Sikkim, a landlocked state, and least populated state of India, is surrounded by snow-clad Himalayan peaks. A large part of the state is under the cover of forests but the Lower Himalayas, lying in the southern reaches of the state, are the most densely populated. The state has 28 mountain peaks, more than 80 glaciers, 227 high-altitude lakes (including the Tsongmo, Gurudongmar and Khecheopalri Lakes), five major hot springs, and more than 100 rivers and streams. Eight mountain passes connect the state to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal.
Numerous snow-fed streams have carved out river valleys in the west and south of the state. These streams combine into the major Teesta River and its tributary, the Rangeet, which flow through the state from north to south. Sikkim’s hot springs are renowned for their medicinal and therapeutic values. Among the state’s most notable hot springs are those at Phurchachu, Yumthang, Borang, Ralang, Taram-chu and Yumey Samdong.
Sikkim is home to around 5,000 species of flowering plants, 515 rare orchids, 60 primula species, 36 rhododendron species, 11 oak varieties, 23 bamboo varieties, 16 conifer species, 362 types of ferns and ferns allies, 8 tree ferns, and over 424 medicinal plants. Among the prominent fauna species of Sikkim are the red panda, snow leopard, musk deer, the clouded leopard, wild cat and others.
Sikkim has more than 550 species of birds, some of which have been declared endangered. Of the approximately 1,438 butterfly species found in the Indian subcontinent, 695 have been recorded in Sikkim. These include the endangered Kaiser-i-hind, the Yellow Gorgon and the Bhutan Glory. All these and a rich cultural tradition of Sikkim make the state a hot destination for tourists. The government has also encouraged tourism in the state as it forms a major part of the state’s economy. Gangtok is the capital of the state. Other prominent places of tourist importance are Singiek, Chungthang , Yumthang, Lachen, Kanchanjunga National Park, Singba Rhodendron Sanctury, Borong, Ravangla, Maenal Hill, Tashi View Point – giving a breathtaking view of Mt. Kanchanjunga – Tsongo Lake, Kyngnosla Alpine Sanctuary, Pelling, and Yuksom.
Sikkim is a paradise for trekkers. There are facilities for angling and nature walks. A visit to monasteries and palaces is also on the cards for tourists.