(Last Updated on : 31/03/2014)
Geography of Sikkim
is distinguished by the splendid hillock which are scattered all over the state. Nestled in the Himalayas
, Sikkim is an attractive and beautiful state and has a mountainous terrain. Amongst all the astounding hammocks that span across the entire terrain of Sikkim, Kanchenjunga
is recorded to be the highest. Numerous streams from the west and south of the state combine into the river Teesta and its tributary, the Rangeet. The Teesta River
is described as the "lifeline of Sikkim", which flows through the state from north to south.
Location of Sikkim
Geographical location of Sikkim is 27 degrees 5 minutes N to 20 degrees 9 minutes N latitudes and 87 degrees 59 minutes E to 88 degrees 56 minutes E longitudes. Covering 7096 kms in total, the cross-section of the state measures 100 km from north to south and 60 km from east to west. The topography of Sikkim in south combines with the plain land of West Bengal
and increasingly gathers height towards the North. So, the altitude of Sikkim ranges from 300 m to as high as 8585 m.
Mountains and Hills of Sikkim
The Himalayan ranges surround the northern, eastern and western borders of Sikkim in a crescent shape. The Lower Himalayas are the most populated areas. The state has twenty eight mountain peaks, twenty one glaciers, two hundred and twenty seven high altitude lakes including the Tsongmo Lake, Gurudongmar Lake
and the Khecheopalri Lakes, five hot springs, and over hundred rivers and streams. The eastern border of the state according to the Sikkim location is flanked by the mountainous paradise of West Bengal, Darjeelin
g and the western edge is bordered by Nepal. Sikkim is connected to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal by eight mountain passes. The Singalila Range covers the Western borders of Sikkim. In the East, the Chola Range divides Sikkim from its neighbouring state. In the north, the Donkia range reaches out to the Tibetan Plateau. The major peaks of Sikkim are: Kanchenjunga (8596 m), Jonsang (7444m), Talung (7351m), and Kabru (7338 m).
The hills of Sikkim mainly consist of gneissose and half-schistose rocks, making the soil poor and shallow. The soil contains large amounts of iron oxide, ranging from neutral to acidic and has poor organic and mineral nutrients. This type of soil tends to support evergreen and deciduous forests. A large portion of Sikkim is covered by the Precambrian rock .The rock consists of phyllites and schists and therefore are prone to weathering and erosion. This with intense rain causes soil erosion and heavy loss of soil nutrients through leaching. As a result, landslides are frequent in the area. Sikkim is famous for hot springs which have medicinal and therapeutic values. The most important hot-springs are at Phurchachu (Reshi), Yumthang, Borang, Ralang, Taram-chu and Yumey Samdong. All these hot springs have high sulphur content and are located Sikkim Hotspringnear the river banks.
Climate of Sikkim
The climate of Sikkim can be categorised as Tundra-type in the northern parts while the inhabitants inhabiting in the southern wing of the state have to put up with sub-tropical kind of weather. An astounding fact is that the climate in the densely populated regions of Sikkim is of the temperate type. The average temperature that very seldom crosses the 28 degree Centigrade or 82 degree Fahrenheit marks the months of the summer season. Whereas, the winter season sends a spine-schilling quiver down the spines of its occupants as amazingly low temperatures below 0 degree Celsius are recorded and this is equal to 32 degree Fahrenheit. The state enjoys five seasons as winter, summer, spring, autumn, and monsoon. Sikkim is one of the few states in India having regular snowfall. During the monsoon months, the state faces heavy rain fall that increases the number of landslides. The state has a record for the longest period of non-stop rain continuously for eleven days. Fog also affects most parts of the state during winter and the monsoons.
Forest of Sikkim
In Sikkim, 81 percent of the entire geographical land is taken under the control of the Forest Department of Sikkim. Consequently, it has been a land of environmentalists, conservationists, botanists and obviously, nature lovers. With 8 species of Tree Ferns, 20 species of Bamboos, 11 species of oaks, 300 species of Ferns, 40 species of Primulas, and 400 species of flowering plants, forests in Sikkim certainly set example of 'God's plenty'. Between 800 to 5000 feet the flora includes Bamboos, Laurels, Sal and fig trees. Maple, Alder, Chestnut, Birch, Oak
, are found in the temperate forests of Sikkim between 5000 to 13000 feet. And beyond this region, Cypresses, Juniper and Rhododendrons grow till 16000 feet.