Sikkim, tucked away in India’s northeast corner,
between Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal is, without question,
a very special part of India beautiful, unspoilt, green,
full of orchids, mountains, butterflies and monasteries,
and home to some of the gentlest people you wish to meet.
Until 1975, Sikkim remained an independent kingdom, ruled
by the Chogyal, whose palace is tantalizingly hidden by
trees, and is inaccessible to the public. The Tsuk-La-Khang,
or Royal Chapel is not always open to the public, one
may ask and get the permission with the guards on duty.
Gangtok is the little capital of Sikkim, which means aptly
enough “hill top” and perched at 5500 feet
high on the ridge of a valley. From Gangtok, you look
over the hillside, down across to terraced fields, with
tall, white Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the wind,
and endless vistas of many shades of green.
Sikkim is rich in flora and fauna. 454 types of orchid,
over 600 species of butterflies, 500 species of birds,
red pandas, snow leopards; Sikkim is a naturalist’s
paradise, and there are many wildlife parks and sanctuaries.
The largest and most famous of these is the Kanchenjungha
National Park, covering an area of 850 square kilometers
and whose centerpiece, naturally, is the sacred mountain
of Kanchenjungha. The best times to see orchids in bloom
are April-May, July-August, and November. The orchid sanctuary
in Gangtok, and the ipecac Garden, 14 kilometers downhill
from Gangtok, has large displays of the state flower.
Buddhism is an integral part of Sikkim and its culture,
and many of the recommended trips around Gangtok have
a monastery as their ultimate destination. The monasteries
that are closest to Gangtok are Enchey (3km out of Gangtok),
Rumtek (24km out of Gangtok) and Phodong (28km out of
Gangtok). Some major attractions of Sikkim are: The Namgyal
Institute of Tibetology, Cottage Industries Emporium etc.
HAT062. Darjeeling Sikkim
Tour - 13days - Kathmandu, Darjeeling, Darimdin.
HAT063. Kathmandu Darjeeling
Sikkim Bhutan Tour - 14days, KTM-KTM.
HAT064. Glimpse of Sikkim
- 10 days – Kathmandu, Darjeeling, Gangtok.
Sikkim Tour information
Area : 7300 sq. kms.
Population : 4,21,500
Climate : Summer: Max. 20.7°C; Min. 13.1°C Winter
: Max. 14.9°C; Min. 7.7°C
Best Season : March to late May/October to December
Clothing : Summer: Light Woollens Winter: Heavy Woollens
Language : Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, Spoken English,
How To Get There
Air : The nearest airport is Bagdogra
in North Bengal, 124 km from Gangtok, Sikkim's capital.
Indian Airlines operates flights from Calcutta, Delhi,
Patna, Imphal and Guwahati.
Rail : The nearest railheads are Siliguri
and New Jalpaiguri, 114 km and 126 km respectively, from
Road : Gangtok is well connected by road
with Calcutta (721 km), Darjeeling (139 km), Guwahati
(589 km) and Patna (584 km).
The saying 'Small is beautiful', is amply demonstrated
by the tiny mountain state of Sikkim. With the grandeur
of her mountain peaks, verdant valleys, fast flowing rivers,
terraced hills and floral wealth, a visit to Sikkim is
a rare and unique experience. Situated on the eastern
Himalayas, in the shadow of the towering Mount Kanchenjunga,
which is worshipped as the principal deity, Sikkim measures
approximately 100 kms from north to south, and 60 kms
from east to west.
The inhabitants of Sikkim are beautiful people who radiate
with life, and a simplicity which is truly endearing.
The population of Sikkim comprises of three main groups
of people, the Lepchas, Bhutias and the Nepalese. The
Sikkimese, are by nature, polite and non - aggressive
people. Being devout Buddhists, they celebrate their festivals,
with a distinct mixture of abandon and reserve. One of
the most colourful performances in the world, are Sikkim's
mask dances performed by Lamas in the 'gompa' (monastery)
courtyards. The colourful dances of Kagyat, and the masked
Rumtek and Enchey 'Chaams' (ritual dance of the lamas),
are the popular dances, that recreate legends and myths
connected with Buddhism, and the eternal triumph of good
Sikkim has an estimated 4,000 varieties of flowering
plants and shrubs, that include Orchids and the rare Rhododendrons,
that cover the slopes and mountains. Ornithologists have
catalogued 550 species and sub species of birds, along
with 600 varieties of butterflies. Its dense forests abound
with endangered species of Himalayan Bear, Musk and Barking
Deer, Red Panda and Blue Sheep, among other fauna. The
capital city of Gangtok, monastries of Sikkim, the trekker's
paradise at Dzongri, and the overall raw natural magnificence,
leave a visitor to this mountain state with memories to
last a lifetime. Other places of tourist interest include
the Deer Park, Enchey Monastery, Orchidarium Tashi View
Point, Rumtek Monastery and Phodong Monastery.
Foreigners must obtain an Inner Line permit from the Home
Ministry, New Delhi, four weeks in advance. They should
apply to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India,
New Delhi through the Indian Diplomatic Missions in their
respective countries. This permit will allow them to stay
for seven days in case of sightseeing, and ten days for
group-trekkers, not exceeding twenty.