North Sikkim

The Sikkimese often contend that North Sikkim is as beautiful as Switzerland. You may hear it when you get there, or see it repeatedly mentioned in various brochures and guide books. Why? Several decades earlier, a European guest of our king had passed a remark to that order, and now the legend lives. True to this erstwhile visitor’s remark, many others after him have also reiterated the fact that North Sikkim is indeed truly beautiful.

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The journey to the North follows the North Sikkim Highway, an adventurous drive through high hills and deep river valleys that ultimately ends up in the foothills of the Himalayas where gentle meadows overlook snow-clad rocky mountains. The ever-changing views along the way include rustic wayside hamlets surrounded by terraced fields, monasteries, torrential mountain streams with lush green forests everywhere.

Mangan

Lakes, Clouds, Rains, Snow, Mountain … is all of this gets captured in one eye frame – it’s called Switzerland. Northern part of Sikkim is as parallel to Switzerland. North Sikkim includes approx. 500 waterfalls, beautiful valleys, glaciers, hot spring, snowcapped Himalayan peaks & various types of rhododendrons & orchids makes it most beautiful part of Sikkim Himalayas.

Mangan, the district head quarter of North Sikkim, is about 65 kms away for Gangtok at an altitude of about 4000 ft. Some of the important places in North Sikkim are the Yumthang Valley, Lachung Valley, Lachen Valley, Gurudongmar Lake, Zero Point, Katao & Yumasemdong.The journey to the North follows the North Sikkim Highway, an adventurous drive through high hills and deep river valleys that ultimately ends up in the foothills of the Himalayas where gentle meadows overlook snow-clad rocky mountains. The ever-changing views along the way include rustic wayside hamlets surrounded by terraced fields, monasteries, torrential mountain streams with lush green forests everywhere. The district is the largest of the four districts of Sikkim.

The landscape is mountainous with dense vegetation all the way up to the alpine altitude before thinning out to desert scrub towards the Northern Tundra. Numerous waterfalls astride the main road make the trip to this district extremely picturesque.

Most of the people of the state reside near Mangan, the district headquarters which is about 2,000 feet (610 m) above sea level. Further north the elevation increases with the vegetation turning from temperate to alpine to tundra. Temperatures range from about 25° to below -40° in the extreme high reaches where the altitude is in excess of 6,000 metres. Kangchenjunga is the highest peak at over 8,000 m, straddling its eastern border with Nepal and can be seen clearly from the town of Singhik.

Mangan is also known as the Cardamom Capital of the world. The climate and terrain best suit the cultivation of the larger variety of Cardamom here.The region has many power projects and enjoys almost uninterrupted electricity. The steep gradient and the innumerable lakes on the higher reaches facilitate ideal conditions.

North Sikkim is home to the Red Panda (Ailurus Fulgens), a vulnerable species. This animal is the pride of Sikkim and is also the State Animal. It is generally found between heights of 2000 m to 4000 m. It is as big as a domestic Siamese cat (approximately 2 ft long), has a triangular shaped face with a stripe on its cheek, with red fur and black eyes. It has a sprinkling of white on its back and chest. The tail is bushy, black or brown in color and long like that of a skunk. They generally live on treetops.

In 1977 North Sikkim district became home to Kangchenjunga National Park, which has an area of 1,784 km2 (688.8 sq mi). It shares the park with West Sikkim district. It is also home to the Shingba (Rhododendron) Wildlife Sanctuary, which was established in 1984 and has an area of 43 km2

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