Information about Sikkim
Sikkim is the India's twenty second smallest state located in
the north eastern part of India. Sikkim is spread over an area
of 7096 square kms and is known for the beautiful scenic
beauty. Bhutias, Lepchas and Nepalis are the different types
of people that resides in Sikkim. The customs and cultures of
these different communities present a very beautiful and
picturesque picture. The Nepalis called this state as 'Sukhim'
or the New Place, the Bhutias called it as the 'Demazong' or
the Valley of rice and the Lepchas called it as the 'Nye-mae-el
lang’ or the abode of the Gods. This state is bordered by the
Nepal in the west, Bhutan in the east, Tibet in the north and
West Bengal in the south. This state is divided into four
districts which are North, South, West and East district.
Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim is located in the East
District. Most of the population of Sikkim lives in the East
and South Districts. A large variety of plants, animals,
rivers, mountains, lakes, waterfalls are found in the state of
Sikkim than any other place in this world. The mountain peaks,
holy lakes, ancient monasteries, orchid nurseries and stunning
trekking routes have made Sikkim a famous holiday destination.
Right click to zoom in
Physical Features of Sikkim
Sikkim has a very rough topography due to which there are very
less flat lands in Sikkim. The rivers and mountains are the
main physical features that define the boundaries of the state
of Sikkim with its neighbouring countries. Besides the rivers
and mountains, the glaciers, mountain passes, lakes, hot
springs and waterfalls are also found in this region. The
Kanchenjunga mountain, one of the highest mountain peak in the
world is also situated in Sikkim. The Yumthang hot springs are
the famous hot springs located in Sikkim. These hot springs
are rich in Sulphur content and have high medicinal value.
Gurudogmar, Cholamu, Changu, Bidang Cho, Menmecho, Kechopari
are some of the lakes which are also found in Sikkim.
History of Sikkim
The glorious history of Sikkim can be known only after the
17th century. Phunstok, the great grand son of Guru Tashi was
consecrated as the King of Sikkim in 1642 by three holy men at
Yoksum. The kingdom of Sikkim was attacked by the Bhutanese
and Nepalis, which further led to the Chinese intervention.
Tsudphud Namgyal who became king in 1793 shifted his capital
to Tumlong. The Britishers also signed a treaty in Sikkim
in order to control the internal and external affairs of Sikkim.
Thutob Namgyal also shifted the capital to Gangtok in 1894. On
4th September 1974, the leader of Sikkim Congress Kazi Lendup
Dorji was elected as the Chief Minister of the state. On 16th
May 1975, Sikkim became a full fledged state of India.
Climate of Sikkim
The tropical and tundra climate is found in Sikkim. Some
of the parts in the northern, eastern and western
borders of Sikkim are covered with snow almost
throughout the year because of high altitudes.
Elevations of 16000 ft. and above remain snowbound
throughout the year whereas places as low as 8000 ft.
come within the snowline during the winters. In the
southern border, altitudes plummeting down to as low as
sea level full of rich tropical forests. The climate on
the two opposite hill sides also varies considerably.
Here one can also experience the sunshine on the flat
Lachen valley studded with the beautiful Cholamu and
Gurudogmar lake and a hailstorm on the other
side in the
Llachung valley with its muddy lakes that feed the Donkiaachu.
The places in Sikkim with a moderate altitude have a more or
less good climate. During the springs and autumn the weather
is very pleasant. During the monsoons, there are torrential
rains and winters are very cold where the temperature even
drops below the freezing point. Due to the moderate to low
temperatures, woolens are required in Sikkim almost throughout
Temperature in Sikkim
The temperature that a particular place experiences varies
considerably with altitude. At places of low altitude, the
temperatures vary between 4 to 35 Degree Celsius. Places like
Gangtok with moderate altitudes of about 6000 feet experience
temperature between 1 and 25 Degree Celsius whereas at
altitudes above 10,000 feet, the temperature never rise above
15 Degrees Celsius and remains much below the freezing point
during the winters and great part of the spring and autumn.
