Sikkim is the 22nd state of India that came into existence with effect from 26th April, 1975. Sikkim being a part of inner mountain ranges of Himalayas, is hilly having varied elevation ranging from 300 to 8586m meters. But the habitable areas are only up to the altitude of 2100 mtrs. Constituting only 20% of the total area of the state, Sikkim has been divided into four districts and each district has further been bifurcated into two sub-divisions for administrative purpose.
The highest portion of Sikkim lies in its north west direction. A large number of mountains having altitudes of about seven thousand meters stands here including Kanchenjunga (8598 m.), the third highest peak in the world. The high serrated, snow capped spurs and peaks of Kanchenjunga look attractive consisting of Kumbha Karna (7711 m.), Pendem (6706 m.), Narsingh (5825 m.), Kabru Dome (6545 m.), etc. A number of glaciers descends from eastern slopes of Kanchenjunga into Sikkim where snow clad line is found above 5300 mtrs. The biggest of them is Zemu, from whose snout above Lachen monastery rises the river Teest.
The Lepchas are the original inhabitants of the state. Compared to other ethnic groups, the Lepchas still maintain many of their traditional ways. The Bhutias comprise the Sikkimese Bhutia and Bhutia from Bhutan and Tibet. The Sherpas are a marginal ethnic group in the state. Over 70% population consist of Nepalese. They are dominant ethnic group in the state.
In addition to an Indian visa, foreigners must obtain inner line permit (ILP) to visit Sikkim, the permits can be obtained from all Indian missions, Tourism Office, New Delhi, Sikkim Tourism office, Calcutta and Sikkim Tourism Office, Siliguri on the strength of an Indian Visa.
Foreigners are issued a permit for initial period of 15 days duration on the spot without any delay provided photocopies of Passport and Visa details along with two passport photos of applicants are made available. It can be extended for further 30 days of 15 days each. The extension of permits can be obtained from FRO at Gangtok, Superintendent of Police of North, South and West Districts.
If you are visiting the interior regions, you also require a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) OR Protected Area Permit (PAP) which is obtainable in Gangtok from the Police Check Post and Department of Tourism.
NOTE: THIS PERMIT IS ISSUED TO LOCAL GOVT REGISTERED TRAVEL AGENTS ONLY.
English, Nepali, Hindi and their cultural languages (Lepcha, Rai, Tamang, Newar, Limbu, Bhutia, etc)
Cold Winters in the month of November to February with minimum temperatures dipping to 4 centigrade during January - February. It is between the month of March and early May when sunshine is quite abundant. Though summer is officially from May to October, Sikkim is almost always wet due to the heavy monsoons, with rains at times continuing for days on ends. Longest recorded nonstop rain is 11 days. September to October is the season of Autumn. A peculiar feature of Sikkim weather is that though there is a classification of sorts of the various seasons, one actually experiences a cold winter from end of November to February and monsoons throughout the year with a little respite during May - June and October - November. Even the winter months can be irritatingly wet and damp with the unpredictable showers.
India has strict rules against importing or exporting its currency. International airports have currency-exchange booths that are always open for arriving or departing overseas flights. When you change money, remember to get a certain amount in small denominations. Many merchants, hotels, and restaurants won't accept worn or torn bills, and it's a hassle to go to a bank to get them exchanged.
Always change money from an authorized money-changer and insist on receiving an encashment slip. Some banks now charge a nominal fee for this slip, which is necessary if you plan to pay hotel bills or travel expenses in rupees. The encashment slip is also required if you need to reconvert rupees into your own currency at departure. Do not be lured by illegal street hawkers who offer you a higher exchange rate.
India's state-run banks can take forever to cash traveler's checks. Save time and use American Express Traveler's Service. Otherwise, cash the check at the foreign-exchange counter at your hotel. Rates will be slightly lower, but you will save irritation and time. Most Western-style hotels have foreign-exchange facilities for their guests.