Sikkim is a state in North Eastern India which shares its borders with three different countries. A major section of the Himalayas is comprised of this state. Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim and is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the state. The state attracts a lot of tourists throughout the world owing to its scenic and landscape beauty. The population of Sikkim is lowest in all of India with only 619,000 people living here and it is also the second smallest state in India, just a bit larger than Goa. Indian tourism has got a huge boost due to Sikkim as it has a vibrant tourism culture. If you are planning to visit and want to know about Sikkim in the most detailed manner, this extensive travel guide is for you.
History of Sikkim: The Formation
The only thing the world knows about Sikkim history in the ancient era is that the original inhabitants of the place was Lepcha, nothing more than that is widely known. Buddhism was the first religion to have been introduced in the region where Sikkim is located today and this shaped a lot of culture, rituals and ideologies of the present day state. During the 17th century, Sikkim was founded by Namgyal dynasty on the Silk Road. It was ruled by the Buddhist priest King Chogyal. Sikkim became an Indian state in the year 1975 and it was the 22nd state of the Indian Union.
Geography of Sikkim
Sikkim majorly comprises of mountainous terrains all throughout and the complete state is a part of the Himalayas. It is bordered by the neighboring countries – Nepal on the west, Bhutan on the east, China on the north, and West Bengal on the south. The elevation of the complete state lies in the range of 920ft to a staggering 28,169ft high. It is also home to India’s largest mountain and world’s third largest peak, Kangchenjunga. The mountain lies right on the Sikkim-Nepal border. Since the land of the state is unsuitable for any kind of farming and agriculture, most of the state’s economy thrives on tourism in Sikkim.
Biodiversity of Sikkim
Sikkim is extremely popular for its rich and abundant biodiversity. There are around 18 biodiversity hot spots in the world and 2 of them are in India. Notably, Sikkim is regarded as one of them. Along with 25 biotic provinces including many forests, the state also has a wide range of flora and fauna. More than 4500 flowering plants and over 424 medicinal plants can be found in Sikkim. When it comes to animals, it has an exorbitant 144 types of mammals, 550 different species of birds, 48 types of fishes and a staggering 600 species of butterflies. This speaks volumes about the amount of biodiversity Sikkim boasts of.
Climatic Conditions of Sikkim
The climate of Sikkim is Alpine and Subtropical as it is a hilly region. Since the temperature stays ideal during the months from March to June and September to December, this is the best time to visit Sikkim if you are planning for a holiday. Other months are prone to extreme climatic conditions which can ruin your holidaying experience. The average temperature of the state is 18 Degree Celsius all throughout the year so this ensures that tourists will have a nice time as far as the climate is concerned.
The cultural background of Sikkim is largely adopted from Hinduism and Buddhism as these are two of the most prevalent religions here. However, festivals of all the religions are celebrated with equal enthusiasm and grandeur. The vivid culture from each part of the country shows how incredible India is when it comes to unity in diversity. The musical interests of people here include Western rock, Indian pop and even Lepcha music to a certain extent. You will find a large number of folk dance varieties in Sikkim which includes Chu Faat Dance by the Lepchas and Singhi Chaam Dance of the Bhutias among others.
Interesting Facts about Sikkim
- In the Limbu language, the word Sikkim translates to ‘new house’.
- It is home to the highest mountain in India and the third highest peak in the world.
- State tree of Sikkim is Rhododendron.
- State flower of Sikkim is Noble Dendrobium.
- State animal of Sikkim is Red Panda.
- The state only has 4 districts.
- There are 5 hot water springs in Sikkim and various rivers, all of which are popular vacation spots.
Sikkim Tourism: Best Tourist Attractions
Sikkim is one of the most beautiful places to visit and explore, especially for travel enthusiasts. The tourists would really enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view of the snow clad mountain tops. Sikkim tourist places make a perfect destination for vacation and relaxation. For travelers who are willing to visit this place, below are some of the things they shouldn’t miss during their stay in Sikkim.
