The Sikkim Himalayas, the epitome of the world's mountains,
encompass a wonderland, which for sheer beauty and magnificence remains
unbeaten elsewhere in the globe. Lonely vales and dales gapping chasms and
terrifying gorges, thrilling lakes and streams, turquoise hued as mirrors,
crystal clear, on which the king of Mountains, crowned with eternal snows,
casts shadows long and lovely.
In the southwestern part of Sikkim, in the main Himalayan range, lies the majestic Kanchendzonga (or Kanchenjunga), rising to a staggering height of 8,585 m (28,169 ft) above sea level. It is the highest mountain in India, and the third highest peak in the world. The word "Dzong" means a fortress, and it truly characterizes the buttresses and icy pinnacles of the Kanchendzonga. The lower slopes of the mountain contain a number of glaciers.
Sikkim is home to other famous peaks such as Kabru, Kirat Chulior Tent Peak (7,365 m) and Sinolchu (6,887 m), often described as one of the loveliest peaks in all of the Himalayas.
The gnarled topography of Sikkim tends, however to smoothen out in the upper reaches of the Teesta River in the Lachen valley. From Gaigong, the mountains give way to flat plateau with an altitude of almost 18,000 ft on which are situated the lakes of Gurudogmar and Cholamu. This small windswept plateau, which juts into Sikkim from Tibet looks like a cold desert.
Glaciers also carry with them rocks and debris and these are deposited in the form of small mountains called moraines. It is said that some thousand years ago the whole of north Sikkim was covered with glaciers as the area abounds in many ancient moraines. Lachung is at the base of an ancient terminal moraine. There are many glaciers in Sikkim, but the most important ones are the Zemu Glacier, Rathong Glacier and the Lonak Glacier in North Sikkim. more...
The mountain ranges are interspersed with passes, which can be used to cross from one side to another. On the eastern Chola Range the most important passes are the Nathu La and Jelep La both at an altitude of about 14,500 ft and Bhutan-La at an altitude of about 13,000 ft. the first two lead to the Chumbi Valley in Tibet and the third to Bhutan. Another important pass on this range that also leads to the Chumbi Valley is the Chola Pass, which was used by the Chogyals to go to Tibet from Tumlong the then state capital. more...
The major river in the Sikkim Himalayas is the Teesta (or Tista) River. It is one of the most turbulent rivers in the Himalayas, mainly due to the steep altitude gradient found in Sikkim. The Teesta is known for its unpredictability. Till 1787, this river flowed into the Ganges. However, following some destructive floods it changed course and now empties into the mighty Brahmaputra River in Bangladesh. more...
Waterfalls are found almost all over Sikkim but there is a profusion of them in North Sikkim specially on the road between Mangan and Lachung as well as in the Dzongu area.