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location_onSTATES AND CITIES

sikkim

Sikkim is an Indian state in the north-eastern part of the country – one of the seven sisters (7 states of North-East India). The state shares borders with West Bengal on its south, Nepal to its west, Bhutan to its east and China to its North.

History

The land in which Sikkim lies today was ruled in ancient period (BCE) by Buddhist priest-king(s) called the Chogyal, and later fell under the control of the Chinese.

In 19th century, this region became a princely state of British India. In 1975, the Indian Army took over the city of Gangtok, and a referendum eventually led to their deposition. Following this, the land, named Sikkim, was then declared a state of India, and Gangtok was made its capital.

Cities

Sikkim has around 87 cities and town, grouped into 4 districts – East Sikkim, North Sikkim, South Sikkim and West Sikkim.

Some popular cities and towns of Sikkim include: Gangtok (the capital), Namchi, Geyzing, Rangpo, Singtam, Pelling, Jorethang.

People

There are about 6.58 lakhs (0.65 million) people in Sikkim. Of these 57.76% follow Hinduism and more than 27% follow Buddhism – these two are the predominant religions in the state. Apart from these, Christianity is another popular religion in the state – followed by almost 10% of the population.

The people of Sikkim are also known as Lepchas.

Culture

Sikkim is known for its diverse culture and exuberant hospitality. Since ancient and medieval periods, the state has been occupied by was largely occupied by Lepcha and Bhutia tribes and some tribes from Nepal.

Buddhism religion and Tibetan culture are prevalent in Sikkim, and many festivals associated with Buddhism (Buddhist calendar and Lord Buddha) and Tibetan culture are celebrated here throughout the year. These include:

  • Lhabab Dunchen Festival
  • Saga Dawa (people visit monasteries and light butter lamps during this festival, to worship Lord Buddha)
  • Bum-chu Festival (where a pot filled with holy water is distributed to the devotees and then refilled and sealed until the next year)
  • Losoong Festival
  • Hee Bermiok Tourism Festival (A carnival, for which people from different parts of the country and world gather in Hee Bermiok city near Gangtok)

Language

Nepali is spoken by a large number of people in Sikkim. Besides this, Bhotia and Lepcha are other regional languages spoken in the state.

Food

Sikkim’s cuisine is inspired by locally available vegetables, meats, and other ingredients as well as some cooking methods from neighboring regions like Nepal, and other north-east Indian states – most of which also include Tibetan dishes in their cuisine. Some dishes that define the Sikkimese cuisine are:

  • Gya Thuk – a noodle soup made with local vegetables, chicken or pork.
  • Phagshapa – Strips of pork fat stewed with dry chillies and radishes – a spicy and tangy dish that is made without any oil.
  • Gundruk – a fermented leafy green vegetable dish that originated in Nepal, and eaten across Sikkim too.
  • Sinki – a dish made of radish taproots and bamboo shoot.
  • Dhindo – a staple Nepalese dish, made by gradually adding flour to boiling water while stirring.
  • Sha Phaley – A bread dish stuffed with seasoned meat and cabbage.
  • Sael Roti – A ring-shaped rice bread, from Nepal, usually prepared during the Hindu festivals of Dashain and Tihar.
  • Kinema Curry – A traditional fermented soybean stew/curry, usually served with steamed rice as a side-dish.
  • Kodo Ko Roti – a Sikkimese finger millet pancake.
  • Masauyra Curry – a curry made of chickpeas.

Travel/Transportation

The major modes of inter-city transportation within Sikkim are trains and buses and for inter-state travel, the state has an airport connecting to cities in other states. For travel within cities, there are many other modes such as buses, rickshaws and private vehicles like 2-wheelers and cars, or even walking and cycling.

Airports – Sikkim has 1 domestic airport, with flights connecting to cities in other states in the country –

  • Pakyong Airport, Pakyong town (about 31km away from the capital city Gangtok)

Sikkim currently does not have any major train terminals or stations; but its first railway station is under construction. It is supposed to serve the whole state, connecting to cities in other states as well -

  • Rangpo Railway station (in Rangpo city – 38km from capital city Gangtok)

Attractions

Sikkim has incredible natural spots like lakes, mountain view points, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries and many places with magnificent views of the majestic Himalayas.

Adventurous activities like Paragliding, Skiing, mountain biking and Yak safaris are popular with the tourists here.

Some amazing places in Sikkim to visit and explore are:

  • Nathula Pass
  • Gangtok – the capital city
  • Zuluk (for amazing views of snow-clad Mt. Kanchenjunga and Thambi View Point)
  • Pemayangtse Monastery
  • Khangchendzonga (or Kanchenjunga) National Park
  • Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary
  • Siddheshwar Dham (A pilgrimage centre situated on top of a hill - the Solophok Hill in South-Sikkim)

WEEKEND GETAWAYS

These are some places in Sikkim which are great for a short getaway during weekends or small holidays, to spend some peaceful time and do fun and interesting things, such as –

  • Zuluk (for amazing views of snow-clad Mt. Kanchenjunga and Thambi View Point) – located about 95 km away from Gangtok
  • Siddheshwar Dham (A pilgrimage centre situated on top of a hill - the Solophok Hill in South-Sikkim)
  • Khangchendzonga (or Kanchenjunga) National Park – famous wildlife sanctuary – safari experiences
  • Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary

ADVENTURE EXPERIENCES

Sikkim also offers some activities and experiences for the adventure lovers. These include the following –

  • River Rafting
  • Mountaineering
  • Mountain Biking
  • Paragliding
  • Rock Climbing

HISTORICAL PLACES

Following are some major places of historical significance in Sikkim, that will interest History buffs and archaeology and architecture enthusiasts –

  • Pemayangtse Monastery
  • Rabdentse
  • Namchi
  • Yuksom
  • Kirateshwar Mahadev Mandir