Sikkim's original inhabitants are the Lepchas, also called Rongtub (literally "the dearest people of Mother Earth"), who call their land Ney Mayal Lyang, or "heaven." And how! Crammed in between Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and West Bengal, this tiny, mountainous state is as pristine a pocket of India as you are likely to encounter, with some 4,000 varieties of wildflowers (including 600 varieties of orchids), snow-fed lakes, high-altitude mountain forests, and hidden Buddhist monasteries. Some travelers come simply to enjoy the refreshing views and clean air, but most are here to tackle the fantastic treks through western Sikkim, exploring remote valleys and villages of yak-herding Tibetans. Ideally, you should spend a day or two in the state capital, Gangtok, to organize permits and transport/trekking arrangements, then head to Pelling before undertaking a demanding high-altitude trek for several days. Or you can skip Gangtok and either hire a jeep that goes directly from Siliguri (near the railway station at New Jalpaiguri) to Pelling, or travel from Bagdogra, the nearest airport; both are about 6 hours away by road. If you want to avoid serious trekking and enjoy easier hikes, you can opt for Tendong Hill or Menam Hill, which can be accessed via Namchi and Rawangla in South Sikkim. There is relatively very little to offer in terms of accommodation in these areas, but the scenery of endless terraced paddy fields with dense forests higher up is worth the visit -- this is also home to the famous Temi Tea Garden. Remoter still and even more gorgeous is North Sikkim, with some spectacular drives -- the Chungthang-to-Lachung stretch is riddled with waterfalls, while Lachung to Yumthang ascends 1,000m (3,280 ft.) in just 25km (16 miles), cruising through the Singba Rhododendron Reserve, which in spring is a riot of colors. If you've come this far, make sure you dip your weary bones in the hot sulfur springs at Yumthang. (Note: North Sikkim is accessible only via a tour agency -- the government does not want to overburden the natural resources with an uncontrolled tourist influx.)