Introduction To Sikkim
The state of Sikkim lays in the northeast of India.
Being part of inner mountain ranges of Himalayas, the state is hilly, having varied elevation ranging from 300 to 8598 meters. The highest point is the Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world, revered by the Sikkimese as their protective Deity.
It is believed that "Lepchas" people were the first inhabitants of Sikkim.
In the 9th century, Guru Rinpoche, a Buddhist saint, passed through the lands of Sikkim. He introduced Buddhism to Sikkim and predicted the era of a monarchy in the state that would arrive centuries later.
Indeed, eight centuries later, Phuntsog Namgyal from Tibet was consecrated as the first Chogyal (King) of Sikkim.
Being a strategic state leading to the sea, Sikkim was often invaded by the neighbourhood countries such as China, Nepal and Bhutan. To be stronger against them, Sikkim allied with the powerful British Empire of India.
In 1817, Sikkim and British India signed a treaty that authorized British to go through Sikkim in order to trade with Tibet in exchange of an annual rent. Never paid, Sikkim closed its boundaries to British. Furious, the British sent its army to Sikkim.
In 1890, Sikkim is annexed by British India and became a state of India.
The state of Sikkim is bounded by Nepal in the west, China in the north and Bhutan in the east. Its capital is Gangtok.
It is divided into four districts such as North, East, South and West. Sikkim is 7 107 km² but the the habitable areas represent only 20% of this total area.
Sikkim counts 560 000 people divided into three main communities of Nepalese (75%), Lepchas (15%) and Bhutias (7%).
Lepchas were the first inhabitants of Sikkim as no legend of their migration is available.
In the 13th century, the Bhutias from Kham area of Tibet came to the state. They believed in Buddhism of the Mahayana sect.
The Nepalese are mainly Hindus. They were the last to enter Sikkim in the mid 19th century.
All communities live in perfect harmony sharing each other’s cultures, ethos and traditions with the result that there is now a Sikkimese culture. It is the harmony of the place that provides justification to the name of the state derived from "Sukhim" meaning "happy home, a place of peace".
The habitable regions of Sikkim are dominated by temperate climate with temperature going from 13 to 28°C during summer and 0 to 13°C during winter.
During the months of March - May, the sun shines at its best in the state of Sikkim. Monsoon prevails from late-June to early-September and Sikkim is prone to landslides. Autumn stays from September to October providing a nice time for tourists to visit the state. The winter season starts from late December till February permitting the temperature to drop below -40°C. At that season, Sikkim also gets a covering of deep fog, making transportation very risky.
The State of Sikkim is divided into three areas based on travel restrictions. Some parts of the state require "Inner Line Permit", some parts require "Protected Area Permit" and some other parts require "Restricted Area Permit". The entire state of Sikkim falls under one of these three categories. To simplify the legalities, Indian tourists may visit major tourist destinations in Sikkim without obtaining any special permit but All foreigners have to obtain a special permit for Sikkim.