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Foreigners need a permit to visit Sikkim see box Permits Sikkim

Sikkim (also known as Denzong) is a landlocked state nestled in the Himalayas with an elevation ranging from 280 to 8,585 metres. It is the least populous state in India and the second smallest in area after Goa. The state borders Nepal in the west, Tibet to the north and east, Bhutan to the southeast and the state of West Bengal to the south. Despite its small area of 7,096 square km, Sikkim is geographically diverse due to its location in the Himalayas.

The most widely accepted origin of the name "Sikkim" is that it is a combination of two words in the Limbu language: Su, which means "new", and Khyim, which means "palace" or house, (in reference to the palace built by the state's first ruler, Phuntsog Namgyal). The Tibetan name for Sikkim is Denjong which means "valley of rice". The Lepchas, the original inhabitants of Sikkim, called it Nye-mae-el, meaning "paradise", and the Bhutias call it Beymul Demazong, which means "hidden valley of rice". In Hindu religious texts Sikkim is known as Indrakil, the garden of Indra.

The Himalayan ranges surround the northern, eastern and western borders of Sikkim in a crescent. The Lower Himalayas in the southern reaches of the state are the most densely populated. The state has 28 mountain peaks, 21 glaciers, 227 high-altitude lakes (including the Tsongmo Lake, Gurudongmar and Khecheopalri Lake), 5 hot springs, and more than 100 rivers and streams. Eight mountain passes connect the state to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal. Kangchenjunga (8,586 m), the world's third highest mountain, is located on the border of Sikkim and Nepal.




Sikkim Standard Permits

In addition to an Indian visa, foreigners must obtain an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit Sikkim. The permits can be obtained from the Sikkim Tourism Offices in New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Darjeeling and Siliguri. Permits are issued on the spot for an initial period of 15 days. You will need to provide photocopies of your passport information page and visa page, along with two passport photos. The date of entry must be stated on the permit application. There is no charge. The permit can be extended for a further 30 days (15 days at a time). The extension of permits can be obtained from the Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) in Gangtok, located on Kazi Road, Tel: 223041. After leaving Sikkim foreigners are not permitted to enter again for three months.

Special Permits

The standard permit allows trips to Gangtok, Rumtek, Pemayangtse, and Phodang but requires foreigners to stay on the National Highway. For those interested in going for treks in the interior regions of the state you will also require a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) or a Protected Area Permit (PAP) which are obtainable in Gangtok from the Police Check Post and Department of Tourism. To visit Tsongo Lake requires a one-day permit and Yumthang in North Sikkim requires a five day permit. These places must be visited through an authorized travel agency (with a minimum of four people), so it is best to have the travel agency arrange the permit. A special permit is also required to trek in the Dzongri area of West Sikkim. Two mountains in the Dzongri area, Jopunob and Thingchen Khang (both around 6000m), can be climbed without having to pay the usual fee required for a mountaineering peak, as long as the climbs are combined with a trek.