Celebrated as one of the choicest ecological hotspots present in the country, Sikkim is a melting pot of floral and faunal reserves. In the year 1975, Sikkim joined India as the 22nd state in the map. And ever since then, this beautiful kingdom of the Chogyals has been counted as one of the premium tour destinations of growing popularity. Hailed to be India’s first organic state, Sikkim is the best place to arrive for adventure sports, religious tourism & cultural retreat. Offering you everything in one complete package, this beautiful state is sure to take your breath away with its exemplary beauty.
In the North-eastern part of India, the lovely state of Sikkim is located and is bordered by Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. Its strategic location offers astounding views of the Himalayas, including India’s highest peak Mount Kanchenjunga & her mighty sisters. It is also an abode of glaciers, lakes, hot springs, religious monasteries, national reserve and alpine grasslands.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
The climate of Sikkim is absolutely pleasant. It varies from sub-tropical in the south to Tundra in the north. Needless to worry about its extremity, the state holds up the average annual temperature of 18°C and a temperate type of climate in the summers at 28°C.
GEOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY
Like any other hill station, Sikkim too sports rugged topography which makes the soil infertile and prone to erosion. Yet, the possibility of erosion is countered by the unique and well-maintained technique of terrace farming.
The evergreen terrace fields offer you with an intriguing view of agriculture in the hills. To add to your awe, the rocky hillocks are cut into steps, which look beautiful covered with perfectly manicured Temi-tea gardens.
The unique geology of Sikkim consists of three major rock constituents called the Half-schistose, Gneissose and Pre-Cambrian (which covers the most surface area of the state).
TRADITIONS AND CULTURE
Sikkim is a multi-ethnic state. Hence, you will be able to tour through a very culture rich environment. From traditional ascetic monks, to remotely situated tribal groups, immigrants and royals, you will encounter everyone. Sikkim displays a very rich and colorful fusion of Tibetan, Nepali and Indian aesthetics. Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Muslims, along with other minorities inhabit this province.
Every year, festivals like Dusshera, Christmas, Lhosar, Tsechu as well as Eid are celebrated with mutual enthusiasm. Sikkim is also known to host the International Flower Festival, which receives patronage from admirers all over the world. Carnivals and Tourism fests are also an inherent part of the budding millennial culture of Sikkim.
Sikkim is the fusion of rich traditions and a broad weave of culture. When you are in this region, you not only experience the geographical nature but also enjoy the kaleidoscope of festivals with great zeal and enthusiasm.
Festivals such as Pang Lhabsol, Bumchu, Losoong, Ram Navami and Lason, and so on are celebrated extravagantly. If you happen to visit Sikkim during their Tibetan New Year, which is in February, you shall be the part of their grand fest that is celebrated in vigor and spirit.
Other festivals include the Losar, GuthorChaam where the natives dance and rejoice at the Rumtek and Pemayangtsemonasteries.
A number of religious festivals like Dassain and Saga Dhawa also include to the continuous chain of exhilarating events in Sikkim.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The amazing assemblage of over 5000 species of flowers and plants add to the glory of Sikkim. Forests of blue poppies, primulas, gentians, magnolia, orchids, geraniums, gladioli, camellias, azaleas are some of the blooming creatures. A large variety of rhododendron ranges from ground level shrubs to towering specimens that color the terrain in palettes of VIBGYOR.
The tropical vegetation of Sikkim which lies along the valleys and banks of Teesta, mainly elaborate on figs, oak, maple, chestnut, silver fir, Sal trees, and so on. You will be stunned at the 5000 plus variety of the rich flora and fauna of Sikkim.
Due to its multi-ethnic background, Sikkim serves as a breeding ground for the sustenance and evolution of multiple languages. It has ten official languages, namely- Nepali, English, Sikkimese, Lepcha, Limbu, Newari, Gurung, Mangar, Sherpa, and Tamang&Sunwar. There are additionally nine more regional languages spoken throughout the province, namely – Dzongkha, Groma, Majhi, Majwar, Nepal Bhasa, Rai, Thulung, and Tibetan&Yakha.
