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About Gangtok

Gangtok is a municipality, the capital and the largest town of the Indian state of Sikkim. It also is the headquarters of the East Sikkim district. Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, is a unique hill resort of northeast India. Located within higher peaks of the Himalayas and enjoying a year-round mild temperate climate, Gangtok is at the centre of Sikkim’s tourism industry. Gangtok enjoys a mild, temperate climate all year round due to its elevation and sheltered environment Perched at an altitude of 1700 m, Gangtok is well-known for its scenic beauty and amazing views of the Kanchenjunga which is one of the highest mountains in the world. Gangtok features a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate. Gangtok is naturally blessed with a refreshing cool and pleasant climatic condition throughout the year.

Gangtok rose to prominence as a famous Buddhist pilgrimage site after the foundation of the Enchey Monastery in 1840. In 1894, the ruling Sikkimese Chogyal,Thutob Namgyal, transferred the capital to Gangtok. In the early 20th century, Gangtok became a major stopover on the trade route between Lhasa in Tibet and cities such as Kolkata in British India. After India won its independence from Britain in 1947, Sikkim chose to remain an independent monarchy, with Gangtok as its capital. In 1975, after the integration with the union of India, Gangtok was made India's twenty-second state capital. Gangtok is located at an altitude of 1,547 meters.

The hospitality industry is the largest industry in Gangtok as the city is the main base for Sikkim tourism. Summer and spring seasons are the most famous tourist seasons. Most of Gangtok's residents are employed directly and indirectly in the tourism industry, with many residents owning and working in hotels and restaurants.

Ecotourism has emerged as an important economic activity in the region which includes trekking, mountaineering, river rafting and other nature oriented activities.

Events/Festivals in Gangtok

Two types of festivals are celebrated by local people of Gangtok and travelers as well which includes tourist festivals and religious festivals in Gangtok. Prominent Festivals are-

Pong Labsal festival
It is celebrated in the month of December, it is one of the most popular and main festivals in this region. During that time, the gate of Chogyal's Palace is open for the travelers.

Other tourist festivals include Gangtok Food and Culture Festival, Flower Festival, Hee Bermiock Heritage & Tourism Festival, Khangchendzonga Tourist festival, Lampokhari Tourism Festival, Namchi Mahotsav, Ravangla Festival, Mangan Music Festival, and many others.

History of Gangtok

Like the rest of Sikkim, not much is known about the early history of Gangtok.The earliest records date from the construction of the hermitic Gangtok monastery in 1716. Gangtok remained a small hamlet until the construction of the Enchey Monastery. Construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840 made it a pilgrimage center. It became the capital of what was left of Sikkim after an English conquest in mid 19th century in response to a hostage crisis. After the defeat of the Tibetans by the British, Gangtok became a major stopover in the trade between Tibet and British India at the end of the 19th century.Most of the roads and the telegraph in the area were built during this time.


Apart from the major religious festivals of Diwali, Christmas, Dusshera, Holi etc., the diverse ethnic populace of the town celebrates several local festivals. The Bhutias and Lepchas celebrate new year in January, while Tibetans celebrate the new year (Losar) with "Devil Dance" in January–February. The Maghe sankranti, Ram Navami are some of the important Nepali festivals. Chotrul Duchen, Buddha Jayanti, the birthday of the Dalai Lama, Loosong,Bhumchu, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen and Drupka Teshi are some other festivals, some distinct to local culture and others shared with the rest of India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.

Location of Gangtok

Gangtok is located in the eastern Himalayan range, at an elevation of 1,650 m (5,410 ft). The town's one lakh (hundred thousand) population belongs to different ethnicities such as Nepalese, Bhutia and Lepchas.

