Nested in the Eastern Himalaya the hilly state of Sikkim has an area of 7096 sq km. Sikkim is bordered by the Tibet Autonomous Region of China in the north and northeast, Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west and West Bengal in the south. The mountains of Sikkim ranges from 280 metres (920 ft) in the south at border with West Bengal to 8,586 metres (28,169 ft) in northern peaks near Nepal and Tibet. The world’s third highest peak, summit of Mt Kangchenjunga lies in this state at the border of Nepal. Most of Sikkim is unfit for agriculture because of the rocky, precipitous slopes. However, some hill slopes have been converted into terrace farms. Tourism and agriculture are the major means of employment for people of Sikkim. Gangtok is the capital city of Sikkim.
Numerous snow-fed streams are found in the valleys of west and south Sikkim. These streams combine into the major Teesta River and its tributary, the Rangeet, which flow through the state from north to south. Forests occupy about one third of the state.. The Himalayan mountains surround the northern, eastern and western borders of Sikkim. The Lower Himalayas lying in the southern part of the state, are the most densely populated. In north-western Sikkim, the peaks remain frozen almost through out the year because of the high altitude and temperatures in the mountains can drop to as low as −40 °C (−40 °F) in winter.
Sikkim has 28 mountain peaks, more than 80 glaciers, 227 high-altitude lakes (including the Tsongmo, Gurudongmar and Khecheopalri Lakes), 5 major hot springs and more than 100 rivers and streams. Eight mountain passes connect the state to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal.
The varied altitude of the mountains spread all over the state of Sikkim has engraved diverse range of flora and fauna. Owing to its altitudinal gradation, the state has a wide variety of plants from tropical species to temperate, alpine and tundra ones. Nearly 81 per cent of the area of Sikkim comes under the administration of its forest department. Rhododendron is the state tree of Sikkim.
Old Silk Route and New Silk Route attracts huge number of tourists in Sikkim. The inevitable tourist attraction of Sikkim includes:
- North Sikkim – Lachen, Lachung, Yumthung Valley, Goechala, Yume Samdong (Zero Point), Seven Sister Waterfall, Chopta Valley, Chungthang, Mt Katao, Thangu Valley, Mangan, Zemu Glacier, Green lake Trek, Phensang Monastery, Phodong Monastery etc.
- West Sikkim – Pemayangste Monastery, Dentam, Rinchenpong, Yuksom, Pelling, Soreng, Varsey, Okhrey, Hilli etc.
- East Sikkim – Gangtok, Rumtek, New Baba Mandir, Nathula Pass, Tukla Valley, Old Baba Mandir, Gnathang Valley, Rangpo, Mankhim, Lungthung, Zuluk. Aritar, Reshi Khola, Jelep La Pass, Tashi View Point etc.
- South Sikkim – Jorethang, Namchi, Ravangla, Sikip, Rabong, Borong, Tendong Hill, Maenam Hill, Solophok etc.
- High Altitude Treks – Frey Peak (5889 mt), Mt Jopuno (5603 mt), Mt Lama Wangden (5868 mt), Mt Brumkhangse (5868 mt) and Mt Tenchenkhang (6010 mt).
- Forests – Khangchendzonga National Park, Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary, Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary etc.
- High Altitude Lakes – Tsomgo (East Sikkim), Lampokheri Lake (East Sikkim),Gurudongmar Lake (North Sikkim), Kupup Lake (East Sikkim), Cholamu (North Sikkim), Green Lake Trek (North Sikkim)