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Gangtok - Quick Facts

Area: 35 Sq. Km.
Population: 98,658
Altitude: 1496 meters
Clothing: Summer- Light woolen, Winter- Heavy woolen
Best Time To Visit: July To January
Languages: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Limboo, Magar, Rai,Gurung, Sherpa, Tamang, Newari, Sunuwar (Mukhia)


Gangtok is the capital and largest town of the Indian state of Sikkim. Gangtok is located in the Shivalik Hills of the eastern Himalayan range, at an altitude of 1,437 metres (4,715 ft). The town, with a population of thirty thousand belonging to different ethnicities such as Nepalis, Lepchas and Bhutia, is administered by various departments of the Government of Sikkim. Nestled within higher peaks of the Himalaya and enjoying a year-round mild temperate climate, Gangtok is at the centre of Sikkim’s tourism industry. Gangtok rose to prominence as a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site after the construction 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 (then Calcutta) 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.


By Air
The closest airport is at Bagdogra, which is 124-km from Gangtok (about 4 hours drive) and connected by air with all-important Indian Metros. For all further details please contact any one of the Sikkim tourism offices.

By Rail
The nearest railhead is at New Jalpaiguri, which is 125-km (about 4 hours drive) from Gangtok. NJP is well connected with all major cities of India. Gangtok, railway bookings can be made at the booking counter of the Sikkim nationalized transport terminus.

By Road
Gangtok is connected with Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Siliguri by the national highway 31 A. the Sikkim nationalized transport plies regular bus services between Gangtok and Siliguri and within Sikkim. Private buses, jeeps and taxis are also available from Siliguri and Bagdogra. Bookings can be made at the SNT terminus, Siliguri.


Deer Park
Adjacent to the new secretariat and also called the Rustomji Park named after one of the Dewans of the Chogyal of Sikkim, the park has a big open enclosure in which animals alternative to Sikkim like the red panda and the Himalayan Bear are kept. A big statue of Lord Buddha commemorating his preachings of the noble truths in the Deer Park at Sarnath adorns the park premises. A butter lamp perpetually burns in front of the statue, which is surrounded with flowers of exotic variety. The park commands a fantastic view of the hills, surrounding Gangtok.

Dul-Dul Chorten
Duddul Chortenat Dotapu Chorten, Gangtok was built 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 the Holiness the Dud-Zom Rinpoche.

Government Institute of Cottage Industries
This institute is located at about half a kilometre uphill from the main market of Gangtok. It was established with the purpose of promoting the manufacture and sale of local handicrafts. Thankas (also spelt as Thangkas), hand carved wooden tables - known as Choksees and exquisitely woven woolen carpets. More than hundred student workers turn out cottage crafts produced here, with textures, plush and exotic, the designs varying from sophisticated simplicity to a brilliant riot of varmillion pitted against intense blue, are durable and popular all over the world second to carpets in popularity is Sikkimese Tankhas, variegated appliqué work Batiks and exquisite dolls, in wood-work are available intricately carved Sikkimese tables, hand-painted masks, lamp-stands, shades and bamboo-craft. Esoteric masks, flashing silks, opulent brocades and embroidered boots, clothe the Sikkimese dancers.

Kabi Longstok
25-km from Gangtok, just before Phodong is Kabi Longstok There is a spot amidst tall trees, where the treaty of brotherhood between, the Lepcha Chieftan - Tetong Tek and the Tibetan chief Khye Bhumsa was signed.

Kangchendzonga National Park
Crossing a check gate where visitors entry permits was checked, one enters the Kangchendzonga National Park. The climb is gradual but very interesting as soon one is greeted by snow, lying white and pristine over the green forest floor and covering a few treetops. The jagged, rocky slopes to our left glistened in the sunlight at places forming glaciers where the gradient was left. The mountains to our left were covered with dark green pines; the snow line being much higher.

Kechopari Lake
On bifurcation road between Gyalsing and Yoksum, is clear water Kechopari Lake (means - wishing lake). All around are mountains with dense forests and wild life. It is so placid, crystal clear that not a leaf can be seen floating over it, because it is immediately lifted by birds.

