Gangtok, Sikkim, ▪ REGD NO. WB/SKM/2/10 VOL. XXXIII ▪ RNI No. RN 40962/90  ▪ www.sikkimexpress.com
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Sikkim is sheer magic. This is not just the most beautiful place in the world but cleanest and safest too. If once the charms of the state were limited to mists, mountains and colourful butterflies, they are now complimented by tangible development and progress. With its unique culture and natural landscape. Sikkim is a picture of perfection and pristine purity. Nestled in the Himalayas and endowed with exceptional natural resources, Sikkim is a hotspot of biodiversity and development. Though small in size, yet Sikkim has been identified world over as an important repository of germplasms of unknown dimensions. Perhaps, there is no part of the world, which offers a spectaular scene with every turn of the road as Sikkim. Though land-locked, Sikkim is one of the most beautiful and strategically important state of the Indian Union.
Bounded by foreign nations on three sides, it shares its boundary with sister state West Bengal. Surrounded on three sides by precipitous mountain walls, Sikkim appears as a small rectangular Gem. Sikkim is like a stupendous stairway leading from the western border of the Tibetan plateau down to the plains of West Bengal, with a fall of about 5.215 metres in 240kms. Sikkim, in the west is bound by the north-south spur of the Great Himalayan Range which includes the world's third highest peak, Khangchendzonga and down to its south is Singalila ridge. In the north it is bound by Dongkia range and also partly includes the Tibetan Plateau. In the east it is bound by the Chola range. The average steepness is about 45 degree. Sikkim is the main catchment area for the beautiful river Teesta, which has its main source from Chho Lhamo lake in the north and is further strengthened by many streams and rivers of which Tholung. Lachung. Great Rangeet and Rangpo are important drainers. It also has about 180 perennial lakes, among which Khachoedpalri, Gurudongmar, Chho Lhamo and Men Moi Tso are some of the most scenic.
Dominating both legend and landscape of Sikkim is the mighty Khangchendzonga. Known to the outside world as Kanchenjunga, it is the third highest peak in the world. But to the Sikkemese it is much more than a mountain: Khangchendzonga is the Guardian deity, a country God whose benign watchfulness ensures peace and prosperity for the land. The five peaks of Khangchendzonga are the five Treasures of the Eternal Snow, a belief beautifully interpreted by the great Lama Lhatsun Chenpo: "The peak most conspicuously gilded by the rising sun is the treasury of gold, the peak that remains in cold grey shade is the storehouse for silver and other peaks are vaults for gems, grains and the holy books."
Each of the five peaks is believed to be crowned by an animalthe highest by a tiger and others by a lion, elephant, horse and the mythical bird Garuda.

Along with the Guardian deity, the Nepal Peak, Tent Peak, Pyramid, Jonsang, Lhonak, Pahunri etc. and glaciers like Zemu, Changsang, Teesta, Changme are also important. The most important passes are jelep-la, Nathu-la, Cho-la and Thanka-la in the east; Donkiua, Kongralamu and Naku in the north and Kanglanangma and Chia Bhanjyang in the west.
Area: 7096 sq km
Capital Town: Gangtok
Number of Districts: 4
District Headquarters: North-Mangan, South-Namchi, East-Gangtok, West-Gyalshing.
Population : 5, 40, 857 (Census-2001)
Language Spoken: Nepali, English, Hindi, Bhutia (Sikkimese), Bhutia (Tibetan), Lepcha, Limboo.
Literacy Rates: 69.68% (Census-2001)
Best Season to Visit: March to June and September to December
Maximum Summer Temperature: 300c
Minimum Winter Temperature: 00c
Nearest Railway Station: The closest Railhead is at New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, 148 km and Siliguri which are connected to Calcutta, New Delhi Guwahati and other major Indian cities.
Nearest Airport: The closest Indian Airport is at a distance of 124kms from Gangtok at Bagdogra in Siliguri in West Bengal, where scheduled flights operates from kolkata (Calcutta), Delhi and Guwahati and connecting flights onwards. Travel time from the irport to Gangtok is 4 hours. From Kathmandu you can fly to Bhadrapur in the east Nepal (1 hour), then drive to Kakarbhitta (Nepal-India border, 35 kms), to Siliguri (37 kms) and to Gangtok (110kms. 4 hrs). Or fly to Biratnagar also in the east.
Helicopter Service: The Bagdogra airport is connected to Gangtok by a helicopter service which takes approx. 30 minutes to reach Gangtok. Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (+91-3592-222634) operates this service daily at 11:00 AM from Gangtok to Bagdogra and at 2:00 PM from Bagdogra to Gangtok at a price of Rs. 2000/- per person. It is a five seater chopper and mountain flights and other such tours to North Sikkim are conducted.
Road: Gangtok is well connected by a road to Siliguri, 114 kms. 4 hours, which functions as the major transit point for the North and Eastern sections of the Indian Sub continent. Gangtok is further well connected by road with Darjeeling (4Hrs), Kalimpong and with Bhutan, Phuntsholing (6Hrs).
State Animal: Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens)
State Bird: Blood Pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus)
State Flower: Noble Orchid (Dendrobium nobile)
State Tree: Rhododendron (Rhododendron niveum)
Cash Crop: Cardamom (Amomum Sublatum), tea, ginger, potatoes, oranges, medicinal plants, flowers and flower bulbs.

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 Sikkim at Glance

Area : 7096 Sq Km
Capital : Gangtok
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Climate:
Summer
Max- 21C ; Min - 13C
Winter
Max -13C ; Min - 0.48C
Rainfall : 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi
 

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