Area : 7290sq km
Population : 420, 000
Capital : Gangtok
Chief Language : Nepali
Best Time to Visit : March to August
The tiny state of Sikkim is cradled by Bhutan on the east, Nepal on the west and Tibet on the north. Sikkim is situated amongst the highest peaks of the
Sikkim is an enchanting and tiny state lying in the eastern end of the mighty Himalayas flanked by Bhutan on the east, Nepal on the west and Tibet on the north. The magic of the land is the elevation which ranges from 224 mts to over 8590 mts above sea level that gives the place an infinite range of flora and fauna. The lush green fields, the clear and frothing rivers, dense forests and its picturesque mountain peaks make Sikkim one of the beautiful travel destinations of the country. Sikkim is under the protective shadow of its guardian diety, Mount Kangchendzonga (8598 mts).
Places of Interest
Gangtok - The Capital of Sikkim
Situated in the south-east area of Sikkim , it is the capital and center of trade in the state. Here, the people consisting mainly of the Lepcha, the Bhutia and the Nepali can be seen. Though the city has risen in the number of population, it still has mysterious ways to charm and surprise the visitors.
The drive from Siliguri to Gangtok is a thrilling experience with the highway running next to the Teesta River and also passing through the thick forests. If the tourist wants to go for a picnic or a short trip to and from Gangtok, he can pick a bright day and enjoy the sunshine and the spots. Further down the Rangpo town, there is Singtam( 11 kms) famous for its oranges. Then after 17 kms comes the Ranipool where the highway takes on a 12 kms climb to Gangtok. Night-out on the highway: There is also a tourist lodge along the border town of Rangpo with a restaurant and a bar. One of the things Rangpo is famous for is its liquours and liquers.
Sikkim 's only tea garden, the Temi Tea Estate is flanked between Namchi and Singtam. The garden covers a large area and is at altitude between 4000 ft and 6000 ft. The tea has a fragrance and belong to the group of Darjeeling .
Just a 2-hour drive from Gangtok, the tranquil lake lies at the altitude of 12,400 feet. The water is derived from the melting snows off the surrounding mountains. The tourist also can visit Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary which is located on the route to this lake for seeing the Red Panda and the Blood Pheasant. The lake is in the East district of Sikkim.
Sangtok-Palri, a wooden carving depicting the various realms of Buddhism inside the monastery is one of the tourist attraction. Pemayangtse Monastery is situated in the West District.
Situated in the North District(17 kms from Gangtok), there is a stone on the shadows of a dense wooded area. This 'Statue of Unity' was built in memory of the Tibetan chieftain, Khey-Bumsar who signed a blood brotherhood with the Lepcha shaman te-kung-tek.
A sleepy hamlet at an altitude of 7000 feet is a must-visit for its festival. The festival, 'Pang Lhabsol' is a festival when the spectacular Warrior Dance is performed at the Revang Monastery.
One of the most favourite travel destination is Pelling situated between the Monasteries of Pemayyangtse and Sanga-Choling. It can reached by bus or jeep services from Gangtok which is 125 kms away and from Siliguri , 133 kms away. Most of the tourist visit during the months of March-June and September-December. From here one can visit the Khechopari Lake , Rimbi Waterfalls, Kanchenjunga Waterfalls, Changay Waterfalls, Sigshore Bridge , Dentam Bazaar and Yuksam which was the first capital of Sikkim .
Gangtok has an wide choice of restaurants starting from the Sikkimese food to the Indian food. Some of the famous located in the M.G. Marg are Blue Sheep, Khoochi, House of Bamboo and Coks Inn. Porky's on National Highway , Yak's Restaurant & Bar on Tibet Road and Snow Lion in Hotel Tibet are some worth visiting. The local drinks known as 'Thongba' which is a hot drink from fermented millets and 'Chhang'(rice-beer) are quite common in the state.
For the tourist who are thrill-seekers and adrenaline-junkie, the state has lot to offer starting from the trekking, water sports, mountain biking, yak safari, hang gliding and browsing through the wildlife of the area.
