Gangtok is the capital and largest town of the Indian state of Sikkim. Gangtok is located in the eastern Himalayan range, at an altitude of 5,800 feet (1,800 m) and covers an area of 2.54 square km. The town's population of 98,658 belongs to different ethnicities such as Nepalis, Lepchas and Bhutia, Gangtok is at the centre of Sikkim's tourism industry. In 1894, Thutob Namgyal, the Sikkimese monarch under British rule, shifted the capital from Tumlong to Gangtok, increasing the city's importance. A new grand palace along with other state buildings was built in the new capital, In 1975, after years of political uncertainty and struggle, including riots, the monarchy was abrogated and Sikkim became India's twenty-second state, with Gangtok as its capital after a referendum. There are densely forested regions around Gangtok, consisting of temperate, deciduous forests of poplar, birch, oak, and elm, as well as evergreen, coniferous trees of the wet alpine zone. Orchids are common, and rare varieties of orchids are featured in flower shows in the city. Bamboos are also abundant. In the lower reaches of the town, the vegetation gradually changes from alpine to temperate deciduous and subtropical. The beauty painted Pagoda-like wooden house, whipping prayer flags, Lamas spinning wheels, views of snow cover peaks and smiling faces of the local people will make you understand that you have entered in to mystic town Gangtok.
How to Go:
By Road:The National Highway 31A connecting Gangtok to SiliguriTaxis are the most widely available public transport within Gangtok. Gangtok is connected to the rest of India by an all-weather metalled highway, National Highway 31A, which links Gangtok to Siliguri, located 114 km (71 mi) away in the neighbouring state of West Bengal. The highway also provides a link to the neighbouring hill station towns of Darjeeling and Kalimpong.
By Rail:The nearest railhead connected to the rest of India is the station of New Jalpaiguri, a suburb of Siliguri, situated 124 km (77 mi) away from Gangtok. Work has also commenced for a broad gauge railway link from Sevoke in West Bengal to Rangpo in Sikkim that is planned for extension to Gangtok.
By Air:The closest airport is Bagdogra Airport( IXB), 16 km (10 mi) from Siliguri. Gangtok is linked to Bagdogra airport by a daily helicopter service that operates only once a day and carries four passengers.
Institute of Tibetology – The foundation stone if the Institute of Tibetology, was laid in February 1957 by the holy Dalai Lama and it was inaugurated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in October 1958. The building accommodating the institute is an example of Tibetan architecture. It is world renowned and is one of the few of its kind. Its library is well stocked with rear books and documents on Buddhism. There are 30 thousand volumes, mostly xylographys , (xylographys are documents that are printed using wooden slabs that have the matter embossed on them in the reserve) translation of the original teachings of the Lord Buddha an treatises by distinguished Buddhist scholars from different part of the world. The museum at the Institute consist of rear collection of antiques like statues, coins and Thankas which are scrolls with painting on them. This Institute conduct research in the language and culture of Tibet. It has on its faculty eminent scholars.
Do-Dul-Chorten – One of the most important stupa in the Sikkim. The periphery of the chorten is surrounded by 113 small prayer wheels with the mystic mantra “Om Mane Padme Hum” in Tibetan inscribed on them. These prayer wheels are turned by the devout Buddhist while chanting ‘Hail’ to th ‘Jewel in the Lotus’ to invoke the bodhisattva. The chorten buil by Late Trul Shik Rimpoche who was the head of the Nyingma Order and late Chogyal of Sikkim Tashi Namgyal in the mid forties to invoke the Gods to keep peace and tranquillity in the state. Palced inside the chorten are a complete set of Kanjur Holi Books, relies complete mantras and other religious objects. A small chortle as Jhang Chub Chorten was bilid beside the Phurba Chroten in the memory of Trul Shik Rimpoche who passed away in 1962.
Gangtok Ropeway – Inaugurate on 7th Dec. 2003 the ropeway operates between the Main Secretariat Deer Park Sikkim Legislative Assembly and the Tibetology at Deorali. The two cable cars have a capacity of accommodating 25 passengers each. A one way trip taken about 10 to 15 minutes. The ride gives a breathtaking view of the river about 1000meters below as well as Deorali Bazar.
