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Sikkim

SIKKIM


Sikkim, a small Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom, in later years became the twenty second state to join India in 1975. It is on the southern slope of Himalaya and is bounded on the north and northeast by Tibet Autonomous region of China, on the south by West Bengal state of India, on the east by Bhutan and on the west by Nepal. One of the highest regions of India, Sikkim is traversed by the main range of the Himalayas and by several spur ranges. It lies between 27° 04’ 46” and 28° 07’ 48” North of Latitude and between 88° 55’ 25 “and 88° 00’ 58” East of Longitude. It is entirely mountainous area i.e. 7,096 sq km. Out of this 5,765 Sq km i.e. 81 % area is forest and out of forest 2091 sq. km is snow covered area. The main rivers are Teesta and Rangit which originates from the eastern and southern parts of Mt. Khangchendzonga.

Sikkim offers diverse cultural activities due to its geographical location and is the centre for many Himalayan languages and cultures from where all can avail facilities and encouragements.

FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT SIKKIM


•    State Capital – GANGTOK which is well connected by daily services of Jeeps, Buses and helicopter services to Bagdogra Airport and other places of Sikkim & neighboring areas by road.

•    Nearest Airport – Bagdogra Airport, 124 km, 4-5 hrs drive and is connected by daily flight services to Delhi, Kolkata, Gauhati, Mumbai, Chennai, etc.

•    Nearest Railway Station – New Jalpaiguri, 123 km, 4-5 hrs which connect to all parts of India.

•    Sikkim Visit Permit, Trekking & Protected Area Visit Permits Acquiring Places and Procedures for foreign nationals are mentioned in map section.

•    Facts - * Population–540,493 – Census 2001 [(Males-2,88,217 & Females-2,52,276), - North : 41,030 ( Males-23,414 & Females- 17,616 ), West : 1,23,256 ( Males-63,912 & Females-59,344), - South : 1,31,525 (Males-68,241 & Females-63,284) & East : 2,45,040 (Males-1,32,917 & Females-1,12,123) ], * Temperature – Summer : Max 21 C / Min. 13 C & Winter : Max 13 C / Min. 05 C., * Clothing – Summer : Light woolens & Winter : Heavy woolens, * Annual Rainfall – varies between 2200 mm to 5000 mm, * Orchid - 550 species (95 Genera ),           * Rhododendron– 36 Species (45 varieties ), * Bamboo – 20 Species, * Plants- 4000 Species, * Ferns & Allies – 300 Species, * Conifers– 9 Species,* Mammals – 81 Species, * Birds – 550 Species, * Butterflies - 650 Species, * Reptiles 33 Species, * Frogs– 16 Species, * Mountains and Peaks– 28, * Glaciers – 21, * Lakes – 180,  * River & Streams– 104, * Post Office– 210 nos. * State Bird - Blood Pheasant, * State Tree – Dendrobium Nobile, * State Animal-Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens), * Lepcha name for Mt. Khangchendzonga: Khongchen Konglo.

•    Important Mountain Ranges - * Singalila, * Chorten Nyima, * Donkya, * Chola, * Pangola & * Maenam.

•    Spoken Languages: * English, * Hindi, * Nepali, * Lepcha, * Bhutia, * Limbu, * Rai, * Gurung, * Tamang,  * Sherpa, * Magar, * Newari, * Sunuwar, * Tibetan, * Marwari, * Bihari, * Bengali, etc.
•    Festivals – HINDU: * Dassin, * Tihar, * Saraswati Puja, * Magh Sakranti, * Maha Shivratri, * Holi, * Chaite Dassain or Ramnami, * Raksha Bandhan, * Janamastami, * Vishwa Karma Puja, * Rangey Mela, * Sakewa, etc ;
 
