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Sikkim

Natures Bounty

Sikkim is a land of dramatic contours. Rugged mountains, deep valleys and dense forests consort with raging rivers, lakes and waterfalls to create a visual feast. The state has the steepest rise in altitude over the shortest distance and has within its 7,096 sq. kms the entire climatic range, from tropical to temperate to alpine.

The mountain chains which run southwards from the main Himalayan range form the natural boundaries of Sikkim; the Chola range dividing it from Tibet in the Northeast and Bhutan in the Southeast, the Singalila range separating it from Nepal in the West with the Greater Himalayan range forming the barrier between Sikkim and Tibet in the North.Sikkim Traveller

Located between these towering mountain ranges are passes like Nathu-la, Jelep-la, Cho-la and many others which were at one time important corridors of passage between Sikkim and Tibet.

Floating high over the cloud-covered lower Himalaya, Mt. Khangchendzonga dominates the landscape of Sikkim. At 28, 208 ft is the third highest mountain in the world and the highest in India.

 

Sikkim

Wild Life Sanctuaries

Kanchendzonga National Park (KNP)

KNP encompasses an area covering 1784 sq km. It is bounded in the north by the Tent Peak and the ridge of the Zemu glacier. The eastern boundary of this park comprises of the ridge of the Mountain Lamaongden. The southern boundary includes Mount Narsing and Mount Pandim. The western boundary comprises of the mighty Kanchendzonga which presides over its namesake park and the Nepal Peak. Being bounded by such formidable features, it is no wonder that the park has remained ecologically untouched and therefore has provided a natural protection to the flora and fauna it shelters. The fauna includes the Snow leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, Barking deer and many other species. The KNP is surrounded by biosphere which combines nature conservation with sceintific research, environmental training, environmental education monistoring and demonstration. Many places in this park have perhaps never been trod by man and it is very likely that new species may be discovered here.

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Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary

This is located about 20 kilometres from Gangtok and covers an area of about 5200 hectares above the road between Singtam and Dikchu with the highest point at a place called Tinjure where a wooden observation tower of the Forest Department exists. The Sanctuary is the home of Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, Civet cat and many varieties of birds and butterflies.

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Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary

It is located in South Sikkim above the town of Rabongla and covers an area of about 3500 hectares with its highest point being at Maenam at 10,600 ft. It shelters the Red Panda, Leopard cat, civet cat, blood pheasant, black eagles and other animals of the temperate forest.

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Singba Rhododendron Sanctuary

It is located near Yumthang in north Sikkim and contains a vast variety of rhododendrons. When in blossom the rhododendrons provide a riot of colour to this small 33 hectare park.

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Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary

It is situated around the area adjoining the Changu lake and covers an area of about  400 hectares.

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Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary

It is situated around the area adjoining the Changu lake and covers an area of about 400 hectares.
Thousands of species of flora in Sikkim, some of them unique to this state and not found elsewhere, are some which await to be discovered to provide life saving drugs to fight diseases like cancer and AIDS that are stalking mankind. It is truly said that in the wildness is the preservation of the world

 

Flora & Fauna

Orchids & Blood Pheasant

Orchids are found in Sikkim, mostly in the tropical regions up to 7000 feet elevations but some species inhabit altitudes of 10000 feet and above. Sikkims orchids belong to two categories: epiphyte and terrestial; the epiphytes are better known and more numerous. The popular epiphytal orchids in Sikkim belong to the genus Dendrobium, Cymbidium, Vanda, Phalaenopsis, Caelogyne, Arachnanthe or Saccolabium. Of these the Dendrobium Nobile has been adopted by the state as its official flower.

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The glory of Sikkim is its breathtaking array of flowers. Sikkims geographical positioning has gifted it a repository of over 5000 species of flowering plants. Forests of magnolia, blue poppies, primulas, gentians and geraniums create a spell-binding floral spectacle. Orchids, gladioli, poppies, azaleas and camellias add to the heady collection. Its great variety of rhododendron ranges from shrubs at ground level to towering specimens that set the terrain ablaze in a riot of colours.


The first study of the flora of Sikkim was undertaken by Sir Joseph Hooker, the noted English botanist. Hooker traveled to the interiors of Sikkim, including remote mountain regions in 1848-49. His expedition resulted in amazing new discovery of numerous plant and animal life in the area. He published the Rhododendrons of Sikkim in 1849 while his record of his travels in Sikkim published as Himalayan Journals is the most comprehensive guide to the botanical splendour of the region.


Hooker divided Sikkim into three botanical zones, the tropical from almost sea level height to around 5000 ft, the temperate from 5000 feet to 13000 feet, and the alpine from 13000 feet upwards.


