Sikkim Tourism | Sikkim Map
General Information about Sikkim:
Sikkim Area :7,096 km2 (2,739.8 sq mi)
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:
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.
The Bagdogra airport is connected to Gangtok by a helicopter service which takes approx. 30 minutes to reach Gangtok.
Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation(+91-3592-222634) operates this service daily at 11:00 AM from Gangtok to Bagdogra and at 2:00 PM from Bagdogra to Gangtok at a price of Rs.1500/- per person. It is a five seater chopper and mountain flights and other such tours to North Sikkim are conducted.
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.
The most widely accepted origin of the name Sikkim is that it is a combination of two words in the Limbu Su, which means "new", and Khyim, which means "palace" or house, in reference to the palace built by the state's first ruler, Phuntsog Namgyal. The Tibetan name for Sikkim is Denjong, which means the "valley of rice". The Lepchas, original inhabitants of Sikkim called it Nye-mae-el or paradise, and the Bhutias call it Beyul Demazong, which means the hidden valley of rice. In Hindu religious texts, Sikkim is known as Indrakil, the garden of Indra.
Geography of Sikkim:
The Himalayan ranges surround the northern, eastern and western borders of Sikkim in a crescent. The Lower Himalayas in the southern reaches of the state are the most densely populated. The state has 28 mountain peaks, more than 80 glaciers, 227 high-altitude lakes including the Tsongmo Lake, Gurudongmar and Khecheopalri Lake, 5 hot springs, and more than 100 rivers and streams. Eight mountain passes connect the state to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal.
Sikkim's hot springs are known for medicinal and therapeutic values. The most important hot springs are at Phurchachu (Reshi), Yumthang, Borang, Ralang, Taram-chu and Yumey Samdong. They have high sulphur content and are located near river banks. Some also emit hydrogen. The average temperature of the water in these hot springs is 50 °C (122 °F).
Geology of Sikkim:
The hills of Sikkim mainly consist of gneissose and half-schistose rocks, making their soil brown clay, and generally poor and shallow. The soil is coarse, with large amounts of iron oxide concentrations, ranging from neutral to acidic and has poor organic and mineral nutrients. This type of soil tends to support evergreen and deciduous forests.
Most of Sikkim is covered by Precambrian rock and is much younger in age than the hills. The rock consists of phyllites and schists and therefore the slopes are highly susceptible to weathering and prone to erosion. This, combined with the intense rain, causes extensive soil erosion and heavy loss of soil nutrients through leaching. As a result, landslides are frequent, isolating the towns and villages from the major urban centres.
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
Subdivisions of Sikkim:
The four districts are East Sikkim, West Sikkim, North Sikkim and South Sikkim. The district capitals are Gangtok, Geyzing, Mangan and Namchi respectively. These Four Districts are further divided into Subdivisions. "Pakyong" and "Rongli" are the subdivisions of the East District. "Soreng" is the subdivision of the West District. "Chungthang" is the subdivision of the North District. "Ravongla" is the subdivision of the South District.
Permits and General Information
INDIAN NATIONALSIndian 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 NATIONALSForeigns 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.
Flora and fauna of Sikkim:
The flora of Sikkim include the rhododendron, the state tree, with a wide range of species occurring from subtropical to alpine regions.
Orchids, figs, laurel, bananas, sal trees and bamboo grow in the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests of the lower altitudes of Sikkim, which enjoy a subtropical-type climate.
In the temperate elevations above 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) are Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests, where oaks, chestnuts, maples, birches, alders, and magnolias grow in large numbers, as well as Himalayan subtropical pine forests, dominated by Chir pine.
The alpine-type vegetation is typically found between an altitude of 3,500 to 5,000 metres (11,500 to 16,000 ft). In lower elevations are found juniper, pine, firs, cypresses and rhododendrons from the Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests. Higher up are Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows, home to a broad variety of rhododendrons and wildflowers.
