Eastern Himalayas: West Bengal to Sikkim High School Summer Program

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Nestled Deep in the eastern end of the great Himalayan mountain range, west Bengal and Sikkim are Indian states that sit snugly between Nepal and Bhutan. The tension between modern influences and traditional values is strikingly apparent in this region, as various ethnic groups work to safeguard their heritage amidst the draw of globalization.

Dragons students engage with local communities and explore ancient Buddhist and Hindu traditions, gaining insight into the age-old wisdom that has held Himalayan people together for centuries. Our course begins in norther West Bengal, an area- renowned for its fine tea – that serves as an introduction to the cultures and traditions of the region. Amidst verdant hills of tea waiting to be picked, we learn about the living blend of religious and cultural traditions which rival the beauty of the landscapes.

We offer comprehensive, personal home visits so that we can answer your questions in person. One of our expert staff members will present on our program options and share stories from their own formative Where There Be Dragons program. To request a home visit in less than 2 minutes, fill out this form.

  • Examine the impact of environmental issues, tourism, ethnicity, land management, education, gender issues and healthcare.
  • Explore the philosophy and spiritual practices of Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism through an investigation of yoga, meditation, iconography and symbolism.
  • Choose a topic of interest and dive into a relationship with a mentor in Kalimpong. Options include music, dance, wood carving, jewelry making, bronze casting, religious traditions, traditional cooking, or Tibetan and Ayurveda medicine.
  • Spend 14 + days in home-stays with both rural and urban families.
  • Take a look at ethnic and cultural diversity, religious traditions, and Sikkim’s rich artistic traditions.

Questions & Answers


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Yes, I recommend this program

Sikkim 2015 student

The Sikkim program was the second summer I had spent with Dragons, having participated in the Thailand program the year prior. The Sikkim trip was undoubtedly one of the most important experiences I have ever had in my life. The small group size of twelve students from across the US was perfectly conducive for the creation of a strong team. Within two hours of meeting each other, we were already joking around. The team felt like family by the time we landed in New Delhi! Our two leaders were both experts in program design and I always felt supported, safe, and comfortable. Along with our three in-country leaders, we had an abundance of knowledge and guidance available to us. Our leaders challenged us to reach our potential and discover more about ourselves, each other, and India than I ever thought possible.
A Dragons course in Sikkim is easily the best way to experience an area of India that is not as familiar as New Delhi or the Taj Mahal. Living with my host brother, sister, and entire extended family in the town of Kalimpong was an incredible way to build life-long bonds as we learned more about each other every day. The kindness and generosity of the people we met continue to inspire me to spread compassion and openness in my community.
The little moments of the trip will stay with me forever; waking up at 5:30 a.m. in Darjeeling and climbing five flights of stairs just in time to see the clouds part, the valley open up below, and the grand reveal of Mount Kanchenjunga, the third tallest peak in the world. I recall the silver flecks of mica dust that covered my skin as we drove into a jungle valley to reach our home stays in the remote Lepcha village of Sittong. I still feel the warmth of mud caked on my entire body - a mud fight became a time for celebration as we planted rice with local community members. I can never forget the quiet humming my home stay grandmother as we roll tea leaves by hand on bamboo trays. I miss the opportunity to speak in Nepali and see the smile of vendors, surprised to hear me speak their language.
The Sikkim trip with Dragons is unexplainable. I feel an unceasing love for my team, my leaders, my community, and all the people I met along the way. There will never be enough room to say how much I love Sikkim and Where There be Dragons!

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing comes to mind. As far as I'm considered, this trip was absolutely perfect from beginning to end!