The state of Sikkim is a wonderland on the eastern Himalayan mountain ranges. Though it is the second smallest state in India, its enchanting beauty can attract anybody from any corner of the world. It basically lies below Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain range in the world. It is bordered by our international neighbours Bhutan, Nepal and China. The southern part of Sikkim meets the border of West Bengal. Sikkim comprises of only four districts and Gangtok is the capital and largest city of the state. It is a state with monasteries, snow clad mountains, rivers, forests and wonderful people.
Sikkim is a small state with very less population. The Himalayan range spreading across is breathtaking along with the snow covered bed and lush green valleys. The state is mostly covered by a stretch of forest area, thus, giving rise to a rich flora and fauna. This land is blessed with a number of mountain peaks, hot springs, glaciers, lakes, rivers and streams. River Teesta flows over the state along with its tributaries. Agriculture is one of the major occupations for the people of Sikkim. Being a hilly terrain, terrace farms are built in few suitable slopes to allow cultivation of some of the principal crops and cereals. A major part of the economy depends on tourism of Sikkim.
The cool temperate climate of this state is the best thing to enjoy the year throughout. Sikkim experiences two types of climate based on the altitude and closeness to Himalayas. The northern part enjoys a chilly tundra climate with snow fall and frozen atmosphere. On the other hand, the southern part is more of sub-tropical in nature. The temperature never rises above 28 degree centigrade.
People & Culture
The entire state of Sikkim is mostly inhabited by Nepalis. The natives of Sikkim are called the Bhutias, which also comprises of a large section of people. The other ethnic group is called the Lepcha. All these three different groups follow their own customs and traditions. There are a certain section of people who have migrated from different part of part of our country to permanently reside there like Biharis, Bengalis, Oriyas and Marwaris. The main religion practiced in this state is Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity.
The main official language of the state is Nepali. Hindi is also widely spoken as a language of communication with tourists. English is the language of the educated people in Sikkim. The other local languages are Tibetan, Bhutia, Lepcha, Gurung, Dzongkha, Sikkimese, Sherpa, etc.
The people of Sikkim are fun loving. They love to keep their culture and tradition intact and yet move in pace with the modern advancements. There are many festivals that are celebrated with excitement by different ethnic groups. Some of their major festivals are Maghe Sankranti, Bhimsen puja, Saga Dawa, Losar, Bhumchu, etc., apart from the Diwali, Christmas, Eid, or Dussehra. The people also love to celebrate varied types of festivals for the tourists like Flower Festival, Namchi Mahotsav, Khanchejunga Tourist Festival, Mangan Music Festival, etc.
Nepali, Bhutia and Lepcha folk songs are melodious. A lot of western rock songs and Bollywood songs are also the favorites of the people of Sikkim. Some of the best local dances like Gumpa. The local youth love to take part in sports activities like football and cricket. The tourists will love to enjoy river rafting, yak safari, biking, hang gliding, trekking and other adventurous activities initiated by the local people.
Places to See
- Religious- Rumtek is the main and popular monastery in Sikkim. Other places are the monastery of Tashiding, Karma Kagu, Pemayangste and Echery amongst many others. Baba Mandir is also very famous place of visit.
- Hill Station- The best hill stations to breath fresh breath of air and watch the snow clad mountains are Peling, Singiek, Yumthang, Namtse, Tendon Hill, Ravangla, Yuksom, etc.
- Passes and Meeting Points- Chungthang (the meeting point of Lachung Chu and Lacheng at the origin of River Teesta), Nathu La Pass (India and China border) and Old Silk Route.
- Water Bodies- Changu Lake near Nathu la pass, Aritar lake, Gurudongmar lake, Tsongmo Lake, Khecheopalri Lake, hot springs of Borang, Ralang, Phurchachu, Yumthang, Yumey Samdong, glacier of Rathong, Taluk, Zemu, etc.
- Adventurous Trip- Teesta river is the best for river rafting, whereas trekking on the way through Yuksom to Dzongri to Goecha peak will be a thrilling journey. Some other trek routes are Zemathan, Varsey. Yangang, Pemayangste, Tsokha and so on.
Entry into Sikkim
The best time to visit Sikkim will be between the months of March and June or September and December. Foreigners require a Restricted Area Permit to visit this state. There are no airports or railway stations here. You have to enter the state only through West Bengal via road, railway or by air. Bus, jeep and taxi services are available from West Bengal to enter Sikkim. Helicopter service from Bagdogra, Siliguri (West Bengal) to Gangtok is also available once daily.
If you are a nature lover and want to move away from the crowded city life, then spend few days in Sikkim. It is truly a paradise of nature in India.
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