Sikkim- a beautiful State located in the North-Eastern part of India is a scenic Himalayan region. Sikkim is the only Indian State to have less population and also the second smallest state in terms of area. This State lies in the Eastern Himalayan region; also have the highest mountain peak in India and the third highest peak in the world – The Great Kanchenjunga. The State’s largest city is Gangtok which is also the capital city of this region. There are 4 districts – Gangtok (East Sikkim), Mangan, India (North Sikkim), Namchi (South Sikkim) and Geyzing (West Sikkim). The official language of Sikkim is English and Nepali. Other additional languages spoken here are Bhutia, Lepcha, Limbu, Gurung, Manger, Mukhia, Newari, Rai, Sherpa, Sikkimese and Tamang.
|Established||16 May 1975|
|High Court||Sikkim High Court|
|Rivers||Teesta, Cholamu, Rangeet|
|National Parks||Khangchendzonga NP, Fambong Lho WS, Kyongnosla Alpine WS, Maenam WS etc.|
|Languages||Nepali, Limbu, Majhi, Majhwar, Sikkimese, Sherpa, Tamang, Thulung, Tibetan, English, Hindi etc.|
|State Animal||Red Panda|
|State Bird||Blood Pheasant|
|State Flower||Noble orchid|
|Literacy Rate (2011)||87.75%|
|Females per 1000 males||889|
Though the State of Sikkim was founded on 16 May, 1975, it has a glorious history and heritage dating back to thousands of years. According to the Indian mythology, Sikkim was known as “Indrakil”, the garden of King of God- Lord Indra. The Lepchas were considered to be as the earliest inhabitants of Sikkim, also absorbed the cultures of Naong, Mon, Chang, and other tribes. The arrival of Bhutias from Tibet began in 14th Century. But, during the 8th Century, the great Buddhist saint- Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) introduced Buddhism in this region and predicted the arrival of great monarchy after various centuries in Sikkim. It was the Namgyal dynasty which ruled Sikkim till 1975. This dynasty was established in 1642, and Phuntsog Namgyal was the first King who hails from the Bhutia community. This State saw various clashes with other tribes like the Tibetans, Nepalese and Bhutanese during the mid-18th century. After the Anglo-Nepalese war in (1814-16), Sikkim came under the territory of the British.
Sikkim is surrounded on three sides by mountainous terrain of the Himalayas covering an area of 7,096 sq. km. The entire State is hill with the land rises from an elevation of about 750 feet (225 metres) in the Tista River valley to nearly 28,200 feet (8,600 metres) at Kanchenjunga, India’s highest peak and the world’s third highest mountain. The Singalila Range separates Sikkim from Nepal in the west. The Dongkya Range of the State boundaries with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the east. Several passes across this range connects to the Chumbi Valley and Lhasa in Tibet. Sikkim consists 28 mountain peaks, more than 80 glaciers, 227 high-altitude lakes (including the Tsongmo, Gurudongmar and Khecheopalri Lakes), five major hot springs, and more than 100 rivers and streams.
According to the 2011 Census of India, Sikkim has a population of 610,577 inhabitants which consists of 321,661 males and 286,027 females. It is one of the least densely populated regions of India with only 86 persons per square kilometer. The sex ratio is 889 females per 1,000 males. The average literacy rate is 82.2 %, male literacy rate is 87.29 % and female literacy rate is 76.43 %.
Sikkim is mainly an agrarian economy and the half of its total population is engaged in agriculture. Sikkim is famous for the production of corn, rice, buckwheat, wheat, and barley which are produced in terraced fields along the valley side. Beans, ginger, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, and tea also are grown. This State is also the largest producer of Cardamom in the world. Other occupation is livestock and poultry.
Sikkim also has some industries like Brewery, distilling, tanning and watchmaking which are located in the Southern part of State at Melli and Jorethang. Other major source of income comes from the tourism sector. It has many renowned tourist spots with large number of hotels, guest houses and casinos. If you combine all these sources of income, then the State;s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was estimated at US$1.57 billion in 2014.
Over the years, Sikkim has become one of the best visited destinations in India. This State is highly visited by tourists. Some of the places that tourists should not miss out visiting are Pemayangtse Monastery, Kanchendzonga National Park, Nathu La Pass, Tsango Lake or Changu Lake, Himalayan Zoological Park, Rumtek Monastery, Namchi, Khecheopalri Lake, Baba Mandir, Yumthang and Phodong Monastery. The Mt. Kanchendzonga is an appropriate choice for the trekkers.
Sikkim’s most popular sports are football and cricket, although hang gliding and river rafting. The famous football player, Baichung Bhutia hails from Sikkim.
Private vehicles like the buses and cars are the best option to reach Sikkim. In some places, ropeways are also an important source of transportation. The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport near Siliguri in West Bengal which is 124 KM from Gangtok. The nearest railway station is Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri which is 110 KM from Gangtok.
Sikkim’s cultural life has strong influences from Tibet, retaining other cultural mix of various tribes and their pre-Buddhist customs. The most important festival celebrated here is Phanglhapsol festival, which is a 2- day festival, falls either on August or September. Here masked dancers perform in honour of the Kanchenjunga, the main deity. Other traditional local festivals include Diwali, Dussera, Maghe Sankranti, Bhimsen Puja, Losar, Loosong, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen, Drupka Teshi and Bhumchu.
The famous art & craft includes Thangkas or religious scroll paintings which depicts scenes from Buddha’s life. Other attractions are sand mandala and hand-knotted carpets. Moreover, the important cultural institutes of Sikkim -The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology (1958), in Gangtok, have one of the largest collections of Tibetan books in the world.
School education in Sikkim is offered free of cost in its government schools. However, there also are many renowned private schools also in the state. Higher education is available at some of the renowned educational institutes like the Sikkim Manipal University of Health, Medical and Technological Sciences (1995) in Gangtok, Sikkim University – A Central University, the Advanced Technical Training Centre (ATTC) and the Centre for Computers and Communication Technology (CCCT) as well as other colleges offering degrees in law, engineering, teaching, religious studies, and other fields.
Hospitals and Health care
Sikkim has several hospitals in every district with at least one community health centre. Rural areas have primary health centres and subcentres to take care of health of the inhabitants. Sikkim also promotes national health programs to control tuberculosis, blindness, and other diseases. Diarrheal diseases like cholera, various respiratory infections, hepatitis, and family-planning issues remains key health concerns of this State.
Sikkim also has one of the best hospitals like District Hospital, Central Referral Hospital, Sukhim Diagnostics and Research Centre, etc.