South Sikkim is a district of the Indian state of Sikkim. Its capital is Namchi. It lies at an altitude of 400 to 2000 metres and has a temperate climate for most of the year. Major urban centres include Namchi, Ravangla, Jorethang and Melli. South Sikkim is the most industrialised district in the state, owing to the availability of flat land. Since the geology is stable the roads are in good condition as compared to other parts of the state which suffer from landslides. The district is also known for Sikkim tea, which is grown near Namchi. South Sikkim is one of the least populated regions of the state. The people are mainly of Nepali descent. Other ethnic groups include the Lepcha and Bhutia communities. Nepali is the most widely spoken language in the district. Though the South Sikkim is not as popular tourist place as the North Sikkim but this smaller district of the Sikkim has amazing potential to attract tourists with diverse interests – be it nature-loving tourists or religious and spiritual seeking tourists or heritage and historical place loving tourists. With the picturesque landscape, rich flora and fauna, monuments and cultural heritage, the south Sikkim can be an enjoyable holiday trip as well as awakening and reviving trip with the inner peace. Numerous diverse tourist destinations in South Sikkim consists of Namchi, Ravangla, Jorethang, Temi Tea Garden etc.
The Buddha Park, also known as Tathagata Tsal, situated near Rabong (Ravangla) in South Sikkim, is a landmark in Sikkim's unique effort to promote pilgrimage tourism in the state. On the 2550th birth anniversary of Lord Gautama Buddha in 2006, the State government took a policy decision to observe the birth anniversary throughout the year in Sikkim and as a part of the celebration, the people of Ravangla took the initiative to construct and install a large statue of Lord Buddha and eco-garden to commemorate the event. The Park hosts a beautiful 130 ft. high statue of Sakyamuni Buddha which is clearly visible from all the directions of southwest Sikkim near Ravangla and some parts of west Sikkim. The park area is beautifully landscaped creating ample walkways, gardens and space for visitors to enjoy the serene surroundings. The site commands beautiful view of the mountains and the spiritual ambience of the location add to the visitor experience.
Namchi is situated at an altitude of 1,675 m (5500 feet) above sea level. It is situated at a distance of 78 kilometres (48 mi) from the state capital Gangtok and 100 kilometres (62 mi) from the town of Siliguri, the nearest railhead and airport. It lies off the road between Malli and Jorethang and well connected to other towns in Sikkim and West Bengal. Most of the people of Namchi are Hindus and Buddhists. Languages spoken are Nepali, English and Hindi. Namchi is fast becoming a major tourist spot and a pilgrimage centre. The Namchi Monastery, Ralang Monastery and Tendong Hill are important Buddhist pilgrimage centres. The world's largest statue (at 118 feet) of the Buddhist Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Sikkim, is on the Samdruptse hill (The Wish Fulfilling well) opposite Namchi. Sikkim's sole tea estate — the Temi Tea Garden is situated near Namchi where the visitors can enjoy the scenic view of Temi tea garden which produces top quality tea in the international market.
Small but beautiful Sikkim is blessed with an outstanding Shri Shridi Sai Baba Temple situated in Assanthang, a couple of kilometers away from the district headquarters of Namchi. The temple is a religious and pilgrimage centre and was built to provide appropriate atmosphere for the promotion of all religious belief and faiths in the State. It has a beautiful statue of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba which was unveiled on 3rd Nov, 2010 and dedicated for public worship after chanting the holy mantras. It is a two - storied building exhibiting the modern architecture; the ground floor accommodates devotees for singing hymns in praise of Sai Baba and the first floor provides dwelling to the marble statue of Shri Shridi Sai Baba and ten other beautiful paintings of Lord Vishnu (Hindu God) in ten different incarnations. The temple is surrounded by a beautiful garden from where one can get a panoramic view of Mt. Khangchendzonga.
Solophok Chardham is believed to be one of the most sacred destinations in Sikkim. It is the part of the State Government's endeavour to promote "Rural, Eco friendly and Religious Tourism." It is situated at Solophok hill which is 5 kms away from Namchi in South Sikkim. It is believed that a visit to the place is enough to wash away one's sins. This unique Pilgrim Centre has a main temple of 108 feet height on which is based the 87 feet high statue of Lord Shiva in the sitting posture. The entire complex is divided into four main elements, namely (1) Shiva Statue with 12 Jyotirlingas; (2) Four Dhams, situated in India's four different directions i.e. Jagannath in East, Dwarka in West, Rameshwaram in South and Badrinath in North; (3) Sai Baba Temple and (4) Kirateshwar statue besides Nandi bull, Sai Dwar, Sai Temple, Kirat Dwar, Kirateshwar Statue, Shiv Dwar and Musical Fountains. The Pran-Pratisthan Ceremony of the Temple was graced by his holiness Shri Jagadguru Shankarcharya Swami Swarupananda Saraswati Maharaj on 8th November, 2011 in the prescence of Hon’ble Chief Minister of the State Shri Pawan Chamling.
Samdruptse literally means 'wish fulfilling hill' in the Bhutia language. The hill is situated at a distance of about 8 kms from Namchi and 75 kms from Gangtok. A unique, awe inspiring and gigangtic 135 feet high statue of Guru Padamasambhava is installed at the top of Sampruptse. It is the highest statue of Guru Padamasambhava in the world and is an incredible feat of engineering. Guru Padmasambhava also known as Guru Rimpoche had blessed Sikkim more than 1200 years ago. The statue is therefore a perfect tribute to this patron saint of Sikkim. It is also said that the Samdruptse hill is actually a Dormant Volcano. Myths say that the buddhist monks have been going on top of the hill and offering prayers to the volcano to keep it calm. The ultimate plan is to make Samdruptse as an international pilgrimage centre on completion of meditation huts, ropeway, library, guest house, public amenities, parking yard etc. around the towering statue. The message of love, compassion, peace and harmony is conveyed throughout the world from this historic hill.
The Temi Tea Garden in Ravangla, established in 1969 by the Government of Sikkim, is located in South Sikkim in the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim. It is the only tea garden in Sikkim and considered one of the best in India and in the world.Top quality tea is produced, which is in demand in the international market. The garden is laid over a gradually sloping hill. The tea produced in this garden is also partly marketed under the trade name “Temi Tea”.
The floral composition of the tea estate consists of broad leaf vegetation comprising Alnus nepalensis (utis), Castanopsis (kattus), Macaranga (malata), Engelhardia spicata (mahua), Magnolia champaca, Toona ciliata (tooni), Machilus (kawla), Symplocos (kharane) and Cinnamomum (sinkoli). Tea production in this estate has been switched over from conventional method to 'Organic Method' according to the guidelines of the Institute of Marketecology (IMO) of Switzerland. The tea produced at this tea estate is auctioned at the Kolkata Tea Auction Centre. Its export potential is gradually increasing and the Tea Board of the estate is making efforts to have direct link with international markets.