- Temples and Monuments: Temples have always been one of the greatest tourist attraction places, especially in a country like India. In Sikkim, Buddhism is practiced by a large number of people so there are many Buddhist monasteries found in Sikkim. The ancient monastery and pagodas are worth visiting in the state. Hanuman Tok, Ganesh Tok, Ranka Monastery, Lachung Gompa are a few popular Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries.
- Wildlife Sanctuary and National Parks: Visiting wildlife sanctuaries and national parks always bring refreshment and helps us come close to Mother Nature. Khangchendzonga National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Sikkim where you can explore exotic animals and birds. The park is included in the UNESCO world heritage site list and is a must visit for all the tourists who are holidaying in Sikkim.
- Adventure Sports: Many tourists love to do a lot of adventurous activities while on their holidays. There are numerous adventurous activities you can try out like mountaineering, trekking, river rafting, yak safari, paragliding, hang gliding, archery and many more while on your trip to Sikkim. The trekking places in the state are complemented with exceptional scenic beauty. You can also enjoy the helicopter ride where you can just enjoy the breathtaking view of the Himalayan range. Although the lack of beaches in the state can restrict you from indulging in water activities but other fun adventure sports like river rafting can compensate for it.
- Natural Beauty: Sikkim has a very beautiful landscape and a pleasant scenic environment. Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world is situated here too. If you’re planning to visit Sikkim, following are some of the most beautiful and mesmerizing places to visit in Sikkim which showcases the state’s natural beauty at their best: Gangtok, Yuksom, Tsomgo Lake, Nathula Pass, Pelling, Lachung, Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden, Zuluk and many more.
There are many top hotels and resorts in Sikkim where you can stay during your visit. You will also find package tours available with exciting offers. So enjoy your vacation in this beautiful place with many romantic places available for tourist and have some amazing memories of this beautiful place called Sikkim. The tour guides here will also show you some horrifying haunted places which you can try visiting for some fun.
People of Sikkim
The locals of Sikkim are extremely humble, friendly and welcoming. It is probably the only state in India which has 11 official languages including: Nepali, Sikkimese, Lepcha, Tamang, Limbu, Newari, Rai, Gurung, Magar, Sunwar, and English. Sikkimese is the regional language in the state but other languages are spoken quite widely as well. The literacy rate of Sikkim is 82.2 percent which is way higher than the country’s average.
Since Sikkim belongs to the North Eastern part of India, noodle based food items are quite popular here. Even momos are a favourite snack of the majority of people here. Apart from food, alcohol drinks including beer, rum, whisky and brandy are consumed in large amounts here. This habit is most probably existent because of the chilling temperatures here.
Major Festivals in Sikkim
The people of Sikkim celebrate all the popular Hindu festivals including major ones such as Diwali and Dussehra. The people in the villages here also celebrate other festivals like Maghe Sankranti, Bhimsen Puja, Lasoong festival, Pang Lhabsol among many other such festivals. The Tibetan New Year which is also known as Losar is celebrated with a lot of fanfare and during this period, schools as well as offices stay closed in Sikkim for around a week. Even Christmas celebrations have started happening in Sikkim capital, Gangtok. This is majorly done for attracting tourists to the city.
Clothing Trends in Sikkim
The popular traditional dresses of Sikkim include Kho, attire which has a loose appearance just like a cloak. It also comprises of a belt made up of cotton or silk. Moreover, people often customize the outfit based on their own likings which make them look typical Sikkimese. Both men and women can wear this outfit comfortably and look praiseworthy in it. Other dressing styles are similar to the trends that follow in the rest of India.
Although Sikkim has the lowest population in India, its population is growing at a massive rate currently. Tourism will definitely be the biggest source of income for people here. But new industries have started putting their resources in Sikkim and we will most probably see many other companies following the suite. This will lead to more jobs and thus, the state will acquire fresh talent from across the country to develop it. However, Sikkim will always be known for the heavenly scenic beauty and numerous tourist spots that it has.
Districts of Sikkim