• BUDHIST: * Saga Dawa, * Drukpa Tseshi, * Guru Rinpoche’s Trungkar Tsechu, * Pang Lhabsol, * Lhabab Dhuechen, * Losoong, * Lossar, * Bumchu, * Tamu Lochhar, * Sonam Lochar, * Kagyad Dance, etc. CHRISTIAN: * Good Friday, * Easter,  * Christmas, * New Year, etc.  LEPCHA: * Tendong Lho Rum Faat, * Namsoong, etc. Tourism Festivals & Event: * Gangtok Flower Festival, * Winter Tourism Festival, * Namchi Flower Festival, * Namchi Maha Utsav, * Kalez Valley Heritage Festival, * Khangchendzonga Mountain Biking Championship, * Ravangla Tourism Festival, *  

• Sacred Peaks- * Ghanchhen-m Zod-Nga [(Khangchendzonga) i. Khangchendzonga-Main, ii. Khangchendzonga-South & iii. Khangchendzonga - West], * Mt. Narsing, * Gabur Gangtsen (i. Kabru-North, ii. Kabru-South & iii. Kabru–Dome), * Mt Pandim, * Mt. Simvo, * Goecha Peak, * Fork Peak, * Pao Hungri   (Pauhungri) & * Mt.Siniolchu.

•  Sacred Lakes - * Omechho (Omai-tsho)-West Sikkim, * Sungmteng Chho (Tsho)–West Sikkim, * Lamchho–West Sikkim, * Tolechho (Dole–Tsho)-West Sikkim, * Kabur Lamchho (Gabur Lah-Tsho)-West Sikkim, * Khachoedpalri Pemachen Tsho (Khachoedpalri Lake)-West Sikkim, * Kathongtsho at Yuksam-West Sikkim,  * Tsho-mGo Lake-East Sikkim, * Guru Domgmar Lake-North Sikkim & * Mulathingkhai Tsho (Green Lake) at Zemu Clacier-North Sikkim.

•  Important Glaciers - * Zemu Glacier -359,85 Sq.km (North), * Talung Glacier 145.90 Sq. km (West–North), * North & South Lhonak Glaciers (North), * Changsang Glacier (North), *  Teesta Khangsa Glacier (North),  * Khangpup Khangsa (North), Zumthul Phuk Glacier (North),* Langbu Glacier (North),* Hidden Glacier(North), * Rathong Glacier-58.44 Sq km (West), etc.

•    Sacred Caves - * Sharchhogbayphuk at Sangmo-South Sikkim, * Khadosangphuk at Sanganath-South Sikkim, * Dechenphuk above Nambu - West Sikkim, * Lharinyingphuk, Kongro-Labdang-West Sikkim, * Phagmorong, West Sikkim & * Tragtungrong, - West Sikkim.

•  Sacred Rocks - * Yongzokdrak–West Sikkim, * Tragkar Rock, Tashiding–West Sikkim, * Gyalwa Lhatshun Chhenpo’s Footprint at Yuksam, * Coronation Throne at Yuksam, * Thegchhok Yangtse Khadoi Drora Rock–West Sikkim, * Guru Rinpoche’s Footprint Naydo at Chungthang–North Sikkim and * Kabi- longtsok stone Naydo at Kabi – North Sikkim.

• Sacred Hot Springs - * Phur Tshachhu at Khadosangphuk-South-West Sikkim, * Ralong Tshachhu at Borong–South Sikkim, * Gangyap Chhutshen– West Sikkim, * Takrum Tshachhu – North Sikkim, * Yumesamdong Tshachhu –North Sikkim, * Zee Tshachhu–North Sikkim, * Shagyong Phedok Tshachhu–North Sikkim and * Thulong Kang Tshachhu at Dzongu–North Sikkim.

• Sacred Choedtens (Chorten/Stupa) * Norbugang Chhoedten Tashi Hodber at Yuksam–built by Naljor, * Chhoedten Thongwa Rangdrol at Tashiding–built by Gyalwa Phatsun Chhenpo, * Khacheodpalri Bheyul Chhoedten–a replica of Nepal’s Boudanath Stupa, * Dhud-Tsen-Lu-Sum Chhoedten at Rabdentse–West Sikkim, * Gyalshing Mendang–built by Kyabgon Jigme Pao to avert famine–West Sikkim and * Mendang at Singhek, Tashiding-West Sikkim.

