Tourism in Sikkim is important and not surprising with it’s pristine natural beauty including majestic mountains, sweeping glaciers and lush green forests. It’s nature-walks are a breath of fresh air for any who have been blessed to tread her soil.
Tourism in Sikkim has led to their tourism board promoting the state as ‘Small but beautiful’. Which is very apt, as the smallness of the geographical area (Sikkim is only 7100 sq. km) belies the fact it has such enormous diversity in terms of people, flora and fauna. A predominantly Buddhist and Hindu population, Sikkim’s culture and practices revolve around the simple teachings of two of the oldest religions of the world, adapting to survive in a region with both alpine and sub-tropical attributes and yet smiling at every step of the way.
Friendly people, great food, an incredible amount of bio diversity that includes more than 5000 species of flowering plants, more than 500 types of orchids and several varieties of rhododendron, ferns, conifers and of course to top it all off, the majestic Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world; It has more in store than you could absorb in just a few days. No wonder it was rated as the world’s top destination to visit in 2014 by Lonely Planet magazine. With or without this rating, Sikkim has been and still is one of the best places to visit in the world and one of the top five tourist destinations in India.
Political background of Sikkim
Sikkim was always a separate monarchy. The tiny Himalayan nation fought bitter battles for survival with its neighbor Nepal. It was however protected by the British India government and after India became sovereign it acceded to India. Today, it is an integral part of the nation.
Best time to go
Sikkim’s penchant to wow you at every turn is what makes it a fantastic place to visit. Tourism in Sikkim has lots to offer no matter what season you visit, though it is best to avoid the monsoons, which starts late may / early June and continues well into September. The nature of the soil which is particularly susceptible to erosion does not help its cause either and the state experiences quite a few landslides which blocks roads for days.
Travelling within Sikkim
For less than $100 a day you can book an all-wheel drive vehicle that will drive you to any place and any location you wish to and have a permit to. Foreign nationals travelling to Sikkim will require an inner line permit. For backpackers and those who want to spend less than $50 a day, local taxis are available at almost all places. Shared taxis running on fixed routes are far cheaper and will cost you less than 1/10th if you rent a car for your sole use for the same distance.
Stay in Sikkim
Having one of the smallest GDPs among Indian states, with few industries, the majority of the people live on the income that is generated through tourism in Sikkim. In recent years efforts by the ministry of tourism in Sikkim and various local bodies have helped communities in rural areas to open up their homes to tourists. Humble accommodations, home cooked food and a chance to meet and mix with the people drives tourists, mainly those who love to stay away from the hum-dim of noisy towns to stay in these village home-stays. One such lovely accommodation is the Dhungay Homestay which is situated at 15th mile Martam between the villages Hee and Bermiok on the road leading from Jorethang to Pelling. I highly recommend this place.
Places to visit
The best places to visit in Sikkim include Barsey, Gorudongmar, Nathula (part of the ancient Silk Route), Yuksom and Yumthang.
Tourism Sikkim – by Rajib Mukherjee