More about Sikkim
Despite its small area of 2,745 sq mi (7,096 km2), Sikkim is geographically diverse due to its location in the Himalayas. The climate ranges from subtropical to high alpine. Kangchenjunga, the world's third-highest peak, is located in the northwestern part of the state on the boundary with Nepal, and can be seen from most parts of the state. Sikkim is a popular tourist destination for its culture, scenic beauty and biodiversity.
Origin of name: 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 Beymul Demazong, which means the hidden valley of rice.
Fact of Sikkim:
Sikkim: 22nd State of India
District: Mangan, Gangtok, Gyalsing & Namchi
Area: 7,096 Sq. Kms
Location: 27 deg. North, 88 deg. East (Approx)
Climate: Tropical, Temperate & Alpine
Mountains: Mt. Khanchendzonga - 8585m
People: Lepcha, Bhutia, Nepali & Plainsmen
Language: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Hindi & English
Religion: Hinduism, Buddhism & Christianity
Population: 5, 50,000 (Approx)
State Flower: Nobile Orchid
State Animal: Red Panda
State Bird: Blood Pheasant
State Tree: Rhododendron
Nearest airport: Bagdogra (Bhadrapur & Biratnagar in Nepal) near Siliguri
Railhead: New Jalpaiguri near Siliguri.
Places to see in Sikkim:
Gyalshing: Gyalshing is a beautiful place set in the picturesque Himalayan state of Sikkim. Its main attractions, other than trekking up to Dzongri at the base of the Kanchenjunga, are the two old monasteries of Pemayangtse and Tashiding.
Mangan: Mangan is the district headquarters of North Sikkim, a place of stunning beauty. The little hamlets with their flower patches, and the water wheels strung with bells set in exquisite miniature gardens more than compensate for the primitiveness of the region.
The region is famous for the Phensong and Phodong Monastery, the latter being considered one of the six main monasteries of Sikkim.
Namchi: Namchi, meaning 'sky high', is nestled among the hills at an elevation of 5,500 ft, commands panoramic view of the snow capped mountains and vast stretch es of valley.
It is also the district head-quarters of south Sikkim. With it's immense potential for all round tourist activities, it is fast developing as a tourist destination.
Gangtok: Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim since the mid-19th century, sprawls down the west side of a long ridge flanking the Ranipul river. The scenery from this hill town is spectacular and there are excellent views of the entire Kanchenjunga Range from many points within the city. North of Gangtok is the Enchey Gompa and the telecommunication tower. The palace of the former Chogyal, or ruler of Sikkim, and the impressive Royal Chapel are lower down along the ridge. Then there is the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, an Orchid Sanctuary and a large chorten (Tibetan stupa) with an adjoining gompa.
Gangtok is a very popular hill station resort with many fine hotels filled with visitors from all over the country.
Nestled at the foot of Mount Kanchendzonga, Sikkim boasts of an unexplored beauty. Lofty mountains dominate the skyline of Sikkim. The state lays its invitation in green-coated rolling slopes, the rushing hills streams, and tall junipers and Rhododendrons and sparkling orchids. Hilltop monasteries peep from the rugged terrains while multicolored prayer flags wave in the mountain breeze.
Gangtok City: The capital city of the state is now a sprawling urban settlement. Quaint pagoda-roofed houses and colorful monasteries teeming with red-robed lamas sum up Gangtok for you.
Rumtek Monastery: Only 24kms from Gangtok, the magnificent monastery is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Gangtok. It is the residence of 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. houses some of the world's most unique religious scriptures and religious art objects.
Tsomgo Lake: Some 40kms from Gangtok, Tosmgo is a tranquil lake surrounded by frozen hillsides. A drive further uphill would take you to the Nathula Pass, which gives you a bird's eye view of Indo-China frontier. Mind it, entry is restricted for foreign nationals.
Pelling (Pemyangtse): In the western district of Sikkim, Pemyangtse is a picture perfect destination. It offers a breathtaking view of the world's 3rd highest peak of Mount Kanchendzonga. The little place is home to a number of tourist attractions in Gangtok, namely
Pemyangtse Monastery It is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim, located on a hilltop at a height of 6840 ft. Apart from it, there are many other monasteries Pelling like: Sangachoeling Monastery, Dabdi Monastery, Tashiding Monastery and so on.
Khechepalri Lake The sacred lake has crystal clear water. They say that the birds do not permit even a single leaf to float on the lake surface.
