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SIKKIM : Switzerland of the East

This Indian state – home to spectacular scenery, remarkable religious monuments and vibrant cultures is known for exceptional cleanliness and integrity of the people.

Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state located in the Himalayan Mountains. The state borders Nepal to the west, China to the north and east, and Bhutan to the east. The Indian state of West Bengal lies to the south.

Sikkim, a popular tourist destination, is the least populous state in India and the second-smallest state after Goa in total area. Owing to its location in the Himalayas Sikkim is geographically diverse. Kangchenjunga, the world's third-highest peak, is located on Sikkim's border with Nepal. It has the only open land border between India and China which explains the presence of a large number of military personnel in several areas.

Sikkim is the only state in India with an ethnic Nepali majority. The major languages are Nepali, Bhutia, Limbu, and English. Gangtok is the capital and largest city.

Sikkim is situated in an ecological hotspot of the lower Himalayas, one of only three among the ecoregions of India. The forested regions of the state exhibit a diverse range of fauna and flora. Owing to its altitudinal gradation, the state has a wide variety of plants, from tropical species to temperate, alpine and tundra ones, and is perhaps one of the few regions to exhibit such a diversity within such a small area. Nearly 81 per cent of the area of Sikkim comes under the administration of its forest department.

Gangtok is popular place with tourists heading on treks, though the facilities do not reflect the number of international visitors. However, efforts are being made by the government to improve the conditions. Gangtok would be easily one of the most cleanest cities a traveler would ever come across, highly organised and beautifully maintained that it is often referred as the Switzerland of the east.

(For full story read SAFARI INDIA)