•  National Parks, Wildlife / Birds Sanctuaries & Conservation Zones - * Khangchendzonga National Park-1784 Sq. km, * Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary- 34.35 Sq. km, * Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary-51.76 Sq.km, * Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary- 31 Sq km, * Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary- 43 Sq.km, * Barsay Rhododendron Sanctuary-104. sq. km, * Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary-128 Sq. km, * Kitam Birds Sanctuary, * Himalayan Zoological Park at Bulbuley- 205 Sq.Hectere (East), *Yongzokdrak Blue Sheep Conservation Zone-55 Sq.Km within KNP (North-West), * Areylungtshok Musk Deer Conservation Zone- 27 Sq.km within KNP (West), * Lampokhari Medicinal Plants Conservation Zone-15 sq. km-within KNP (West), * Singalila Eco-Tourism Promotion Zone (West), * Birds Watching Centre at Rabdentse (West  * Birds watching Centre at Khachoedpalri (West), * Birds Watching Centre at Rinchenpong (West).
              
Forest Department in Sikkim was constituted in the year 1893 during the reign of Maharaja Thutob Namgyal. The Department was reorganized during 1956 and was placed under Conservator of Forest.
              
This is for general information that if any action found offensive as per Notification


ACTION PROHIBITED IN WILDLIFE AREA
Within a Wildlife area a trekker, trekking service provider or trekking company shall not:
( a ) use firewood; ( b ) damage or cut shrubs or thickets; ( c ) dispose non-biodegradable material within wildlife area; ( d ) pollute water body; ( e ) collects plants or their parts; ( f ) be accompanied by stray dogs or pet animals;
( g )  feed, shout, tease, chase, disturb, or molest wild animals; ( h ) play loud music or use loud speakers; ( i ) deface or damage rocks, tree trunks or government infrastructure or facilities; ( j ) camp outside designated campsites; ( k ) trek outside designated nature trails; ( l ) defecate within 100 meters of any water body; ( m ) camp within 500 meters of the periphery of any lake; ( n ) cause environment pollution; ( o ) defile sites of religious and cultural significance such as sacred mountains, lakes, rocks, caves and shrines or ( p ) commit any other act that may be injurious to forest, water bodies, plants, animals or disturb the natural tranquility of such sites or become a nuisance to fellow trekkers.
 

Community Based Tourism

Sikkim village homestay is a new experience to explore local Sikkimese culture. Guests in this program live with village families to understand the way of life of the people. Local villagers serve as guides so that guests can experience village life one-on-one. Cultural programs  can be organized to highlight local cultures and traditions.
          
Though village homestay operators strive to make visitors comfortable, you should keep the following points in mind to make your stay enjoyable as possible.
         
Homestay hosts are trained to provide food and drinking water in a hygienic and palatable manner. Drinking water is boiled. Should you have special dietary requirements, please let the homestay operator know in advance. Guests will be served traditional village food unless they request otherwise. Homestay operators have been trained to clean and maintain toilets so that they are acceptable to guests and also provide clean furnishings and bed linens. The most important thing is to communicate your needs to the homestay operators and to remain flexible: villagers are as eager to learn about your life and your culture as you are about theirs.  

DO’s    Don’t


•    Contact the local committee for village homestay arrangement as per the contact details.
•    Remember that you are staying with a family, so please behave as a courteous guest.
•    Always travel with a guide.
•    Respect local culture by asking before taking photographs.
•    Dress modestly. Be aware of the customs, manners and culture of the local people.
•    It is customary to leave a donation at monasteries and to circle shrines in a clockwise direction.
    Don’ts
•    Don’t disturb  wildlife or its habitat.
•    Don’t buy endangered species or antiques.
•    Don’t give sweets, pens or money to children; it only encourages begging.
•    Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or talk loudly near sacred places.
•    Don’t pick plants or flowers
•    Do  not litter trails and dispose garbage irresponsibly.
•    Do not take short cut routes and trample fragile vegetation.
•    DO not use pollutants like soap and detergents  near water bodies



