Sikkim, a new fascination for holidaying tourists

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Gangtok (Sikkim), June 3 : Tourism in Sikkim is witnessing an instant boom as people from the plains to beat the heat, are heading to the cooler and pristine environs of the Himalayan foothills for a refreshing summer holiday.

Nearly 130,000 domestic tourists have visited Sikkim, the State in the foothills of Himalayas from January to April this year. It is nearly double of the number recorded last year.

There was about 10 per cent rise in tourists' arrival in Sikkim during 2007.

"It is a very beautiful place. Wonderful! I am very much carried away with the neatness. And the way they have taken care of nature. It is superb. This is not to be seen anywhere. They take care. The public taxi drivers are excellent people," said Prabhakar, a tourist from Mumbai.

"We learnt about Sikkim's beauty through travel magazines and decided to visit it. We are five couples and we have come to visit this place," said Godwyn Fernandez, a tourist from Nagpur.

Many people believe the improved facilities are drawing people to visit Sikkim.

"For two years, many places have witnessed a major influx of tourists. Sikkim is opening up for the common man with the proper road development put in place. Roads have increased and so have the number of tourists in Sikkim. Air flights and other transport facilities have increased. Better media and better infrastructure has attracted a lot of tourists towards Sikkim," said Prakash Deo, a tour operator from Mumbai.

Over 8,000 domestic and international tourists visited Sikkim in April and this number is expected to double in June.

According to the data available with the State Tourism Department, around 4,600 international tourists have visited the hill State in the first tourist seasons (April to June) so far. The second tourist season is from September to November.

Pawan Kumar Chamling government in Sikkim has proposed to develop tourism-related infrastructure to lure visitors.

On the cards are pilgrimage centres, a conducted Buddhist circuit covering temples and religious structures.

A war memorial at Sherathang near the Sino-Indian border at Nathu La, Saramsa Garden, and sports activities such as mountain-biking, ice-skating and trekking are already in place.

Nestled in the Himalayas Sikkim is the least populous state in India and the second-smallest in area after Goa. The thumb-shaped state borders Nepal in the west, China to the north and east, and Bhutan in the southeast.

Sikkim is characterised by wholly mountainous terrain. Almost the entire State is hilly, with the elevation ranging from 280 metres (920 ft) to 8,585 metres (28,000 ft). The summit of the Kangchenjunga is the highest point.

Sikkim's climate ranges from sub-tropical in the south to tundra in the northern parts. Most of the inhabited regions of Sikkim, however, enjoy a temperate climate, with the temperatures seldom exceeding 28 degree Celcius in summer or dropping below 0 degree Celcius in winter.

The State has winter, summer, spring, autumn seasons and a monsoon season between June and September.

The average annual temperature for most of Sikkim is around 18 degree Celcius. Sikkim is one of the few states in India to receive regular snowfall. The snow line is around 6 000 metres (19,600 feet). By Tashi Pradhan

ANI

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