PLACES TO VISIT
- GANGTOK :
The political and cultural centre of Sikkim, Gangtok is the place where urban comfort merges excellently with rustic Himalayan aesthetics. From creatively themed contemporary cafes overlooking the velvet peaks, to rustic tribal eateries serving pure north eastern cuisine, Gangtok offers it all. The town offers excellent luxury staying options, and is at a close vicinity to the newly inaugurated Pakyong Airport.
- YUMTHANG VALLEY :
Popularly known as the "Valley of Flowers", Yumthang is situated at a height of 11,800 ft in North Sikkim. It is a vibrant blend of flora and fauna with a soothing natural scenario. The variety of 5000 species of rhodondendron is found here in great view.
- ZULUK & NATHANG :
Dzuluk is also popularly known as Jhuluk or Jaluk. Though it is a relatively off-beat tourist destination located in East Sikkim it is gradually outstanding as one of the most visited spots by wanderers. Dzuluk, at an altitude of 9600 feet to 10000 feet and Nathang at an attitude of over 12,500 feet, offers you with an immense chain of bird watching and bird photography. The best time to feast your eyes on the wonderful flying objects is during the months of April and May.
- YUKSOM, KHECHEOPALRI & PELLING :
The bewitching beauty and charm of Yuksom, Khecheopalri and Pelling, situated in the district of West Sikkim is baffling to withess. These three destinations are the ideal centers for butterfly and bird watching in Sikkim. All the above three places has its unique range of exotic flying creatures.
- MAENAM WILDLIFE SANCTUARY :
Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary is a preserve of 200 different species of birds. It is considered as one of the best bird watching center, located in the South district of Sikkim. It is known for its broad range of avifauna species that include the major attraction of Satyr Tragopan which is one of the rarest Pheasant species of Eastern Himalayas. Other rare species consist of Fire-tailed Myzornis, Puff-throated Babbler, Great Sultan Tit and so on.
- NATHU LA :
Situated in the northern part of Sikkim, Nathu La is a scenic location which sits near the Indo-China border. You need to issue a special permit to reach here. Your travel agent will help you in this matter. However, if you are a foreigner, you will not be granted entry. The location is open to tourists from Wednesday to Sunday throughout the year except for winters.
- SINGSHORE BRIDGE :
At a height of 100 meters, Singshore Bridge is the highest bridge in Sikkim. It is at a distance of 5km from Pelling. Not only is it an engineering marvel but also offers a breath-taking under-lying view of varied lush green meadows, captivating waterfalls and mountains.
Thrill upon the flowing streams and blowing winds that set your soul in harmony, once you stand on the bridge. Singshore Bridge is one of the oldest bridges that joins to two hills and makes the distance favorable for trekking. Alpine cheese factory, Pemayangste Monastery is in its nearest vicinity offering combined tourism.
- PEMAYANGSTE MONASTERY :
Pemayangste Monastery is popularly titled at "Perfect Sublime Lotus". It is a religious monastery of the Buddhists situated near Pelling in the north eastern state of Sikkim. It is one of the oldest and major monasteries founded in 1705 by Lama Lhatsun.
THINGS TO DO
- RIVER RAFTING :
Tighten up your life jacket, hold on to your helmet and oars and hop in your raft to experience the mesmerizing water adventure along the rivers of Rangeet and Teesta.
- MOUNTAIN BIKING :
One of the most popular and adventure challenging sports in Sikkim is mountain biking. Riding through the rugged terrains in Rumtek, Tashiding, Soreng&Jorethang are sure to lend you that much craved dose of surging adrenaline.
- PARAGLIDING :
Paragliding is one of the most liked adventure sport of the tourists in Sikkim. To enjoy the bird’s eye view of the snow clad mountains, no prior training is necessary. Choose between a medium (1300-1400 meters) or a high fly mode (2200 meters) for a twenty to thirty minutes ride.
