Gangtok, a very charismatic and charming hill station, is the capital city of Sikkim. It is located on top of a mountain ridge at the height of 5500 feet. It is an important Buddhist center of learning and is located along the offshoot of the old silk route. It is an important trading point between India and China along the Nathu La pass route.
Gangtok was a small hamlet and very little is known about its history. Enchey Monastery was constructed at Gangtok in 1840. It became a major pilgrimage center for Buddhists after the construction of the monastery. The capital of Sikkim was shifted to Gangtok in 1894. Sikkim with its capital at Gangtok became a state within the Indian Union in 1975.
How to Reach?
Gangtok can be reached by road as the road network is pretty decent. It is located on National Highway 10. The nearest airport to Gangtok is Bagdogra (IXB) which is located at a distance of 130 km. Gangtok to Bagdogra route is linked through daily helicopter services also. New Jalpaiguri (NJP) is the nearest Railway Station on the broad gauge and is located 124 km away.
Best time to Visit
Gangtok is surrounded by high mountains from all sides. It enjoys a very pleasant weather (mild, temperate) throughout the year because of its altitude and protection from all directions. The place gets torrential rains during the monsoon season. The winters are severe with temperatures dipping up to 4 degrees C, at times even lower. Snowfall in the area is a very rare occurrence. The best time to visit Gangtok is February to mid-June and October to December.
Clothes to be carried
Heavy woolen clothes must be packed for a visit to Gangtok in winters. Summer clothes with light woolens are suitable for a visit during other seasons. A raincoat or umbrella must be carried during the rainy season.
Places to visit
MG Marg is the main street of this hill station and is a great place to roam around. It is lined with shops on both sides and has enough sitting place for the tourists.
The cable ropeway ride which is one km long provides a bird-eye view of the city and the surrounding areas.
Namgyal Research Institute of Tibetology
It is an old Buddhist monastery established in 1958. It houses some rare handwritten Sanskrit, Tibetan and Lepcha texts. It also has a very rich collection of statues and Tankhas.
It is the largest and most sacred monastery in Sikkim and is a showpiece of Tibetan architecture. It is located 24 km away from Gangtok.
Himalayan Zoological Park
The zoo showcases the wildlife of the Himalayas in their natural habitat. Himalayan Deer, Barking Deer, Tibetan Wolf, Red Pandas and Spotted Deer are the main attractions of the zoo.
Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden
The garden is located near the Rumtek Monastery, and its attractions include a wide variety of orchids, oaks and other trees of this Himalayan region.
Local Population or demography
Gangtok is a cosmopolitan town with a population of around 100,000. Nepalis, Lepchas, and Bhutias are the primary residents of this place. Some Marwaris, Biharis, and Bengalis also live in the area. People of the area mainly speak Nepali. English and Hindi are the official languages of this place and are also widely spoken.
Gangtok is very clean, crime free and picturesque and it lies in the lap of the Lesser Himalayas. It is a must-visit destination for all tourists interested in nature’s splendor and serenity of the Himalayas.
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