Labrang Monastery
A kilometre further from Phodong, the Labrang monastery was built about 100 years later. This monastery belongs to the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, the same as that of Pemayangtse monastery in West Sikkim. Its name translates simply as the dwelling place of the Lamas (monks).

Lachung
The road from Chungthang toward Lachung takes one into another world. This is the area inhabited by the Lachungpas, a hardy mountain people who consider themselves quite different from the Bhutias and the Tibetans. The lush green, terraced hillsides, even in winter, were a testimony to the grit and determination of these people. Lachung is the last habitation on the road to Yumthang a monastery; hidden high on the hillside overlooked a settlement of Lachungpas and barracks of the Indian army. The mountains on the other side of the valley rose up to snowy heights. In the distance, one could see the impressions of a track that was once used by traders to cross over from Tibet with their mules laden with Chinese silk.

Pemayangtse Monastery
Around 6-km from Gyalsing town, this monastery originally built as a small temple in the last of 17th century by Latsun Chempo, later rebuilt the temple structure into a monastery.

Phurchachu Reshi Hot Springs
Around 25-km from Gyalsing, near Reshi, after crossing Rangeet River (also spelt as Ranjit) by a pedestrian bridge, hardly ten minutes from the highway is Phurchachu springs with medicinal properties, ideal for skim diseases. These springs are considered holy as one of the four holy caves is located here. This holy cave is called the "Kadosangphu" or 'Cave of the occult fairies' and lies on the south of the four cardinal points.

Research Institute of Tibetology
In the serene surrounding amidst forest of oak, ash and birch is an organisation to advance the Tibetan language and its literature on the "Enlightened one", the only one of its kind in the world of Mahayana Buddhism. Ornate woodcarvings and murals decorate the lavishly decorated interior.

Rumtek Monastery
A 24-km. drive from Gangtok, through the beautiful, bewitching countryside leads one to Rumtek. Rumtek is the seat of the Karmapa Lama who heads the Kagyupa Sect of Buddhism.

Tasuklakhang - The Royal Chapel
The Royal Chapel, Tsuklakhang, is within the palace grounds. Popularly called Tsulakhang Royal. It is the principal place of worship and assembly and the repository of a vast collection of Buddhist scripture.

The Ridge
The ridge is a small stretch of plain and flat road above the town of Gangtok. It is just about five minutes walking from the main market. The ridge has the white hall and the chief minister's official residence on one end and the beautifully designed palace gate on the other. The ridge is lined with plants and trees when in bloom are a riot of colours. Flower shows, which attract tourists from all over the world, are held just below the ridge.

Tsomgo Lake
Tsomgo literally means "Source of the Lake” in Bhutia language. ‘TSO’ means lake and ' MGO' means head. At about 40-km away from Gangtok, this serene and holy lake is situated at an altitude of 12,400 ft on the Gangtok - Nathu La highway.

White Hall
It was built in 1932 in memory of the first political officer of Sikkim, Claude White. There is an Officers Club and Badminton Court in the white hall.

Yaksey
Yaksey, a tourist lodge, 6-km from Lachung towards Yumthang is an ideal place for tourists to this area. Another 23-km leads to Yumey-Samdong hot springs near river Sebu-Chu at the foot of Donkia-La pass, which connects Lachung valley to Lachen valley.


Changu Lake
(35Km.)With an average depth of 50 ft, this lake is situated 35 km from Gangtok at an altitude of 12,000 ft on the Gangtok - Nathu-la highway. Recently this lake has been opened for tourists. Its cool, placid water is in the perfect harmony with the scenic beauty around. A small temple of Lord Shiva is constructed on the lakeside. Primulae flowers and other alpine vegetation grow wild around the lake. The department of Tourism conducts package tours to this lake. Cameras are not allowed to carry on this route. A little distance from the lake is a beautiful natural three storeyed cave, the Tseten Tashi cave is a worth to visit.

