Sikkim, a land of enchantment, lies in the heart of the Himalayas, engulfed by snow clad mountains, forest covered ridges, deep ravines and numerous mountain streams. A paradise within human reach, Sikkim, a part of India since 1975, shares her borders with Tibet in the North, Bhutan in the East, Nepal in the West and the District of Darjeeling in the South. Known also as Beyul Demozong "hidden rice valley", Sikkim is crowned by Mt. Kanchenjunga (8586 m), third highest mountain in the World. From the alpine mountains to the tropical forests, Sikkim holds within it a wealth of flora, fauna and rare animal species. Sikkimese people live a simple life with natural gaiety and warmth. According to legend, the Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche visited Sikkim in the 9th century, introduce Buddhism and foretell the era of the monarchy. Indeed, the Namgyal dynasty was established in 1642. Over the next 150 years, the kingdom witnessed frequent raids and territorial losses to Nepalese invaders. It allied itself with the British rulers of India, but was soon annexed by them. Later, Sikkim became a British colony, before merger with India following a referendum in 1975. They are self-reliant and at ease with their secluded environment. Religion is the pivot around which revolves Sikkim's cultural heritage, life style and festivals. Few pass on this magical land without emerging refreshed.
Geography: The thumb-shaped state is characterized by wholly mountainous terrain. Almost the entire state is hilly, with an elevation ranging from 280 metres to 8585 metres. The summit of the Kangchenjunga is the highest point which falls on the border between Sikkim and Nepal. For the most part, the land is unfit for agriculture because of the precipitous and rocky slopes. However, certain hill slopes have been converted into farm lands using terrace farming techniques. Numerous snow fed streams in Sikkim have carved out river valleys in the west and south of the state. These streams combine into the Teesta and its tributary, the Rangeet. The Teesta, described as the "lifeline of Sikkim", flows through the state from north to south. About a third of the land is heavily forested.
Climate: The climate ranges from sub-tropical in the south to tundra in the northern parts. The tundra type region in the north is clad by snow for four months a year though the temperature drops below 0 °C (32 °F) almost every night. The peaks of north-western Sikkim are perpetually frozen. Most of the inhabited regions of Sikkim, however, witness a temperate climate, with the temperatures seldom exceeding 28 °C (82 °F) in summer or dropping below 0 °C (32 °F) in winter. The mean monthly temperature in summer is 15 °C. The state has five seasons: winter, summer, spring, and autumn, and a monsoon season between June and September. The average annual temperature for most of Sikkim is around 18 °C (64 °F). Sikkim is one of the few states in India to receive regular snowfall. The snow line ranges from 20,000 feet in the north to 16,000 feet in the south. During the monsoon, heavy rains increase the possibility of landslides. The record for longest period of continuous rain is 11 days. In the northern region, because of high altitude, temperatures drop below −40 °C (−40 °F) in winter.