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Gangtok

The laid back quaint hill station of Sikkim


Gangtok Hill Top

Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim is located at the height of 5550 feet in the Shivalik Ranges of the Eastern Himalayas.  It is the second smallest state of India. Its salubrious climate, panoramic vistas, enrapturing scenic beauty and importance for Buddhist learning had added to its value. Over the years, it has also developed to take control of the political, economic, cultural and commerical activities of the state of Sikkim. Every year, it attracts thousands of tourists, who are looking for adventure, romantic escapades or even a simple leisure travel to the hills.


The meaning of the name Gangtok infers 'hill top.' Steep tiers, descending mountain ranges and urban concrete rawly interspersed with patches of shrubs and forests, enhance the scenic importance of this laid back capital.



For a very long time, Gangtok was somehow obliterated from the limelight and knowledge of tourists. Epigraphists believed that one of the important reasons why Gangtok existed as an unknown hamlet was due to it not being ruled by any monarchial ruler during the ancient times. It was only later in 1840 that Gangtok started getting noticed after the foundation of the Buddhist monastery. With time, the city developed as an important learning centre and followed the Vajrayana strand of Buddhism. Later, the British Indian-Tibet war further popularised the importance of Gangtok especially as a hotspot in the trading routes. Over the years, several monasteries and centres of Tibetology have flourished in the city.


Following are the main attractions of Gangtok:


Tsomgo Lake: This beautiful glacial lake is located at the Gangtok- Nathula Highway, around 35 km away from the main city area. It is also called as the Changu lake. Every season has its own beauty imparted to the magic of this lake. For example, tourists come to see Tsomgo lake during January to March to discern the snow fallen over the lakes. The months of April to May are known for watching the beauteous growth of orchids and Rhododendrons. October to December are known for getting lost in the clear blue skies and often feeling the beauty of vast stretches of properly visible hills. Legend has it that the spiritual gurus used to study the colour of water over this lake and predict the future of the state.


Gangtok Phurba

Do Drul Chorten: It is one of the biggest stupas in Sikkim. It is popularly also known as Phurba.It was constructed in 1945 by the head of the Nyingma sect of Tibetan strand of Buddhism. It is known for being encircled by 108 prayer beads. It is important to recite the mantras written on the wheels when one has to rotate them. These prayer wheels are also known as 'Mani Lakhor.' Huge statues of Guru Padmasambhava also adorn the stupas.


Hot Springs: Sikkim is known for hot springs that are considered holy and have medicinal properties. Three important hot springs are located in Ralang, Reshi and Yumthang. The cave of 'occult fairies' is located near to these springs, making them sacred. The medicial properties of these springs help in the cleansing of skin diseases. The Phurchachu Hot Springs tend to look more beautiful as they overlook the enrapturing Rangeet River.



Rumtek Monastery: It is also known as the Dharma Chakra Centre. It is located 24 km away from Gangtok in Eastern Sikkim. This monastery is respected for being the seat of the head of the leader of the Karma Kagyu order of Tibetan form of Buddhism. A very beautiful shrine temple is located within the premises of the monastery.


Tashi View Point: It is a beautiful spot through which one can look at the Kanchenjunga mountains on a clear day. Very beautiful orchids have also grown around this point. It offers the best and most imposing view of the Himalayas.


Excursions from Gangtok

Few very interesting tourist destinations are located near to Gangtok, such as Kanchenjunga National Park, Nathula Pass (56 km), Kalimpong (74.7 km) and Darjeeling (96.5 km), Siliguri (115 km), Bagdogra (124 km).


Dharma Chakra Centre

Shopping in Gangtok

Lal Bazaar and MG Road are the most visitied shopping destinations for tourists in Gangtok. This city is known for handicrafts, indigenous wine, soft woolen clothes, Sikkemes cups, Chinese curios and other items. Books on Buddhism can also be found in the shops of the New market area.


When to Reach

The most ideal time to visit Gangtok is during the winters, especially from October to June. The temperature during the winters is around 4 degree Celsius while during the Summers, it reaches out to 22 degree Celsius.



How to Reach

Air: Bagdogra airport, located in West Bengal is the nearest airport to Gangtok. It is 124 km away from Gangtok.

Rail:  New Jalpaiguri railway station is located near to Gangtok. It is around 117 km away from Gangtok.

Road: The National Highway 31A is links Gangtok with Darjeeling, Siliguri and Kalimpong. Private jeeps and cabs can also be hired from Bagdogra and Siliguri.



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