The exact meaning of the name Gangtok is unclear, though the most popular meaning is "hill top".Today, Gangtok is a centre of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning, with the presence of several monasteries, religious educational institutions, and centres for Tibetology. The important destinations present around Gangtok are Darjeeling (94 km), Dzongri, Kalimpong (80 km), Nathula (56 km), Pelling (125 km), Ravangla, Siliguri (110 km), Yuksom, and Yumthang.

Tourist Attractions in Gangtok

There are many places of sightseeing in Gangtok like Hanuman Tok, Changu Lake, Research Institute of Tibetology, Tashi View Point, Phurba Chorten, Ridge, Phurchachu Reshi Hot Springs, Ganesh Tok, Pinetum, Do Drul Chorten, Menmecho Lake.

Ganesh Tok
Ganesh Tok is situated on the hill adjacent to the TV Tower. A small temple dedicated to the God Ganesh is located on the hilltop at an elevation of 6500 feet. From the Ganesh Tok one can have a panoramic view of Gangtok and the Raj Bhawan Complex. The Pinetum garden is located near the Ganesh Tok. This garden contains pine trees and a walk on the foothpath amongst the pine trees is refreshing.

Hanuman Tok

Hanuman Tok is located about five kilometers uphill from White Hall on the Gangtok Nathula Highway. A temple dedicated to the God Hanuman is located at an elevation of 7200 feet. On the way towards the temple, one can have a amazing views of Gangtok and the adjacent rolling hills.

Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology
The Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology is a leading institute in the world that was founded to conduct research on the language and traditions of Tibet as well as the Mahayana sect of Buddhism. This research institute is located at Deorali. The institute includes a rare collection of the Tibetan literature, paintings, coins,manuscripts, statues and Thangkas. This institute houses a museum, a Tibetan library and a general reference centre.

Phurba Chorten
Phurba Chorten is located close to the Research Institute of Tibetology on a small hill. This huge and immense religious monument is in the form of a stupa. The edge of the Chorten is enclosed by 108 small prayer wheels with the spiritual mantra ‘Om Mane Padme Hum’ in Tibetan adorned on them. The Chorten was founded by Late Trul Shik Rimpoche, who was the head of the Nyingama Order, and late Chogyal of Sikkim Tashi Namgyal. Inside the Chorten a complete set of Kagyur holy books, relics, complete mantras and other religious objects are placed.

The Ridge
The Ridge is a small stretch of plain and flat road above the town of Gangtok. It is just about fifteen minutes walk from the main market. The ridge is wrinkled with plants and trees which presents a colorful picture. The Ridge has the White Hall and the Chief Minister’s official residence on one end and the magnificently designed Place Gate with a pagoda rooftop on the other end. A resting shed built on Tibetan architecture is also located on the Ridge. Flower shows which attract tourists from all over the world are held just below the Ridge.

Tashi View Point
Tashi View Point is located about six kilometers away from Gangtok on the North Sikkim Highway. This place offers an amazing view of the Kangchendzonga snowy range. The Labrang and Phodong monasteries can also be seen on the opposite hill. A resting shed located at Tashi View Point provides shelter to the tourists.

Phurchachu Reshi Hot Springs
Phurchachu Reshi Hot Springs are situated about 25 kms from Gyalshing near Reshi on the River Rangit. It is about ten minutes from the highway across the River Rangit by a pedestrian bridge to reach the hot springs. The water of these springs has medicinal value as it is very rich in Sulphur that can cure various skin diseases.

Changu Lake
The Changu lake is situated about 35 kilometers from Gangtok at an elevation of about 12000 feet on the Gangtok – Nathula highway. This lake is located in the restricted area and hence an Inner Line Permit is required by Indians to visit this place. Foreign nationals are not permitted to visit this lake. An attractive natural cave called the Tseten Tashi Cave is also located near the lake which is about three storey high. Its cool water, flowers and the alpine vegetation harmonizes with the picturesque beauty around. A small temple of Lord Siva is also constructed on the lakeside. Because of the high altitude, heavy woolens are required to be worn here throughout the year.

