Sharing international borders with three different countries, i. e, Tibet in North, Bhutan to the east and Nepal to the west, Sikkim is a one of the eight states in north-eastern part of India. The district of Darjeeling falls in West Bengal to the south of this state. Covering an average area of 7096 sq km, Sikkim has a huge variety in elevation with altitude ranging from 280 m to 8586 m. Winter, summer, spring, autumn and monsoon are the five prominent seasons as the climate ranges from sub-tropical in the south to tundra in the north, although most of the inhabited areas receives temperate climate.
It is said that Lepchas are the original inhabitants of Sikkim, although the ancient history is not known much. Sikkim is mentioned in the historical record as the passage of Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche. It is the oldest mention of Sikkim in history. In 1642, Phuntsog Namgyal became the founder of Sikkim’s monarchy and became the first Chogyal or priest-king of Sikkim. Sikkim then faced the Bhutanese invasion in 1700, but they were driven away by the Tibetans. Between the span of 1717 and 1733, invasion of Nepal from the west and Bhutan from the east occurred more than once and caused the destruction of the ancient capital of Rabdentse. After lot more struggle with involving China and British rule, Sikkim finally became the 22 nd state of India in 1975, and later Gangtok became its capital.
Categorised as one of the three ecoregions of India, Sikkim displays a wide range of flora and fauna. Because of the huge difference in altitude of its various places, the vegetation changes from tropical to temperate, alpine and tundra. Sikkim is home to around 5,000 species of flowering plants, 11 oak varieties, 515 rare orchids, 23 bamboo varieties, 60 primula species, over 424 medicinal plants, 36 rhododendron species, 362 types of ferns and ferns allies, 8 tree ferns, and 16 conifer species. The fauna includes snow leopard, musk deer, Himalayan tahr, red panda, Himalayan marmot, Himalayan serow, Himalayan goral, muntjac, common langur, Asian black bear, clouded leopard, marbled cat, leopard cat, dhole, Tibetan wolf, hog badger, binturong, and Himalayan jungle cat. Over 550 species of birds are found here including impeyan pheasant, crimson horned pheasant, snow partridge, Tibetan snowcock, bearded vulture and griffon vulture, as well as golden eagles, quails, plovers, woodcocks, sandpipers, pigeons, Old World flycatchers, babblers and robins. A rich diversity of anthropods is also remarkable in Sikkim.
Permits are needed for foreigners to travel in the restricted locations of Sikkim. The document of permission can be availed while entering Sikkim by road in Rangpo or Melli. It also can be availed from the Sikkim travel desk in Darjeeling or Sikkim Tourism Centre in Siliguri. Indian tourists do not need documented permission, but better keep the POI with you. The nearest airport to Sikkim is at Bagdogra in West Bengal. It is almost 124 km or four hours’ drive from the capital city of Gangtok. Nearest railway station are in Siliguri at 114 km and New Jalpaiguri at 120 km distance. The National Highway 10 connects Sikkim with the nearby importance locations like the towns of Darjeeling, Siliguri, New Jalpaiguri and Bagdogra.