Encircled by Tibet in the north and northeast, in the east by Bhutan, Nepal in the west and by West Bengal in the south –Sikkim is the least populated Indian state. This beauty is perched at an altitude ranging from 300 m to 8,500 m. Sikkim has in store a variety of landscape, mountains, cold woodland and orchards. Gifted with vast biodiversity and rich environment, this Indian state is home to the world’s third highest peak, Kanchenjunga and 35% of Sikkim falls under the Khangchendzonga National Park. The climate here is a blend of alpine and subtropical climate. Thus, with each month or season offering you a different experience of the place choose your own best time to visit Sikkim.
The name Sikkim is a blend of two words of the Limbu dialect –‘su’ (new) and ‘khyim’ (palace or house). In Tibetan language, Sikkim is called Drenjong which means “valley of rice”. The Bhutias gave the name Beyul Demazong, meaning “the hidden valley of rice”.
Though the population in Sikkim is the lowest in India, yet literacy rate here is much higher, compared to other Indian states. Nature wraps her arms around Sikkim and blesses it with her bounty. The determined endeavour of the Government of Sikkim and its people have well protected all the natural resources here.
Sikkim is draped in pristine beauty, along with its treasure trove of hills, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, forests, gardens and its flora and fauna. The snow-capped mountains, icy blue waters of lakes, milk-white waterfalls, greenish yellow meadow pastures –everything around Sikkim is mesmerizing and pleasing to the eye. Nature’s glory is reflected in every inch of this state. The land is surely mystical with its diverse topography.
As Sikkim is surrounded and also wrapped in a vast area of woodland, many crops are produced in these lands, chiefly rice. The rice production is favored by the temperature, climate and the rainfall of Sikkim. One can see the vast range of paddy fields on the hill-slopes. Sikkim’s economy is built mainly on the rice farming and cultivation of other crops viz. wheat, barley, millet, tea, oranges and cardamom.
The climate also helps in harboring a massive assortment of flowers and birds. International Flower Festival is held in Sikkim from March to May. Varied species of flowers are being exhibited in this festival. Popularly, Sikkim is often called ‘Bird’s Paradise’ because it harbors over 552 separate species of birds and almost 690 butterfly species.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this park is situated at a high altitude, noted for its collection of exotic animal species e.g Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Great Tibetan Sheep, Musk Deer etc. The park also assorts plenty of bird species such as Grus nigricollis, Black-necked Crane, Satyr Tragopan, Tibetan Snow Cock, Himalayan Snow Cock, Himalayan Monal Pheasant, Grey Peacock Pheasant, Blood Pheasant etc. There are also about 18 glaciers in the park, including Zemu Glacier –popular for its enormous size; over 17 alpine lakes accompanied by a sight of 19 Himalayan mountain crests, the most popular among which is Mt. Kanchenjunga. The park is also host to a holy shrine called Tholung Monastery in its buffer zone.
This is a rhododendron sanctuary with butterfly shape, noted for its extensive variety of rhododendron and other species such as oak, pine, primula and magnolia. The fauna in this sanctuary comprises Himalayan Yellow Throated Marten, Himalayan Langur, Himalayan Palm Civet, Leopard cat, Monal Pheasant, Crimson Horned Pheasant, Kaleej and a number of other bird species. One can also witness the peaks of Kanchenjunga covered in snow, from this sanctuary. There are also different trekking trails from Uttaray and Dentam.
This sanctuary is an extension of the Khangchendzonga National Park. It houses varied species of mammals and avian fauna. There are also hamlets in the sanctuary, obtaining tourist attractions. This sanctuary is an ideal place for birdwatching. Endangered bird species such as laughing thrush and rufous-headed hornbill can be seen here. The assortment of animals is also several in number –barking deer, Himalayan brown bear, red panda and yellow-throated marten. Among its flora, there is a profusion of orchids and rhododendrons.
This sanctuary is an abode of a vast variety of flora, making this reserve look mesmerizing. It is decked with rhododendron, orchids, tall juniper and silver fir. The sanctuary is not only opulent in natural abundance, but it also provides its visitors rejuvenation and serenity. This sanctuary is also a preferable place for photography.
In between the treasured lap of Mother Nature, Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, situated on the Maenam-Tendong ridge is just the place for the nature lovers. One can find medicinal plants and herbs in here. Among its fauna there are red pandas, goral, serow, barking deer, marbled-cat, leopard-cat, civet-cats and birds such as blood pheasant, blue-necked pita, common hill partridge, magpies, sunbird and black eagles can be found.
Apart from exploring the wildlife, one can also partake in trekking. The trekking trail ascends from Maenam Peak to Bhaledunga. A spectacular view of Teesta River and Mt. Kanchenjunga can also be witnessed from Maenal Wildlife Sanctuary.
The craggy mountains and verdant wilderness of Sikkim make it alluring to adventure freaks. If you still wonder why visit Sikkim? Here is the answer – people with high desirability of thrilling activities visit Sikkim for trekking, hiking, white water river rafting, paragliding, hang gliding mountain biking, jeep safaris and yak ride. The hidden valley of rice, Sikkim is an ideal holiday destination for an enthralling adventure.
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