Sikkim, the small but beautiful kingdom is situated in the eastern Himalayas. Sikkim is termed as the Switzerland of the east, a heavenly paradise on earth. It covers an area of 2818 square miles 7325 square kilometers. It is rectangular in shape with seventy miles in the north to south and forty east to west. Geographically it is 28 Degree 07′ 48” degree and 27 degree 04′ 46” north latitude, and 88 degree 00′ 58′ and 88 degree 55′ 25” east longitude. In the north it is bounded by Tibetan plateau to its east is Bhutan and Chumbi valley of Tibet and in the southern side is bounded by West Bengal India. There are two passes in the eastern boundary with Tibet Nathula pass (4700 metres) and Jelepla(4016 metres ). To the west lies Singalila range which forms the most important boundaries between Nepal and Sikkim with a pass named Chiwabhangjang (3400 metres). There are two important rivers In Sikkim Teesta which starts from Tashidrag Glacier in the north and Rangit which is a tributaries of Teesta river.
Capital : Gangtok
Area : 7300 Sq. Kms.
Population : 4,06457
Climate : Summer – Max. 20.7 C/Min. 13.1 C
Winter : Max. 14.9 C/Min. 7.7 C
Best Season : Mid February – late May / October – December
Minerals : Copper, Zinc, Lead, Pyrites, Limestone, and coal.
Agriculture : Maize and Rice. Millet, Buckwheat, Barley, Pulses, are subsidiary crops.
Cash Crop: Cardamom, ginger, Apples, Oranges, Pine-apples
People : Three ethnic group, Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese.
Religion : Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and other religion are also practised.
Flora and Fauna
Sikkim is densely covered by forest due to heavy rainfall. It can be divided into three zones Tropical zone about 100 metres with its vegetation such as bamboo, fern, pandanus, sal and orchid are found. Dense undergrowth and bush vegetation are found in sub-tropical zone. In the temperate Zone in the northern valley is covered by cherry, laurel, oak, chesnut, Maple, pine and magnolia. Rhododendrons which is abundant is found above (2000 metres ) there are about thirty species . In the north different varieties of Primula is found. There are roughly 4000 variety of flowering plants and shrubs in Sikkim of which orchids are about 700 species with varieties of several in hundreds kinds of butterflies. Regarding the records of Sikkim in wild animals Yeti is believed to be still existing in the Himalayas of Sikkim an expedition was also conducted , there are local people and porters who still talk about witnessing Yeti in the high trekking areas. Snow leopard is found in 4000 metres, Himalayan black bear is found in 2000 metres, above this altitude Barking Deer, Musk Deer, Sambar, Marbled Cat, Leopard Cat, Squirrel, Tiger, Panda, Otter, Ovis, Nahura, ovismon Goral and wild boar is also found.
About 500 species of birds are found in Sikkim. Among them the important birds are Pheasants, Partridges Ducks, and Lammergeyer. Trout and Salmon are the principal fish of Sikkim.
Trekking in Sikkim:
Mt. Kanchendzonga, Guardian deity of Sikkim and the third highest mountain in the world revered and worshipped by the local people provides one of the most beautiful and spell bounding background. The mountains seem formidable and unapproachable at first. But as you approach nearer, it’s welcoming and the beauty of them unfolds before you.
Dzongri in West Sikkim is a proper and well-beaten track. At Yuksam, the motorable road stops and the trek starts. The trek ranges from an altitude of 1,700 meters to 4,950 meters, the trek trails through forests of Rhododendrons, Magnolia, Silvers firs and Alpine vegetation, meandering rivers with views of Mt. Kanchendzonga and surrounding peaks like Mt. Pandim, Jupono, Frey peak, Kabru North/South, Kothang, Thinkchenkhang, Thalung and a lot more.
The Singilila trek route which has been recently opened lies on the ridge defining the boundary between Sikkim and Nepal one can see the different peaks of Mt. Kanchendzonga range, Chola Range and also villages of Nepal on the other side. On the trail there are lot of blue pristine lakes to be seen and sometime it is also known as the lake trek.
North Sikkim is relatively less explored by trekkers and has its own adventure to offer. It is harder and the altitude goes upto 5,250 meters high. The scenic view is a lot similar to the Tibetan plateau with Mt Kanchendzonga, Tent peak, Chorten Nyima Range and one of the world’s most beautiful peaks Mt. Sinolchu, the vegetation here is mostly alpine.
The treks can range from 5 days to 30 days or more. There are also shorter treks and day hikes options like Tendong, Maenam, Varshey treks offering views of mountains and variety of flora and fauna.
Entry Formalities :
Foreigners must obtain Inner line permit (ILP) to visit Sikkim. The permits can be obtained from all Indian missions /Embassies/ Consulates . Tourism Office – New Delhi, Sikkim Tourism Office – Kolkata and Sikkim Tourism Office – Siliguri, Rangpo Tourist Lodge on the strength of an Indian visa. The 15 days duration permit is issued on the spot without any delay provided photocopies of passport and visa details along with two passport photos of the applicants are made available then & there. The permissible duration of stay by foreign tourists would be 15 days initially with the State Government authorized to extend the same by a further period of 60 days of 15 days each. The extension of permits can be obtained from FRO at Gangtok, Superintendent of Police of the North, West and South districts. For those interested in going for trekking in the interior regions of the State, the Department of Tourism issues protected area Permit (PAP) at Gangtok which is available for certain specified areas for groups consisting of two or more foreigners subject to the conditions that the trekking programme can be arranged through us.