Aritar and Lampokhari Tourism Festival, East Sikkim, Sikkim
Aritar and Lampokhari Tourism Festival
East Sikkim, Sikkim
The Silk Road or Silk Route was an ancient network of trade routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East from China to the Mediterranean Sea. [Source: Wikipedia]
The original silk route connected China with Mediterranean and past north of the Himalayas, but there were several other routes, which connected the Indian subcontinent with the main silk route. One such route passed through North Bengal and East Sikkim and entered Tibet via Nathu La or Jelep La.
In recent years, this area has developed into a major tourist spot, with thousand of tourist thronging the area for spectacular high altitude lakes, amazing views of Kanchenjunga and the feel of the ancient trade route (also see: Non seasonal snow on Sikkim’s Silk Route).
Aritar (1498 m) in East Sikkim is a lunch pad for the high altitude Silk Route tour. Aritar itself is a beautiful scenic village with a touch of history.
An extra day in Aritar will provide an interesting insight with an unique mix of history and nature, along with a much needed rest for the high altitude tour through a rugged landscape.
Aritar Monastery, belongs to the Kagyuapa sect and is considered as one of the oldest and holiest in Sikkim. It is housed is a big compound, with a seems like an oasis of peace. The inside walls of the two storied Aritar Monastery has beautiful fresco, with interesting iconography.
The Aritar Dak Bungalow is another interesting piece of history in Aritar. The Dak Bungalow, once served as the residence of Claude White, the first British Political Officer of Sikkim. It was constructed in 1896 and also served as the first outpost of Sikkim Police.
Today it is a property of Sikkim PWD (Public Works Department) and is popularly known as Ari Bangla.
With wooden floors and wood paneled walls, complete with fire place, the Aritar Dak Buglow, gives the feel of a bygone British era. Spending a night can transport one to the days of the Raj.
Aritar also has a number of good hotels and home stays to suite all budgets. Hotel Silk Route Station, located just below the Dak Bunglow, can serves as your home away from home in Aritar.
The boat shaped lake of Lampokhari is another major attraction of Sikkim. Located at an altitude of 1400 meter the natural lake was enlarged modified to accommodate tourist facilities. Tourist can enjoy a leisurely paddle boat ride on the lake.
No trip to Sikkim is complete without the views of snow capped Kanchenjunga. Mankhim, a strategic view point located just above Aritar provides spectacular panoramic views of Kanchenjunga, along with its sister peaks.
Mankhim also provides a spectacular bird’s eye view of the boat shaped Lampokhari Lake, along with the dense vegetation that surrounds it. Sadly during my visit there were clouds reigned supreme and blocked all possible views of the snow peak but there were grand bird eye’s view of Lampokhari Lake.
But Mankkhim is no ordinary view point, it also houses a temple belonging to the Rai community. The small hexagonal temple houses a circular stepped structure in its interiors. It is decorated with brass lamps, which are lit during worship time, creating a grand spectacle.
So an extra day in Aritar provides an interesting insight into the history and culture of Sikkim along with grand views of the snow peaks.
It also help to acclimatize for the high altitude tour of Sikkim’s Silk Route.
But Aritar is not just about a rest or an acclimatization stop for the silk route trip, Aritar is also the home to the Lampokhari Tourism Festival.
The ninth edition was the Lampokhari Tourism Festival was held at Aritar between 14 – 16 April 2016. The two day festival consisting of series of events was held around the Lampokhari Lake.
The festival hosted a variety of events with an interesting mix of tradition and modernity. There were several stage shows including several ethnic dance and music performance.
The most sought after event was the Voice of Lampokhari, inspired by the the popular TV show of Indian Idol. Sadly this was not restricted to local songs but the popular Bollywood numbers reigned supreme.
Also on the hit list was the Lampokhari Super Chef, inspired by the popular TV show Master Chef. It was a state level cooking competition and was restricted to organic cooking only.
There were adventure sports option like paragliding, which was ultimately abandoned due to bad wind condition.For the less adventurous ones there were chopper rides, but during my visit, this again was canceled due to technical reasons.
There were several sporting events combining traditional Sikkimese sports of archery with the western sports of snooker and pool. A group mountain bikers cycled all along the Sikkim’s Silk Route ending their journey after four days in Gantok
The fair ground had different stall, including a photo exhibition on Sikkim. There were stall exhibiting organic vegetables and flowers and even a stall for traditional Sikkimese medicine.
The greatest crowd puller of the Lampokhari Tourism Festival were the food stall belonging to the different ethnic groups of Sikkim, consisting of Lepchas, Rais, Newars, Sherpas, Bhotias, Tamangs, etc.
Each stall was traditionally designed and served ethnic traditional food, cooked with organic ingredients, belonging to the community. The food was also accompanied by traditional drinks,
Lampokhari Festival in Aritar was a n amazing experience, but it seemed a bit modernized and even westernized. Keeping it a bit more traditional will definitely make it more touristic.
So visiting Sikkim’s Silk Route (also see: Non seasonal snow on Sikkim’s Silk Route) during the Lampokhari Tourism Festival will definitely provide the tourist with a bonus of tasting the original Sikkimese food along with a feel of their custom.
- The Silk Route can only be done on a hired vehicle and can accommodate a max of 8 person per vehicle. Cost amounts to about Rs 3800 per day inclusive of drivers expenses.
- Home stays are available en route and costs amounts to about Rs 1000 per head per day and includes all four meals.
- A permit is required so please carry a photo identity and a copy of passport size photo. The hotels will do all the necessary arrangements.
- For Aritar Hotel and Silk Route Package booking contact
- In Sikkim: Mangaldeep Resort, Rongli Bazar, East Sikkim, Sikkim. M: +91 9933873291. Email: email@example.com Website:www.mangaldeepresorts.com
- In Kolkata: Supreme Tours & Travels, 15/17, Sourin Roy Road, 1st Floor,Behala Tram Depot, Kolkata – 700034. Tel: +91-33-23981233 M: +91-9830070515 24X7 Helpline: +91-8820038205 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website:www.supremetoursntravels.com