Directorate of Handicraft & Handloom – It was established in 1957 the purpose of promoting the manufacture and sales of local handicrafts carpets and furniture. An emporium at the institute sales handicrafts Thankas which are scrolls with paintings, hand carved foldable wooden tables known as choksees and exquisitively woven woollen carpets, masks and dolls. Hand made paper is another unique novelty of the institute and is made from bark of a tree Argali. The paper is used extensively for invitation card and letter pads.
Flower Show – In the flower show venue the flower exhibition is held round the year, this is situated near the White hall complex. This is a must visit place for the Orchid lovers. The centre has an astounding collection of more then 425 species of rear and endangered orchids available in the Himalayas. The best time to visit march to may when the flower are in full bloom.
Enchey Monastery - the monastery is located in a dense wood and one can see the Mount Knachandzonga range over the crown of trees. Lama Druptob Karpo is supposed to have built a small hermitage at this spot after he flew hear from Maenam Hill more then two hundred years ago. During the reign of Sidkeong Tulku, a monastery was build here in 1901 in the form of a Chinese Pagoda. The monastery follows the Nyingma Order and the main Puja and dances are held here on the 18th and 19th of the twelfth month of the Tibetan Calendar which normally corresponds to the month of December.
Tashi View Point – Situated about six kilometres away from Gangtok City on the North Sikkim high way. Build by the late king of Sikkim Sri. Tashi Namgyal, This place offer an astounding view of the Mount Kanchendzonga snowy range. On the opposite hill, the phodong and the Labrang monasteries can be seen. A resting shed and a small cafeteria situated at Tashi view point provides shelter and other amenities to the tourists.
Ganesh Tok – A small temple of God Ganesh nests on the hill top at an altitude 2000meters the temple is so small on size that it can hardly accommodate one person and one has to crawl to get inside it. A panoramic view of Gangtok town and Raj Bhawan complex can be obtained from here. All the snowy peaks on the western border including the mighty Kanchendzunga are visible from hear and present a breath taking scene. During the tourist season a small cafeteria is opened for the convenience of the visitors.
Hanuman Tok – is a temple of god Hanuman at an altitude of 2195meters. From the temple the snowy pecks of Mount Kanchendzunga present a panoramic picture. As you offer your prayers the statue of Lord Hanuman gazes down at you. The temple of Lord hanuman is flanked by a small temple of Shiedi Shaibaba. A short distance before the stair case leading to the Hanuman Temple is the cremation ground of the erstwhile royal of Sikkim. The cremation ground has setup and chortens each making the place where the moral remains of the departed soul were consigned to the flames.
Bon Jhakri Water Falls – situated about 7kms from Gangtok city on the way to Ranka. These waterfall is a popular picnic spot. Bon Jhakri is a mythical magician whose wife was a witch who used to eat children. But Bon Jhakri himself was a protector of children. Different masks of Bon Jhakri have been put up at this spot. An energy park using non-coventional energy like solar power also co-exists here.
Rumtek Monastery – The monastery is 24kms. out side from Gangtok. In fact it is located on the hill facing Gangtok. The present monastery was constructed by his Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa in 1960s Gyalwa Karmapa was the sixteenth Karmapa and came to settle in Sikkim in the late fifties when the Chinese invaded Tibet. He passed away in 1981. The Kargyugpa sect of Buddhism has its origins in Tibet in the twelfth century. It is said that after the first Karmapa spent many years meditating in a cave, ten thousand fairies came to congratulate him and each offered a strand of hair. These strand of hair were woven into a black hat. This black hat came to be passed down and is still at the Rumtek Monastery. It is said that unless held with the hand or keep in a box it will fly away. It was worn by the Karmapas on ceremonial occasions. The monastery is certainly the largest in Sikkim and is an example of fine Tibetan architecture. The monastery surrounded by a courtyard and the living quarters of the Lamas(monks). Just out side the main monastery complex takes you to the Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist studies. You are greeted by a huge painting of lord Buddha just outside the Nalonda Institute – for the Buddhists gods loom large in art as they do in belief. Just adjacent to it is a small hall that has a stupa Known as Golden Stupa, that contains the bone and ashes of the Sixteenth Karmapa.