Sikkim, an erstwhile Himalayan Kingdom, has been a State of India since its merger in 1975. Located in the Eastern Himalayas, it is wedged between the Kingdoms of Nepal in the west and Bhutan in the east. With an area of 7,096 sq. kms, it has a rectangular shape measuring about 114 kms from north to south and 64 kms from east to west. The elevation varies between 300 mts to 8500 mts.
The greater Himalayas form a natural boundary with Tibet and the Singalila range with Mt. Khangchendzonga (8545 mts), the third highest peak in the world, running north to south separating Sikkim from Nepal. On the eastern front, the Chola range borders with Tibet and the Pangola range further down separates Sikkim from Bhutan. Finally, the vast plains of Bengal open out in the south to form a horseshoe picture of the high ranges bordering Sikkim.
Foreigners Entry Formalities:
Foreigners must obtain inner line permit (ILP) to visit Sikkim, the permits can be obtained from all Indian missions, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), New Delhi, Sikkim 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 then and there. It can be extended for further 30 days from the Home Dept., Govt. of Sikkim, depending on the merits of the case.
For those interested in going for trekking in the interior regions of the state, the department of Tourism issues protected area permit (PAP) at Gangtok which is available for certain specified area for groups consisting of 2 or more foreigners subject to the condition that the trekking program is arranged through a registered travel agency.
Foreigners interested in religious/ research work will require a special permit for long-term stay from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India. Individual tourists should confirm permitted areas from the Tourist Information Centre, Gangtok
The nearest airport is at Bagdogra (120 km. from Gangtok) which is connected by scheduled flights to Calcutta, Delhi and Guwahati. From Kathmandu, fly to Bhadrapur, east Nepal (1 hour), then drive to Kakarbhitta (Nepal-India border, 35 km), to Siliguri (37 km) and to Gangtok (114 km, 4 hrs). Or fly to Biratnagar.
Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation also operates a daily helicopter service flight from Bagdogra to Gangtok (20 minutes)
The new Jalpaiguri (NJP) and Siliguri railway stations have regular train services to other parts of the country. Both these facilities are in the State of West Bengal.
Gangtok is at a distance of 114 km from Siliguri and will take 4 hours from Siliguri to reach Gangtok. Gangtok is connected by road with Darjeeling (4 Hrs) and with Bhutan, Phintsoling (6 Hrs)
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