The beautiful hill state of Sikkim lies on the eatern tip of the Himalayas bordered by Bhutan, Nepal an Tibet. Sikkim is famous for Kanch-Endzonga, at 598 mtrs, which is third highest mountain in the world. Being second smallest state in India, Sikkim covers 7,096 sq kms and measures 110 kms from north to south and 64 kms from east to west. It encompasses the upper valley of Teesta river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra. The watershed form the borders with Tibet and Nepal. Rangit and Rangpo rivers form the border with West Bengal. Sikkim is separated from Nepal in the west by the Singalila range while Donngkya range is the border to the north & north-east.
Sikkim is broadly divided into four districts. The east district with capital city of Gangtok is the hub of all administrative activity. The famous Rumtek Monastery, the Dharma Chakra Centre and the seat of his Holliness Gyalwa Karmapa, all are located here. Other places of interest include the Tsomgo Lake and the Nathula Pass.
A most beautiful district, the North District is an abundance of the natural splendour and Alpine scenery. During spring time, the meadows are alive with exotic wild flowers that cover the valley in charming hues. The hot springs and tribal customs & culture here are very attractive.
The west district offers the ultimate in adventure. From white water rafting on the foaming Teesta and Rangit, to trekking through thick Rhododendron forests- the district offers it all. A breathtaking view of Mt Kanch-Endzonga can be had from Pelling that has developed as a major tourist attraction. The sacred lake of Khechiperi also lies close to Pelling. The South District is home to some of the oldest monasteries in the state. Adventure treks to Maenam and Tengdong Hill originate from Rawangla. The region is also just-right for mountain biking and nature watching.
Because of the altitude that vary right from sea level to summits that touch the skies ,the flora and fauna naturally covers a wide spectrum. Nowhere in the world in such a small area can one find flora and fauna of all varieties - Tropical to the Alpines. Sikkim's botanical and zoological richness is awe- inspiring, boasting of more than 4000 species of plants and 30% of all the birds found in the Indian sub-continent . No wonder Sikkim has been a dream of naturalists.
The lowlands in the south, 800'to 5000', experience a tropical climate; lush vegetation such as figs, laurel, Sal trees and bamboos have been cleared in some areas for farming. The temperate forest of oak, chestnut, maple, birch, alder, magnolia and silver fir dominates between 5000; and 13000. Above 13000, is the alpine zone where juniper, cypresses and rhododendrons grow. The perpetual snowline lies at 16000'. Luxuriant forests cover 36% of the land, more than 4000 species of plant have been recorded in Sikkim. Over 600 species of orchids grow in Sikkim, Epiphytal and terresterial types, in the tropical and temperate zones. 35 species of rhododendrons grow in temperate and alpine regions, their flowering from May to August colours hillsides. Amongst the mammals of Sikkim are the rare Snow Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Red panda, Musk Deer and Blue Sheep.
A three day holy festival of the Hindus celebrated along the river banks with huge fairs.
Bumchu: It is held in the month of January/February in the monastery of Tashiding. The abbot of the monastery unveils a pot of holy water and foretells the future of the state.
Losar: This festival is held around the festive month of February to celebrate and welcome the Tibetan New year with feasting and merry-making.
Saga Dawa: Held during the month of May, this festival celebrates the triple blessed day of Buddha's Birth, Enlightenment and Maha parinirvan in most of important monasteries in Sikkim.
Pang Lhabsol:Unique to Sikkim, this festival worships the snow peaks of Mount Kanchendzonga. An important feature of the celebration is the warrior dance with its intricate steps and leaps accompanied by martial war-cries.
Tendong Lho Rum Faat: This festival celebrates the event, when according to legend, the The Dong Hill had risen to save the Lepchas, during a great flood. Dasain: It is the main festivals of Hindu Nepalese in Sikkim. It signifies the victory of good over evil. The elders of the family apply 'Tika' on the young and bless them.
The capital city Gangtok is located here and it is the hub of all government activities. The world famous Rumtek Monastery, the Dharma Chakra center and the seat of His Holiness, the Gyalwa Karmapa is located here in addition to the alpine Tsomgo lake and Nathula Pass.
The West District offers all adventure activities. river rafting, trekking, mountaineering etc begin here. The rivers Teesta and Rangeet attract white water rafting revelers in large numbers.
The famous Shingbha Rhododendron sanctuary as well as the Khangchendzonga National Park is located here. During spring time, the meadows of Yumthang abound with wildflowers, which carpet the valley in a riot of colours. The Hot Springs and rich tribal culture and customs are other attractions.
Most famous monasteries are located here. A 108 ft high image of the patron saint of Sikkim, Guru Padmashambhava is situated near the district headquarters at Namchi. Ravangla Base Camp offers trekking upto Maenam and Tendong Hill here. Varsey Rhododendrons Sanctuary is also located here.