Gangtok

Hill Stations in India

Introduction (Gangtok)

Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim with a population of approximately 50,000 has emerged into the mainstream of the Tourism Industry, with more and more tourist visiting this little Himalayan state every year. Gangtok has developed into a cosmopolitan flavour where old-world charm and hospitality exist along with the Internet Age.

With different cultures and religion existing in perfect harmony, Gangtok has shown that "Unity in Diversity" exists in Sikkim. Sikkimese have strong bonding with their age-old traditions and customs. However, a quick survey of Gangtok shows that the bubble of modernization has burst with a bang in the town. The capital is definitely not behind the rest of the world in terms of urbanization - Broad roads, flyovers, posh markets, state-of-art hospital, educational institutes, fast food outlets, discothèques, and all other modern amenities that the heart can desire for. One imposing manmade landmark of the town is the 200 ft-high TV tower which overlooks the town and is situated near the Enchey Monastry below Ganesh Tok. A stroll along the Mahatma Gandhi Marg is shopper's delight- Hotels, restaurants, curios, footwear and almost everything is available. Be here to experience the magic.

General Information :

Altitude : 1750 M.
Climate : The minimum temperature recorded in Gangtok is 1 degree centigrade and the maximum temperature is 22 degrees centigrade.
Best time to visit : October to March

Culture and Food

Fairs and festivals celebrated in Gangtok add to the charm of the hill resort. The Tashiding Gompa hosts the annual Buddhist festival of Bumchu in January. During January-February the dancing festival of Chaam is held in Enchey Gompa. The monthly mask dance of Kagyat is another attraction in the hill resort. Saga Dawa is held in Gangtok during May, and Drukpa Teshi is celebrated throughout Sikkim during July mark Buddha's first teaching.

A hale and hearty trip starts with a good and healthy diet. Gangtok, being a much sought-after tourist destination, calls plenty of visitors to its domain every year. When you are coming to Gangtok, there is no need to worry about your meals as there are myriad restaurants that will offer you mouthwatering dishes to gratify your both sweet and sour taste buds. This means that the question of "where to eat in Gangtok" has a satisfying answer.

Places To Visit :

Rumtek MonasteryRumtek Monastery : The largest monastery in the Eastern Himalaya, built by the Gyalwa Karmapa in strict accordance with the traditional designs of the monastery in Tibet. Rumtek is the seat of Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism. This magnificent gompa is only 24 km from Gangtok.

Tsongo Lake : Lying 40km northeast of Gangtok, it means `Source of the Lake` in Bhutia language. This placid lake is locateds at an altitude of 3780m and held to be sacred by the local people. Tsongo Lake is 38 kilometers from Gangtok the capital of Sikkim and takes about 2½ hours to reach by hired car. The word Tsongo in Bhutia language means source of the lake. The lake is about one kilometer long, 50ft deep, oval in shape and is situated at an altitude of 3780 meters.

The lake remains frozen throughout the winter up to April end. Snowfall is also common in this area even during the summer months.

The Tsongo Lake is considered extremely sacred by the local people. The place is a paradise for bird lovers with large number of Blue Whistling Thrush, Redstarts and Forktails around.The Tsongo lake is host to a number of migratory birds prominent among which is the Brahminy ducks. The migratory birds use the lake as a stop over on their way to the Indian plains from as far as Siberia during the winter months.About 26 kilometers from Gangtok en-route to Tsongo is the Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary. The sanctuary with an area of 4 square kms has wide variety of flora and fauna.The Rhododendron flowers remain in full bloom during the months of April and May allowing breathtaking views to the visitors. The way to the Tsongo Lake is famous for a number of beautiful waterfalls.

Nathula : At an altitude of 14200ft, Nathula pass is the border between India and China in the Tibetan plateau. Only 56 km away from the Gangtok, tranquility of this place is very charming. Waving Chinese soldiers and Chinese tourists on the other side of the border is an added attraction. Nathula is a pass on the Indo Chinese boarder (La meaning Pass in Tibetan). The place is 55 kilometers from Gangtok and passes through Tsongo Lake. The place is covered with snow for most part of the year. The pass was traditionally used by merchants of India and Tibet for trading. This was part of the famous Silk route connecting plains of Bengal with Tibet.

After Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950 there were large scale migration of Tibetans from their homeland to India through the Nathula Pass. Today Tibetan migrants constitute a substantial part of the population of the Sikkim and Darjeeling hills. During the 1962 Indo-Chinese war, the Nathula Pass witnessed heavy fighting between the two countries. Since then the boarder remained closed until recently.

The boarder opened on July 6th, 2006 after prolonged negotiation between the two countries. Dignitaries from both countries met at Nathula on this historic occasion and trade between the two countries has already resumed on a limited number of items. The future of this pass seems to be bright as state governments of Sikkim and Bengal as well as the Central governments plans big for the Nathula Pass. Tourism may also get a major boost as the boarder is planned to be opened for tourists as well in the future.

At present the tourists are allowed to get close to the international boarder and the Chinese soldiers can be seen protecting their side of the boarder. On specific days the Chinese authorities also allows tourists to visit the area and on those days the tourists of the two countries can see one another.

Note : Tourists are allowed to visit Nathula only on specific days of the week. There is restriction on the number of vehicles that can visit Nathula on a day. Tourists are advised to make reservation for the Nathula visit well in advance to avoid disappointment. Foreign tourists are not allowed to visit Nathula. They have to return from Tsongo lake.

Namgayal Institute of Tibetology : Built in 1958, this is a unique institute for research into Mahayana Buddhism and the language and tradition of Tibet. A renowned center for Buddhist study, the institute houses a rare collection of Tibetan, Sanskrit and Lepcha manuscripts, statues, Thankas (tapestry used in Buddhist liturgy) as well as more than 200 Buddhist icons.

Enchey Monastery : This 200 year old monastery is famous for the mask dance called 'Cham' performed in the month of January. An important seat of the Nyingma order, the Enchey Monastery meaning the Solitary temple, was originally built with the solace that no other construction would be allowed near it. monasteries in sikkim.

Flower Exhibition Centre : Located near the White Hall Complex this place houses a variety of orchids, seasonal flowers as well as bonsai. It is open between April to June and September until the end of November. In recent years, this show has become quite popular and famous, as there are flower exhibitions throughout the year in accordance with the seasons and the flowers in bloom.

Do-Drul Chorten (stupa): This chorten houses the complete mandala sets of Darjee Phurba, a set of Holy Books, complete 'Zung' (mantras) and other religious objects. The Stupa was built by the venerable Trulshi Rimpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism in 1945. Around this Chorten are 10 Mani-Lhakor (prayer wheels).

Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden : 24km away Gangtok, this garden is consist of temperate forest of Oaks and as many as 50 different kinds of trees species.

Tashi View Point : Built by the late King of Sikkim Sri. Tashi Namgyal this viewpoint is at a distance of about 8km away from the town and offers good view of Mt. Siniolchu and Mt. Kanchenjunga.

Ganesh Tok : This spot, 7km away from Gangtok, offers a bird's eye view of Gangtok. There is a small temple of lord Ganesh at this place. It is on a hillock on Gangtok-Nathula Road.

Hanuman Tok : Just above Ganesh Tok lays this viewpoint offering nice view of the mountains along the horizon and the Gangtok town, there is a Temple of Hanuman here.

Travel Information :

Local Transport : Private Taxis, Jeeps and Landrovers ply regularly on the Gangtok- Siliguri Highway and are available for transfer of passengers between Gangtok and Siliguri/ New Jalpaiguri Junction/ Bagdogra, and also for local sightseeing at fixed rates and may be reserved through Tourist Bureau, Govt. of West Bengal, Gangtok.

Air Connections : Nearest airport is Bagdogra in West Bengal( 124 kms.)

Helicopter Service : between Gangtok - Bagdogra - Gangtok

Road Connections : Gangtok is connected with all weather mettaled road with Siliguri, Kalimpong, Gangtok etc.

Rail Connections : New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal (148 kms.)

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Hill Stations in India
Hill Station In India