Because of the moderate to low temperatures, woolens are
required in Sikkim almost throughout the year.
Rainfall in Sikkim
Sikkim is perhaps the rainiest place in India. Due to the
proximity of Sikkim to the Bay of Bengal and fact that the
mountains of the state come directly in the path of the
monsoon clouds, most parts of Sikkim experience torrential
rains during summers. Even during spring and autmn moisture
laden clouds formed due to local evaporation, continue to
batter a greater part of Sikkim. It is only during November to
February that there is hardly any rains and the weather
remains more or less clear. Rainfall varies considerably from
place to place because of the hill features. The northern
border of Sikkim experiences comparatively low rainfall
because the monsoon clouds dry out by the time they hit the
northern barrier. Gangtok registers an average of 325 cm
rainfall per annum whereas Muguthang in the extreme north
experience an average rainfall of only 60 cm per annumn. Most
of Sikkim does not experience high intensity winds.
Geology and Mineral Resources in Sikkim
Sikkim is said to have been under the ocean millions of years
ago and therefore the rocks are meta-sedimentary in nature.
The northern, eastern and western borders of the state mainly
consists of hard gneissose rocks whereas in the central and
southern parts the ground consists of thin and slaty
half-schistose rocks. The land below 10,000 ft is quite
fertile and fit for agriculture. Alluvial soil is found in
abundance on riversides making them ideal places for growing
crops. During the last century, extensive mining of copper
used to be done on the hillside below Pakyong at Pachekhani
but these mines have now been depleted of their copper content
and abandoned. Copper is found in Rangpo and is being mined
for the last 30 years by the Sikkim Mining Corporation.
Dolomite, Limestone and graphite have been found in abundance
in West Sikkim and are being now commercially exploited.
Marble in sizeable deposits has been found in Chungthang and
Changu but has yet to be exploited commercially. Traces of
other metals and minerals like Mica, coal, iron and precious
stones also exist but these are not found in quantities that
would make them commercially viable.
Shopping in Sikkim Sikkim also offers the added attraction of shopping.
A wide variety of handicrafts is available for the
tourist to take back as souvenirs, showpieces and even
items of daily use from the Government Institute of
Cottage Industry and the many curio shops in Gangtok.
Most of the wall-hangings portray face profiles of
tribals and different aspects of Sikkim. Eight lucky
signs, dragons, religious processions, Thangkas or
religious scrolls can also be purchased but these are
very expensive. Choksees are small wooden tables about
one and half to two feet in height with intricate local
Tibetan designs on the sides. They are collapsible and
can easily be carried.
woolen carpets are very expensive and are adorned with
intricate designs and patterns reflecting the art and culture
of this state. Made of pure sheep wool, these carpets use
brilliant vegetable colour dyes. The exquisitely carved Dragon
sets of silver and gold are inlaid with precious stones and
are unique in Sikkim. These consist of finely designed dragons
on earrings, pendants, finger rings etc. and can be ordered
either in silver or gold. The craftsman design the jewellery
in such a manner that it looks heavy in weight although in
fact it is very light. Sikkim tea, which is mainly grown in
Temi Tea Estate, is famous all over the world and carries a
big premium in the world market. The tea is characterized by
its exotic taste and flavour. It is sold by the brand name of
‘Solja’ and ‘Kanchendzonga’ and it is a good idea to carry a
few packets back home. Cardamom or Elachi also grows in
abundance in Sikkim.
Cities in Sikkim
One can visit the various cities in Sikkim for the holiday and
various other purposes. One of such city in Sikkim is Gangtok.
Gangtok is the capital and cosmopolitan city in Sikkim. There
are various places of sightseeing in Gangtok like the Research
Institute of Tibetology, Phurba-Chorten, Himalayan Zoological
Park, Government Institute of Cottage Industries, Enchey
monastery, Rumtek monastery, Yumthang Hot Spring and Kechopari
Lake. The other cities in Sikkim are Kalimpong, Namchi,
Pemayangtse, Phodong, Ravangla, Yuksom and Yumthang.
