Sikkim -

 

The Nepalease called it Sukkim - "The New Place"; for the Bhutias seeing those endless tracts of paddy fields it was Demazong, 'The Valley of Rice '. But its original inhabitants - the Lepchas understood this land best for them it was simply 'Nye-mae-el lang'-abode of the Gods.

 

Spreads over 7096 sq km, it enfolds the upper valley of the Teesta River, the major tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra River. Its southern borders with West Bengal are shared with the Rangit and Rangpo Rivers; the Singalila Range acts as a natural barrier with Nepal in the west and the Dongkhya Range runs along the borders from the north to the north east. Elevations range from 270 m above ses level in the south to over 8589 m in the north and north western region .

 

This land of intense ntaural beauty , imbued with a mystic aura, is steeped in legends and history . The profusion of lofty peaks, holy lakes , heli tours and stunning trekking routes make Sikkim a multidimenssional holiday destination.

 

Flora and Fauna 
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. Dr. J. Hooker during the middle of the last century surveyed in the detail the botanical wealth in Sikkim and his findings were embodied in the publication 'Himalayan Journal' that is still considered as an authoritative document. Dr. Salim Ali an ornithologist has given a detailed account on birds in his book 'The birds of Sikkim'. Besides these there are many books available on the flora & fauna of sikkim.

Plants:
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. 

Animals:
Amongst the mammals of Sikkim are the rare Snow Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Red panda, Musk Deer and Blue Sheep. Birdlife is abundant with Giant Lammergeier, Vultures, Eagles, Whistling Thursh, Minivets, Bulbuls and Pheasants among the 550 species to be seen in Sikkim.

 

How to reach Sikkim

 

RAIL

The two closest railway stations are Siliguri (114 kms) and New Jalpaiguri (125 kms) connecting Kolkata, Delhi, Guwahati, Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Bangalore, Chennai and other important cities of India. There are out agency booking facilities in Gangtok at the SNT Bus Terminal and at Tourist Information Centre, Namchi. 


ROAD
Gangtok is connected by all  weather roads with Darjeeling,  Kalimpong, Siliguri and al District headquarters. The Sikkim nationalized transport (SNT) plies regular bus service from Gangtok to all major cities and towns  North Bengal and within the State. Booking facilities are available  at Siliguri and Gangtok. Private buses and taxis are also available plenty between Gangtok, Siliguri, Kalimpong and Darjeeling. 


AIR
Nearest airport for Sikkim is Bagdogra in North Bengal which is 124 kms and approximately 4 hours drive from Gangtok. There are Indian airlines, Jet airways, Deccan air and Spice Jet services operating from Bagdogra linking Kolkata,  Guwahati, and New Delhi. Sikkim tourism operates daily a five-seater  helicopter service between Gangtok  and Bagdogra connecting all flights. 

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