to the small hamlet of Nessa, past which is the Sinon Gompa, built in 1716 and enjoying a glorious position high above Tashiding. The path will then drop dramatically behind the monastic school, and the trail will lead you to Tashiding, a small place whose name translates to ‘devoted central glory’.

According to legend, when Guru Padmasambhava looked to find a spot to meditate in solitude, he shot an arrow into the sky and it landed on the site of the Tashiding Gompa. The monastery represents the Nyingmapa order of Tibetan Buddhism and has been a important centre of worship in the Sikkimese Kingdom since its construction in 1717. The gompa, according to another legend is said to have been founded by one of the three Yuksom lamas of the Nyingmapa Order.

Saibal Das
The holy chorten,Tashiding’s chief attraction in Sikkim
The holy chorten,Tashiding’s chief attraction in Sikkim

The atmospheric Tashiding Gompa can be best accessed by a 2.5-km track uphill from Tashiding. Drive up till the car park, after which a footpath will lead to an avenue of numerous prayer flags, indicating your arrival at the gompa. The beautiful four-storey main hall of the monastery affords wonderful views across the flower garden towards Ravangla.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

If you choose to stay overnight in Tashiding, then try Yatri Niwas (Cell: 09832623654; Tariff: 2,000). It is close to the gompa and has large rooms and a decent restaurant.

Also near the monastery is Buddhist Guest House (Cell: 09733076649; Tariff: 400), an interesting traditional building. Meals are arranged on request. Dhakkar Tashiding (Cell: 096098- 78011; Tariff: 300-500) below the main market is also an option. All lodges serve food and there are several eateries in the village.

You could either trek back down, or head to Tashiding’s tiny bazaar, on the main street, from where shared jeeps ply to Yuksom, Legship, Gyalshing and one at noon to Gangtok. However, trails through the forest and along stretches of the main road making trekking a better option than public transport, which can be unreliable and unscheduled.

When to go March-April Location Across the Singalila Range in West Sikkim Air Nearest airport: Bagdogra Rail Nearest rail: New Jalpaiguri, Siliguri

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Sikkim Tourist Information Centre

MG Marg, Gangtok, East Sikkim

Tel: 03592-209090

Sikkim Tourist Information Centre

Tourist Lodge, Rangpo,

East Sikkim

Tel: 03592-240818

Sikkim Tourist Information Centre Below Dak Bangalow, Alley Road

Namchi, South Sikkim

Cell: 09900724673

Sikkim Tourist Information Centre New Sikkim House

4/1, Middleton Street, Kolkata

Tel: 033-22817905

Sikkim Tourist Information Centre Bagdogra Airport

Bagdogra (West Bengal)

Tel: 0353-2698030

Sikkim Tourist Information Centre

NJP Railway Station

New Jalpaiguri (West Bengal)

New Sikkim House

14, Panchsheel Marg

Chanakyapuri, New Delhi

Tel: 011-26115171

W sikkimtourism.gov.in

Permits – Foreigners need an entry permit to visit Sikkim, which can be obtained from all Indian Missions, Sikkim Tourism Offices at New Delhi, Kolkata, District Magistrate’s Office at Darjeeling, Siliguri and Rangpo on the strength of an Indian visa. For details, check W sikkimtourism.gov.in