Geography

Sikkim is broadly divided into four districts.

The east district with capital city of Gangtok is the hub of all administrative activity. The famous Rumtek Monastery, the Dharma Chakra Centre and the seat of his Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa, all are located here. Other places of interest include the Tsomgo Lake and the Nathula Pass.

A most beautiful district, the North District is an abundance of the natural splendor and Alpine scenery. During spring time, the meadows are alive with exotic wild flowers that cover the valley in charming hues. The hot springs and tribal customs & culture here are very attractive.

The west district offers the ultimate in adventure. From white water rafting on the foaming Teesta and Rangit, to trekking through thick Rhododendron forests- the district offers it all. A breathtaking view of Mt. Kanchenjunga can be had from Pelling that has developed as a major tourist attraction. The sacred lake of Khechiperi also lies close to Pelling.

The South District is home to some of the oldest monasteries in the state. Adventure treks to Maenam and Tengdong Hill originate from Rawangla. The region is also just-right for mountain biking and simply watching ‘nature’.

  • Sikkim

    Sikkim is picturesque and verdant with clean crisp air, deep blue mountain lakes, gorgeous Buddhist monasteries and hillsides ablaze with rhododendrons against a backdrop of snow-clad mountains. If you are looking for exciting trekking routes in a picturesque terrain, or a quiet communion with the mountains, there are few places in India that would match the Himalayan state of Sikkim. This tiny state of Sikkim, bigger only than Goa and Delhi and India’s least populated, lies tucked in between Nepal and Bhutan in India’s eastern region.


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  • History

    The original inhabitants of Sikkim are the Lepchas. In the 13th century, their chief, Thekong Tek, signed a treaty of blood brotherhood with the Tibetan prince Khye-Bumsa. Following this, the Bhutias came from Tibet in the 14th century and inhabited parts of the land while the Lepchas continued their peaceful lives centred on their villages. In 1642, Phuntsog Namgyal, a sixth generation descendant of Khye-Bumsa was consecrated as the ‘Chogyal’ (King) by three revered ‘lamas’ (priests) and a ‘hidden kingdom in the clouds’ was born.


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  • Geography

    Sikkim is broadly divided into four districts.

    The east district with capital city of Gangtok is the hub of all administrative activity. The famous Rumtek Monastery, the Dharma Chakra Centre and the seat of his Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa, all are located here. Other places of interest include the Tsomgo Lake and the Nathula Pass.

    A most beautiful district, the North District is an abundance of the natural splendor and Alpine scenery. During spring time, the meadows are alive with exotic wild flowers that cover the valley in charming hues. The hot springs and tribal customs & culture here are very attractive.


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  • People

    The first known people of Sikkim were the Lepchas. The Lepchas were the original people of Sikkim before the Bhutias and Nepalis. Originally the inhabitants of Sikkim these people mostly lived on agriculture of paddy, oranges and cardamom. Although, the earliest Lepcha settlers believed and worshipped spirits of mountains, forests and rivers, later they adopted Buddhism and Christianity.


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  • Religion

    The Nepalese community, which represents over two-thirds of the population, follows Hinduism. The Lepchas continue to practise their traditional beliefs. Their beliefs centre around spirits and the "shamans" who cure illnesses and preside over ceremonies during birth, marriage and death. The Bhutias practise Buddhism and were responsible for converting the Lepchas to Mahayana Buddhism.
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  • Art & Culture

    Sikkim is famous for its "mask dances" performed by lamas (monks) in the gompa (temple) courtyard to celebrate religious festivals. Costumed lamas wearing gaily-painted masks, ceremonial swords and sparkling jewels leap and swing to the sound of resounding drums, trumpeting horns and religious chanting.

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  • Flora & Fauna

    Sikkim, in addition with its mountains and lakes, has acquired its maximum splendor owing to its loaded flora and fauna. Located in a natural spot of the lower Himalayas, Sikkim is one amongst the three eco-regions of India. Sikkim has acquired a small portion in the domain of India, yet the state boasts of a rich variety of plants and animals. Perhaps, the main reason could be the weather that remains favorable for the vegetation. Due to the altitudinal shift, Sikkim possesses an extensive range of plants and foliage, providing a great place to explore for a naturalist.


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  • Entry to Sikkim

    By Air

    Sikkim is not directly served by air. The closest airport is at Bagdogra, in the state of West Bengal. The 124 km drive to Gangtok takes 5 hours and is facilitated by numerous taxis, shared jeeps and hired cars with chauffeurs.

    A helicopter service between Gangtok - Bagdogra – Gangtok is also available. The flight from Bagdogra 30 minutes to reach Gangtok. Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (+91-3592-222634) operates this service daily at 11:00 AM from Gangtok to Bagdogra and at 2:00 PM from Bagdogra to Gangtok, so it would be best to check with them regarding operation.

    By Rail

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  • Visa & Immigration

    Beside Indian visa, 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.