Alongside the above, tourist attractions in Sikkim include, plethora of Alpine flora and fauna. Sikkim is also a trekkers' paradise. You can do mountaineering in numerous peaks in and around the state or do white water rafting along the turbulent rivers of the Teesta and the Rangit.
Getting to Sikkim
By Air: Jet Airways and Indian Airlines operate flights from Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati to Bagdogra. From the airport one can take a taxi to the campus at Majitar, Rangpo - the drive takes about three hours. One can also use the services of charter helicopters to travel between Gangtok and Bagdogra.
By Train: One can travel by train from any part of the country to New Jalpaiguri or Siliguri. From here the journey to the campus, which takes 3 hours, can be made by bus or taxi.
By Road: Long distance buses ply from major towns in West Bengal and Assam to Siliguri. The journey from Siliguri to the campus can be made by taxi or bus via the Himalayan foothills along the Teesta and Rangit rivers and passing through the towns of Teestabazar, Melli and Rangpo.
Infrastructure Media Education
Infrastructure: Although roads in Sikkim are often exposed to landslides and flooding by nearby streams, the roads are significantly better than the equivalent roads of other Indian states. The roads are maintained by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), an offshoot of the Indian army. The roads in South Sikkim and NH-31A are in good condition, landslides being less frequent in these areas. The state government maintains 1857.35 km of roadways that do not fall in the BRO jurisdiction.
Sikkim receives most of its electricity from 19 hydroelectric power stations. It has achieved 100% rural electrification. Power also obtained from the National Thermal Power Corporation and Power Grid Corporation of India. However the voltage is unstable and voltage stabilisers are needed. Per capital consumption of electricity in Sikkim is 182 kWh. 73.2% of households have access to safe drinking water, and the large number of streams assures abundant water supply, thus the state never witnesses droughts. The state government has promoted biogas and solar power for cooking but these have received a poor response and are used mostly for lighting purposes.
Media: southern urban areas have English, Nepali and Hindi dailies. Nepali language newspapers as well as some English newspapers are locally printed, whereas Hindi and English newspapers are printed in Siliguri. Important local dailies are the Samay Dainik, Sikkim Express (English), Sikkim Now (English), and Himalibela. The regional editions of English newspapers include The Statesman and The Telegraph, which are printed in Siliguri and available in the same day, as well as The Hindu and The Times of India, printed in Calcutta, which are received with a day's delay in the towns of Gangtok, Jorethang, Melli and Geyzing. Himalaya Darpan, a Nepali daily being published from Siliguri is one of the leading Nepali dailies in the region. The Sikkim Herald is an official weekly publication of the government. Online media covering Sikkim include the Nepali newspaper Himgiri, the English news portal Haalkhabar and the literary magazine Tistarangit. Avyakta, Bilokan, Journal of Hill Research, Khaber Khagaj, Panda, and Sikkim Science Society Newsletter are the registered publications in Bengali, Nepali, and English published out of Sikkim in weekly, quarterly, half-yearly, and annual periodicities.
Internet cafes are well established in the district capitals, but broadband connectivity is not widely available, and many rural areas have yet to be linked to the Internet. Satellite television channels through dish antennae are available in most homes in the state. Channels served are the same available throughout India along with a Nepali language channels. The main service providers are Dish TV, Doordarshan and Nayuma. The area is well serviced by local cellular companies such as BSNL, Vodafone, Reliance Infocomm, and Airtel. BSNL has state wide coverage, whereas Reliance Infocomm, Vodafone and Airtel have coverage only in urban areas. The national All India Radio is the only radio station in the state.[citation needed
Education: Literacy is 69.68%, which breaks down into 76.73% for males and 61.46% for females. There are a total of 1545 government-run educational institutions and eighteen private schools mostly located in the towns. There are about twelve colleges and other institutions in Sikkim that 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 in diverse fields. There are two state-run polytechnics, 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 is going to start functioning from 2008 at Yangang which is situated about 28 km from Singtam. Many students however, migrate to Siliguri, Calcutta, Bangalore and other Indian cities for their higher education.
