Sikkim is a state in northeast India, bordered by Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal. Part of the Himalayas, the area has a dramatic landscape that includes India’s highest mountain, 8,586m Kangchenjunga. Sikkim is also home to glaciers, alpine meadows and thousands of varieties of wildflowers. Steep paths lead to hilltop Buddhist monasteries such as Pemayangtse, which dates to the early 1700s.
Sikkim is area in present-day North-East India, began in 1642 as a kingdom established when India and Nepal were still many princely states with many rulers at that time and had not unified to the present Union of India and present country of Nepal. At that time Sikkim had already solidified into country then with a king known as a Chogyal or dharma king, and till 16 May 1975 was an independent country ruled by the monarchs. Sikkim had twelve kings; Palden Thondup Namgyal was the last king of Independent Sikkim. There was contacts between ancient Hindus and Tibetans, followed by the establishment of a Buddhist kingdom or Chogyal in the 17th century. Sikkim emerged as a polity in its own right against a backdrop of incursions from Tibet and Bhutan, during which the kingdom enjoyed varying degrees of independence. In the early 18th century, the British Empire sought to establish trade routes with Tibet, leading Sikkim to fall under British suzerainty until independence in 1947. Initially, Sikkim remained an independent country, until it merged with India in 1975 after a decisive referendum. Many provisions of the Indian constitution had to be altered to accommodate the international treaties between Sikkim and India.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Sikkim is either between March and May or October and mid-December. If you want to witness the blooming natural beauty in Gangtok best season to visit would be in spring, from March to May. Autumn, on the other hand, brings the clear view of Himalayan Range.
RELIGION OF SIKKIM
Hinduism is the state's majority religion.It is practised mainly by ethnic Nepalis an estimated 57.8 per cent of the total population are adherents of the religion. There are many Hindu temples throughout the state. Vajrayana Buddhism, which accounts for 27.3 per cent of the population, is Sikkim's second-largest, yet most prominent religion. Prior to Sikkim's becoming a part of the Indian Union, Vajrayana Buddhism was the state religion under the Chogyal.Christians in Sikkim are mostly descendants of Lepcha people who were converted by British missionaries in the late 19th century, and constitute around 10 per cent of the population
LANGUAGES OF SIKKIM
Nepali is the lingua franca of sikkim while sikkimese (bhutia) and lepcha are spoken in certain areas. English is also spoken and understood in most of sikkim. Other languages include Dzongkha, Groma, Gurung, Limboo, Magar, Majhi, Majhwar, Nepali bhasha, Rai, Sherpa, Sunuwar, Tamang, Thulung, Tibetan and Yakha.
FESTIVALS OF SIKKIM
Sikkim's Nepalese majority celebrate all major Hindu festivals, including Diwali and Dussera. Traditional local festivals, such as Maghe Sankranti and Bhimsen Puja, are popular.Losar, Loosong, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen, Drupka Teshi and Bhumchu are among the Buddhist festivals celebrated in Sikkim. During the Losar (Tibetan New Year), most offices and educational institutions are closed for a week.Sikkimese Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Fitr and Muharram. Christmas has been promoted in Gangtok to attract tourists during the off-season.
TOURIST PLACES TO VISIT
GANGTOK - Gangtok is the capital of East district and Pakyong is the sub divisional head quarter of East District. Gangtok is located at an altitude of 1780 meters and is a charming, laid – back town. It is the hub of commercial activity is the base for explorations into some of Sikkim’s most alluring features. Prominent feature of this clean town is Orchids, Butterfly, Snow Peak Mountain and beautiful places around the gangtok.
RUMTEK MONASTERY - Rumtek Monastery, also called the Dharmachakra Centre, is a gompa located in the Indian state of Sikkim near the capital Gangtok. It is a focal point for the sectarian tensions within the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism that characterize the Karmapa controversy.The monastery is currently the largest in Sikkim.It is home to the community of monks and where they perform the rituals and practices of the Karma Kagyu lineage.
