Sikkim is picturesque and verdant with clean crisp air, deep blue mountain lakes, gorgeous Buddhist monasteries and hillsides ablaze with rhododendrons against a backdrop of snow-clad mountains. If you are looking for exciting trekking routes in unspoilt terrain, or a quiet communion with the mountains, there are few places in India that would match the Himalayan state of Sikkim. This tiny state of Sikkim, bigger only than Goa and Delhi and India’s least populated, lies tucked in between Nepal and Bhutan in India’s eastern region.
Just 110 kms from north to south and 60 kms across, Sikkim is entirely mountainous with altitudes varying from 800 ft in the south to the 28,199 ft. Mt. Kanchenjunga, in the northwest (India’s highest peak, and the third highest in the world). The awesome mountain is revered by the Sikkimese as their protecting deity. The capital of the state, Gangtok is an attractive and interesting town in eastern Sikkim, well developed and with absolutely amazing views of the snow clad Himalayan peaks including the Kanchenjunga.
Best Time of Visit:
- The best time to visit Sikkim is between March and May when the flowers are in bloom, or between October and mid-December when clear views of the Himalayan peaks are guaranteed.
- June to September brings heavy rains causing landslides that often disrupt communication. January and February means snow in the higher altitudes and visits to many of the tourist spots are not possible.
Min Days Required: 5 days
Places of Interest:
- Kabi lungtsok
- Tendong hill
- Ridge garden
- Rabdentse ruins
- The climate of Sikkim is temperate, with fairly heavy rainfall in most parts of the state during the monsoons (June to September).
- The average rainfall is 125 cm. In summer, the temperature rises to 28 degree Celsius and falls to a minimum of 13 degree Celsius. In winter the maximum temperature is 18 degree Celsius and the minimum temperature is 7 degree Celsius.
Things to carry:
- Summer: Light cotton and light-woolen jumpers-jackets for early mornings and late evenings. Sun hat and sun glasses.
- Winter: Heavy woolen pullovers and jackets in addition to warm trousers and shirts. Woolen caps for early mornings are also recommended.
How to get there:
- Sikkim is not directly served by air. The closest airport is at Bagdogra, in the state of West Bengal.
- The 124 km drive to Gangtok takes 5 hours and is facilitated by numerous taxis, shared jeeps and hired cars with chauffeurs.
- A helicopter service between Gangtok - Bagdogra – Gangtok is also available.
- The flight from Bagdogra 30 minutes to reach Gangtok. Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (+91-3592-222634) operates this service daily at 11:00 AM from Gangtok to Bagdogra and at 2:00 PM from Bagdogra to Gangtok, so it wpuld be best to check with them regarding operation.
- Sikkim is not on the railway map being a mountainous state. The nearest railhead is New Jalpaiguri (West Bengal), 125km away from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim.
- Trains from all the major cities of India connect to New Jalpaiguri. The drive to Gangtok city takes about five hours and numerous buses, taxis, shared 4WDs and hired cars with chauffeurs cover the distance all through the day.