SIKKIM TOURISM GUIDE:
Map: Sikkim Tourism, India
Location: Eastern End Of Himalayas
Tourist Attractions: Trekking, White Water Rafting, Rumtek Monastery
Best Time To Visit: March To May & October To December
Tourism in Sikkim
Famous for Kanchendzonga, the third highest mountain in the world at 8,586m, the mountain kingdom of Sikkim has a tremendous variety of plant and wildlife besides a diverse ethnic mix of peoples with rich cultural traditions. One of the smallest states of India, it is bounded by Nepal to the west and Bhutan to the east; by the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north and northeast and by West Bengal to the south.
Gangtok – The Capital of Sikkim
Sikkimese life is centred around Gangtok. Its Buddhist past is the root of its appeal for visitors, and remains evident at the impressive Institute of Tibetology, the Enchey Monastery, Pemayengtse and the marvellous Rumtek Monastery not far away, the last a thriving centre of Mahayana Buddhism. Sikkim’s pride, the orchid, is nurtured at the Orchid Sanctuary and other sites in and around Gangtok. Among the festive attraction of this hilly capital is the flower show that is held over here every spring near White Hall, the Governor’s residence on the ridge above town. Trekking in Sikkim is another adventure sports that attracts lot’s of trekkers to visit the state.
Sikkim – History & Ethnicity
Ruled by the Namgyal (Lepcha) clan since the 15th century, Sikkim lost much land to the British and to Nepal and Bhutan in the 18th century. With the defeat of the Nepali army by the British in 1817, southern Sikkim was given back to the ruler, in exchange for the hill that later became known as Darjeeling.
The original inhabitants of Sikkim are the Lepchas who stay in the central and northern areas; lower valleys are inhabited by Nepali immigrants. Other ethnic groups are the Magars renowned as warriors and the Bhotias, who came to Sikkim from the Kham area of Tibet in the 13th century.
Sikkim – Culture & Tradition
The state’s cultural life is related to Tibetan religious and aesthetic traditions. The cultural climax of the year comes with the 2-day Phanglhapsol festival, when masked dances are performed in honour of Kanchenjunga, presiding deity and the mountain. There are also many secular folk dances. The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology has one of the largest collection of Tibetan books in the world. Many Buddhist monasteries are repositories of artistic treasures, including wall paintings, Tankas or Thangkas (religious paintings mounted on brocade), and bronze images.
Way Of Living
Tourism and agriculture are the two basis of the Sikkim’s economy. Sikkim is one of the world’s main producers of Cardamom, and the region has also become an exporter of Mandarin Oranges, Apples, and Potatoes. Sikkim is also rich in mineral wealth. Its forests have great economic value in sawn Timber and wood Pulp. Sikkim’s cotton and wool weaving, carpets, rugs, blankets, and bamboo work is well known.
Sikkim – Climate Information
The climate varies with elevation and ranges from tropical in the low valley bottoms to Arctic-like conditions of perpetual snow and ice in the higher reaches. The annual rainfall varies from 50-200 inches (mostly during May-October), and snow in the upper levels often accumulates to a thickness of 30m. The best time to visit this state is during the months of March to late May and from October to December.
Summer: Max. 20.7°C; Min. 13.1°C, Winter: Max. 14.9°C; Min. 7.7°C
Monsoon In Sikkim
Southern Sikkim comes under the influence of the North – east monsoon. In particular, the region south of Kangchenjunga and the main Himalayan range is subject to heavy rainfall lasting from early June through till the beginning of September. During this time, the region experiences some of the heaviest rainfall in the Indian Himalayas, with pu to 700 mm per month falling in July and August
The post monsoon season extends from the beginning of October until mid-November. Although the daytime temperatures rarely average more than 50C, at altitudes above 3,500m at this time the settled conditions are ideal for trekking.
The first of the winter snows fall by mid to late November, and snowfalls continue throughout the winter until early March. From mid-March onwards, the snows begin to melt on the mountain passes and the snows begin to melt on the mountain passes and the daytime temperatures begin to rise to between 100C and 150C.
Monsoon clouds form by early May, with intermittent storms, which last for a day or two, reflecting the gradual build up of the monsoon. However, this should not preclude trekking at this time. The mornings are generally clear, and clouds do not build up until mid-morning. This is also the time when the Rhododendrons and Magnolias are in full bloom
Sikkim Tourist Information Centre – Department of Tourism, Gangtok
Govt of Sikkim Office, 14 Panchsheel Marg, Chankyapuri New Delhi
Sikkim Tourism Infornation Centre, 4C Poonam, 5/2 Russel St Calcutta.
Indian Mountaineering Foundation, Benito Juarez Road, Anand Niketan, New Delhi-21
Sikkim Tourist Information Centre, SNT Colony, Siliguri.