About Sikkim | Small But Beautiful

Kanchenjunga Peak, Sikkim

Sikkim is situated in the eastern Himalayas. Spread below the Mount Khanchendzonga (8534 mts), the third highest mountain in the world, and revered by the Sikkimese as their protective deity. With an area of 7,300 sq kms and measuring approx. 114 kms from the north to south and 64 kms from east to west, the elevation ranges from 300 mts to over 8540 mts above sea level. Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayas. This thumb-shaped state borders Nepal in the west, the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China to the north and the east and Bhutan in the southeast. The Indian state of West Bengal borders Sikkim to its south.

Sikkim has 11 official languages: Nepali (lingua franca), Bhutia, Lepcha (since 1977), Limbu (since 1981), Newari, Rai, Gurung, Mangar, Sherpa, Tamang (since 1995) and Sunwar (since 1996). English is taught at schools and used in government documents. It is the only state in India with an ethnic Nepalese majority. The predominant religions are Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Gangtok is the capital and the largest town. Sikkim has a booming economy dependent on agriculture and tourism, and has the only open border between India and China. Amidst the grandeur of the mountain peaks, lush valleys, fast flowing rivers, hills, Sikkim offers her visitors a rare and singular experience. Within a matter of hours one can move from the sub tropical heat of the lower valleys to the cold of the rugged mountain slopes that reach up to the area of perpetual snow.

General Information about Sikkim:

Sikkim Area : 7,096 km2 (2,739.8 sq mi)
Sikkim Capital: Gangtok
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Sikkim Climate:
Summer: Max- 21°C Min - 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C Min - 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Best time to visit sikkim: March to June and September to December
Clothing:
Summer - Light Woolens
Winter- Heavy Woolens
Language Spoken:Nepali (lingua franca), Bhutia, Lepcha (since 1977), Limbu (since 1981), Newari, Rai, Gurung, Mangar, Sherpa, Tamang (since 1995) and Sunwar (since 1996).
Nearest Airport :Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri, West Bengal 124 km from Gangtok.
Nearest Railway: New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal 148 km away from Gangtok.
Adventure Sports: Mountaineering, Trekking, River Rafting, Yak Safari, Mountain Biking, Hang Gliding

How To Reach Sikkim:
Sikkim Map

Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim is connected by all weather road to Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Siliguri and also to all the District headquarters within Sikkim. Two nearest railway station are at Siliguri (114 km) and New Jalpaiguri (125 km) stabilizing link to Calcutta, Delhi, Guwahati, Lucknow and other important cities in India. Nearest airport is Bagdogra in North Bengal( 124 km).

By Flight:
Nearest airport is Bagdora in North Bengal which is 124 kms. And approximately 5 hrs. drive from Gangtok. There are regular Indian Airline and other private services operating from Bagdora linking Calcutta, Guwahati and Delhi.

Helicopter Service:
The Bagdogra airport is connected to Gangtok by a helicopter service which takes approx. 30 minutes to reach Gangtok.

Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (Customer Care: +91-3592-203960 - Gangtok ) operates this service daily at 11:00 AM from Gangtok to Bagdogra and at 2:00 PM from Bagdogra to Gangtok. It is a five seater chopper and mountain flights and other such tours to North Sikkim are conducted. Call ticket reservation counter between 10 AM to 5 PM

By Rail:
The two closest railway stations are Siliguri (144 kms.) and New Jalpaiguri (125 kms.) connecting Calcutta, Delhi, Guwahati, Lucknow & other important cities.

By Road :
Gangtok is connected by road to Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Siliguri and also to all the district headquarters within Sikkim. The Sikkim Nationalized Transport (SNT) plies regular bus service from Gangtok to all major cities and towns in North Bengal and within state. Booking facilities are available at Siliguri and Gangtok. There is also an Out-Agency railway booking facility in Gangtok located at SNT bus terminal.

Travel within Sikkim:
Travelling within Sikkim by road or trekking is an experience in itself. There are roads to almost every nook and corner of the state. Even seemingly inaccessible places have been covered by roads. Most of the roads are metalled.

Buses of the Sikkim Nationalized Transport (SNT) ply within various places in Sikkim. The Tourism Department of the Govt. Of Sikkim organizes conducted tours to the Yumthang hot springs in North Sikkim and the Changu lake.