- TREKKING :
Along with the adventurous sports of mountaineering and mountain biking, trekking in Sikkim is the most-cherished sport one can participate in while on their trip. It allows you to explore some of the unseen regions of the state, greenery and the snow-covered mountains. As a trekker, you shall certainly immerse yourself in the heavenly ambience of Sikkim.
- YAK SAFARI :
If you truly want to experience a joyous safari along the lakes of Changu and Dzongri, Yak Safari is all that you should head towards. Nicely adorned Yaks offer rides around the lakes for all age groups. Yak is the domestic animal of Sikkim that is long-celebrated for its safari and has been attracting adventurous tourists over the years.
- SPIRITUALITY AND WELLNESS :
The hot springs at Borong and Ralong as well as Yumthang are considered as a "Nature’s masterpiece". They are located within a distance of 7kms from each other. These natural spas are believed to possess a strong "curative power" that attracts tourists beyond count. The warm, sulfur rich waters which bubble up from within the bosom of the Earth are known to offer some ease from aching joints, mellow down your work-worn stiff muscles and even cure arthritis.
Museum in Sikkim are a preserved home to the ancient history and culture of Sikkim. Tourists, who are fond of art and culture may visit the museums that gives them the rich enlightenment of the historical Sikkim.
1. Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
It is a popular Tibet museum in Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim. It was established on 1 October, 1958. The museum seeks to research the social history of Sikkim’s 60 monasteries.
2. High Court of Sikkim Museum
It was established on 8 December, 2017 in the old chief Justice bungalow, about 1 km from the state High Court. It is a heritage of appreciating, understanding and research centre of inevitable history and artifacts of the evolution of laws and courts in Sikkim.
3. Sikkim Science Centre
Sikkim Science Centre at Marchak, Ranipool in the Eastern Sikkim attracts number of visitors that include students mainly. The "Unique Humankind" gallery is the major exhibition that displays how or why mankind is different from other living creatures. This is a fun corner got students to gather knowledge on this outstanding subject.
The children and activity corner allows the toddlers to wrack their brains and explore their capacity of imagination.
The beautiful Mount Kanchenjunga - crowned state of Sikkim makes you relish upon the stunning mountains through the exhilarating experience of mountaineering. The government of Sikkim has newly introduced this activity between the alpine peaks of the topography. The magnificence of the nature’s beauty from high altitude will keep you astonished.
1. Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek
It is nestled with Kabru, Rathong and Talung ranges towards its south and Pyramid and KiratChuli peak towards its north.
2. The Singalila trek from Utteray Side
It is one of the rarest of the spots of the country from where one can savour the view of the four summits of the world- Everest, Makalu, Kangchenjunga and Lhotse.
3. Everest Singalila Trek
The Everest Singalila trek begins from the Yambong region and offers a natural view of thr border of India and Nepal.
4. Tholung Trek
It is located in the Northern region of Sikkim and starts from the region of Bagdora and extends till Lingsha.
5. Dzongri Trek
The Dzongri trek entends from Yuksom till Dzongri and even makes way to Goecha La.
The concept of village walks in the state of Sikkim is solely laid on the idea of experiencing the daily activities of a countryside. Tours to extravagant locations loses its charm before the authentic experience of serene and muddy streets of the rural areas in Sikkim.
The raw, yet mystic view of the flora and fauna in and around the various villages never fail to capture your attention. The view of the majestic Kanchenjunga, as you traverse the clayey paths diverts you to the world of heavenly bliss. You also learn about their cultural and traditional methods of livelihood as the locals are warm and keen to involve you with them.
The exquisite lakes and waterfalls adjacent to many a village makes you desire to stay longer in the region. Huts and mud houses add to the essence of the soothing rural life far away from the continuous chaos of towns and cities.
DARAP VILLAGE TOUR
If you are truly an explorer of the undiscovered, pack up your travel bag and head on for the most exciting tour to the Darap Village of Sikkim. To enrich your dampened urban-based life, the unexplored village offers you with a pleasant rustic environment to soothe yourself.
The village is located 8 kilometres from Pelling on the way to Yuksam and Khecheopalri. It concentrates mainly on the Limboo community including the Chettris, Rais, Gurungs, Bhuttias and so on.
