SIKKIM:The Himalayan Shangri-La
Area: 7096 sq. kms
Language: English, Nepalese, Hindi, Bhutia (Sikkimese), Bhutia (Tibetan), Lepcha, Limboo.
Best time to Visit: May, June, October and November
Capital City: Gangtok
Tucked away in the North eastern part of India nestled between the Eastern Himalayas, Sikkim has come in to state hood just recently. Bordering the Tibet autonomous region to its North, Tibet and Western Bhutan to its East, Eastern Nepal to its West and the Darjeeling Gorkha Hills of West Bengal to its South this tiny little state has a giant guardian in the shape of the third largest mountain on the earth, the Kanchandzonga.
In the North of India, surrounded by the snow - clad mountains, Sikkim experiences a cool climate throughout the year. Though most often it is wet with monsoons lashing it down from July to September and even in November and December, the best climate to visit this mall state is summer, May and June. That is the time when Sun shines in abundance throwing open the nature's beauty at galore.
Sikkim is a land of immense scenic beauty, natural charm and a variety of fauna and flora. The word Sikkim in the local language is Su-Khim which means a New or Happy House, and indeed it is! Sikkim has a lot of open monasteries, flying prayer flags and lofty Stupas all giving a tinge of mysticism. Any place you look at in Sikkim definitely leaves you spell bound. The snow clad mountains, the green landscape which broken at interval with the gushing waterfalls. The roaring rivers and the placid lakes, the mountains or the people, you are sure to lose your heart in this beautiful place. Until 1975, Sikkim remained an independent kingdom, ruled by the Chogyal, whose palace is tantalizingly hidden by trees. The modern history of Sikkim begins from 1642 A.D. with the coronation of Phuntsog Namgyal as the first Chogyal or king of Sikkim. Due to the rough terrain, continuous showers and the mountains surrounding the state, the roads leading to Sikkim are not easy. No railway goes to Sikkim, but the nearest airport at Bagdogra in West Bengal is hardly five hours distance form the capital of Gangtok and the picturesque scenery along with the pleasant weather would not bore the first timer! Siliguri junction and New Jalpaiguri Junction are the two closest railway stations (around 120 kms from Gangtok) to this Himalayan state of India. Although Sikkim is a part of India, there are some restrictions for the travelers to venture deep inside the state due to security reasons. The foreign tourists have to obtain permits to travel to this state.