Sikkim

The world's third highest peak, Kanchendzonga breaks through the clouds during sunrise.

A basket maker makes a basket in a shed under his house, Parakha, East Sikkim.

A monstrous spider with beautiful yellow colors, waits for the next fly to pass by. Sikkim has one of the richest Himalayan bio-diversity in India.

Those who makes shoes, seldom wear them. Cobblers line up on a pavement selling their colorful shoelaces and putting up a quick polish, Gangtok.

Prayer wheels are integral to Buddhism and endless rows of them line the walls of Sikkim's monasteries, like this one from Tashiding Gompa.

Two Nepali women weavers display the unique seating mats entirely handwoven from fibrous maize peels, a craft found nowhere else in India.

A stone sculptor painstakingly chips away on stone faces carving the mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum.". Sitting in his tiny corner in Tashiding Gompa, the sculptor have been doing the same engraving for the last 40 years in a remarkable story of devotion and dedication to his craft and religion.

A flower vendor in Gangtok.

Darchor (vertical) prayer flags are usually large single rectangles attached to poles along their vertical edge. Darchor are commonly planted in the ground, mountains, cairns, and on rooftops, and are iconographically and symbolically related to the Dhvaja.

A Nepali lady hangs out carpets made from sheep wool on the balcony of her house to dry. Carpet making is a major craft in Sikkim, and these particular ones, called rari, are highly valued for their warmth during the freezing winters.

A monk prepares butter lamps at Tashiding Gompa.

From a small village a hundred years back, Sikkim's capital Gangtok is now a bustling metropolis. The traditional Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepali architecture have all but disappeared and has been replaced by concrete dragged all the way up from the plains of Bengal.

An image of the changing times as religion gets an earful of the latest technology, in the streets of Gangtok.

Terrace cultivation along the hills of Sikkim.

Wearing an improvised hat, a painter gives a new coat of paint to a Chorten, a stupa built in the honor of a monk, at Yuksom.

A lady prepares dinner inside a traditional Nepali kitchen. Nepalis form a majority of Sikkim's population, constituting around 70% of Sikkimese people.

View of Khecheopalri Lake from a watchtower. The placid lake is considered sacred to Buddhists and it is believed that birds pick up fallen leaves from the surface of the water to keep it pristine.

The Buddhist monasteries throughout Sikkim are resplendent with intricate and paintings depicting the complex buddhist iconography. They depict the cosmology and moral stories and form a fascinating medium of rich visual culture. This is the entrance to the famous Rumtek Monastery on a hill overlooking Gangtok.

There are two kinds of prayer flags: horizontal ones, called lung ta (meaning "Wind Horse") in Tibetan, and the vertical Darchor (meaning flag-staff). By hanging flags in high places the flags will carry the blessings depicted on the flags to all beings.

A Buddhist monk uses a Vajra, or thunderbolt, during officiating over a Bhutia marriage.