All about Sikkim
Places to visit in Sikkim
Historically, culturally and spiritually, Sikkim has the strongest ties with Tibet. The main draw for visitors is the state's off-the-beaten-track trekking and its many monasteries, all with more than two hundred, mostly belonging to the ancient Ningampa sect. Pemayangte is the most historically significant in West Sikkim, and has an extraordinary wooden temple depicting the Heavenly Palace of Guru Rinpoche. Tashiding, a Nayingampa monastery built in 1717, surrounded by prayer flags and porches and overlooking snow-capped peaks, is considered to be the holiest of Sikkim. Rumtek is the seat of the Gyalwa Karamapa - the chief of the Karma Kagyu dynasty - and perhaps the wealthiest monastery in Sikkim. The capital, Gangtok, a colorful, bustling metropolitan city, is home to a stunning array of trekking agents who are only too happy to take your money in dollars and arrange for the necessary permits.
The vast mountain walls of Sikkim and the steep forest hills, which flow rivers like Teesta and Rangit, are the dream of botanists. The lower slopes are rich with orchids, cardamom carpet forest floor sprays, and land of apple orchards, orange trees and terraced paddy fields (for Tibetans, this is Denzong, the "rice land"). At higher elevations, the monsoon collides with a vast tract of jungles covered with lakes, where countless varieties of rhododendron carpets cover the deep verandah of the hills and giant magnolia trees. Higher still, approaching the Tibetan plateau, larch and dwarf rhododendrons give way to marshes and abundance of grasslands in abundance. The forests and forest areas of Sikkim are inhabited by a wealth of creatures, including the extremely elusive snow leopard, tahr (wild goat on the Tibetan plateau), bharal (blue sheep), black bear, flying squirrel and the symbol of Sikkim - endangered red. Panda is included. .
Earthquakes, landslides and dams
Although earthquakes are a common occurrence in the Himalayas, with their earthquake at Mangan 42 km northwest of Gangtok in September 2011, was particularly devastating, killing nearly sixty people and leaving a trail of devastation far away to Gangtok. The 6.9 earthquake intensity was felt across the region, in Nepal and as far away as Kolkata. Most of the destruction occurred around hydroelectric projects and disrupted roads and infrastructure. In order to alleviate the state's nightmare, unseasonal rains in 2012 resulted in fatal landslides and loss of life, and was cut off from the rest of the state of North Sikkim for nearly several weeks.
Industrialization and the construction of dams and numerous hydroelectric projects on the rivers of Sikkim, such as the Teesta, have put pressure on the state's dwindling indigenous population, particularly endangering their lifestyle and heritage, especially in Lepcha's Dilzongu. Though the voice of their opposition has now lost everything, the destruction of habitat and the extraordinary tension on the state's fragile road system is self-evident.
Best time to visit Sikkim
Summer, from April to mid-June, is characterized by warm weather and clear skies. From late September to November, temperatures are moderate, cherry blossoms bloom and the skies are slightly clear for views of Kanchenjunga. The influx of tourists during these two high spells means high hotel rates, especially in Gangtok and Pelling. A remission is possible from February to March, during the low season, when it gets cold and the fog gets worse. The monsoon lasts from June to September, when road conditions deteriorate and landslides are common. Winters in the northern reaches can be quite cold, but still a good time to visit. When it closes, check for road closures.
Festivals in Sikkim
Losar (in / near february)
The Tibetan New Year is celebrated with grand monasteries.
Bumchu Festival (February / March)
The Lamas gather at Tashiding, where a vessel containing holy water is opened and examined - the water level indicates the future of the state.
Marks the end of the harvest season. Magnificent dancer dances, or cham, take place in various monasteries.
Dasain (Dussehra; September – October)
The Nepali community celebrates this ten-day Hindu festival as a victory of good over evil; Goddess Durga is worshiped and her idol is immersed in a river.
Tihar (Diwali; October-November)
The Nepalese version of Diwali, it is an elaborate five-day affair, when the houses are cleaned, adorned and lit with marigolds.
