Sikkim is a northeastern state of India. It borders China in its north and east, Bhutan in its east, Nepal in its West and the Indian state of west Bengal in its south. It shares its Indian Border with the state. Sikkim became the 22nd Indian State on 26th April 1975, and it became the officially state of the Indian Union and Lhendup Dorji became head of State (Chief Minister). The cultural traits such as dress and family norms show close with Khasi of Meghalaya, and linguistically, they have a lot common with the Tangkul Naga of Northeren Manipur.
Sikkim is a small beautiful state of India in the Eastern Himalayas with steep mountains and deep valleys. Another amazing aspect of this region is the enormous altitudinal range within its geography. From a lowly 300 m, it soars up to the lofty heights of the mighty Khangchendzonga at 8585m, resulting in climatic zones from the tropical to the tundra.
Thus, the geophysical dynamics of this region has resulted in an enormous diversity of flora and fauna in so small a place as Sikkim.
Sikkim and it’s Biodiversity & Land Use
Land use and Resources, its Biodiversity- Sikkim is a state gifted with abundant flora and fauna, and that is why it is a paradise of nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The delightful Sikkim’s Nature is certainly relish by Bird watchers and trekkers. There are near about around 550 species of birds as well as several rare Himalayan fauna, about 4500 species of flowering plants, 362 species of ferns and its allies, 11 species of oaks, 30 species of primulae, 20 species of bamboo and 9 species of tree ferns. You can find rare medicinal plants in the wild and there are ongoing schemes propagating the species at commercial levels.
Nearly 84% of the land use in forestry is in use in Sikkim, of the total geographical area of the state is under administrative control of the forest department. The maximum cover of the State is 3129 sq km, which is 45% of the total geographical area.
Biodiversity – It is a land of vast variation in altitude within very short distances ranging from 300m to 8585m. Sikkim plays a prime elevation role in fashioning the eco-regions of the state. The presence of Sal forests in the Rangeet Valley in the South to the temperate fir forests in the north, beyond it lies the trans- Himalayas and cold desert zones of vegetation according to the altitude variation, altitude also defines the zone as exposure to other physical properties that can result in terrain.
Sikkim Tourist Attractions
Gangtok and East Sikkim- Sikkim occupy the South-east corner of the state and the capital of East Sikkim is Gangtok, which is also a state and it is a hub of its administration. Since 1894 to 1975 it served as the Royal and administrative headquarters of its former Kingdom, and today it still bears a regal character around the areas that have not been affected till now by the urbanization.
Things to Do While You are Travelling in Sikkim
1. Must Visit Cottage Industry Institute of Gangtok
Directorate oh Gangtok Handicraft and Handloom was established with an aim of keeping alive the traditional arts and crafts of Sikkim culture. It’s also a popular things to do in Gangtok. The culture of handicrafts activity of exquisite hand woven carpets, blankets, shawls including hand curved furniture.
2. Tashi View Point: Visit for a Dramatic Early Morning View
It is a view point where one went for an early morning view, prior to the construction of road-heads to Ganesh Tok and Hunuman Tok.
3. Tsomgo Lake (Tsangu): Offers A Splendid View of the High Himalayas
This lake lies in the heady highlands towards the Tibet/China border which is 40 kilometers northeast of Gangtok at an altitude of, 3780 meters. This lake also offers a splendid view of the high Himalayas is not too distant zone.
4. Pal Zurmang Kagyud Monastery, A Place Worth Visiting for it’s Architecture
It is situated at Lingdum, a distance of 20 kilometers from Gangtok. This monastery is the seat of the Gharwang Rimpoche, a place worth visiting for its architecture.
5. Rumtek Monastery, Original Karmapa Monastery
The monastery is situated on a hill opposite Gangtok at a distance of 24 kilometers, a 45 minutes drive and it is also known as the Dharma Chakra Center. The original Karmapa monastery in Tsurpu, Tibet, this monastery replaced the seat of the Kagyupa sect from 1959.
6. Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Premier Study Center of Buddhist Religion
It is a premier study center of Buddhist religion and philosophy, of renowned worldwide. This institution houses some rare Lepcha, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts, thangkas, and over 200 rare icons.
