The North Eastern states of India can mesmerize you not only by their enchanting beauty but also by their beautiful culture and even state of affairs. One such North Eastern state that rests completely in the lap of the Himalayas is Sikkim.
1. An Indian state but not by birth.
On 16 May, 1975, Sikkim was officially annexed to India (the 22nd state). If India had not taken over this culturally ‘Indian’ territory, the Chinese would have most certainly done that. R&AW at that time had played a crucial role in making sure that Sikkim became a part of India and that too without any bloodshed.
Seen below is an American photographer’s idyllic images of Sikkim before India (with Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister and Kao as R&AW chief) strategically annexed it 40 years ago.
2. This Indian State has the maximum foreign population.
Yes, you read it right. Maximum population of Sikkim has Nepalese origin, thus outnumbering the natives.
3. When the whole country prefers paying homage to the soldiers on a specific day or two, Sikkim has a temple built to honor a soldier.
He’s hailed as the Hero of Nathu La—“Baba” Harbhajan Singh! It is believed that his spirit guards Indian soldiers even now when they perform their duty in the inhospitable conditions of Eastern Himalayas.
4. Not one or two but as many as 11 languages are spoken in this tiny mountain state.
A foreign language, Nepalese is the lingua franca of the State with English being the official language. Apart from these, nine other languages have been recognized as the State’s languages, and most of them are even taught at schools and colleges!
5. Second highest suspension bridge in Asia is located in Sikkim.
The Singshore Bridge has a span of 198 meters with a depth of 220 meters.
6. Sikkim’s state animal is the Red Panda—an endangered species.
You don’t have to travel to China to spot cute Pandas!
7. The state has a truly unique Ecclesiastical Department.
Well, there aren’t many states in India that wholly cater to the functioning of institutions of different religions. There are around 200 monasteries, churches, temples, gurudwaras and mosques in this tiny state!
8. A special seat called ‘Sangha’ in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly looks after the ecclesiastical affairs.
Well, that’s Sikkim for you!
9. Sikkim is the only Indian state with monasteries of all 4 schools of Buddhism.
The four schools of Buddhism are – Nyingma, Gelug, Sakya and Kagyu.
10. If you like Rhododendron forests lining the beautiful Himalayan Valleys, Sikkim is your place to be.
After all, Sikkim has nearly 35 species of Rhododendrons to offer. Come between March and May, and you shall be mesmerized by their pied beauty!
11. Siddheshwar Dham in Sikkim, has 108-foot-tall statue of Lord Shiva with 12 jyotirlingams girdled across.
12. Sikkim records as many as 533 species of bird, including some rare species.
All the bird watchers out there, it’s time for you to pack the bags and get going.
13. Add to the above, there are 690 species of vivid colored butterflies.
14. Visit Rumtek monastery, the seat of Gyalwa Karampa, to witness Tibetan architecture.
Not to forget the exhibition of rarest Buddhist religious art objects, including the exquisite Vajra Mukut that is set with precious stones including rubies, diamonds, gold and what not!
15. The Thanka paintings found here are an eclectic amalgam of beautiful colors, tantric meditative practices and exquisite Tibetan art!
16. Sikkim boasts about 1/3rd of the total angiosperm of India!
After all, it’s not only home to 35 species of Rhododendrons, it also houses as many as 600 types of orchids, 240 species of ferns and trees and 150 varieties of gladioli! Reason enough for the state to host the International Flower Festival every year!
17. The spectacular Holy Water ceremony of Bhum Chu is indeed one of a kind.
This is because in this festival, held every year in the Tashiding Monastery, the future of Sikkim is predicted. A small urn is opened with sacred hymns and chants; the increasing or decreasing levels of water denote the coming fortunes for the year. Quite interesting, isn’t it?
18. There are 5 highly popular hot water springs in Sikkim, and most of them located in amazingly tranquil environs.
Asulphur bath in the natural hot water springs of Sikkim, hidden amidst the beauty of nature is truly an experience to behold.
19. In Sikkim, you can savor the amazing ‘chaang’, the local drink of Sikkim!
And, that too, served in a long, cylindrical bamboo vessel! We bet you shall be craving for more soon!
20. Sikkim has already become the first fully organic state of India.
Kudos to you, Sikkim!
21. Three of the five peaks – main, central, & south of Kangchenjunga, the 3rd highest mountain in the world, are on the northern border of this state.
22. BaichungBhutia from football crazy Sikkim has scored the highest number (43) of goals in international appearances (109) till now.
23. Nathu La mountain pass at an altitude of around 4,310 m connects India with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.
It’s on the old silk route that connected Lhasa to the plains of Bengal.