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Things to do -  general

Gangtok is a city, municipality, the capital and the largest town of the Indian state of Sikkim. It also is the headquarters of the East Sikkim district. Gangtok is located in the eastern Himalayan range, at an elevation of 1,650 m (5,410 ft). The town's population of 100,000 are from different ethnicities such as Nepalis, Lepchas and Bhutia. 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 22nd state capital.

The precise meaning of the name "Gangtok" is unclear, though the most popular meaning is "hill cut". Today, Gangtok is an emerging as urbanized city with literacy rate of 94% of total population.

Climate

Gangtok features a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate (Köppen: Cwb). Because of its elevation and sheltered environment, Gangtok enjoys a mild, temperate climate all year round. Like most Himalayan towns, Gangtok has five seasons: summer, monsoons, autumn, winter and spring. Temperatures range from an average maximum of 22 °C (72 °F) in summer to an average minimum of 4 °C (39 °F) in winter. Summers (lasting from late April to June) are mild, with maximum temperatures rarely crossing 25 °C (77 °F). The monsoon season from June to September is characterised by intense torrential rains often causing landslides that block Gangtok's land access to the rest of the country. Rainfall starts to rise from pre-monsoon in May, and peaks during the monsoon, with July recording the highest monthly average of 649.6 mm (25.6 in). In winter temperature averages between 4 °C (39 °F) and 7 °C (45 °F). Snowfall is rare, and in recent times Gangtok has received snow only in 1990, 2004, 2005 and January 2011. Temperatures below freezing are also rare.[15] During this season the weather can be unstable, and change abruptly from bright sunshine and clear skies to heavy rain within a couple of hours. During spring and autumn the weather is generally sunny and mild. Owing to its elevation, Gangtok is often enveloped in fog during the monsoon and winter months.

History

Like the rest of Sikkim, not much is known about the early history of Gangtok.[4] The earliest records date from the construction of the hermitic Gangtok monastery in 1716.[5] Gangtok remained a small hamlet until the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840 made it a pilgrimage center. It became the capital of what was left of Sikkim after an English conquest in the mid-19th century in response to a hostage crisis. After the defeat of the Tibetans by the British, Gangtok became a major stopover in the trade between Tibet and British India at the end of the 19th century. Most of the roads and the telegraph in the area were built during this time.

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. Following India's independence in 1947, Sikkim became a nation-state with Gangtok as its capital. Sikkim came under the suzerainty of India, with the condition that it would retain its independence, by the treaty signed between the Chogyal and the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. This pact gave the Indians control of external affairs on behalf of Sikkimese. Trade between India and Tibet continued to flourish through the Nathula and Jelepla passes, offshoots of the ancient Silk Road near Gangtok. These border passes were sealed after the Sino-Indian War in 1962, which deprived Gangtok of its trading business. The Nathula pass was finally opened for limited trade in 2006, fuelling hopes of economic boom.

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. Gangtok has witnessed annual landslides, resulting in loss of life and damage to property. The largest disaster occurred in June 1997, when 38 were killed and hundreds of buildings were destroyed

state Sikkim
Country India
Area 19.2 km2 (7.4 sq mi)
Languages spoken Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Limbu, Newari, Rai, Gurung, Mangar, Sherpa, Tamang, Sunwar, Tibetans and Hindi
Currency Ruppee

Top Things In Gangtok

Places to visits

  • Rumtek Monastery

    One of the oldest Tibetan Monasteries in the world: Rumtek monastery is one of the most popular places to visit in Gangtok. The monastery belongs to the Kagyu sect of Buddhists who started living in Tibet in the 12th century.

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    It is one of the chief and magnificent monasteries in Sikkim. The style and structure resemble the original one located in Tsurphu, Tibet.

    Major attractions

    Golden Stupa, hiking downhill, and several other old and historic monasteries

    Timings

    10 am to 5 pm in winters, 8 am to 5 pm during summers

  • Nathula Pass

    Gateway to diferent yet similar cultures- Located at an altitude of 14,450 ft, Nathu-La is a prime corridor of the passage between India and Tibet. Passing through the serene Tsomgo Lake, it is one of the most important places to see in Gangtok.

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    It has one of the highest motorable roads in the world that makes is a popular adventure destination. Access to this area is restricted and one needs entry permits from the zonal office to visit Nathu La.

    Major attractions

    Walking along the International borders, biking, and watching the Chinese soldiers in action.

    Timings

    There are no opening hours as such. The pass is open for public from Wednesday to Sunday.

  • Tsomgo Lake

    One of the most ethereal places to visit in Gangtok - Located off the Gangtok Nathu La Highway at an elevation of 12,400 ft, Tsongmo Lake or Changu Lake is a glacial beauty in the hills of Sikkim.

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    Turquoise water of the lake, magical backdrop and the serenity of the place are absolutely hypnotic. One just can’t afford to miss Tsongmo Lake among many beautiful places to visit in Gangtok.

    Major attractions

    Yak and Mule rides along the lake, tea and piping hot instant noodles in small eateries, ice skating, and a walk on the river in the winters

  • Hanuman Tok

    A peaceful piece of heaven - Hanuman Tok is another tourist friendly place to visit in Gangtok. This age old Hanuman Temple located at an elevation of 7,500 ft offers the best views of Khangchendzonga from Gangtok.

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    It is not the spirituality but the peacefulness of the place that has attracted tourist footfall since ages.

    Major attractions

    Temple walk, serenity of the place, and Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve

    Timings

    7 am to 5 pm

  • Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve

    Call of the wild in Gangtok - This grand natural habitat in Gangtok boasts of rich flora and fauna of the normal, endangered and nearly extinct varieties.

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    Stretched over an area of around 850 sq km, this biosphere reserve is one of the few high altitude reserves in India with musk deer, snow leopards and Himalayan tahr.

    Major attractions

    Animal safaris, hikes and trek to the reserve, and snow leopard spotting

    Timings

    10 am to 6: 30 pm

Food

  • Momo

    Momo is a type of South Asian dumpling; native to Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, North Indian region of Ladakh, Northeast Indian regions of Sikkim, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh, and Darjeeling, West Bengal, India.

  • Thukpa

    Thukpa is a Tibetan noodle soup, which originated in the eastern part of Tibet, eastern and northern part of Nepal, sikkim and Northeast India . Amdo thukpa is a famous variant among Tibetan people and himalayan peopl.

  • Gundruk

    Gundruk is fermented leafy green vegetable and is a popular food in Nepal and claimed to be one of the national dishes. It is popular not only in Nepal but also in every Gorkhali or Nepalese diaspora household worldwide.

  • Sinki

    Sinki is a preserved vegetable, similar to gundruk. Gundruk is prepared from leafy vegetables but sinki is prepared from radish tap roots. Place of origin: Nepal

  • Chhurpi, Kinema, Sel roti

    Chhurpi or durkha is a traditional cheese, similar to ricotta, consumed in the Himalayan regions of Nepal, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Bhutan, and Tibet. The two varieties of chhurpi are a soft variety and a hard variety.

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    Kinema is an indigenous fermented soybean food prepared mostly by the Limbus of the Eastern Himalayan regions, what is now Eastern Nepal, and Darjeeling and Sikkim regions of India.

    Sel roti is a traditional homemade, sweet, ring-shaped rice bread/doughnut originating from the Indian subcontinent.

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