TSOMGO LAKE - Tsomgo Lake, also known as Tsongmo Lake or Changu Lake, is a glacial lake in the East Sikkim district of the Indian state of Sikkim, some 40 kilometres from the capital Gangtok. Located at an elevation of 3,753 m, the lake remains frozen during the winter season.The lake surface reflects different colours with change of seasons and is held in great reverence by the local Sikkimese people. Buddhist monks prognosticated after studying the changing colours of the lake.
ZULUK SILK ROUTE - Dzuluk or Zuluk or Jhuluk or Jaluk is a small hamlet located at a height of around 10,000 feet (3,000 m) on the rugged terrain of the lower Himalayas in East Sikkim of the Indian state Sikkim . This place is relatively an emerging and offbeat destination in East Sikkim. Today it is fast emerging as a new tourist destination. It derives its tourism importance due to the excellent view of the eastern Himalayan mountain range including the Kanchenjunga.
YUKSOM - Located in the Western parts of Sikkim, Yuksom is the origin of several enthralling treks into the Himalayas or the magical Kanchenjunga. The once a capital of Sikkim, this hamlet is more known for its pristine beauty and rustic appeal.Also known as the ‘Meeting place of Three Lamas’, this Sikkimese village has recently started gaining tourism attention.Yuksom is where there is the Norbugang Chorten near the Norbugang throne, the place Namgyal was crowned and several monasteries and a lake. The dynastic rule of the Chogyals lasted for 333 years.
NAMCHI - Namchi is also famous for its giant statues. It currently has two of them -- one Buddhist and one Hindu -- and a third one is apparently being planned. The Buddhist statue, of Guru Padmasambhava (credited with introducing Tantric Buddhism to the Hinalayan region), reaches around 140 feet tall. It has a commanding position on Samdruptse Hill, 7,000 feet above sea level. Not quite as tall but perhaps more impressive is the white 108 foot high Lord Shiva statue at Solophuk Hill, south of Namchi. The epic complex surrounding the statue contains guest houses and temples, including replicas of the holy Char Dham.
RAVANGLA - Ravangla or Ravongla is a small tourist town situated at an elevation of 7000 ft in South Sikkim district of the Indian state of Sikkim. It is connected by state highway to other major towns in the state and lies between Pelling and Gangtok.Halfway between Ravangla and Namchi, you'll find picturesque Temi Tea Garden. It's only tea garden in Sikkim.
PELLING - Pelling is a small town in the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim, at the foothills of Mount Khangchendzonga. The late-17th-century Buddhist Sanga Choling Monastery has mountain views. Pemayangtse Monastery features wall paintings, sculptures and a gold-plated statue of Guru Padsambhava. Overlooking a valley.
LACHUNG - Lachung is a mountain village close to the Tibetan border, in the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim. It's divided by the Lachung River. The village is home to the 19th-century Buddhist Lachung Monastery, surrounded by apple orchards. Nearby, the Yumthang Valley's Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary protects many species of rhododendron.
LACHEN - Lachen is a town in North Sikkim district in the Indian state of Sikkim. It is located at an elevation of 2,750 metres. The name Lachen means "big pass". The town is being promoted as a tourist destination by the Sikkimese government. The town forms the base to the Chopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake.
YUMTHANG VALLEY - The Yumthang Valley or Sikkim Valley of Flowers sanctuary, is a nature sanctuary with river, hot springs, yaks and grazing pasture on rolling meadows surrounded by the Himalayan mountains in the North Sikkim district of Sikkim state in India.
GURUDONGMAR LAKE - Set at an altitude of 17,800 ft, Gurudongmar Lake is a high altitude Himalayan lake which is scenic and peaceful. Hemmed in by snow-covered mountains, this lake remains frozen during the winter season and during summers, the lake water reflects the sky and clouds like a mirror.It is one of the highly suggested places to visit in Sikkim on the Northern side of Kanchenjunga mountain range which is situated at around 180 kilometers from Gangtok. Due to the proximity to the Chinese Tibetan border, one has to take permits to visit the lake.
NATHULA PASS - Nathu La is a mountain pass in the Himalayas in East Sikkim district. It connects the Indian state of Sikkim with China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The pass, at 4,310 m above mean sea level, forms a part of an offshoot of the ancient Silk Road. Nathu means "listening ears" and La means "pass" in Tibetan.