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|Associate Category||East Sikkim|
Pakyong is a town in the foothills of the himalayas located in the East Sikkim district of the Indian state of Sikkim. Pakyong used to be a small settlement until the Central government grant for the first airport in Sikkim to be built in this town brought it into the limelight in the late nineties.
The crowning glory for this little hill town has for long been the local missionary run St. Xavier's School which also being the pride of the town and the state as well. The school ranked as one of the top two schools in Sikkim during the nineties. Notable among its alumni are Padmashri awardee footballer Baichung Bhutia.
The "National Research Centre for Orchids", (ICAR Institute) is also located here (Pakyong- 737106).
Not much is known about the historical past of this little town. But the existence of old British bunkers at British Killa suggest the presence of armed bunkers sometime in the past.
Located in East Sikkim, it shares its borders with Bhutan and China.Topography is hilly and a good agricultural area.
The local economy is confined to the school and minor businesses run by the locals. Ginger cultivation along with floriculture is catching up well and the geographical location makes these a very viable sector. Gundruk, Kinema, Sinki are popular fermented food sold for pretty good price in the local market. "Dalle Khorsani", the red hot chilli is also popular among the local vegetable cultivators. The villages surrounding the small town are Dikling, Pacheykhani, Dugalakha, Karthok etc. Cow milk, Curd, Churpi(residue of boiled buttermilk) are other means of earning for the villagers.
The town is well connected to all major parts of Sikkim and its neighbouring states with a good number of taxi services to Gangtok, Kalimpong and Siliguri. The taxi fleet is composed of jeeps like commander, Tata Sumo etc. Direct taxis services to Kalimpong and Siliguri are available usually before 9:00 AM and they usually ply back home by evening; hence the early timings. However, taxis to local destinations like Gangtok and Ranipool are available all day at nominal fees. Taxi trips are usually very delightful and one could have a good mix of people from different communities. And keeping in tune with the laid back and friendly attitude of the hill folks, people quickly get into conversations on topics as diverse as the current generation of kids and politics. And the constant chatter of the folks coupled with the music playing in the taxis [most of these taxis have a music system] ensures the trip isnt always boring. For a more personalised and comfortable option, taxis could be reserved to go to other non-serviced towns such as Darjeeling, Kurseong, Jorethang, Changu etc.
Pakyong is connected to the rest of India by an all-weather metalled highway, NH-31A which runs from Siliguri to Gangtok. The NH-31A can be accessed from Pakyong at Ranipool (18 km) or at Rangpo (26km). The total distance from Pakyong to Siliguri is 120 km. The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport, 16 km (10 miles) from Siliguri. Although Sikkim does not have an airport, it is linked to Bagdogra airport, near Siliguri, via a regular helicopter service, the Sikkim Helicopter Service from Gangtok. Bhoomipoojan ( Prayer offerings to the land) for the airport at Pakyong on 28th of February, 2008, gives a hope to the state and the local people to connect with rest of the world through air route.
People and Culture
Ethnic Nepalis, who settled in the region during British rule, comprise the major chunk of the population of Pakyong. Lepchas, native to the land, and Bhutias also constitute a sizable portion of the populace. Immigrant resident communities not native to the region include the Marwaris who form the backbone of the business community and own most of the shops; the [Biharis], who are employed in mostly blue collar jobs. Thanks also to the school, the town has attracted quite a cosmopolitan population with sprinkling of people from as far down south as Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Nepali is the most widely spoken language. English and Hindi are also widely spoken and understood in most parts of the state as a whole. Other languages spoken include Bhutia (Sikkimese), Tibetan and Lepcha. Being secular, all major Indian festivals, such as Diwali, Christmas, Id, and Makar Sankranti (the popular Hindu festivals) along with the Buddhist festivals like Losar, Loosong, Bhumchu, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen and Drupka Teshi are celebrated in with most government offices and schools remaining closed. Hill people are by nature sports and music lovers and it is common to see school kids scurrying home with guitars strung on their backs. Western rock music being played in homes,restaurants and in school concerts is common. Football (soccer) and cricket are the two most popular sports and the St Xaviers School ground serves as the venue for enthralling battles for various tournaments most notably the Independence Day Cup which have in the past featured teams as far as from Calcutta, Nepal and Bhutan. The school ground is a very popular cultural venue with public functions like Independence Day celebrations being held here on grand scales.
Local favourites like momo, thukpa, chowmein, gyathuk and wonton are available in the most of the small restaurants in Pakyong. The momo is a popular snack made from vegetable, beef, or pork filling, which is steamed and served with a soup. The hills traditionally have quite a liberal attitude towards drinks and in many of the local functions like marriages etc, alcohol plays an important role.
The attractions in Pakyong are the Shivalaya temple, Pacheykhani cave, Changey monastery, Devi Mandir,Karthok monastery and Monks’ Retreat Centre.Wednesday Bazar 'hart' is a popular local attraction.
Sikkim Democratic Front has been in the front be it General Assembly Elections or Local Panchayat elections.
The famous St. Xavier's School is located in Pakyong where students from many different places come for their studies.