A Concise Introduction to Sikkim
Sikkim, India's 22nd state, shares borders with Nepal, China (Tibet), Bhutan and West Bengal. The world's third
highest peak Mount Kangchendzonga (8686 m) is located in the North Western part of the state. Sikkim has more than 10 peaks that reach a height
of 6000 meters or more. Gangtok, Sikkim's capital is located in the
South Eastern part of the state. Gangtok is situated at an altitude of 1780 m and has a population of approximately 50 000.
Sikkim Travel Map
|Population (2001 Census)||540 493|
|Area||7096 sq kms|
|Major Languages||Lepcha, Bhutia, Limbu and Nepalese|
|Literacy rate (2001): 70%|
|Domestic tourists (2001): 230 000|
|foreign tourists (2001): 31 000|
|15th century||Tibetan immigrate into Sikkim|
|1642||Phuntsog Namgyal, a Bhutia, becomes the Choygal (king). The land was divided into 12 Dzongs, or fortified districts|
|18th century||Sikkim loses land to Nepal, Bhutan and the British|
|19th century||Nepali migration increases. Eventually Nepalis outnumbered the indigenous inhabitants.|
|1890||Sikkim declared a Protectorate. The Gyalpos (Kings) lost executive power to the British|
|1950||Indo-Sikkim Treaty signed|
|1953||Sikkim State Council instituted|
|1963||Hope Cooke's, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Crown Prince Palden Thondup Namgyal's wedding takes place. He
ascends the throne the same year.|
|1973||Sikkim made an associate state of India|
|1975||May 16th Sikkim becomes the 22nd state of India with Kazi Lhendup Dorji as Chief Minister. The Gyalpos lose power due to new democratic constitution|
|Present||Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling|
|Sikkim used to be part of the trade route between India and Tibet. Due to the sealing of the border with
Tibet trading in this form has lost its importance. Agriculture remains a mainstay of the economy as 80 % of the population live
Major cash crops include tea, cardamom, ginger, fruits, medicinal plants etc. Tea is produced at the Government of Sikkim run Temi Tea Estate.
The tea is of very superior quality and is comparable to the finest of Darjeeling.
Yak herding is dominant in the more alpine regions of state.
Other industries include Sikkim Time Corporation (SITCO), Sikkim Distilleries
and more recently tourism and floriculture. Rapid development has unfortunately scarred the land mainly through deforestation leading
to soil erosion and landslides.
Major hydel power projects implemented by the National Hydel Power Corp. mainly harnessing the Teesta River are in various
stage of completion.
The historical Nathu La Pass, once part of the Silk Road and located at an altitude of some 4000 m ASL, has now been opened for the first time since its closure in 1962. Selected items can now be transported through this ancient trade
Gangtok - the capital city of Sikkim has grown rapidly during the last few years. It is well connected by road and helicopter service
to other parts of North Eastern India. Some major sights and places to see in Gangtok and the surrounding area include:
Institute of Tibetology (the only one of its kind in the world), Orchid Sanctuary, Tashi View Point and Deer Park|
Rangpo - main point of entry into Sikkim
Rumtek Monastery - headquarters of the Dharma Chakra Centre.
Changu (Tsomgo) Lake - 36 kms from Gangtok at an altitude of 3776 m. The lake is on the Nathu La Highway, the ancient trade toute
between Gangtok and Lhasa
Sikkim offers good trekking country. Among the popular trek routes are the Local Trek (Pelling - Kechopalri Lake - Yuksam -
Tashiding - Pelling) and the more challenging Dzongri to Goecha La trek. White river rafting is possible on the Tista and
How To Reach Sikkim
|Gangtok is a three to four hour journey from Siliguri by road. Gangtok also can be reached by helicopter from Bagdogra.
Bagdogra is linked to Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati by air. There are a number trains running between Kolkata and New Jalpaiguri where road transport is available to Gangtok among other places. Sikkim National Transport and private bus companies offer bus service between Siliguri and Gangtok. Sikkim's first airport is under construction at Pakyong and is expected to be operational by the end of 2017.
Foreigners (those who require an Indian visa) need an inner line permit to visit Sikkim. These are issued by all Indian missions abroad.
The permit allows access to many parts of Sikkim.
Books on Sikkim
Sikkim - A Traveller's Guide
This book, published in 2001, gives information about Sikkim through many aspects. A special section of this
generously illustrated guide is dedicated to the various trek routes including the Dzongri/Goecha La and Green Lakes treks.
Sikkim Travel Map (scale 1:140 000) >>