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  • Festivals

    Religious festivals in Sikkim are famous for "mask dances" performed by lamas (monks) in the gompa (temple) courtyard to celebrate religious festivals. Costumed lamas wearing gaily-painted masks, ceremonial swords and sparkling jewels leap and swing to the sound of resounding drums, trumpeting horns and religious chanting.

    Saga Dawa is a very auspicious day for the Mahayana Buddhists. On this day people go to monasteries to offer butter lamps and worship. A huge procession of monks goes around Gangtok with the Buddhist Holy Scriptures.


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  • Activities

    Beside comfort tours there are many outdoor activities in Sikkim ranging from hang gliding, kayaking and canoeing to mountain biking, rafting and trekking.

    Tours: There are plenty of extraordinary places to see in Sikkim. Most of them are nature’s marvels; some of them are remote and esoteric Tibeto-Buddhist Monasteries. Dzongri is the region for treks. Gangtok is the capital city that now retains very few of its traditional Sikkimese elements. It is a modern hill station with every amenity you may possibly want. Although people visit to savour the marvelous temperate weather, the Buddhist past of the city also has tremendous appeal.


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  • Weather

    The climate of Sikkim is temperate, with fairly heavy rainfall in most parts of the state during the monsoons (June to September). The average rainfall is 125 cm. In summer, the temperature rises to 28 degree Celsius and falls to a minimum of 13 degree Celsius. In winter the maximum temperature is 18 degree Celsius and the minimum temperature is 7 degree Celsius.


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  • Clothing

    There is nothing special about how to dress in Sikkim, yet one is expected to dress in a decent manner to avoid unwanted attention.

    Being located in hilly region, the climate of Sikkim is uncertain; sudden drizzles make the climate bitterly cold. So, one should pack enough warm clothes to face the spell of chilly winds. In the region of towns and monasteries, women are advised not to wear short and skimpy clothes. Men should be dressed in full pants and full-sleeved shirts. Throughout the season of autumn and early spring, warm pullovers or jackets are required in mornings and evenings.


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  • Darjeeling

    Darjeeling, the Queen of Hills, is a world famous tourist destination in the state of West Bengal, India. Nestled among the lower Himalayas, it is known for its raw and captivating natural beauty and excellent quality of tea it produces; Darjeeling tea is aptly titled as the ‘champagne of tea’ for its exquisite flavor and taste. It is also famous for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is lovingly called the ‘Toy-Train’ – a favorite among tourists.

    Darjeeling is the headquarters of the district consisting of five sub-divisions: Darjeeling town, Siliguri, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Islampur. Darjeeling in the past was under the rule of the erstwhile kingdom of Sikkim, which was leased to the British East India Company and was converted into a beautiful hill station and became a favorite among holiday makers. Darjeeling is a name of Tibetan origin, which means the “Land of the Thunderbolt”.

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  • Geography

    The town and hill station of Darjeeling lies in northern West Bengal, India. Darjeeling district lies between 26° 31' and 27° 13' north latitude and between 87° 59' and 88° 53' east longitude. With an area of 1,200 sq. miles, the district is shaped like an irregular triangle, the southern region, the base, comprises the Terrai, a marshy low-lying area at an average height of 100 m above sea level; the apex is formed by the Phalut ridge where Nepal meets India. The eastern frontier lies along the rivers Tista and Rangeet, beyond is Rishi-La and Bhutan.
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  • History

    Darjeeling formed a part of dominions of the Raja of Sikkim, who had been engaged in an unsuccessful warfare against the Gorkhas. From 1780 the Gorkhas constantly made inroads into Sikkim and by the beginning of 19th Century, they had overrun Sikkim as far eastward as the Teesta and had conquered and annexed the Terai. E.C.Dozey in his ‘Darjeeling Past and Present’ writes, “Prior to the year 1816, the whole of the territory known as British Sikkim belonged to Nepal, which won it by conquest."
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  • People

    The original inhabitants of the Darjeeling Hills were Lepchas or Rongpa (the ravine folks) as they prefer themselves to be known as. Though their origin is obscure, they are decidedly Mongolian in feature. The Khampas, another branch of the Lepchas, are warrior-like and dashing. The Khampas are recent immigrants from Tibet. The greater bulk of the people in the Hills are Gorkhas. They are industrious and enterprising as a race and speak various dialects. The short Mongolian type Nepalese, the Gorkhas, renowned for their military prowess the world over, and the first to be decorated with the coveted Victoria Cross, finds jobs and security both in the British and Indian armies. They carry the traditional weapon, the Khukri-a curved ornamental knife. Among the population are also the Sherpas. They are well known for their courage, stamina and surefootedness and for their immeasurable contributions to Mountaineering. Also much in evidence in the Hills is the Bhutias and they are divided into Tibetan, Bhutan, Dharma and Sikkimese Bhutias and a greater bulk of Bengalee from Siliguri subdivision.
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  • Art & Craft

