Sikkim at a Glance
Area (Sq. Kms.): 7096 | Capital : Gangtok | Population (2011): 610577 | No. of District: 4
Sikkim is a beautiful land of manifold tribes and races of people living together. All these diverse tribes and communities have their unique features in addition to their particular dance forms, festivals, languages, culture, and craft forms. The miscellany of ethnic groups, religion, and languages is seen all over Sikkim.
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 : Now Sikkim has its own airport named as Pakyong Airport which is 35 km from Gangtok. Other nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri, West Bengal 124 km away from Gangtok.
Railway: New Jalpaigudi railway station in West Bengal is 148 km away from Gangtok.
Adventure Sports: Mountaineering, Paragliding, Trekking, River Rafting, Yak Safari, Mountain Biking, Hang Gliding
Sikkim, state of India is located in the northeastern part of the country. With an area of 7300 sq Kms and measuring approximately 114 Kms from north to south and 64 Kms from east to west, the elevation ranges from 300 meters to over 8540 meters from the above the sea level. Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state situated in the Himalayas. The state is surrounded by vast stretches of Tibetan Plateaus in the north, the Chumbi valley of Tibet, the kingdom of Nepal in the west, the kingdom of Bhutan in the east, and Darjeeling district of West Bengal in the south.
Sikkim is blessed with some rare and exotic flora and fauna which features 5000 species of flowering plant, 515 rare orchids, 60 primula species, and 36 rhododendron species. This makes it one of the leading states in the region in terms of production and supply of cut flowers to mainland consumer markets.
This northern east state has a range of snow-capped peaks including the mountain Kanchenjunga (8534 meters), the third highest mountain in the world that attracts a large number of travelers from across the globe. Tourism in this state has become a new profession of the Sikkimese people with its vast natural potential. Promotion of cultural tourism, village tourism, ecotourism, homestay, wellness tourism, adventure tourism has taken the tourism to the next level in the state.
It is the only state in India with a Nepalese majority. The predominant religions are Vajrayana Buddhism and Hinduism. Gangtok is the capital city of the state. Sikkim has a booming economy dependent on tourism and agriculture and has the only one open order between India & China. Nestled amidst the grandeur of the mountain peaks, lush greenery, beautiful meadows, fast-flowing river, Sikkim offers the amazing experience to its visitors.
How To Reach Sikkim?
Almost all modes of transportation are available to reach Sikkim. The state is well-connected by air, railways, and road. Despite being a hilly state, transportation of Sikkim is much convenient and frequent.
The nearest airport is Bagdogra, WestBengal which is 124 Kms away from Gangtok. India’s national carrier, Indian Airlines includes almost all other domestic airlines such as Jet Airways, Air India, Go Air run regular flights from the major cities of India such as Delhi, Kolkata etc.
From Bagdogra, one can also avail the Helicopter service to reach Gangtok within 20 minutes only. However, the service completely depends on the weather conditions. Else, one can hire a taxi (Approximately 4 hours drive).
By Train: New Jalpaiguri (NJP) & Siliguri are the two major railway stations Nearest to Sikkim. NJP is 125 Kms and Siliguri is 114 Kms from the capital city Gangtok and is well-connected to all the major cities such as Delhi and Kolkata. You can further board a bus or hire a private taxi, which will take you about 5-6 hours to reach Sikkim.
Gangtok is well-connected by road to Darjeeling, Siliguri, Kalimpong, and also to other district headquarters within Sikkim. Regular bus service operated by (Sikkim Nationalized Transport (SNT) from Gangtok to all major cities and towns in North Bengal and state. Also, private taxies and jeeps are also available throughout the day at a very reasonable fare.
The geographical location of Sikkim with its altitudinal variation allows it to have tropical, temperate, and alpine climatic conditions within the area of 7,096 Kms.
Temperature conditions differ from sub-tropical in the southern lower parts to cold deserts in the snowy north. Also, it is the most humid region in the whole range of Himalayas due to its proximity to the Bay of Bengal and direct exposure to Southern monsoon.
The rains are subjected to monsoon time and are particularly plentiful from the month of May to early October. July is the wettest month in most of the places. The intensity of rainfall during South-West monsoon season depletes from South to North while the winter rainfall occurs in the opposite order. The highest annual rainfall may exceed 5000 mm. An average number of rainy days ranges from 100 at Thangu in north Sikkim to 184 at Gangtok in east Sikkim.
Freezing cold is experienced at higher altitudes of 10,000 ft. plus. The temperature rarely rises above 15°C and heavy snowfall can be experienced during the winter months. Also, some time snowfall occurs during the months, April to mid-November.
- Cold Weather Season: December to February
- Spring Season: March to May
- South-West Monsoon: June to September
- Period of retreating Monsoon: October to November
Indian Nationals do not require any kind of permit to visit unrestricted areas in Sikkim such as Gangtok, Rumtek, Yoksom, Phodong, Pemayangtse etc. However, in order to visit restricted areas which are under army control such as Changu and Yumthang, Indian Nationals are required to get 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 allowed to go to other restricted areas in Sikkim. One can only visit the other restricted areas in Sikkim under special circumstances and permission is required to be sought either from the Home Department or Government of Sikkim. Although the Dzongu area of Sikkim does not come under the restricted areas, one needs to obtain a permit from the north district collectorate at Mangan to visit this place.
Foreigners must obtain Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit northern east state Sikkim for restricted areas as well as unrestricted areas. These can be achieved from all Indian Missions, Sikkim Tourism Offices at New Delhi, Kolkata, District Magistrates Office of Siliguri, Darjeeling, and Rangpo on the basis of an Indian Visa. The 30 days duration Permit is issued on the spot without any delay provided photocopies of the passport and visa along with two passport sized photos of the applicants are made available. Initially, the permissible duration of the stay for foreigners is 30 days.
The State Government is authorized to extend this time period by a further 30 days. Moreover, the extension of the permit can be obtained from FRO at Gangtok and also from the office of Superintendent of Police of the North, West and South Districts.
For those foreign tourists who are interested in going for trekking in the interior region of the state the Tourism and Civil Aviation issues Protected Area Permit (PAP) at Gangtok provided they are in a group of four or more. For further clarifications, they can also contact the information center.
To visit wildlife sanctuaries, one needs to contact Chief Wild Life Warden, Forest Secretariat, Deorali, Gangtok.
Foreigners Entry Formalities:
In order to promote the tourism in Sikkim, restrictions on the entry of foreign tourists into restricted areas of Sikkim have been relaxed. They can now easily 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:
- F.R.O s Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, and C.T.O. Madras.
- Immigration 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.
- Resident Commissioner, Government of Sikkim, 4c, Poonam, 5, Russel Street, Calcutta.
- Deputy Commissioner, Darjeeling.
- Deputy Secretary, Home Department, Government of West Bengal, Calcutta.
Sikkim State Recent Awards And Recognitions:
- 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.