Climate of Sikkim:

The climate ranges from sub-tropical in the south to tundra in the northern parts. The tundra-type region in the north is clad by snow for four months a year though the temperature drops below 0 °C (32 °F) almost every night. The peaks of north-western Sikkim are perpetually frozen. Most of the inhabited regions of Sikkim, however, witness a temperate climate, with the temperatures seldom exceeding 28 °C (82 °F) in summer or dropping below 0 °C (32 °F) in winter. The mean monthly temperature in summer is 15 °C. The state has five seasons: winter, summer, spring, and autumn, and a monsoon season between June and September. The average annual temperature for most of Sikkim is around 18 °C (64 °F). Sikkim is one of the few states in India to receive regular snowfall. The snow line ranges from 20,000 feet in the north to 16,000 feet in the south. During the monsoon, heavy rains increase the possibility of landslides. The record for the longest period of continuous rain is 11 days. In the northern region, because of high altitude, temperatures drop below −40 °C (−40 °F) in winter. Fog also affects many parts of the state during winter and the monsoons, making transportation perilous

Permits Information

INDIAN NATIONALS
Indian Nationals do not require any permit to visit unrestricted areas in Sikkim, like Gangtok, Rumtek, Pemayangtse, Yoksom, Phodong etc. However to visit restricted areas under army control, like Changu and Yumthang, Indian Nationals are required to obtain an inner-line permit (ILP) from Sikkim Police at Gangtok. The travel agent can arrange the ILP for you within a few hours. Besides Changu and Yumthang, Indian Nationals are not permitted to visit other restricted places in Sikkim . Only under special circumstances visits to other restricted places in Sikkim is permitted but permission is required to be sought from the Home Department, Government of Sikkim. Although the Dzongu area of Sikkim does not fall in the restricted area, a permit from the north district Collectorate at Mangan is required to visit.

FOREIGN NATIONALS
Foreigns Nationals would require a restricted area permit to visit even areas that are unrestricted for Indian Nationals. Indian Embassies abroad, Representatives of Government of Sikkim at Delhi, Calcutta and Siliguri and some other offices have been authorized to issue restricted area permits to foreigners. Foreign nationals are permitted to visit Gangtok, Rumtek, Phodong and Pemayangtse on the basis of their visas for a period of fifteen days. Foreigners are also permitted to trek to Zongri provided they are in a group of four or more. They are also permitted to visit the Changu lake and the Yumthang valley provided they are in groups. The Information Center can always be contacted for any clarifications.

To visit wild life sanctuaries contact Chief Wild Life Warden, Forest Secretariat, Deorali, Gangtok. For the benefits of all tourists, taxis in Gangtok are provided with rate charts.

Foreigners Entry Formalities:
With a view to promote tourism in Sikkim, restrictions on the entry for foreigners into restricted areas of Sikkim have been relaxed. Foreigners can now visit Gangtok, Rumtek, Phodong, Pemayangtse and the Yuksom -Zongri trekking route on the basis of restricted area permits which can be obtained from any one of the following offices:

All Indian missions and posts abroad.

  • F.F.R.O s Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and C.T.O. Madras.
  • Immigrations officers at the airports at Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and New Delhi.
  • Chief Secretary, Government of Sikkim, Gangtok.
  • Home Secretary, Government of Sikkim, Gangtok.
  • Inspector General of Police, Government of Sikkim, Gangtok.
  • Assistant Director (Tourism),Government of Sikkim, Siliguri.
  • Deputy Director (Tourism), Government of Sikkim, New Delhi.
  • Resident Commissioner, Government of Sikkim, New Sikkim House, 14 Panchseel Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi.
  • Asst. Resident Commissioner, Government of Sikkim, 4c, Poonam, 5, Russel Street, Calcutta.
  • Deputy Commissioner, Darjeeling.
  • Deputy Secretary, Home Department, Government of West Bengal, Calcutta.

After obtaining the restricted area permit, bonafide foreign tourists, individuals as well as groups, can visit Gangtok, Rumtek, Phodong and Pemayangtse for a period of fifteen days. For visiting Pemayangtse, Zongri, Changu and Yumthang valley the rules are slightly tight. Organized foreign tourist groups consisting of not less than four persons, sponsored by recognized Indian travel agencies will be issued permits up to fifteen days for trekking in the Zongri area of West Sikkim. Permits for visiting Zongri will be issued only by the representatives of the Sikkim government in New Delhi.

The foreigners should follow the following routes for Zongri:
Pemayangtse - Yoksum - Zongri
Rangpo - Gangtok - Yoksum - Zongri

The return journey can be performed by either of the above routes. The groups would be accompanied by a liaison officer provided by the government of Sikkim.

Similarly for visiting Changu lake and the Yumthang valley foreigners have to be in a group of four or more.

Areas other than those mentioned above can also be visited, for which a special permit, which is relatively difficult to get, has to be obtained from the ministry of home affairs, New Delhi, the travel agents can help.

Sikkim State recent awards and recognitions:
  • Sikkim: Best Tourism Performing State in the North East (National).
  • Best Eco Tourism Destination.
  • Best State for Tourism Related Programmes.
  • Sikkim :Most Picturesque Destination.
  • Emerging Tourism State.
  • Sikkim: Best Adventure Tourism Destination.
  • National Award for Best State/ Union Territory in Tourism Related Programmes & Development of Infrastructure.
  • Best Performing State.
  • India's Most Progressive Tourism State.
  • Best Rural Tourism Project.
  • Best State for Comprehensive Development of Tourism.
  • Most Innovative & Unique Tourism Project.
  • Best State – Campaign Clean India.
Main Tourist attractions of Gangtok
  • Tsomgo Lake
  • Baba Mandir
  • Nathula Pass
  • Enchey Monastery
  • Hanuman Tok
  • Tashi View Point
  • Ganesh Tok
  • Do – Drul Chorten
  • Rumtek monastery
  • Zoological park
  • Flower Show
  • Handicrafts
  • Lachung
  • Yumthang
  • Lachen
  • Gurudongmar Lake

