Sikkim, India, was an independent kingdom in the Himalayas until 1975, when it was annexed following a referendum. Some dispute the validity of that vote, and there is still some resentment toward Indians. A special permit is required to go to Sikkim and can be obtained in advance at a Foreigners Regional Registration Office in Darjeeling, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai or Siliguri (or get permission from an Indian consulate/embassy before departure).

The capital and only town in Sikkim, Gangtok, is really a rather long way to go to see beautiful mountain scenery. Be sure to visit the Tibetan-style Rumtek Monastery, and try the apple juiceā€”it's the best we've ever tasted. Sikkim is 345 mi/555 km north of Kolkata.

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