Chungthang
(95Km.) Another typical called "Tung" and then one will reach Chungthang. Chungthang is a small habitation in a cup like valley, surrounded on all sides by towering hills. Though its altitude is only 500 ft, it is much colder than Mangam. The heavy, cold air remains slumbering in he valley till late morning. It is only when the sun is high up in the horizon and its warm rays pierce deep into the valley that the lazy, cold wind and mist slowly depart. The main importance of this place is that it is at the confluence of two valleys and two main rivers of north Sikkim: the Lachung Cho and the Lachen Cho, the latter commonly known as the Teesta. We would be following the Lachung Cho for the next part of the journey. To the Sikkimese and the members of the Indian Army, Chungthang is a place of major religious significance. The Sikkimese believes that guru Padmasabhava had rested in this place and left three footprints for his devotees on a solid piece of rock. The guru also scattered some rice on an adjacent land, where till today, notwithstanding the height and the cold, paddy is grown efforts to replicate this phenomenon in adjacent fields have reportedly failed The Sikh members of the Indian army believe that the footprints are those of Guru Nanak and so also are the main figures in the wall paintings inside the nearby monastery.

Ganesh Tok
(7 Km.) It is situated on a ridge and is only 7-km from Gangtok. From this spot one gets birds view of sprawling Gangtok town down below while across the hills Mt. Khangchendzonga and Mt. Siniolchu loom over the horizon. A cafeteria serves hot tea/coffee and snacks.

Hanuman Tok
(11Km.) It is 11-km from Gangtok town, above Ganesh Tok with a Hindu temple where the devotees come and offer prayers. Kabi Longstok (25Km.) 25-km from Gangtok, just before Phodong is Kabi Longstop There is a spot amidst tall trees, where the treaty of brotherhood between, the Lepcha Chieftan - Tetong Tek and the Tibetan chief Khye Bhumsa was signed.

Kabi Longtsok
(17Km.) About 17-km away from Gangtok is Kabi Longtsok where 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 memory event of this.

Menmecho Lake
(20 Km.) Menmecho Lake lies 20-km ahead of Changu Lake, cradled between the mountains below Jelapla Pass, is the source of River Ranpochu, which meets Teesta at Rangpo. It is rich in trout. A Dak Bungalow and a tourist lodge are available for overnight stay.

Phoodong Monastery
(40 Km.) This monastery is located about a kilometre above the North Sikkim Highway about 40-km away from Gangtok. Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal built the monastery sometime in the first quarter of the 18th century.

Tashi View Point
(8 Km.) Situated along the North Sikkim highway it is only 8-km from Gangtok. From this point one can get a breathtaking view of Mount Khangchendzonga and Mt. Siniolchu, one of the most graceful peaks in the world.

The Ipecac Garden
(14 Km.) This 6 acres garden is about 14-km downhill from Gangtok and 2-km from Ranipul. It is named after the plant Ipecac that is grown here. Besides this plant, it also contains a wide variety of other flora including numerous types of orchids and medicinal plants. It is a very good picnic spot with a swimming pool nearby.

Yumthang
(149 Km.) Yumthang is a valley at 12,000 ft. Its location is awesome. Nature is at her expressive best. Snow clad mountains all around looking down on this high valley full of colour. The valley floor is covered with wild, yellow flowers and violet Primulas, while the hill sides are vivid and glowing with multicoloured Rhododendrons. The best part about travelling in Sikkim is that even while one is travelling one is actually passing through beautiful places. Each place could be the destination for a lovely ethereal holiday.

Yumthang Hot Springs
(135 Km.) At an altitude of 12,000 ft, 135-km from Gangtok in north Sikkim, a few hundred metres off the road, after crossing river Lachung over a pedestrian bridge lies these Sulphur springs. There is a hut with two pools for bathing.


The main markets for shopping are Old market, New Market and Lal market. Here one finds shops of all kind, which offer good range of items to be purchased. For tourists there are many attractive items to be bought as carved furniture, the dresses, Lepcha weave bags, Carpets & Durries with intricate designs and colourful decorations. One cans also buy wooden and bamboo artifacts. For a collector of handmade decorative pieces Gangtok is a paradise. The items from Gangtok leave a long lasting impression on the mind of the visitor. The Hindi speaking Marwaris dominates many of the shops in the Gangtok market. The handicraft and handloom directorate office and the showroom are on crossing of MG Marg and New market. The Gramin Vikas Agency showroom is also located here. In these showrooms one can buy carpets, masks, bleft Choktse tables, Thanka hangings.

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