Darap is a live exhibition of the culture and livelihood of the Limboo community. Those who encourage simplicity can experience the typical village life beginning from milking the cows to processing the same into cheese and butter. The expedition continues as you stroll about the raw streets of the vilLage and also visit the 200-year-old Limboo traditional house. It is the ideal destination amidst the constant buzz of towns to enrich your mind and body with the rawness of the nature’s aura.
TRAVEL TIPS AND REQUIREMENTS
Before heading towards Sikkim, make sure that you are fully prepared against unforeseen circumstances.
- Always pre-book your flight/train tickets & hotel rooms if you are planning to visit during peak seasons (Spring & Winter). If you do not make advance bookings, chances of facing ticket and room unavailability are high.
- Know that Sikkim is a hilly area situated in a high altitude, with sloping and winding roads. Do not drive around if you are an inexperienced driver. Always hire a trained local driver who has years of expertise driving through the high altitude roads of the hills. Getting in contact with a car rental service will help you.
- Since it is a hilly region, even summers in Sikkim are cool. Always expect unexpected episodes of thunder, lightning and drizzle. Do not forget to carry a spare umbrella while trekking or sightseeing.
- Always travel light. But never forget packing some medical essentials like sanitizers, antiseptics, and bandages. Carry a medicine which offers you some relief if you develop some nausea or altitude sickness by driving through the spiral roads.
- Never forget your sunscreen and your cap. Pack in some heavy duty power banks for your phone.
- When you visit the monasteries and temples of Sikkim, make sure that you dress decently. Remember, photography is prohibited in some premises, so always ask before capturing a memory. It is always considerate to donate a meager sum to the temple or monastery as a maintenance aid.
- While trekking, do not wear casual shoes. Invest in sturdy boots. If you feel uneasy, it is always advised to inform your trekking guide about your health. Do not pursue trekking if you suffer from breathing problems or a heart condition.
- Some areas in Sikkim are protected due to its close vicinity to international borders. You will not be granted any access if you do not issue an official permit. Hence, advance planning is the key.
HOW TO REACH SIKKIM
Sikkim is a landlocked state, accessible by air and road. The rocky terrain of the location does not support the establishment of a railway network. Once you land in to the capital town of Gangtok, you can conveniently drive to all of the four districts of Sikkim.
Nearest Railway Station – New Jalpaiguri Railway Station, Siliguri. (124 km from Gangtok)
Nearest Airports – Bagdogra Airport, Siliguri (148 km from Gangtok)
Pakyong Airport, Sikkim (35 km from Gangtok)
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Sikkim can be visited throughout the year except during the monsoon season. Spring, summer and winter are a great time to tour through this state.
FOREIGN TOURIST GUIDELINES
If you are a foreign individual, you will need to issue entry permits to enter special protected areas in Sikkim, which are border sensitive. You can gain access to various locations within Sikkim by issuing an Inner Line Permit. ILP is required to especially tour through the Northern district of Sikkim. Where, even your vehicle will need to be registered by the Tourism Department of Sikkim.
Once you obtain the necessary ILP and vehicle registration (you will be assisted by your tour agent), you will be granted a pass that can be valid up to as long as sixty days.
To issue permits, you will need to present authentic identity proofs like Passport, VISA, etc.
INDIAN TOURIST GUIDELINES
Indians travelling to some selective areas in Sikkim requires you to issue a Protected Area Permit (you will be guided by your tour operator). To issue PAP, you need to submit identity proofs like Aadhar Card, PAN Card, Driver’s License, etc.
Entry to locations like Nathu La, Yumthang, Dzongri, Tsomgo Lake require PAP.
Issue your PAP & ILP from –
- Sikkim House, New Delhi – Panchsheel Marg, Chanakyapuri
- Office of Sikkim Nationalized Transport – Sevoke Road, Siliguri
- Sikkim House, Kolkata – 4/1 Middleton Street
- RangpoCheckpost – East Sikkim near Gangtok
- MelliCheckpost – Near South District, Sikkim