Monasteries in Sikkim
The famous monasteries in Sikkim are the Tsuk-La-Khang
Monastery, Enchey Monastery, Rumtek Monastery, Phodong
Monastery, Pemayanste Monastery and Tashiding Monastery.
Tsuk-La-Khang Monastery is a two storied monastery and was
used during royal functions like weddings and coronations. The
Enchey monastery is located in a dense wood and one can see
the Kanchendzonga range over the crown of trees. Another
monastery is the Rumtek monastery.
Fairs and Festivals in Sikkim
The fairs and festivals in Sikkim are celebrated according to
Buddhist calendar. During these festivals the people of Sikkim
perform colorful dance and music. Chaam is one of the most
interesting form of ritual dance of the Lamas, which feature
colorful masks and charming musical instruments and are held
at various monasteries during the festivals. Costumed Lamas
with gaily painted masks, ceremonial swords and sparkling
jewels, leap and swing to the rhythm of drums, horns and
music. Some of the festivals which are celebrated in Sikkim
are Losoong, Bhumchu, Saga Dawa and Pang Lhabsol, etc.
The culture, religion, customs and traditions of
different communities of people living in Sikkim
constitute a homogeneous blend. These three communities
of people are the Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalis. In urban
areas many plainsmen have also settled which are engaged
in business and Government service. The Lepchas were the
original inhabitants of Sikkim before the Bhutias and
Nepalis. Today, the Nepalis constitute more than 80 % of
the total population of Sikkim.
and Fauna in Sikkim The land of Sikkim
is covered by a wide range of flora
fauna (animals) as nowhere else in the world. More than 4000
species of plants are found in Sikkim like bamboos, ferns,
wild cherry, oaks, chestnuts, pines and white magnolia. About
35 species of rhododendrons and 600 species of orchids grow in
temperate and alpine regions of Sikkim. These rhododendrons
flowers in the month of May to August. About 400 varieties of
butterflies and moths and 550 species of birds are also found
in Sikkim. The most commonly found animal in Sikkim is yak.
The musk deer, Barking Deer, Red Panda, snow leopard, blue
sheep, flying squirrels and tahrs are some other animals which
are also found in Sikkim.
Wildlife Sanctuaries in Sikkim
The Sikkim government established various national parks and
sanctuaries in order to protect the rich flora and fauna of
Sikkim from the hunters. Some of the famous national parks and
wildlife sanctuaries are the Khangchendzonga National Park,
Famlong Lhe Wildlife sanctuary, Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary,
Singba Rhododendron sanctuary, Kyongnosla Alpine sanctuary and
Varsey Sholodendron sanctuary. The Khangchendzonga National
Park is the largest national park in Sikkim which covers an
area covering 1784 sq km.
Trekking in Sikkim
Sikkim offers a number of fascinating trekking routes to
the people. The best time to trek is between mid of
February to May and from October to December but the
foreigners have to obtain permits for trekking on most
of the routes in Sikkim. The trekking routes pass
through beautiful gompas, colourful hamlets and forests.
Yuksom is an ideal starting point of trekking.
Sikkim, except for the restricted areas.
Foreign tourists require a special permit which is easily
available at all Indian missions abroad and Tourism offices in
Sikkim who are authorized to issue a 15 day permit. The
Tourism Officer at the border town of Rangpo is also
authorised to issue a 2 day permit to the foreign tourists to
enable them to enter the state and acquire the full 15 day
How to reach Sikkim
Sikkim is fairly well connected with the rest of the country
by road and by rail through Siliguri and by air through
Bagdogra in West Bengal. Gangtok is about 115 kms. from
Siliguri, a very pleasant drive of about three and a half
hours. Siliguri has two railway stations. Siliguri is the
meter gauge station and New Jalpaiguri is the broad gauge