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Situated in the Eastern Himalayas, this beautiful state of Sikkim is sandwiched between the kingdom of Nepal in the West and Bhutan in the East, Tibet in the North and the state of West Bengal in the South. With an area of 7,300 sq. kms, measuring 115 kms from north to south and 65 kms. From East to West, the elevation ranging from 244 mts to over 8550 mts., above sea level, approximately latitude of 27 degree North and longitude of 88 degree East.

This small state belies its richness of culture, customs, heritage, flora and fauna. Sikkim, once a protectorate of India with a monarchy government but metamorphosed as the 22nd state of the Indian Union in the year 1975. The population of the state is only 4,20,000 as per the last census. Amidst the grandeur of the mountain peaks, lush green valleys cascading waterfalls and fast flowing rivers, beautiful monasteries and terraced hills, Sikkim offers her visitor a rare and exotic experience.


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1.Gangtok

imageGangtok is a municipality, the capital and the largest town of the Indian state of Sikkim. It also is the headquarters of the East Sikkim district. Gangtok is located in the eastern Himalayan range, at an elevation of 1,650 m (5,410 ft). The town's population of 100,000 belongs to different ethnicities such as Nepalis, Lepchas and Bhutia. Nestled within higher peaks of the Himalaya and enjoying a year-round mild temperate climate, Gangtok is at the centre of Sikkim's tourism industry.

2.Pelling

imagePelling is a town in the district of West Sikkim, India. Pelling is nestled at an altitude of 2,150 m (7,200 feet). The town is located at a distance of 10 km from the district headquarters of Geyzing. Places to visit in and around Pelling include the local monasteries namely the ancient Pemayangtse Monastery and Sanga Choeling Monastery, the rock garden and waterfall at nearby Rimbi River, the holy rock of Rani Dhunga, the imposing double-pronged Kanchenjungha Falls, the archaic quaint Singshore Bridge, the Chhange Waterfalls, and the Khecheopalri Lake holy to Buddhists. Other locations close to Pelling are Yuksom, Rinchenpong, Dzongri and Hee Burmiok.

3.Ravangla

imageRavangla or Rawangla 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. It acts as the starting point for the trek to Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary. It is approximately 65 km away from the state capital Gangtok and 120 km away from Siliguri, West Bengal.

4.Rumtek Monastery

image Counted amongst the largest monasteries in Sikkim, Rumtek Monastery is also one of the oldest monasteries in the state. An ode to the Buddhist cultures and traditions, this monastery is located near Gangtok and is also known as the ‘Dharma Chakra Centre’. A testimony to the Buddhist architecture and teachings, it is a perfect place to attain mental peace and know more about Buddhism. Its spiritual appeal and grandeur makes it an integral part of any Gangtok travel packages

5.Namchi

image Namchi hosts the very popular Namchi Mahotsav, a Tourism, Culture and Food Festival, every year in October. A flower festival is also held annually. The 135 feet high statue of Guru Padamasambhava is present at Samdruptse near Namchi at a distance of 75 kms from Gangtok. Samdruptse literally means 'wish fulfilling hill' in the Bhutia language. A unique, awe inspiring and gigangtic 135 feet high statue of Guru Padamasambhava is installed atop Sampruptse. It is the highest statue of Guru Padamasambhava in the world. His Holiness the Dalai Lama laid the foundation stone of the statue in October 1997. It took nearly three years to complete the statue.

Rabdantse The Ancient Capital of Sikkim. The original inhabitants were the Lepchas or the “raven folks ” who came to the area from Assam and Burma. From the 1200’s the Bhutias or the Tibetan people moved into Sikkim. They included the Namgyal clan who arrived in the 1400’s and gradually won political control over Sikkim.

In 1642,PhuntsokNamgyal (1604-1670) became the first Chogyal (King). He presided over a social system based on Tibetan Lamaistic Buddhism. His descendants ruled Sikkim for more than 330 years. During the 1700’s Sikkim suffered massive invasion from Nepal and Bhutan and lost much territory as a result.

The Nepalese also migrated to Sikkim and settled as farmers. By the 1800’s Sikkim’s population was very mixed, and internal conflict resulted.Sikkim assisted the British in a successful war against Nepal in the year1814-1815 and won back some of its land. The British India Company purchased the health resort of Darjeeling from Sikkim. During the mid 1800 ’s, Sikkim violently resisted attempts to bring it under British Rule, but in 1861 it finally became a protectorate. The British had assess to Tibet through Sikkim, and Sikkim’s independent status was recognized. The Indian government took responsibility of Sikkim’s external affairs, defense and communication of Skim in the year 1950. In 1973, India took Sikkim into the union as an associate member. In 1975, Sikkim became the 22nd state of India

Sikkim residents celebrate all major Indian festivals such as Diwali and Dussera, the popular Hindu festivals. Losar, Loosong, Saga Dawa, LhababDuechen, DrupkaTeshi and Bhumchu are Buddhist festivals that are also celebrated. During the Losar - the Tibetan New Year - most government offices and tourist centres are closed for a week. Christmas has also recently been promoted in Gangtok to attract tourists during the off-season.

It is common to hear Western rock music being played in homes and in restaurants even in the countryside. Hindi songs have gained wide acceptance among the masses. Indigenous Nepali rock, music suffused with a Western rock beat and Nepali lyrics, is also particularly popular. Football and cricket are the two most popular sports.

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's meat) or pork and served with a soup are a popular snack. The mountain peoples have a diet rich in beef, pork and other meats. Alcohol is cheap owing to the low excise duty in Sikkim and beer, whiskey, rum and brandy are consumed by many Sikkimese.

Almost all dwellings in Sikkim are rustic, consisting of a bamboo frame, woven with pliable bamboo and coated with cow dung, providing a warm interior. In the higher elevations, houses are made of wood.

Airport

Sikkim has its own helipad at Gangtok, Pelling and Rangpo. Chopper service is regular from Bagdogra to Gangtok. Bagdogra Airport (IXB) is approximately 125 kilometers away and is served by regular Indian, Air Deccan, Spice Jet and Jet Airways flights from Kolkata, Guwahati, Chennai and Delhi. Helicopter service can be availed from Bagdogra airport (IXB).

Railway

New Jalpaiguri railway station (NJP) is approximately 128 kilometers away i.e. 3 -4 hours drive from Gangtok and is the nearest major rail head. New Jalpaiguri is well connected to the rest of India. There are regular train services to all the major railway station like Chennai, Jaipur, Delhi, Kolkata, Patna, Mumbai, Bangalore, etc.

Roadway

It is well connected with NH 31 A and is 117 kilometers away from Siliguri. Darjeeling is 125 Kilometers, 4 hours drive. Kalimpong is approximately 95 Kilometers i.e. 3 hours. The road is beautiful and is maintained by the Border Road Organization and is along the river Teesta. Sikkim is well connected with rest of India and with China via the Nathu La pass.

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