Sikkim is small Himalayan state of India bordered by Nepal to the west, China’s Tibet Autonomous Region to the north and east, and Bhutan to the east. Sikkim is the least populous state in India and the second-smallest state after Goa in total area, covering approximately 7,096 km2 (2,740 sq mi). Sikkim is nonetheless geographically diverse due to its location in the Himalayas; the climate ranges from subtropical to high alpine, and Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak, is located on Sikkim’s border with Nepal. Sikkim is a popular tourist destination, owing to its culture, scenery and biodiversity. It also has the only open land border between India and China. Sikkim’s capital and largest city is Gangtok. Almost 25% of the state is covered by the Khangchendzonga National Park. According to legend, the Buddhist guru Padmasambhava visited Sikkim in the 8th century CE, introduced Buddhism and foretold the era of the Sikkimese monarchy.
The majority of Sikkim’s residents are of Nepali ethnic origin. The native Sikkimese consist of the Bhutias, who migrated from the Kham district of Tibet in the 14th century, and the Lepchas, who are believed to have migrated from the Far East. Tibetans reside mostly in the northern and eastern reaches of the state. Migrant resident communities include Biharis, Bengalis and Marwaris, who are prominent in commerce in South Sikkim and Gangtok. Hinduism is the state’s major religion and is practised mainly by ethnic Nepalis; an estimated 57.75 per cent of the total population are adherents of the religion. There exist many Hindu temples. Kirateshwar Mahadev Temple is very popular, since it consists of the chardham altogether.
Vajrayana Buddhism, which accounts for 27.3 per cent of the population, is Sikkim’s second-largest, yet most prominent religion. Prior to Sikkim’s becoming a part of the Indian Union, Vajrayana Buddhism was the state religion under the Chogyal. Sikkim has 75 Buddhist monasteries, the oldest dating back to the 1700s. The public and visual aesthetics of Sikkim are executed in shades of Vajrayana Buddhism and Buddhism plays a significant role in public life, even among Sikkim’s majority Nepali Hindu population.
Travelers embarking on a journey of Sikkim discover a mystical wonderland of spectacular natural beauty with 5 Days Sikkim Tour. The panoramic perfection of the snow-capped Himalayas, the heady scent of flower-bedecked meadows, the vibrant culture and joyous festivals, the infinite variety of its flora and fauna makes it a holiday that is at once fascinating and challenging.
The crowning glory of Sikkim is Mt. Khangchendzonga, the third highest mountain in the world. With magnificent snow and ice scenery it is often regarded as the undisputed monarch among the peaks of the world. But for the Sikkimese Khangchendzonga is much more than a mountain and is revered as the abode of their guardian deity Dzo-nga.
Even today the mountain god is invoked and prayed to during Pang Lhabsol, a major Sikkimese festival, which also commemorates the blood brotherhood sworn between the Lepchas and the Bhutias at Kabi in the fifteenth century. The sacred mountain can be viewed from every corner of Sikkim and remains an intrinsic part of the consciousness of the people.