Sikkim is a landlocked state of India, and the last to give up its monarchy and fully integrate into India in 1975. Located in the Himalayan mountains, the state is bordered by Nepal to the west, China’s Tibet Autonomous Region to the north and east, and Bhutan to the east. The Indian state of West Bengal lies to the south. According to 2011 census Sikkim has a population of 607,688 inhabitants and is the least populous state in India with a geographical area of approximately 7,096 sq km.
Sikkim is nonetheless geographically diverse due to its location in the Himalayas; the climate ranges from subtropical to high alpine, and Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak, is located on Sikkim’s border with Nepal. Sikkim is a popular tourist destination, owing to its culture, scenery and biodiversity. It also has the only open land border between India and China. Sikkim’s capital and largest city is Gangtok. Almost 25% of the state is covered by the Khangchendzonga National Park.
In recent years, the government of Sikkim has extensively promoted tourism. As a result, state revenue has increased 14 times since the mid-1990s. Sikkim has furthermore invested in a fledgling gambling industry, promoting both casinos and online gambling. The state’s first casino, the Casino Sikkim, opened in March 2009, and the government subsequently issued a number of additional casino licences and online sports betting licenses. The Playwin lottery has been a notable success in the state.
The opening of the Nathu La pass on 6 July 2006, connecting Lhasa, Tibet, to India, was billed as a boon for Sikkim’s economy. Trade through the pass remains hampered by Sikkim’s limited infrastructure and government restrictions in both India and China, though the volume of traded goods has been steadily increasing.
Sikkim Travel Information
HOW TO GET THERE?
By Flight :
Nearest airport from Sikkim is Bagdogra Airport at a distance of 124 km. This airport is connected to major airport of India and Bangkok. Airline companies like Indian Airlines, Spice Jet, and Go Air etc are functional here.
You can further reach Gangtok by availing helicopter service, which is subjected to weather conditions. You can hire a taxi otherwise (Approximately 4 hours drive).
By Train :
Major railway heads near Gangtok are New Jagalpaiguri (188 Km) and Siliguri (145 Km). These railway stations are well connected with major cities and towns of India. You can further board a bus or hire a taxi to reach Sikkim.
By Road :
The lifeline of Sikkim, which is National Highway 31A connects gangtok with Siliguri and this picturesque highway runs through the lush green forests along the bank of river Teesta on one side and sky touching mountain ranges of Eastern Himalaya on other side. This unique ride of almost two hours will gives you the opportunity to enjoy the valley carpeted with numerous wild flowers. Regular bus service operated by S.N.T. and adequate number of private buses, jeeps and taxies are available from morning to evening at reasonable rate and you can have a very comfortable journey. From Siliguri you can catch jeeps and taxies to reach almost all the important tourist destinations located in both South and West Sikkim. You can also hire taxis and jeeps to travel to your destination of choice at reasonable rate. Most of the reputed destinations of siikim are interlinked by motor able all seasons roads.
Sikkim Helicopter Service :
For the more discerning travelers, Sikkim offers Sikkim Helicopter Service from Gangtok to Bagdogra Airport and back. Sikkim Helicopter Service also conducts, besides the regular runs to Bagdogra Airport and back, special mountain flights. Special flights are also conducted over West Sikkim and North Sikkim for a bird’s eye-view of the monasteries and the exotic Valley of Flowers, Yumthang.
All passengers on these sight-seeing flights are awarded official Certificates of Participation by the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) as Souvenirs.
Average Temperature :
The state has five seasons: winter, summer, spring, autumn, and a monsoon season between June and September. Sikkim’s climate ranges from sub-tropical in the south to tundra in the north. Most of the inhabited regions of Sikkim experience a temperate climate, with temperatures seldom exceeding 28 °C (82 °F) in summer. The average annual temperature for most of Sikkim is around 18 °C (64 °F).
Sikkim is one of the few states in India to receive regular snowfall. The snow line ranges from 6,100 metres (20,000 ft) in the south of the state to 4,900 metres (16,100 ft) in the north. The tundra-type region in the north is snowbound for four months every year, and the temperature drops below 0 °C (32 °F) almost every night. In north-western Sikkim, the peaks are frozen year-round; because of the high altitude, temperatures in the mountains can drop to as low as −40 °C (−40 °F) in winter.
During the monsoon, heavy rains increase the risk of landslides. The record for the longest period of continuous rain in Sikkim is 11 days. Fog affects many parts of the state during winter and the monsoons, making transportation perilous.