 

Things to Do:
Kanchenjunga Peak, Sikkim
  • Adventure Sports
  • Monastic & Pilgrimage Tours
  • White Water Rafting & Kayaking
  • Bird watching & Wildlife Tours
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Sight Seeing
  • Speciality and Indigenous Tours
  • Fishing and Angling
  • Yoga, Health & Rejuvenation

Destinations in Sikkim

Gangtok View from Ganesh Tok


Gangtok

History, Culture, Monasteries
The capital of Sikkim is a charming and picturesque town, straddling with striking houses spilling down the hillside. The city has a fusion of traditional customs and modern way of living which makes the place unique. It's a beautiful town with all modern amenities that one can ask for.

Yuksom

Backpacking, Monasteries, Red Panda, Mountains
This was the first capital of Sikkim, where historical records say that the first divine ruler of Sikkim was sanctified in 1641 by the three learned lamas. The evidence of the ceremony is still present in Norbugang Chorten. The place is considered sacred since the history of Sikkim began from here. It's also the base camp for the trek to the famous Mt. Khangchendzonga.

Pelling

Waterfalls, Backpacking, Monasteries, Honeymoon
Pelling is rapidly becoming a popular tourist destination. At an altitude of 6800 ft, it's the most excellent place to get a closest view of the world's 3rd highest peak Mt. Kanchendzonga. Apart from the innate beauty of the place, other attractions in Pelling are the Sanga Choeling Monastery, Pemayangtse Monastery and the Khecheopalri Lake. 

Lachung

Lake, River, Honeymoon, Monasteries
Lachung Monastery is an ancient (1880) Nyingma Buddhist gompa in the Lachung at 9600 ft asl at the confluence of the Lachen River and Lachung River, tributaries of the Teesta River. Permits are required for visits to North Sikkim. The monastery hosts a famous mask dance each year.

Lachen

Lakes, Honeymoon
Lachen (8500 ft asl) commands a panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountains. Lachen town forms the base to the Chopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake. An annual yak race, the Thangu is held here at Lachen in summer. Lachen is typically visited with Lachung as a part of meals and transport inclusive package ex-Gangtok

Ravangla

Backpacking, Monasteries, Buddhism, Honeymoon
Ravangala is a quiet hillside hamlet at 8000 ft offering views of Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Pandim, Mt. Sinialchu and Mt. Kabru (One gets to view them during Oct- March) on the Gangtok-Gaysiling highway. Ravangala is near Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, which is good for bird watching.

Namchi

Gardens, Temples, Monasteries, Buddhism
Namchi is a hillside hamlet offering panoramic view of the snow capped mountains (Oct - March). Namchi lies in close proximity to Namchi Monastery and Samdruptse pilgrim centre Namchi is fast becoming a major tourist spot and pilgrim centre with several monastery and monuments of importance around here.

Aritar

Lakes, Temples, Monasteries, Honeymoon
Aritar is approximately 63 km from Gangtok and takes approximately 3 hours to reach. The Lampokari Lake at Aritar is surrounded by lush greenery. This water body has been recently provided with artificial embankment to facilitate boating, a first for Sikkim. A short trek leads you to Mankhim Dara, where a temple dedicated to the ethnic Rai community is located.

Richenpong

Trekking, Ecotourism
Rinchenpong is an area in West Sikkim at about 26 kms South of Pelling and offers guests excellent nature centric experience. Rinchenpong Village Resort here is an 40 acre estate of forest is an excellent Ecotourism stay option for any Sikkim itinerary from where guest can explore the area around. Rinchenpong is recommended for guests looking off-beat and experiential stays.

Mangan

Monastries,  Scenic View
Mangan (4000 ft asl) is the district headquarters of North Sikkim and is base town before reaching remote areas of North Sikkim. Mangan offers excellent views and is base point to access Dzongu region treks. Mangan is renowned for Phodong Monastery, one of the six main monasteries of Sikkim. Mangan is also known for the Large Cardamom which is grown here. Singhik is situated four kilometers away from Mangan towards the north. 

Khangchendzonga National Park

Protected Area, Backpacking, Leopards, Wildlife, Forests

Gyalshing / Geyzing

Backpacking, Monasteries
Geyzing is the beautiful capital town of West Sikkim District. Being the headquarters, Geyzing acts as the initial point in the western part of Sikkim. Geyzing is also called as Gyalshing. Located at a distance of 117 kms from Gangtok, Geyzing is the most populated area of the western region in Sikkim. In the vein of other beautiful places in the region, Geyzing too has the essence of natural beauty in its environs.

Sikkim Traditional Houses

Bhutia Traditional Houses

Lepcha traditional Houses

Nepali traditional Houses