Sikkim

Seal_of_Sikkim

Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayas. It is the least populous state in India and the second-smallest in area after Goa. The thumb-shaped state borders Nepal in the west, the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north and the east and Bhutan in the southeast. The Indian state of West Bengal borders Sikkim to its south. Despite its small area of 7,096 square kilometers (2,740 sq mi), Sikkim is geographically diverse due to its location in the Himalayas. The climate ranges from subtropical to high alpine. Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak, is located on the border of Sikkim with Nepal. Sikkim is a popular tourist destination owing to its culture, scenic beauty and biodiversity.

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Regions

* East Sikkim

* North Sikkim

* South Sikkim

* West Sikkim

Towns

* Gangtok – the district in the east and the capital of Sikkim.

* Geyzing – the district in West Sikkim

* Mangan – the district in North Sikkim

* Namchi – the district in South Sikkim

* Pelling

* Ravangla

* Yuksom

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Get in

There are no airports or railway stations in Sikkim. The only way to enter Sikkim from rest of India is by road using bus or jeep from West Bengal.

By plane

Nearest airport for Sikkim is Bagdogra, near Siliguri in North Bengal, which is 124 km and approximately four hours drive from Gangtok. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Kingfisher, SpiceJet, etc. service Bagdogra linking it with other major airport in India (including Guwahati). You can also take a helicopter from Bagdogra to Gangtok.

Next to the Bagdogra airport exit, is a government operated pre-paid taxi stand. You can get a four seater (Maruti Omni) or a ten seater (Tata Sumo, Mahindra Maxx, etc) for fixed rates to various destinations in Sikkim. The standard fare for Bagdogra-Gangtok is Rs 1,100 for a four seater and Rs 1,500 for a ten seater (as of April, 2009). Try to get hold of fellow tourists to share the fare.

An alternative could be to take a pre-paid taxi to Siliguri (about 10 kms from Bagdogra airport) and hop into a ten-seater shared taxi for Rs 130 per person (as of April, 2009).

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By train

Nearest railway stations are Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri. Both of them have a number of trains connecting them to Kolkata. You should be able to get pre-paid taxis to Gangtok outside the railway stations easily.

By bus

The Sikkim government has fixed rate (and fixed schedule) buses plying between Siliguri and Gangtok.

After 44 years of closure, the Nathu La pass to Tibet, China – a part of the historic Silk Road – opened again in July 2006. There are plans for a Gangtok-Lhasa bus service.

Get around

Most travel in Sikkim is done by bus or jeep on road. Trekking is also a popular option.

See

* Rumtek Monastery – 24 km from Gangtok in East Sikkim – the main seat of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism in Sikkim. Originally built by the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje in 1740, but fell into disrepair. The current structure dates from 1959.

* Tsongmo Lake – 40 km from Gangtok in East Sikkim on Nathula route – Tsongmo Lake (also called Changu Lake or Tsomgo Lake) is a large lake in the East Sikkim district of India. It is oval-shaped, with a length of about one kilometre and has an average depth of fifteen metres.It is also a home of Brahminy Ducks besides being a stopover for various migratory birds. Etymologically “Tso” means lake and “Mgo” means head, thus literally meaning “source of the lake” in the Bhutia language. Tsongmo lake is declared a sacred lake by the local Buddhist and Hindu population. The lake remains hidden in the rich forest cover. It is believed that the birds do not permit even a single leaf to float on the lake surface. There is a motorable road from Pemayangtse right up to the lake area. It falls in the restricted area and hence an inner line permit is required by Indians to visit this place. Foreign nationals are not permitted to visit this lake without special permission. A little distance from the lake is a beautiful natural three storied cave, the Tseten Tashi Cave is a worth to visit.

* Nathu la pass – The Nathu la pass lies on the Indo-Chinese border and is now open to tourists. People who wish to visit Nathu la should get special permission one day in advance. Please note, however, that the pass is not open on Mondays & Tuesdays every week. Also, it is closed to tourists during seasons of heavy snowing. It would be better to inquire about its accessibility from local tour operators before planning any visit.

* Baba mandir – Eight kilometers from Nathu la pass is the original Harbajan Singh Baba Temple from which the Indo-Bhutan border is approximately 6 km and the India-China border is around 5 km. A must visit place for all those who like to explore places!

Sikkim rumtek

KABI LUNGTSOK

Kabi Lungtsok is a historic place, located on North Sikkim Highway, 17 kms away from Gangtok. This is the same place where the historic treaty between Lepcha Chief Te-Kung-Tek and the Bhutia Chief Khey-Bum-Sar was signed ritually.

Chungthang: Chungthang is located in the northern part of Sikkim. It is located at the confluence of Lachen and Lachung Chu and is the starting point of the river teesta. It is believed that Chungthang is blessed by a guru Rimpoche.

Do

There are many adventure activities possible to do in Sikkim. Tourists can go for Trekking, Rafting and Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Mountaineering, Yak Safari and many more.

Eat

Sikkimese relish Tibetan food. You must eat delicious momos stuffed with meat. For vegeterians, veg momos are also available. Noodles, locally called Thupkas, are also good.

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Drink

Locally brewed millet beer known as “Chhang”/”Thumba” served in bamboo glass and wooden straw, and liqours like whiskey, brandy, rum etc. Booze is very cheap in Sikkim as compared to other parts of India. Also don’t forget special liqueurs like orange, coffee, tea and even pan (betelnut with aromatic spices encased in a betel leaf).

cuisine

District(s)         4

Established       16 May 1975

Capital             Gangtok

Largest city       Gangtok

Governor          Balmiki Prasad Singh

Chief Minister   Pawan Chamling

Legislature (seats)         Unicameral (32)

Population

• Density          540,493 (28th)

• 76.17 /km2 (197 /sq mi)

Language(s)      Nepali, Tibetan, Limbu, Bhutia, Lepcha

Time zone         IST (UTC+5:30)

Area     7,096 km2 (2,740 sq mi)

ISO 3166-2     IN-SK

Website            sikkim.gov.in