Menmecho Lake
The Menmecho Lake is another wonderful lake that is situated about twenty kilometers ahead of the Changu lake. This lake is very big in size, and lies cradled between the mountains below the Jelepla pass and is also the source of the Rangpochu river. The lake is known for its fish and a farm to cultivate these fish is also located nearby.

Do-Drul Chorten
Do-Drul Chorten at Dotapu Chorten, Gangtok was constructed under the supervision of the late Most Venerable Trulshi Rinpoche after due preparations in 1945-46, in accordance with the prophecy made in 1944 by his Holiness the Dud-Zom Rinpoche. This chorten is believed to be one of the most important chorten of Sikkim. A complete mandala set of Dorji Phurpa (Bajra Kilaya), one set of Kagyur holy Books, relics, complete 'zung' (mantras) and other religious objects are placed inside the Chorten. Around the chorten 108 Mani-Lhokor (Prayer Wheels) are installed. The Chorten is enclosed by Chorten Lhakhang, Guru Lhakhang, where two huge statues of Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambahava) are installed, Drupda (Meditation Centre), Nyingma Shede (Institute of Nyingma Higher Studies) and many smaller monuments including the 'kudung' of the latter most honored Trulshi Rinpoche. His fame Dodrup Chen Rinpoche of Sikkim has his seat at the Chorten Lhakhang and guides the disciples, including the inmates of the Drubda, in their search for higher knowledge and practice of the tenets of the Nyingma Order.

Chungthang is located about 95 kms. away from Gangtok, on the way to Yumthang. The main feature of this place is a footprint atop a rock which is said to be that of Guru Padmasambhava is located about 17 kms away from Gangtok. This small village of Chungthang lies at the confluence of the two rivers, the Lachen Chhu (which later evolves into the Teesta) and the Lachung Chhu. At this place, the Tibetan chieftain, Khey Bumsar signed a blood brotherhood with the Lepcha shaman Te-Kung-Tek. The spot is marked by a stone amidst the shadows of a dense wooded area. The Statue of Unity erected near the Thakurbari Temple in Gangtok is in the memory of this event.

Kabi Longstok
Kabi Longstok is located about 17 kms away from Gangtok. At this place, the Tibetan chieftain, Khey Bumsar signed a blood brotherhood with the Lepcha shaman Te-Kung-Tek. The spot is marked by a stone amidst the shadows of a dense wooded area. The Statue of Unity erected near the Thakurbari Temple in Gangtok is in the memory of this event.

Rumtek Monastery
Rumtek Monastery is located about 24 km. south west of Gangtok in one of the lower valleys. It is the headquarters of the Kagyupa (Red Hat) sect of Tibetan Lamaistic Buddhism. The original monastery founded by the 4th Chogyal and destroyed by an earthquake, was rebuilt in the 1960s in the traditional styles as a faithful copy of the Kagyu headquarters in Chhofuk, Tibet and now houses Dharma Chakra Centre. The 16th Gwalpa Karmapa took refuge in Sikkim after the Chinese invaded Tibet. He and his followers brought with them whatever statues, thangkas and scriptures they could and at the invitation of the Chogyal, the Karmapa settled in Rumtek and the lamasery was built. The significant chham (religious masked dance) of Rumtek is performed on the 10th day of 5th month of the Tibetan calendar, and presents 8 manifestations of the Guru Rimpoche. This is extremely colourful and amazing and draws many pilgrims and visitors.

How to reach Gangtok

By Rail
The nearest railway stations are at New Jalpaiguri (125 kms) and Siliguri, which is about 114 km from Gangtok and well linked with all major cities of India.

By Road
Gangtok has only a road connection with the rest of India. Gangtok is linked with Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Siliguri by the National Highway 31 A.

By Air
The nearest airport is located at Bagdogra which is about 124 kms from Gangtok, and has daily Indian Airlines connections with Kolkata and Delhi.



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