    The culture of the hill people of Darjeeling are uniquely expressed in the exquisite and inimitable artistic handicrafts of the district and their traditional colorful designs, which show marked resemblance to the art of neighboring Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. Among the artistic crafts, ornaments, trinkets and handlooms are worth mentioning. There is also fine craftsmanship in wood-work and bamboo fret work. While the principal utility products are blankets, woolen knitted garments and woven fabrics, the artistic products are hand-bags, wall panels, fire-screens, folding partitions, Bhutan paintings, cotton shoulder-bags etc. Beautiful curios are made at Darjeeling and Kalimpong on copper plates studded with red and blue stones with engravings of replicas of deities. Wonderful Tankas with paintings depicting the life of Lord Buddha are also available. Woolen carpets are made in a combination of shades in vegetable and synthetic dyes. Bhutia chaddars can be found in beautiful textures. Decorative Nepali khukris are made in Ghum. Bedroom slippers and rope-sole shoes, jackets, hats, hanzu coats made from handloom cloth and masks are among the many items which attract tourists and curio collectors.
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  • Flora & Fauna

    The forests in and around Darjeeling have delightful flora and fauna. It is a plant lover’s paradise. Four thousand species of flowering plants, three hundred varieties of ferns, including tree fern and countless types of flowerless plants, mosses, algae, fungi, birches, and of course, the prize orchids, wild and cultivated. There are oaks, chestnuts, cherry, maple, birch, alder-all fine and large trees of excellent growth. In the upper hills areas and the alpine zone are the magnolias, buck-landias, pyrus and conifers such as webb, Himalayan firs, English yews, Sikkim spruces, larch, which is the only deciduous conifer, weeping tsuga brunoniana and junipers lvy is common.

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  • Religion

    In Darjeeling Hindus and Buddhists form the religious majority, with notable Muslim and Christian minorities. Darjeeling is full of temples and monasteries where you can enjoy a peaceful moment in the company of deities, as well as churches, gurudwaras and mosques.
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  • Entry to Darjeeling

    Darjeeling, the quaint little town is located in the cozy and inviting lap of Mt. Kanchan Junga. It is a picturesque town studded with inviting natural beauty, exciting tourist places and amazing sightseeing attractions that engulf the heart of every single visitor with delightful memories. Darjeeling is visited by thousands and hundreds of tourist all the year round and so there is an easy and comfortable means of transportation facilities. Reaching Darjeeling is very easy but still tourists and travelers always have the doubt about how to reach Darjeeling. So below the brief description about how to reach Darjeeling by the means of transportations are mentioned below:

    By Air

    Reaching Darjeeling by means of air is one of the convenient and easy methods. Bagdogra is the nearest airport located at the distance of around 90 km from Darjeeling. From here regular taxis and cabs runs that make the accessibility much easier and comfortable.

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  • Visa & Immigration

    Foreigners require an Inner Line Permit (ILP) in addition to normal Indian visa to enter Sikkim and can visit Gangtok, Rumtek, Phodang and Pemayangtse. No permit is required to enter & stay in Darjeeling & other parts of North Bengal including Kalimpomg. The permit can be obtained in Darjeeling after arrival. Foreigners are permitted to visit Sikkim only with a valid passport.
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  • Festivals

    Owing to the diversity of the population of Darjeeling, some festival or the other is celebrated almost every month. Most of the Hindu and Tibetan festivals follow the lunar calendar and so the date of the festival does not fall on the exact date the next year. February: Lhoshar

    The Tibetans and the Sherpas most impressively observe this festival by organizing folk songs and dances. Tibetans mark their new year on this day. Religious observations are held and Buddhist monks offer prayer across monasteries.

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  • Activities

    Darjeeling is considered to be the “Queen of the Hills” in India. The place is remarkable for its panoramic beauty and is an ideal destination for the tourist to be in harmony with the nature. The tour to Darjeeling provides a wide variety of activities from leisurely walk to the more grueling activities such as trekking, river rafting and other adventurous sports. Please find below some of the activities which can be done in Darjeeling.

    White Water Rafting in Teesta, Darjeeling


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  • Weather

    Darjeeling has a moderate climate with all five distinct seasons in a year. The best season to visit the place is from September to June, take woolen clothes in winters.

    Winters (December to January) have a cool climate within the average range of 5 °C to 7 °C. Minimum temperature this season can be freezing –2 °C. Snowfalls are not common during winters.
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  • Clothing

    Being located in hilly region, the climate of Darjeeling is uncertain. Without considering any weather, drizzle comes and makes the climate bitterly cold. So, one should pack enough warm clothes to face the spell of chilly winds. In the region of towns and monasteries, women are advised not to wear short and skimpy clothes. Men should be dressed in full pants and full-sleeved shirts. Throughout the season of autumn and early spring, warm pullovers or jackets are required in mornings and evenings.
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