Sikkim has around 5,000 flowering plants, 515 rare orchids, 60 primula species, 36 rhododendron species, 11 oak varieties, 23 bamboo varieties, 16 conifer species, 362 types of ferns and ferns allies, 8 tree ferns, and over 424 medicinal plants. A variant of the Poinsettia, locally known as "Christmas Flower", can be found in abundance in the mountainous state. The orchid Dendrobium nobile is the official flower of Sikkim.
The fauna include the snow leopard, the musk deer, the Himalayan Tahr, the red panda, the Himalayan marmot, the serow, the goral, the barking deer, the common langur, the Himalayan Black Bear, the clouded leopard, the Marbled Cat, the leopard cat, the wild dog, the Tibetan wolf, the hog badger, the binturong, the jungle cat and the civet cat. Among the animals more commonly found in the alpine zone are yaks, mainly reared for their milk, meat, and as a beast of burden.
The avifauna of Sikkim consist of the Impeyan pheasant, the crimson horned pheasant, the snow partridge, the snow cock, the lammergeyer and griffon vultures, as well as golden eagles, quail, plovers, woodcock, sandpipers, pigeons, Old World flycatchers, babblers and robins. Sikkim has more than 550 species of birds, some of which have been declared endangered.
Sikkim also has a rich diversity of arthropods, many of which remain unstudied even today. As with the rest of India, the most studied group is that of the butterflies. Of approximately 1438 butterfly species found in the Indian subcontinent, 695 have been recorded from Sikkim.These include the endangered Kaiser-i-hind, Yellow Gorgon and the Bhutan Glory.
Things to Do :
- Adventure Sports
- Monastic & Pilgrimage Tours
- White Water Rafting & Kayaking
- Bird watching & Wildlife Tours
- Sight Seeing
- Speciality and Indigenous Tours
- Fishing and Angling
- Yoga, Health & Rejuvenation
Music of Sikkim:
Western rock music and Hindi songs have gained wide acceptance among the Sikkimese. Indigenous Nepali rock and Lepcha music are also popular. Common sports in Sikkim are Football and cricket. Hang gliding and river rafting have also been introduced in order to promote tourism.
Noodle-based dishes such as the thukpa, chowmein, thanthuk, fakthu, gyathuk and wonton are common in Sikkim. Momos, steamed dumplings filled with vegetable, buff (buffalo meat) or pork and served with a soup, are a popular snack. Beer, whiskey, rum and brandy are widely consumed. Sikkim has the third highest per capita alcoholism rate amongst all Indian states, behind Punjab and Haryana.
Literacy in Sikkim is 69.68%, which breaks down into 76.73% for males and 61.46% for females. There are a total of 1157 schools, including 765 schools run by the State government, 7 central government schools and 385 private schools. Twelve colleges and other institutions in Sikkim offer higher education. The largest institution is the Sikkim Manipal University of Technological Sciences, which offers higher education in engineering, medicine and management. It also runs a host of distance education programs in diverse fields. There are two state-run polytechnical schools, Advanced Technical Training Centre (ATTC) and Centre for Computers and Communication Technology (CCCT) in Sikkim which offer diploma courses in various branches of engineering. ATTC is situated at Bardang, Singtam and CCCT at Chisopani, Namchi. Sikkim University a central university, began operating in 2008 at Yangang, which is situated about 28 km from Singtam. Many students, however, migrate to Siliguri, Kolkata, Bangalore and other Indian cities for their higher education.
Sikkim Tourism Offices:
Sikkim Tourist Information Centre,
Mahatma Gandhi Marg,
Sikkim Tourist Information Centre,
New Sikkim House.
14, Panchsheel Marg, Chanakyapuri,
New Delhi - 110021.
Sikkim Tourist Information Centre,
Snt Colony, Hill Cart Road.
Sikkim Tourist Information Centre,
Sikkim Tourist Information Centre,
4c Poonam Building, 5/2 Russell Street
Calcutta - 700017