A view from GangtokIntroduction History Economy Sights How to reach Photos Sikkim Himalaya

 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 Kangchenjunga (8 586 m) is located in the North Western part of the state. Sikkim has more than 10 peaks that reach a height of 6 000 meters or more. Gangtok, Sikkim's capital is located in the South Eastern part of the state. Gangtok is situated at an altitude of 1 780 m and has a population of approximately 50 000.

Sikkim Travel Map

 General Information

Population (2011 Census) 610 000
Area 7 096 sq km
Major Languages Nepali, Lepcha, Bhutia (Sikkimese), English, Limbu and Nepali
Literacy rate (2011): 82 %
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
1994 Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling (1994-2019)
2019 Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang (2019-)


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 in villages. 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 route.

 Major Sights

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

Pemayangtse Monastery

Tashiding monastery


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 Rangit rivers.

 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 airport (Siliguri) has direct flights to Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Dibrugarh, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Paro (Bhutan) and Patna. 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 at Pakyong was opened for airline service in Oct 2018 with direct air services to Delhi and Kolkata. SpiceJet is the sole airline operator at the airport and flights are not available all year round. 

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) >>

Sikkim Photo Gallery >>>

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