Sandwiched between the kingdom of Nepal in the West and Bhutan in the east lies a small stretch of rugged land just 115 kilometers by 65 kilometers the Indian state of Sikkim. On its northern border towers the plateau of Tibet whereas it shares its southern border with West Bengal which is another state of India. On the world map it is just a speck with an approximate latitude of 27 degree north and longitude of 88 degrees east but its small size of 7096 sq km belies its richness of culture, customs, heritage, flora and fauna all telescoped into one. By travelling a few hours within Sikkim one can traverse from sultry tropical to temperate and then to alpine climates-and from almost sea level to 18000ft. Although mount Khangchendzonga at about 28000ft is the highest point in Sikkim, there are places like Melli at 1100ft which have a lower than say Hyderabad (1700 ft). A couple of Hours of travel can take you from the almost the rainiest region on earth to a coldest desert where clouds do not dare to venture and where it hardly rains. No wonder Sikkim is a bio-diversity hotspot-Sikkim has only 0.2 percent of the area of India but has 26 percent of its biodiversity-species of flora and fauna-wild animals like marmots and the red panda, a wide range of flora from Primulas to orchids. The pristine and unspoilt natural beauty includes alpine landscapes and thick luxuriant tropical forests, rivers in torrents and peaceful lakes-a trueShangrila and veritable kaleidoscope.
By travelling a few kilometers, one can leave a city like Gangtok with all modern amenities and reach a quaint village that seems anachronistically from a different age and having names like Bringbong and Passingdon.
Sikkim is a nice place to be in. It is not dogged with the social problems and economic problems like discrimination against women faced by other states. Crime is negligible and the state is not troubled by insurgency. There are hardly strikes and bands in the state. Even when there is an all India strike, life in Sikkim goes on as use of fertilizers and pesticides as a step towards becoming an organic state. With a literacy of 82%, the Government has also launched a total Computer literacy programs.
Sikkim was earlier protectorate of India with a monarchy government but in 1975 it metamorphosed as the twenty Second State of the Indian Union. The Population of the whole state is only 619,000 as per the 2012 census.
Surrounded by three countries, Sikkim has a 220 kilometers long borders with Tibet, 100 kilometers with Nepal, 30 kilometers with Bhutan and 80 Kilometers with West Bengal. Because of absence of habitations on both sides of the international border there is hardly any infiltration.
Language Communication for outsiders also poses no problems. Although Nepali is the most widely spoken language in Sikkim, everyone seems to know Hindi and English.
Sikkim is locate4d in the eastern part of India and therefore the times seems to be slightly skewed as Indian Standard Time (IST) is in fact the local time of Allahabad. It dawns early (as early as 3.30 am in June) and also becomes dark early (as early 4.30 pm in winter).
How to Reach Sikkim?
Almost All the modes of transportations are available to visit Sikkim. This Paradise on Earth is well connected by airways, railways and roadways. In spite of being a hilly state, transportation of Sikkim is comfortable and more frequent to enjoy the ride on the world’s most beautiful valley.
Sikkim is well connected to the rest of the state from Silliguri New Jalpaiguri Junction Railway Station (NJP) and Bagdogra Airport. There are reliable Jeeps facilities from all places in Sikkim from NJP/Bagdogra. We recommend to take booked Vehicles from “GATEWAY TO THE HIMALAYAS ADVENTURE “Travel Agent for your convenience. By shared jeeps there won’t be problem to reach Gangtok but accessing the rest part of the state directly from NJP/Bagdogra will be congested because of breakpoints from where you have to take another shared jeeps. Probability is sometimes you won’t be able to get shared jeeps by the time you reach the Break Point as they leave after certain fixed time hence it is better to book for pick up and drop facilities.
Entry Formalities to Sikkim
Foreigners must obtain Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit Sikkim. These can be obtained from all Indian Missions, Sikkim Tourism Offices at New Delhi, Kolkata, District Magistrates Office of Darjeeling, Siliguri, and Rangpo on the strength 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 pass port photos of the applicants are made available. The permissible duration of the stay for foreign tourists is 30 days initially.
The State Government is authorized to extend the same by a further period of 30 days. The extension of the permit can be obtained from FRO at Gangtok and office of Superintendent of Police of the North, West and South Districts.
For those interested in going for trekking in the interior region of the state, the Tourism and Civil Aviation issues Protected Area Permit (PAP) at Gangtok which is available for certain specified area for groups consisting of two or more foreigners subject to condition that the trekking programme is arranged through a registered travel agency.