Treks in Sikkim
Some of the trekkers huts that can be named are located at Pemayangtse, Khecopalri, Yuksam, Tsokha, Dzongri, Thangshing, Zemagthang, Chaurigang, Tashiding, Varsey, Yangang, Rabongla, Sang and Sikip. Small hotels have started coming up on the route to the trekkers hut and at many base-stations.
Availability of the equipments
Since these trekking are more interesting and thrilling as the trekker climb higher like from 6,000 ft to 14,000 ft, having a proper equipment is a must. Equipment are available at reasonable rates from Sikkim Tourism or recognised travel agents/tour operators.
The Monastic Trek : Pemayangtse-Sangacholing-Khacheopalri-Dubdi-Sinon-Tashiding-Ralang.
It is favourable within the months from March to May and from October to December.
The Rhododendron Trek : Naya Bazar-Hilley/Soreng-Varsey-Dentam Pemayangtse. The trek is best to travel during March and May.
The Khanchendzonga Trek : Yuksam-Bakhim-Tshokha-Dzongri-Thangshing/Bikbari-Zemathang /Chaurigang-Goecha-la/Rathong Glacier and back. It is favourable for the period from mid-March till mid-June and October till December.
The Coronation Trek : Rumtek-Sang-Yangang-Rabongla-Tashiding-Yuksam. It should be travelled within the months of October through December.
White Water Rafting and kayaking is organised on the Teesta and the Rangeet Rivers . The two rivers in the West District offers a roller coaster ride over the frothing and white waters leaving you breathless and wanting for more.
Permit to Visit
Inner Line Permit is required for foreigners visiting Sikkim and it is valid for 15 days. It is issued by the Indian Ministry for Home Affairs, or Govt. of Sikkim, New Sikkim House, New Delhi .
Another Protected Area Permit had to be obtained for visiting the interior areas which can be obtained from the Department of Tourism, M.G. Marg, Gangtok.
Rangpo Checkpost which is on the West Bengal and Sikkim border point issues a permit of two days. By taking this permit, one can reach Gangtok and take a regular permit from there.
Exciting Helicopter Rides
Sikkim Helicopter Service organises these mountain flights which is one of the most exciting experience for its spectacular view and photography.
West Sikkim Flight : The route is Gangtok-Singtam-Geyzing-Yuksom-Dikchu-Gangtok and it takes around 60 minutes. You can see Rumtek Monastery, Temi Tea Estate, Rabang/Meenam Hill, Tashiding, Pemayangtse Monasteries, Waterfall near Yuksom and Kanchenjunga Range from the helicopter.
Yumthang Flight : Route- Gangtok-Mangan-Chungthang-Lachen-Zemu Glacier-Green Lake-Lachen-Gangtok. You can see the landmarks of Teesta Valley between Mangen and Lanchen, Lanchen Monastery, Zemu Glacier, Green lake, views of Kanchenjungand close-ups. It takes around 70 minutes.
Gangtok Flight : The route is around Gangtok and it takes about 20 minutes. Landmarks that can be seen are Kanchenjunga Range , Rumtek Monastery and Gangtok Range . All the flights fare differ according to their respective journeys and flights are subject to weather conditions.
Accessibility to Sikkim
The nearest airport is Bagdogra( North Bengal ) which is 124 kms away and about 4 hours drive from Gangtok. There are Indian Airlines and other private Airline services operating from Bagdogra linking Kolkata, Guwahati and New Delhi .
The two nearest railway station are Siliguri (114 kms) and New Jalpaiguri (125 kms) where access to Kolkata, Delhi , Guwahati, Lucknow and other important cities in India is easy. Booking facility in Gangtok is located at the SNT Bus Terminus.
Gangtok is well connected by road to Darjeeling , Kalimpong and Siliguri. The route through Darjeeling is 90 kms, through Kalimpong is 70 kms and through Siliguri is 110 kms.
The modest way of commuting, on foot is the best in Gangtok. Though un-metered taxis are there for local transport. Every taxi carries a chart for all major points in the city. There are points within the city where the taxis ply and from there to other places, fares are already fixed.