Sikkim

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A view of Gangtok from Hanuman Tok (Tok means hill), one of the highest points in Sikkim s capital. At the centre, on a lower hilltop, is the Doordarshan Kendra s TV tower rather ingeniously disguised as a Vajra (thunderbolt) one of the holiest symbols in Tibetan Buddhism.

Lord, let not this chair be pulled from beneath me.... One of the red painted stone Hanuman deities at the Hanuman Tok temple, which stands on a hill overlooking Gangtok. The temple was built by resident army men a few years back and its brick and granite structure sadly is completely incongruous with the monasteries of the state.

Brightly colored streamers twist in the breeze atop the verdant Hanuman Tok.

Another fabulous view of Gangtok, the city perched on a hill, from a room in the aptly named Hotel Hill View Himalchuli. The peaks of Kanchenchunga, the world s third highest peak loom in the horizon.

Yuksom, at Pema Yangtse, ancient capital of the kings of Sikkim.This spot, perched on a vantage point overlooks an entire valley and is one of the most tranquil spots in the region. In Sikkim you run out of pretty adjectives soon.

School girls in their pinafores on a bridge that leads to Rumtek monastery, one of Sikkim s largest and most sacred Buddhist repositories.

School girls in their pinafores on a bridge that leads to Rumtek monastery, one of Sikkim s largest and most sacred Buddhist repositories.

Undisturbed by prying shutterbugs, teenaged monks discuss the spiritual and temporal at Rumtek monastery.

Head shielded from the sun, a lone monk reads the inscriptions on an 18-foot tall stupa in the courtyard of Rumtek monastery.

Every dog as the say... . A dog at the grand entrance to Rumtek - with the unfinished mural of Dharamshala on the left.

A view of the main shrine with its spectacular wood carved facades, which stands at the end of the courtyard in the monastery.

Forgive all my sins ..... but the record for turning the 500 or so prayer wheels on the pathway leading up to Rumtek monastery is in no danger of being broken by a Mumbaikar.

It s tough getting these extremely shy boy monks, some as young as five and six years, to pose for your camera. Get one, the others run away. But when you ve finally convinced all of them to sit still, they do make an excellent picture. At the Pema Yangtse monastery.

The long and lovely trek to the Pema Yangtse monastery, Sikkim s largest is past a beautiful tree lined avenue.

A pagoda surrounded by prayer flags en-route to Yuksom.

Yak Express- Brightly festooned Yaks-some silently suffering the indignity of having to wear woolen caps and horn covers-- and their drivers wait for tourists near the silvery waters of the sacred Tshangu lake, north-western Sikkim. Located 35 km from Gangtok and on the long winding road to Nathu La (the Tibet border), the lake is situated at altitude of 12,400 feet and freezes over in winters.