Some activities of Sikkim village homestay

•    Village walks.
•    Cultural song and dances.
•    Ploughing the field.
•    Milking cows and making butter.
•    Fodder collection and feeding cattle.
•    Cardamom weeding and harvesting.
•    Paddy cultivating and harvesting.
•    Participation in cultural festivals.
•    Collection and cooking of wild edibles.
    •    Traditional games and sports Listening of folk tales and stories.
•    Day hike to pilgrimage sites.
•    Bird and butterfly watching.
•    Visiting traditional village healers.
•    Crossing cane and bamboo bridges.
•    Exploring local flora.
•    Preparing local food and beverages.

FIVE WAYS THAT YOU CAN SUPPORT SIKKIM VILLAGE HOMESTAYS

1.    Spread the word: Share your enjoyable village homestay experience with your friends, family and other traveler.
2.    Support local organizations: Every Village Homestay is managed by the local village committee, support them.
3.    Buy local products: Purchasing local products in the villages directly support the villagers, support this cause.
4.    Share your photos : Photographs are a great way to share your memories. If possible, share your photos, leave it or send it to the local Village Committee to deliver it to your hosts.
5.    Communicate: The only way that villagers can improve their homestay services is if they receive honest feedback from guests, ensure you jot down your comments in the guest register book.  

Dzongu

Dzongu located in northwestern Sikkim is the homeland of Lepcha community, the original inhabitants of Sikkim. The Lepcha community are primarily animists and Buddhists. The people are mostly engaged in subsistence farming and are very warm and friendly.

Dzongu is remote and surrounded by verdant mountains that are stacked on top of each other at forbidding angles. Because of the altitudinal variation of Dzongu, visitors can view warm sub tropical forests, temperate deciduous forests, and alpine zones in the higher ridges.

Activities for the visitors include invigorating walks, crossing cane and bamboo bridges, bird watching and visiting thundering water falls and dense pristine forests. The mystic Tholung Gumpa located at the extreme end of Dzongu is worth a visit where every three years an important religious festival is held.

Please note that visitors to Dzongu must obtain a Protected Area permit to visit this region. You must allow a few days to make these arrangements.

Kewzing

Kewzing village, a traditional Bhutia village in South Sikkim  offers  visitors traditional hospitality and magnificent mountain views. KTDC makes the arrangements for accommodation, meals and guided walks and can also organize Bhutia cultural shows.  It also provides extended tours to Samdruptse (a statue of the patron saint of Sikkim), Ralang monastery, Temi Tea Garden, paper making factory, Rayong sunrise point, or a fun filled picnic to the Rangit Water World. A days excursion to Tashiding & Pemayangtse  monasteries, Pelling, Khecheopalri lake can also be made on request.

Activities during your stay can include bird watching, village walks, visiting the unique Bon monastery including the Doling and Mangbrue monasteries. The more adventurous can take overnight trek to the Maenam Wild life Sanctuary for spectacular views of the mountains and the plains of North Bengal.  

Yuksam

Yuksam which means “ Meeting place of the Three Learned Ones “ was the first capital of Sikkim. The stone coronation throne of the first king of Sikkim is still there at Norbu Ghang Chorten.  Located on the hilltop of Yuksam is the oldest monastery of Sikkim, the Dubdi monastery.

Yuksam is the base for trekking to the world famous “ Yuksam Dzongri Trail “ which located inside the Khangchendzongna National Park. The whole area from Yuksam to Mt. Khangchendzongna ( the third highest peak in the world ) is not only rich with bio-diversity but it is also considered as a ”Sacred landscape”. Here one can experience diverse vegetation types. The area surrounding Yuksam is truly a “Birders’ Paradise” having more than 250 bird species, 18 species of Rhododendron, many species of medicinal herbs, alpine flowers and rare wild orchids.