Food and drink in sikkim
The food of Sikkim is a melange of Nepalese, Tibetan and Indian influences; Rice is a staple, eaten with dhal, forest vegetables, and pickles, including the supremely hot, fire-engine-red nugget pepper pickle. Churpi is a fresh cow's milk paneer, usually made with ferns called Ninro. Gyakho is a traditional tamarind stew that is served on special occasions. Fing (glass noodles), shisnu (nettle soup), gundruk (fermented spinach), gyathuk (soup with handmade macaroni and local herbs; usually with beef) are other distinctive features along with chicken, pork and beef dishes. Khodo (millet pancake) and fafaroti (buckwheat pancake) are usually eaten for breakfast. Tibetan dishes including momos and thukpa are easily found.
Restaurants in Gangtok serve liquor; Hit and Dansburg are local Sikkimese beer brands. Watch out for tomba, a traditional drink usually served in winter, in which fermented millet is served in a wooden or bamboo mug and sent through a bamboo straw. The mug is topped with warm water from time to time; Once it is allowed to sit for a few minutes, you are left with a soothing hot water, which is best on a cold evening. Chang is a local millet beer, milky and fermented, commonly found in homestays.
Permission to travel in Sikkim
State access permit
Foreigners traveling to Sikkim are known as a Restricted Area Permit (RAP; Inner Line Permit or ILP). Permits can now be obtained online at sikk.imilp.in or in advance with your Indian visa, but agencies abroad charge exorbitant fees, so this is avoided. If obtained within India, Sikkim permits are free and can be arranged in the tourism agencies, trekking operators listed below, or a dedicated office on the Sikkim border in Melli and Rangpo. To apply, you will need two passport photographs and a photocopy of your passport and Indian visa. See the latest information at sikkimtourism.gov.in. Permits are date-specific and initially valid for thirty days from entry (no return within three months); Extensions are usually available for a maximum of sixty days.
With Gangtok and its surrounding area in East Sikkim, the RAP covers all of South Sikkim and most areas in the east and west of the state, besides having the highest elevation treks. Sensitive border areas such as Tsomo Lake (also known as Changu or Tsangu) in East Sikkim, excluding Mangan and most of its surrounding area of North Sikkim, and all high altitude treks including Singhalia Ridge and Dojangari , Requires additional protected area (PAP); Foreigners can enter these areas only in groups of at least two with representatives from approved travel agents who arrange permits.
Airport immigration at four main entry points: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai.
Foreigners' Regional Registration Offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
New Sikkim House 14 Panchsheel Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi.
Sikkim Tourism Center SNTC Bus Stand, Hill Cart Road, Siliguri.
Sikkim Tourist Information Center Sikkim House, 4/1 Middleton St., Kolkata.
Trekking and Mountaineering Permitted
High altitude trekking is a restricted and expensive business in Sikkim. First, foreigners have to acquire a trekking permit (aka Protected Area Permit or PAP), which also acts as an entry permit for these areas. These are available only from the Sikkim tourism offices in Gangtok, but can be arranged through trek operators.
While most of the major peaks require permission from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) in Delhi with at least three months notice, as well as mountaineering permits, the Sikkim government, through the appropriate Gangtok trekking operator, permits for the following treks Assigns: Peak (5830 m) near Chaurikhang on Singalila ridge of Fr. Thingchenkang (6010 m) near Dozongri and Jopuno (5935 m) in West Sikkim; And Lama Wangden (5868 m) and Bramkhangse (5635 m) in North Sikkim. Recommended Gangtok agents include Namgyal Treks and Tours.
The high-altitude treks most commonly offered by operators are the Dongongri-Goecha La route, with a variation starting from Uttarai and Singalila Ridge. An exhilarating trek from Lachen to Green Lake is possible, but permission must be obtained from Delhi (most easily arranged through a Gangtok agent) at least two months in advance. At the moment, Dongongri is still suffering the brunt of the trekking industry in the state, and the pressure on the environment is beginning to take a serious toll.