Demographics Culture Government and politics:
Demographics: Today the majority of Sikkim's residents are of Nepali ethnic-national origin who came to the province in the 19th century. The native Sikkimese consist of the Bhutias, who migrated from the Kham district of Tibet in the 14th century, and the Lepchas who are believed to have migrated from the Far East. Tibetans reside mostly in the northern and eastern reaches of the state. Immigrant resident communities not native to the state include the Marwaris, who own most of the shops in South Sikkim and Gangtok; the Biharis and the Bengalis, most of whom are employed in blue collar jobs.
Hinduism is the majority religion in the state with 60.9% of the population adhering to the religion. Buddhism forms a large minority with 28.1% of the population following the religion. Christians form 6.7% of the population, consisting mostly of people of Lepcha origin, converted to the faith after British missionaries started preaching in the region in the late 19th century. The state has never had inter-religious strife. Among the minorities are Muslims of Bihari ethnicity.
Nepali is the lingua franca of Sikkim. English and Hindi are also spoken and understood in most of Sikkim. Other languages spoken in Sikkim include Bhutia, Dzongkha, Groma, Gurung, Lepcha, Limbu, Magar, Majhi, Majhwar, Nepal Bhasa, Rai, Sikkimese, Sherpa, Sunuwar, Tamang, Thulung, Tibetan, and Yakha.
As India's least populous state, Sikkim has only 540,493 inhabitants, with 288,217 males and 252,276 females. It is also one of the least densely populated states with only 76 persons per square kilometre. Its growth rate is 32.98% (1991-2001). The sex ratio is 875 females per 1000 males. With 50,000 inhabitants, Gangtok is the state's only significant town. The urban population in Sikkim is 11.06%. The per capital income stands at Rs. 11,356, which is one of the highest in the country.
Culture: Sikkim residents celebrate all major Indian festivals such as Diwali and Dussera, the popular Hindu festivals. They also popularly celebrate Losar, Loosong, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen, Drupka Teshi and Bhumchu, which are Buddhist festivals. During the Losar "the Tibetan New Year" most government offices and tourist centres close for a week. Muslims celebrate Id-ul-fitr and Muharram. Christmas is also recently being promoted in Gangtok to attract tourists during the off-season.
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 has the third highest per capita alcoholism rate amongst all Indian states.
Government and politics: Like all states of India, the head of the state government is a governor appointed by the Central Indian Government. His/her appointment is largely ceremonial, and his/her main role is to oversee the swearing in of the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister, who holds the real executive powers, is the head of the party or coalition garnering the largest majority in the state elections. The governor also appoints the cabinet ministers on the advice of the Chief Minister. Sikkim has a unicameral legislature like most other Indian states. Sikkim is allocated one seat in each of both chambers of India's national bicameral legislature, the Lok Sabha, and the Rajya Sabha. There are a total of 32 state assembly seats including one reserved for the Sangha. The Sikkim High Court is the smallest high court in the country.
State symbols State day May 16 (day of accession to India)
State animal Red Panda
State bird Blood Pheasant
State tree Rhododendron
State flower Noble orchid
In 1975, after the abrogation of Sikkim's monarchy, the Congress Party got the largest majority in the 1977 elections. In 1979, after a period of instability, a popular ministry headed by Nar Bahadur Bhandari, leader of the Sikkim Sangram Parishad Party was sworn in. Bhandari held on to power in the 1984 and 1989 elections. In the 1994 elections Pawan Kumar Chamling from the Sikkim Democratic Front becoming the Chief Minister of the state. The party has since held on to power by winning the 1999 and 2004 elections. The SDF won all the 32 seats of the state assembly in the the 2009 assembly elections.
Subdivisions Economy Transport:
Subdivisions: Sikkim has four districts, each overseen by a Central Government appointee, the district collector, who is in charge of the administration of the civilian areas of the districts. The Indian army has control of a large territory, as the state is a sensitive border area. Many areas are restricted and permits are needed to visit them. There are eight towns and nine subdivisions in 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" is the subdivision of East District. "Soreng" is the subdivision of West District. "Chungthang" is the subdivision of North District. "Ravongla" is the subdivision of South District.
Economy: This is a chart of trend of gross state domestic product of Sikkim at market prices estimated by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.
Year Gross State Domestic Product
Sikkim's gross state domestic product for 2004 is estimated at $478 million in current prices.
Sikkim's economy is largely agrarian. The British introduced terraced farming of rice. Besides, crops such as maize, millet, wheat, barley, oranges, tea and cardamom. Sikkim has the highest production and largest cultivated area of cardamom in India. Because of the hilly terrain, and lack of reliable transportation infrastructure, there are no large-scale industries. Breweries, distilleries, tanning and watch making are the main industries. These are located in the southern reaches of the state, primarily in the towns of Melli and Jorethang. The state has an high growth rate of 8.3%, which is the second highest in the country after Delhi.