Pastanga

 

Pastanga is the home to a unique community of animist Nepalis known as Kirat Rai’s as well as Bhutias and Lepchas. The name “Pastanga” comes from the fact that many types of bamboo thrive in the forests that surround the village. Visitors to Pastanga will be able to see traditional Bhutia and Rai houses that have remained virtually unchanged for 150 years. One also has the opportunity to walk through cardamom plantations, visit the sacred waterfall and observe the daily village life.

Guests can also enjoy cultural shows which features Bhutia and Rai dances. Local  instruments are also played to entertain and educate visitors. Organic delicious cuisine is served for the guests. The village also features a herbal garden that contains medicinal plants common in this area. More adventurous visitors can test out the Malingo Trek that leaves from Pastanga to Khedi, a site a few days walk from Pastanga.

Darap

The picturesque village of Darap, located 8 kilometres from Pelling is a 20 minutes drive downhill passing through cardamom groves  and terraced paddy fields.  The entire drive provides magnificent views of Mt Khangchendzonga with the villages of Khecheopalri and Yuksam in the foreground. From this village bifurcates the road to Nambu from where one can take the Yambong trek that joins the Singalila range. Mixed community of Lepcha, Bhutia is found however dominated by the Limboo tribe. Local Homestays provide ideal accommodation for travelers.

Uttaray

Tucked away in the lap of mother nature is the tranquil village of Uttaray, the gateway to the Singalila trek. This village provides visitors with many options to go for short hikes or longer treks in the vicinity or visit the Limboo village of Sopakha located an hours walk from Uttaray. The Uttarey Tourism Development & Cooperative Society Limited  arranges all the logistics for treks in the area and provides all the support staff needed for your trip.

The breathtaking views of Khangchendzonga from Phoktey and neighboring sites is rewarding. Hikes to the Barsey rhododendron sanctuary can also be taken from here or to Nup Dechenphu, one of the sacred caves of Sikkim. Local lodges and Homestays provide reasonable accommodation at this site.

Hee Bermiok

The newly developed destination of Hee Bermiok with widespread community participation is an ideal destination for visitors wanting to sample unique rural lifestyle of Sikkim.  The annual tourism festival that is being promoted is an important feature not to be missed. The strong Limboo culture of this area is worth appreciating.

Visitors have options to explore the village or take hikes into the Barsey rhododenrdron sanctuary. Local guides are available.  Homestays are also being promoted and various village activities can keep the visitors occupied. The Hee Bermiok Tourism Development & Heritage Conservation Society which is spearheading the tourism development programs for this area.

INTRODUCING- Exploring of Cliff Beehive

Daily Activities
•    Day Excursion to Nup Dechenphuk
•    Walk to Limbo, Lepcha & Sherpa villages
•    Evening Cultural program on demand
•    Birds & butterfly watching
•    Cultural Program on demand  
•    Uttarey-Barsay-Singalila Eco-Trekking
•    Singalila Eco-Trekking &
•    Participate in many village activities.   

Environmental and Sanctuary Entry Fees

Royalty has been imposed on mountaineering expeditions within Sikkim as per the rates and conditions given below with the amendment that the local Sikkimese trekkers are to be exempted from the payment of the fees on the production of their valid identity card/certificate. The fee is to be imposed as an environmental fee with immediate effect under Wildlife Act, 1972.

Sikkim-Kanchanjunga

In Kanchangjunga region, the trekking routes in Kanchanjunga National Park starts from Yuksum (the first capital of Sikkim). On a well beaten trekking track in form of bridle path running through terraced fields of barley and orchards; onto moss-laden lush green forests of pines, firs, giant magnolias, rhododendron, spruces and orchids- a naturalists’ paradise. Intermingled with this are the chirrup, twitter and peeping of exotic Himalayan birds. As you climb up with patience and pain, you will be rewarded by the close-up views of the Sikkimese mountains.

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Activities In Sikkim
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