Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sikkim: Land of splendor magic-I

{If there is heaven on earth then it could be none other than Kashmir wrote one of the noted poet of India but he might have mistaken, he never visited Sikkim. Sikkim may never be as Kashmir but you need to set foot in this mystic land to discover the pleasure of a lifetime. Sikkim is a home of adventure, trekking and sight seeing. For the readers of Illumine here comes an opportunity to understand this very beautiful state}

An Introduction of Sikkim State

The small state of Sikkim in the Indian Union is known throughout the globe for its beautiful floras, majestic Mt Kanchenjunga and path breaking panoramic view of green lush valley. Prior to its merger with India on May 16, 1975, this state was small Himalayan kingdom ruled by the Namgyal Dynasty. The end of 300 years of monarchial system led to the move of democratic system in Sikkim with Lendup Dorji Khangserpa becoming the first Chief Minister of Sikkim.

Today Sikkim is looked upon for a curiosity other then the admiration of the beautiful landscape and the people with golden heart.

On the world map the Sikkim state speck an latitude of 27 degree 04’46” to 28 degree 07’48” N and longitude of 88 degree 00’58” to 88 degree 55’25” E. Sandwiched between the kingdoms of Nepal in the west and Bhutan in the east, the 22nd state in the Indian Union covers the area of 7,096 sq km. On its northern border towers the plateau of Tibet and China while the state of West Bengal of Indian Territory falls to it southern border.

One of the small least populated states in India, Sikkim according to 2001 Provisional Census stands at 5,40,493 (2,88,217 male and 2,52,276 female). There are four districts in Sikkim that include Gangtok, Geyzing, Namchi and Mangan in the east, west, north and south respectively.

The east districts have the largest population of 1,38,762 while the district of north scores the least with 41023. Literacy rate in Sikkim as per 2001 Census is at 69.68% i.e. 76.73 for male and 61.46 for females. The sex ratio in the state is 275 females per 1000 males.

Two major rivers of the state the Teesta and the Rangit meet at Melli where they uniform to end at Bay of Bengal.

Sikkim is rich in floras and fauna. Over 4000 varieties of plant species found in this state. Sikkim is the home of Orchids; Nobile orchid is the state flower. Here more than 600 different species are found and the two latest new orchid hybrids are named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpee and Late Kalpana Chawla. Rhododendron is the state flower of the state where 35 different species can be seen in full bloom on seasons.

Blood Pheasant is the state bird and Red Panda the state animal. Sikkim also houses more than 400 different varieties of butterfly and moths. Parks and sanctuaries in places like Yumthang in North Sikkim and Barsey in West Sikkim are specially made for the visitors for their sightseeing green pastures.

Mt. Kanchenjunga is regarded, as the local deity and the identification of the state in international map. The Pang Lhabsol festival celebrated in Sikkim is very unique and worships the snowy peaks of the guardian deity of Sikkim, Mt. Khangchendonga. It is observed every year for the protection and to grace the land with good harvest, timely rainfall and to prevent from all types of natural calamities.

There are 32 members in Legislative Assembly representing their respective constituencies in the state assembly. There are one each representative in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the Indian Parliament. Pawan Kumar Chamling, the Chief Minister of Sikkim in his third term as the Chief Minister in the state. He is also the party president of Sikkim Democratic Front that has won 31 of the 32-assembly seat in the recent State assembly elections.

Gangtok is the Capital of the state and the largest populated city. The city provides the breath taking view of the Kanchenjunga range, Tsuglakhang palace monastery, Sonam Gyatso Mountaineering Institute and many other tourist points. The city is simply the gateway to the majestic Sikkim. Local operators on comfortable service conduct tour packages to other different destinations. With the opening of Nathula, around 50 km from Gangtok as a tourist destination one can visit the International border and have a look to the Chinese territory. One can even exchange talk with army in the opposite wall. Gangtok has many more to offer.

How to reach Gangtok

The state of Sikkim is connected through roads; vehicles i.e. local taxies, jeeps and buses are available on hour intervals from Siliguri, the nearest big city in West Bengal. Helicopter services have been introduced. The nearest airport is at Baghdougra in West Bengal about 120 km. The nearest rail connection at New Jalpaiguri, West Bengal is over 100 km.