Looking for information about Sikkim and best places to visit in Darjeeling, Gangtok in Sikkim? Sikkim is the North Eastern state of India. In terms of population and size, it is the second smallest state in the country. Sikkim is the only Indian state which shares its border with China towards North and East, surrounded by Nepal in the west and Bhutan towards East. The capital as well as largest city of Sikkim is Gangtok. The official language of this state is Nepali. However, Bhutia, Limbu, Gurung, Newari, Lepcha, Sunwar, Sherpa, Rai, Tamang and Mangar are also the official languages of Sikkim. Kanchenjunga, the famous & world’s third highest mountain peak is in Sikkim.
Sikkim has over 610,577 inhabitants as per the census of 2011. It is the least populous state in India. Name of the state ‘Sikkim’ is formed from two Limbu terms, namely, Su and Khyim. Su denotes new while Khyim refers to palace or house. Sikkim’s monarchy came into existence in 1647 when the first ruler of the state Phuntsog Namgyal came into power. It is also believed that nomenclature of state has a broad connection with the palace built by Phuntsog Namgyal. In terms of ethnicity, Buddhism was introduced in the state after the visit of Buddhist guru Padmasambhav in 8th Century A.D.
Coming to religion, Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism are the two predominant religions of Sikkim. The major economy boosters of this North Eastern state are Agriculture and Tourism. Natural wonders, Temples, Buddhist Monasteries, Heritage sites, Lakes, Glaciers, Wildlife sanctuaries and Pilgrimage destinations are important elements of Sikkim tourism.
Gangtok, Namchi, Mangan, Gheizing, Darjeeling and Rabdentse are popular cities of Sikkim. During the time period when Nepalese army had invaded Sikkim, Rabdentse was declared as the second capital of the state. Most of the tourists to Sikkim visit Darjeeling and Gangtok. Exquisite landscapes of Sikkim leave one spell-binding.
How to reach Sikkim
Prior to planning to visit Sikkim, it is essential to determine the mode of transportation you are going to use to reach Sikkim. If you are planning a reach Sikkim by road, then, NH 31 A and 31 can be chosen. It will link you from Siliguri to Gangtok by boarding tourist buses, taxis, private cars or traveling through other vehicles. The chain of highways passing through Melli connects you to Western Sikkim.
If you want to reach Gangtok by Rail, then, the stations you will be getting down are Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri. You can get down at these stations depending on your touring itinerary of Sikkim. Siliguri station is 114 Km away from Gangtok while the distance between New Jalpaiguri and Gangtok is 148 Kms. From the station, you can either board a cab or a jeep based on your preferences.
If you are planning to go to Sikkim by air, then, several flights are available. Regular flights bound to Bagdogra are available at regular intervals from Kolkata, Guwahati and Delhi. From there, you can hire a taxi or board a bus to reach Gangtok.
If you are traveling to Sikkim by car, then, fuel availability between highways from Siliguri leading to Gangtok and Darjeeling is sufficient. The roads are well-structured and make the route smooth for drivers. After you reach the outskirts of Sikkim, you will be coming across well-maintained roads. These roads are maintained by Border Roads Organization (BRO). Taxis, jeeps and privately operated buses can be travelled in throughout Sikkim.
Best places to visit in Darjeeling, Gangtok in Sikkim
Rumtek Monastery is a Buddhist monastery which was built in 16th century by the 9th Kamrapa Wangchuk Dorje. This tourist attraction of Gangtok drives in large volume of travellers. Tibetan Buddhists consider this as a very pious place. This monastery can be reached at by covering the distance of 24 km from Gangtok. Rumtek is the largest monastery of Sikkim at present. It took four years to finish the construction of the monastery. The height of Rumtek Monastery above sea level is 1500 m. The sacred items are preserved within the monastery.
Hanuman Tok is situated in upper outskirts of Gangtok. This Hindu temple is managed by Indian Army. According to mythological texts, it is believed that Lord Hanuman rested over here while taking Sanjeevani (medicinal herb) for Lakshmana, Lord Rama’s brother. Hence, this temple has been dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Hanuman Tok is 11 km away from Gangtok. The height of this temple is 7,200 ft. approximately. Spectacular view of Kanchenjunga peak can be enjoyed from this hilltop temple. Capturing images of scenery and wonderful surroundings is an activity which ought not to be missed out.
Tiger Hill is the famous tourist attraction located near Darjeeling. It is located at a distance of 11 km from Darjeeling. It is the best place of interest for nature lovers who love to explore natural serenity throughout their stay in Sikkim. Jeep can be used to travel to Tiger Hill from Darjeeling. One can even walk through Chowrasta. Before leaving from this Hill, Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary can be visited too.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park was established in 1958. It is located in Darjeeling and known for its highest altitude as compared to other zoos of India. Name of the zoo has been adopted on the name of Governor of West Bengal, 1956-1967, Padmaja Naidu. Snow Leopards and Red Pandas are preserved in this zoological park of Darjeeling. Besides, Blue Sheep, Grey Peacock Pheasant, Himalayan Tahr, Blood Pheasant and Himalayan Monal are few of the species which can be witnessed over here. The park is now known as Indira Gandhi Park. It was renamed in the year 1975. This zoo is renowned for its Red Panda program in India.
Khecheopalri Lake is considered sacred and worshiped by Hindus and Buddhists. It is also believed that the lake happens to be wish-fulfilling. It can be reached at by covering 147 km distance from West Gangtok. The lake has been locally known as Sho Dzo Sho which denotes Oh Lady, Sit here. Folklores maintain that Khecheopalri Lake represents thorax which is among the four plexus of human body.
Apart from touring, mouth-watering cuisine of Sikkim must also be tried. Thukpa, Chowmein, Momos and Gyathuk are some of the popular dishes of Sikkim. Internet cafes are accessible in the district capital. To make best use of your visit to Sikkim, availing a well planned Sikkim Tour Package would be the best option.
Sikkim, is a beautiful destination, which you can visit end number of times.