Elaichi or Cardamom is the chief cash crop of Sikkim.In recent years, the government of Sikkim has extensively promoted tourism. As a result, the state revenue has increased 14 times since the mid-1990s. A fledgling industry the state has recently invested in is online gambling. The Playwin lottery has been a commercial success and operates all over the country. Among the minerals mined in Sikkim are copper, dolomite, limestone, graphite, mica, iron and coal.
The opening of the Nathula Pass on July 6, 2006 connecting Lhasa, Tibet to India is expected to give a boost to the local economy, though the financial benefits will be slow to arrive. The Pass, closed since the 1962 Sino-Indian War, was an offshoot of the ancient Silk Road, which was essential to the wool, fur and spice trade.
Transport: Sikkim does not have any airports or railheads because of its rough terrain, however a Government Grant has been approved for an airport in Pakyong. The closest airport, Bagdogra Airport, is near the town of Siliguri, West Bengal. The airport is about 124 km away from Gangtok. From Gangtok there are car to Bagdora. The Gangtok helipad is the only civilian helipad in the state. The closest railway station is New Jalpaiguri which is situated sixteen kilometres from Siliguri.
National Highway 31A links Siliguri to Gangtok. The Sikkim National Transport runs bus and truck services. Privately-run bus, tourist taxi and jeep services ply throughout Sikkim and also connect it to Siliguri. A branch of the highway from Melli connects western Sikkim. Towns in southern and western Sikkim are connected to the northern West Bengal hill stations of Kalimpong and Darjeeling. The state is connected to China by Nathu La.
Festivals Flora Fauna:
Festivals in Sikkim: Sikkimese people has always accepted the flavor of different culture and tradition with warm heart. Here in Sikkim people loves to get together and celebrate all festivals with joy and happiness from Loosong to Dashera and from Holi to Christmas every festival is a special festivals for the people of sikkim. Some of the most Important festivals of Sikkim are Dashera, Diwali, Maghe Sakrati, Vishwakarma Puja, Holi, Ramnavami, Namsoong, Sakewa, Tendong-lho-rum-faat, Bhani jayanti, Tamu Lochar, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen, Dukpa Tshetse, Phang Labsol, Losar, Loosong, Kayged Dance, Id-ul-fitr, Christmas.
Flora Fauna: Sikkim has the altitude that varies right from sea level to summits that touch the skies, the flora and fauna naturally covers a wide spectrum. Nowhere in the world in such a small area can one find flora and fauna of all varieties - Tropical to the Alpines. Sikkim's botanical and zoological richness is awe- inspiring, boasting of more than 4000 species of plants and 30% of all the birds found in the Indian sub-continent.
Flora: The lowlands in the south, 800'to 5000', experience a tropical climate; lush vegetation such as figs, laurel, Sal trees and bamboos have been cleared in some areas for farming. The temperate forest of oak, chestnut, maple, birch, alder, magnolia and silver fir dominates between 5000; and 13000. Above 13000, is the alpine zone where juniper, cypresses and rhododendrons grow. The perpetual snowline lies at 16000'. Luxuriant forests cover 36% of the land, more than 4000 species of plant have been recorded in Sikkim. Over 600 species of orchids grow in Sikkim, Epiphytal and terrestrial types, in the tropical and temperate zones. 35 species of rhododendrons grow in temperate and alpine regions, their flowering from May to August colures hillsides.
Fauna: Among the more commonly found animals in the alpine zone are yaks. They are domesticated and reared in North Sikkim mainly for their economic productiveness. Yak milk is used to make butter the wool comes in handy as raw material for carpets and blankets. The musk deer, found in the upper temperate regions, is today a species in the endangered list. A common denizen of Sikkim is the muntjac, or the Barking Deer. Among the more exotic mammals is the Red Panda which lives mostly on treetops. It is found at altitudes ranging from 6,000 to 12,000 feet. The snow leopard is an almost mythical animal. It has rarely been sighted and to date, only two field zoologists have succeeded in photographing this elusive animal in its habitat which can vary from 5,000 feet to as high as 18,000 feet. Blue sheep, flying squirrels, binturong, marmots and musk deer are at home in this cool blanket of green. Over 400 varieties of butterflies and moths adorn the forest with colour and life. Giant Lammergeier Vultures, Eagles, Whistling Thursh, Minivets, Bulbuls and Pheasants are some from among the 550 species of birds recorded in Sikkim some of which have been declared endangered.