7. Ganesh Tok: Offers A Spectacular Birds-Eye-View
It is a place at a road distance of 7 kilometers above Gangtok. Ganesh Tok offers a spectacular birds-eye-view of the town below Khangchendzonga range in the horizon.
There are six wildlife sanctuaries and one national park, which together constitute over 30% of the total geographical area state. Some of them are described as follows:-
8. Himalayan Zoological Park, A Sweet Home for Himalayan Species
Situated at the 8 kilometers above Gangtok and spread over a sprawling expanse of 205 hectares. This is a recently established zoo of Sikkim’s native fauna species, and it is also known by Bulbuley. The species, its inmates can roam around almost freely in a semi-natural habitat. Species include the Red Panda, Himalayan Black Bears, Spotted Deer and Barking Deer.
9. Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary, Recommended for Nature Lovers
This is one of the Gangtok’s nearest wildlife sanctuary, only 25 kilometers away from the town with a designated area of 51.76 square kilometers. It is recommended for bird watching and for nature lovers, the forest cover including oak trees, chestnut, mulberry and thick bamboo groves, and it is mainly a tranquil area.
10. Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary
It is located near (Tsangu Lake) has sheltered the Takin Budorcas taxicolor, which comes under Bhutan in 1999 through the newly declared Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary, which itself is with West Bengal’s Neora Valley National Park.
11. Bird Watching
Tours who are in love with special bird watching also conduct by Nature Voyages the travel unit of Bon farmhouse owned by Chewang Rinchen Bonpo who were over the past six years has been studying the fauna and flora wealth of Eastern Himalayas and also has identified the favourites sites for many birds and animals. Bird watching has also lead a famous things to do in Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
It is another good option, and this may not necessarily be an altitude excursion such as the Dzongri trek but it is an easier and gentler hikes in the middle hills such as the trail between Varsey-Dentam, Pelling-Yuksam, and several such similar ones ranging from one to three days.
If you alternatively, driving over to secluded forested areas such as Pemayangtse, Khechuperi, Yuksam, Damthang, Lingzhya, Hee-Gyathang and many such places can be equally interesting finds. Birders are assured ample opportunities to add more feathers to their checklist on sampling the hills and valleys inside Sikkim.
13. River Rafting
Gentle rides to the amazing mountain landscape to thundering rapids that will be the most experienced rafter can navigate; river rafting on the Teesta can be the most pumping adventure ever. Down the rough and rugged mountain river is a great way to enjoy both nature and adventure. The riverbanks have deep forests, with some of the terraced cultivation, and small villages. Rapids of classifications are making rafting an enjoyable experience.
Trip down the river also allows you to take in the beauty of the countryside. Beginners as well as experienced adventurers can seek at the Department of Tourism and travel agents for arranging river rafting trips. Prices are generally reasonable, and will include food, equipment, life jackets, helmets, an expert guide, and accommodation. Most of these have good riverside camps, and are well organized by rafting groups during peak season.
14. Mountain Biking
Sikkim is best adventure product in mountain biking. The excitement of riding your mountain bike is through rough terrains and it is the same time spent in guided walking holidays because of the feelings of being closer to the place visiting Sikkim. It is a new sport that Sikkim boasts of and the exiting thrills of this is out of door fun, there is no specific season or time for mountain biking.
The beauty of flora and fauna and the lifestyle of the Sikkimise people is best experienced on the bike’s seat as you meander through the green hills and dales. It has a different fun and feeling and many have enjoyed riding their bikes during monsoon in the slushy dirt road. The bikes are available in the toughest road condition and are allowed to hireor is available for days package.
Best Time to Visit Sikkim
Sikkim is evergreen state with its elegant natural beauty. The beautiful state observes the five seasons, winter, spring, summer, autumn and monsoon. Summer is the ideal time to grab the opportunity and it prevails from April to June. As Sikkim is prone to landslides thus it is not recommended to the state during the monsoon. From the months of September to December, the weather becomes perfectly fine to take pleasure in Sikkim. During winters from the month December end till February, it is extremely cold out there, receiving perpetual snowfalls. The roads and mountains get enveloped in snow that is why the best time to visit Sikkim is during the months of March to June and from September to December.