Home to the third highest mountain in the world Mt Khangchendzonga, Sikkim’s landscape is bedecked with peaks like Lama Wangden and the Frey’s Peak, which have been conquered by many mountaineers over the years. Over the last few years, Sikkim has also emerged as a hub for people who want to take up courses in mountaineering, trekking, eco-tourism and other adventure activities. Institutes like the Indian Himalayan Centre for Adventure and Eco Tourism in South Sikkim offer world-class facilities and training for adrenaline junkies.
However, any adventurous trip in the state needs a lot of planning in advance as formal permits from the state government are required to gain access to the majority of its adventure spots. We give you the low-down on all of it.
Restricted Area Permit (RAP) and Protected Area Permit (PAP) Regime in Sikkim: To visit Sikkim, foreigners must obtain RAP, previously known as Inner Line Permit from Sikkim Tourism Offices on the basis of a valid Indian Visa
The RAP is issued free of cost by:
1. Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, Lok Nayak Bhawan, New Delhi
2. All Foreigners Registration Offices
3. All Indian Missions abroad
4. Immigration offices at airports at: Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and New Delhi
5. Deputy Director, SNT Complex, Siliguri, Tourism Department Tel 0353-2512646
6. Assistant Director-Tourism Department, Sikkim House, Panchasheel Marg, New Delhi, Tourism Department, Tel 011- 41680421/26115346
7. Assistant Director – Tourism Department, Sikkim Tourism Office, 4/1 Middleton Street, Kolkata, Tel 033-22817905
8. Assistant Director-Tourism Department, Melli, Near Melli Police Check Post, South Sikkim, Cell +91 9775453611, Tel 03595-248536; Please Note ILP issuing time is from 8am to 8pm everyday
9. Assistant Director - Tourism Department, Sikkim Tourism Office, Rangpo, East Sikkim, Tel 03592-240818
10. Resident Commissioner, Government of Sikkim, Sikkim House, New Delhi
11. Deputy Commissioner, Darjeeling, West Bengal
12. Deputy Secretary/Under Secretary, Home Department, Government of West Bengal, Kolkata
The nationalities of Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar and Nigeria will not be issued the permit without the prior approval of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi
Protected Area Permit (PAP) for various places in Sikkim are issued as follows:
1. Tsomgo-Baba Mandir: Permits are issued by Police Check Post for domestic tourists
2. Foreign tourists are allowed till Tsomgo Lake, permit is issued by Tourism and Civil Aviation Department and Police Check Post
3. Nathu La Pass: Permit is issued by Tourism Department and Police Check Post for domestic tourists
1. Dzongri Trek: Permit is issued by Adventure Cell of Tourism and Civil Aviation Department, Government of Sikkim
2. Singalila Trek: Permit is issued by Adventure Cell of Tourism and Civil Aviation Department, Government of Sikkim
1. Yumthang: Permit is issued by Police Check Post for domestic tourists and for foreigners, permit is issued by Tourism Department and Police Check Post
2. Yumesamdong: Permit is issued by police check post for domestic tourists, and for foreigners, permit is issued by Tourism Department and Police Check Post
3. Thangu-Chopta Valley: Permit is issued by police check post for domestic tourists, and for foreigners, permit is issued by Tourism Department and Police Check Post
4. Gurudongmar: Permit is issued by police check post for domestic tourists, and for foreigners, permit is issued by Tourism Department till Thangu.
Restricted Area Permit is a valid permit for trekking anywhere in the South District for Foreign Tourists
MOUNTAINEERING AND TREKKING PERMIT
For those foreigners who are interested in going for trekking in the interior region of the state, the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department issues Protected Area Permit (PAP) at Gangtok which is available for certain specified area for groups consisting of two or more foreigners subject to condition that the trekking programme is arranged through a registered travel agency. Foreigners need to be in a group of two or more to visit RAP and PAP areas.
The trip/trek/expedition has to be organised from a travel agency registered with the Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Sikkim Government.
Carrying a Recovery Vehicle is also a must. Indians interested in trekking in RAP and PAP areas, can get their permit from Tourism Department at Gangtok or the Police Check Post in Gangtok.
Foreigners should note that for some mountaineering expeditions, they need to apply at least 3 months in advance, while for some they can even apply before 15 days. This permit can be obtained only from the Sikkim Tourism Department. You don’t need to visit Sikkim yourself for this, your travel agent will apply on your behalf. Foreigners need to check Indian Mountaineering Foundation’s list of open peaks in Sikkim. They need to apply to IMF for permission to take mountaineering expeditions.
Of the five major mountain peaks, Thinchinkang and Jopuno are under the IMF’s list and foreigners need to apply for these expeditions only through IMF. If you apply through IMF, you will also be eligible to apply for its ex-mountaineering visa.
IMF is always adamant on asking foreigners coming to India to get a Mountaineering Visa to get permit for mountaineering in Sikkim. Once the concerned travel agency gets your visa, they will show it to the Forest Department, Home Department, Indian Army and Government of Sikkim.
After getting clearances from the aforementioned offices, the travel agency will take your application to the Tourism Office in Gangtok for your permit. When the Tourism Office gets issue your permit, they also send a letter to a registered mountaineering association. The association then appoints a License Officer who will accompany you on your expedition. The concerned association also sends a letter to the Tourism Department stating the name of the LO, who will accompany you on your expedition.
Domestic Tourists are also mandated to take a License Officer with them on their expedition and also mandatorily need a clearance from the Forest Department.
ALPINE MOUNTAINEERING EXPEDITION PERMIT
Issued by Tourism Department after obtaining valid permit from Home Department, Government of Sikkim, Gangtok for the following peaks as per the Home Department Notification no.25/Home/2006 dated 20/3/2006
Tinchenkhang 5603m (West Sikkim)
Jopuno 5935m (West Sikkim)
Freys Peak 5830m (West Sikkim)
Lama Wangden 5868m (North Sikkim)
Bruhmkhangse 5433m (North Sikkim)
NATIONAL PARK AND WILDLIFE SANCTUARY PERMIT
Issued by Forest Department at Gangtok
MOTOR BIKING PERMIT
A person interested in undertaking motor biking to Protected Areas in Sikkim shall apply to Home Department in the prescribed application form (to be obtained from Home Department) with the following attested documents in two sets:
1. Passport size photographs of the applicants including Co-Rider/ Tour Guide
2. Identity proof of documents of the applicants and Co-Rider/Tour Guide
3. Driving License
4. Pollution Control paper of Motor Bike from the concerned Authority
5. Insurance documents of Motor Bike
6. For hired/borrowed Motor Bike an affidavit of authorisation from the owner/ the authorisation certified by the RTO of the concerned state
7. Foreign Nationals have to be in a group of two or more and should apply through a recognised Local Travel Agency and are to be accompanied by a local tour guide with the required documents
8. The application form with the supporting documents is to be submitted one day in advance to the Home Department. For more information on permit formalities needed to visit Sikkim, please visit sikkimtourism.gov.in