Geography Geology Climate:
Geography: The thumb-shaped state of Sikkim is characterized by wholly mountainous terrain. Almost the entire state is hilly, with an elevation that ranges from 280 metres (920 ft) to 8,585 metres (28,000 ft). The summit of the Kangchenjunga is the highest point which falls in Nepal among the top eight mountains residing on Nepal. For the most part, the land is unfit for agriculture because of the precipitous and rocky slopes. However, certain hill slopes have been converted into farm lands using terrace farming techniques. Numerous snow-fed streams in Sikkim have carved out river valleys in the west and south of the state. These streams combine into the Teesta and its tributary, the Rangeet. The Teesta, described as the "lifeline of Sikkim", flows through the state from north to south. About a third of the land is heavily forested.
The lofty Himalayan ranges surround the northern, eastern and western borders of Sikkim in a crescent. The populated areas lie in the southern reaches of the state, in the Lower Himalayas. The state has 28 mountain peaks; 21 glaciers; 227 high-altitude lakes, including the Tsongmo Lake, Gurudongmar and Khecheopalri Lakes; 5 hot springs; and more than 100 rivers and streams. Eight mountain passes connect the state to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal.
Unfrozen Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim. Sikkim has several hot springs 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: 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.
A large portion of the Sikkim territory is covered by the 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 numerous small towns and villages from the major urban centres.
Climate: 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 0C (32F) 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 0C (32F) in winter. The mean monthly temperature in summer is 15C. 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 18C (64F). Sikkim is one of the few states in India to receive regular snowfall. The snow line is around 6 000 metres (19,600 feet).
During the monsoon months, the state is lashed by heavy rains that increase the number of landslides. The state record for the longest period of non-stop rain is 11 days. In the northern region, because of high altitude, temperatures drop below -40 C (-40F) in winter. Fog also affects many parts of the state during winter and the monsoons, making transportation extremely perilous.
Sikkim Visa Information:
Visa Requirements: Citizens of all countries (including Commonwealth) require a valid passport an an appropriate (entry, transit or tourist) visa. The visa must be obtained abroad from an Indian Mission. If planning to visit a neighboring country such as Nepal and then re-entering India, a double/multiple entry visa should be obtained.
* Original passport valid for at least six months
* Correct visa fee.
* Two passport-size photographs (five photographs in case of Pakistani nationals)
* Supporting documents, where necessary
* Duly completed application form (Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals need to apply on special application forms)
* Tourists from other countries are advised to check current applicable visa fee/visa extension fees with government of India Tourist Offices or Indian Consular Offices located in their respective countries.
* Validity of all visas is counted from the date of their issue.
For each visit on a tourist visa or business visa, the duration of stay in India is only for a period of six months even though a valid visa may be for more than six months.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
Tourist Visas: Usually, a multi-entry visa, valid for a period of 180 days, is granted for the purpose of tourism. The visa is valid from the date of issue. Tourist Visa can also be given for 3 months, valid from date 1st entry into India which should be within 2 months from date of issue.
Collective Visas:The facilities exists for issuing collective visas to group tours of not less than 4 members and sponsored by a government recognised travel agency. Such groups may split into smaller groups to visit different places in India after obtaining a collective "licence to travel" from Indian immigration authorities. They must reassemble and depart as the original group.
Transit Visas:Transit visas are granted by Indian Missions abroad for a maximum period of 15 days.
Employment Visa:This visa is issued to skilled and qualified professionals or persons who are engaged or appointed by companies, organizations, economic undertakings as technicians, technical experts, senior executives, etc. Applicants are required to submit proof of contract/employment/engagement of foreign nationals by the company or organization.
Exemption from Registration:Foreigners coming to India on tourist visas for 180 days or a shorter period are not require to register themselves with any authority in India. They can move about freely in the country, except to restricted/protected areas and prohibited places.
Visa Extension: For extending the visa apply for a letter of permission from the
Ministry of Home Affairs
Lok Nayak Bhavan, 1st floor
Khan Market, New Delhi 110003
Phone: 24693334, 24612543, 2461764