Stunning, remote and closer to Nepal than India in cultural terms, Sikkim is a patchwork of steep valleys, subtropical forest and soaring hills, backed by the white peaks of the Eastern Himalayas, including the country’s highest mountain, Khangchendzonga. Needless to say, hiking is a big hit here, and those who come to get their kicks in this incredible mountain air can do so in relative peace, as the state has restrictions on the number of tourists that can enter and how long they can stay.
A self governing mountain kingdom until it became part of India in 1975, Sikkim maintains an independent spirit that sets it apart from the rest of the country.
It’s not all about dramatic natural beauty, though. Sikkim is India’s most sparsely populated state is home to prehistoric ruins and medieval towns, as well as plenty of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and a growing number of Hindu shrines. All this is complimented by a rich, multilingual, multicultural society where Nepali Hindus, Buddhists and indigenous peoples, including the Lepcha and Bhutia, live side by side. And if you’ve time for a break between all these cultural and natural highs, make time for a cup of some of the world’s finest tea – courtesy of Temi Tea Garden, a sprawling, hillside plantation.