Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sikkim, Traveller’s Companion

Gangtok, May 25: Finding updated travel books on Sikkim has always been a difficult proposition for prospective visitors to the mystic hilly state. But, a reading of Sikkim, Traveller’s Companion should dissipate one’s ambivalence while charting out the family summer trip to the premier tourist destination.

Released last week, the travelogue covers established and emerging tourist spots in Sikkim. The book has been authored by local journalist Yishey Doma and Gurgaon-based photo journalist Parvin Singh.

“The 264-page travel book, which has tried to touch upon almost all tourist hotspots in Sikkim, has a cutting-edge design, crisp text and some brilliant photographs of the scenic beauty of Sikkim,” says writer Yishey Doma.

Easy-to-read maps are the unique-selling-points (USP) of the book, which was the result of two years’ intense research and survey by the authors.

“We surveyed the market and realised that the travel books on Sikkim were of poor standard and contained outdated figures and contact numbers and addresses. If a comparison is needed, our travel guide has more visuals and proper maps and trekking routes. The maps of entire Sikkim, each of four districts and Gangtok are the heart of the book,” said Singh, who is also the publisher of the travelogue.

The foldable map of Sikkim with every tourist point marked out is 22 inches long and 18 inches wide.

The book, after an overview, is divided into three sections — Destinations, Experience Sikkim and Tourist Information.

The first section narrates tourist spots in all the four districts, each opening with a map, while Experience Sikkim features pilgrimage sites, adventure tours with detailed trek maps, information on cuisine and the cultural heritage of the state.

Tourist Information contains addresses of tourist offices, important numbers and train and flight schedules, besides offering a glimpse of travel agencies and accommodation options.

“Like the state has much to offer to the world, we have tried to assemble varied aspects of Sikkim in a nutshell, from wildlife to food and from treks to skiing. That is why it took us two years to complete the book. We had travelled to all parts of Sikkim to make sure that nothing is missed out. It is a complete capsule,” said Singh.

He said the main target of the book was foreign tourists. “Monasteries dotting Sikkim attract a large number of foreigners. They have been prominently highlighted in the book. We have also included detailed trek maps and mentioned the best season to do trekking in Sikkim,” said Singh.

The book has also boxes providing anecdotes about traditions and events in Sikkim like the popular Governor’s Gold Cup football tournament and mystic mantras inscribed on stone walls near monasteries.

Priced at Rs 499, the travelogue is available in Sikkim and in all leading bookshops around the country, airports and even online. A total of 20,000 copies have been printed in the first impression.

“We have received orders from premier hotels in Sikkim and eateries frequented by tourists here have promised to promote the book,” said Singh.

Although Singh has travelled widely, he has a special fondness for the north eastern states, including Sikkim. His major works include two coffee-table books — Sikkim, the Hidden Fruitful Valley (co-authored with Yishey Doma in 2008) and Golfing Destination.

Doma is a poet and a journalist based in Gangtok. She has also written another book, Legends of the Lepchas.

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