The tropical vegetation, mostly along the banks and valleys of the rivers Tista, Rangit and their tributaries, consists mostly of figs, laurels, sal trees, ferns and a variety of bamboo. The temperate zone has oak, chestnut, maple, birch, alder, magnolia and silver fir, at the higher regions, while the lower alpine zone has juniper, cypresses and rhododendrons.


Sikkim has a rich heritage of different kinds of flowers. While these include poppies, gentians and primulas, the real treasures are the orchids and rhododendrons. Available in different colours and shapes they are found abundant in the region. Of the 5000 species of orchids known in the world, 600 can be found in the lower reaches of Sikkim alone, along with 30 species of rhododendron.

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Blood PheasantThe Blood Pheasant is the state bird of Sikkim. The only species in genus Ithaginis of the Pheasant family, it has 15 different subspecies. It is so named because the males have vivid red coloring on the feathers of the breast, throat and forehead. Females are more uniformly colored with duller shades of reddish brown. Both males and females have a distinct ring of bare skin around the eye that is crimson colored, in addition to red feet. Subspecies are determined by varying amounts of red and black feathers. The habitat most preferred by Blood Pheasants is coniferous or mixed forests and scrub areas right at the snowline. The pheasants move their range depending on the seasons and during the summer is found at higher elevations. Populations move to lower elevations as the snow increases in the fall and winter.

 

Red Panda & Blue Sheep

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Red PandaThe State Animal of Sikkim is the Red Panda. This species belongs to the raccoon family and lives mostly on tree tops. It is found in altitudes ranging from 6000 to 12000 feet. The red panda is bright chestnut in colour, has a triangular face with a dark stripe covering the cheeks to the chin, sharp pointed ears and a bushy ringed tail. It is never more than 2 feet in length and usually moves around in families.


Red Pandas are excellent climbers and forage largely in trees. It is specialized as a bamboo feeder with strong, curved and sharp semi-retractile claws standing inward for firm grasping to facilitate substantial movement on narrow tree branches and seizing leaves and fruit. The Red Panda does little more than eat and sleep due to its low-calorie diet. Bamboo shoots are more easily digested than leaves and exhibited the highest digestibility in the summer and autumn, intermediate in the spring, and low in the winte

Blue Sheep also know as Baharal, occupy one of the highest ecological niches in the world. The Green Lake basin and also the area around the Doukia Pass. There are only a very few such animal and it is high on the endangered list.

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Lakes & Glaciers

Sikkim has many beautiful lakes dotting its landscape. Most of the lakes in Sikkim are considered sacred and are revered by the people. The North Sikkim plateau adjoining Tibet has a number of mountain lakes of which Gurudongmar and Chho Lamo are the most famous. Chho Lamo is the source of the Teesta River. The Tsomgo Lake in East Sikkim is the most popular with tourists while Khecheopalri in West Sikkim is one of the most beautiful and sacred

Tsomgo Lake ::Tsomgo (Changu) Lake

The most visited lake in Sikkim is the Tsomgo Lake in East Sikkim. Located 35 km from Gangtok and at an altitude of 12,000 ft, the ethereally beautiful Tsomgo Lake is a must on every visitors itinerary Embedded in steep and rugged mountain terrain, the lake is covered with snow cover from early winter to late spring. Associated with many legends and myths, Tsomgo is regarded as holy by the Sikkimese. For the tourist a visit to the lake offers a wonderful outing. Rides on colourfully decorated yaks and mules are offered at the lake site, which also has a variety of eating stalls serving snacks and beverages. Snowboots and gumboots can be hired here. The lake also provides the perfect backdrop for the holiday photo.

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Menmecho Lake

Located twenty kilometers ahead of Tsomgo is the much larger Menmecho Lake at an altitude of 12,500 ft. It is a stunningly beautiful lake with snow cover from early winter to late spring. It is surrounded by a rich, varied forest and some rather interesting rock formations. The lake is famous for its trout and a farm to cultivate these fish also exists nearby. Fishing is allowed at Menmecho Lake but you have to obtain a permit from Gangtok and ascertain the availability of fishing gear. Accommodation for the visitors coming here is available at the dak bungalow and tourist lodge near the lake.

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Gurudongmar Lake

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Lampokari Lake

The Lampokari Lake at Aritar in East Sikkim saddled on the top of a hill. This serene Lake, surrounded by lush greenery is considered one of the oldest in Sikkim and is about 350 meters in length and 75 meters wide. Shaped curiously like a human foot, this lake, although natural, has been recently provided with artificial embankment to facilitate boating, a first for Sikkim.

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East Sikkim

Point Of Attractions :

Gangtok,Aritar, Rumtek, Changu Lake, Nathula, Banjhakri Falls

 
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East Sikkim