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State of India - Sikkim
QUICK FACTS Climate (Degree C.): Summer - Max: 28, Min: 13, Winter - Max: 13, Min: 0 | Best Season: March - August |Languages Spoken: Nepali, Sikkimese, Bhutia, Lepcha, Hindi, English | Capital: Gangtok

The Nepalese called it Sikkim - 'The New Place'; for the Tibetans seeing those endless tracts of paddy fields it was Denzong, 'The Land of Rice'. But it's original inhabitants-the Lepchas understood this land best - For them it was simply Nye-mae-el'- Heaven. Tucked away in the foothills of the Himalayas, Sikkim is a Himalayan wonderland with its lovely views and exotic orchids, and its forest-trails.

Geography of Sikkim:
The beautiful hill state of Sikkim lies on the eastern tip of the Himalayas. It is sandwiched between Nepal in the west and Bhutan in the east, China in the north and West Bengal in the south. The Indian border of Sikkim is shared only with the state of West Bengal. The magic of the land is the elevation which ranges from 224 mts to over 8590 mts above sea level that gives the place an infinite range of flora and fauna.

History of Sikkim:
Sikkim is a beautiful state in the periphery of India. It is believed that 'Lepchas' or rong (ravine folk) were the first inhabitants of Sikkim. Later, the 'lepchas' got engrossed with other clans. The important event in the history of Sikkim is the passage of the Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche through the land in the 8th century. He introduced Buddhism in India to Sikkim, and foretold the era of monarchy in the state that would arrive centuries later. Buddhism is the predominant religion here, with many fine old monasteries rich with frescoes, religious paintings on silk and statues of the Buddha's various incarnations.

Tourist Places of Sikkim:
A virtual Shangrila overlooked by Mt. Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest peak, Sikkim is attractive equally for the sightseer, the adventure sports enthusiast and those interested in Buddhism and Tibetology. Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim is famous for its Royal Chapel, The Institute of Tibetology, Orchid Sanctuary, and Rhumtek Monastery which is an exact replica of the monastery of Chhofuk in Tibet. Another interesting place worth visiting is the Nathu La is a pass on the Indo-Chinese border. It was earlier known at the silk route and it serves as a trade link between India and China.

Fairs & Festivals of Sikkim:
There are numerous festivals celebrated in Sikkim through out the year. As people of Sikkim mostly follow Buddhism, the festivals celebrated here are associated to the Buddhist festivals which include Saga Dawa, Lhabab Dhuechei, Phang Lhabsol, Drupka Teshi, Bumchu, Losoong, Lossar, Tendong Lho Rum Faat, Tihaar, Dasain. The two day festival of dance performed during the worship of snowy range of Kanchanjunga (Khang-chen-dzod-nga) is a popular festival of Sikkim celebrated in month of September.

Cuisine in Sikkim:
This north eastern state of India, boasts of a distinct cuisine as it is influence of influence of Tibetan, Nepalese, Bhutanese cuisines. Rice is the staple food of the people. Situated at a high altitude, like finger millet, wheat, buckwheat, barley, vegetable, potato, soybeans etc. are grown. The vegetarian meal of people here consists of dal (lentils), fresh vegetables, bamboo shoots, wild flowers, mushrooms and nettle leaves whereas non-vegetarian meal consists of beef, pork and fish. Some of the famous dishes of Sikkim include Pakku (Mutton curry), Shimi ka Achar (String bean pickle), Momo (steamed dumpling), Thukpa /Gya-Thuk (Noodle soup), Kinema curry (Fermented soybean), Tomato Achar (Pickle), Chhurpi ka Achar (Pickle), Gundruk and Sinki Soup (Fermented vegetable soup), Chhurpi Soup (Traditional cottage cheese), Chhurpi-Ningro Curry (Chhurpi with wild fern), Sel Roti (Fermented rice product), and Mesu Pickle (Fermented bamboo shoot).

Shopping in Sikkim:
Sikkim is famous for hand-woven carpets with traditional Tibetan, modern designs, thangkas and other paintings, Lepcha-weave bags, purses, leatherware, woodwork, Sikkimese dresses, large cardamoms, caps, scarves, jewellery, Sikkimese spirits and liqueurs. Take home the famous silver 'Dragon Rings' available with most jewellery/souvenir shops. Also popular are Chokees, collapsible wooden tables with Tibetan carved designs. Lal Bazaar, Super Market and New Market are the main shopping areas. There is also a thriving 'foreign goods' market. Hone your bargaining skills.