Gangtok

Gangtok is a city, municipality, the capital and the most populous city of the Indian state of Sikkim. It is also the headquarters of the Gangtok District. Gangtok is in the eastern Himalayan range, at an elevation of 1,650 m (5,410 ft). The city’s population of 100,000 are from different ethnicities of Sikkimese people such as Indian Gorkhas, Bhutia and Lepchas. Within the higher peaks of the Himalayas and with 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 the British Empire in 1947, Sikkim chose to remain an independent monarchy, with Gangtok as its capital. After Sikkim’s merger with India in 1975, Gangtok continued as the state capital.

History

Like the rest of Sikkim, not much is known about the early history of Gangtok. The earliest records date from the construction of the hermitic Gangtok monastery in 1716. Gangtok remained a small hamlet until the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840 made it a pilgrimage centre. It became the capital of what was left of Sikkim after its to 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 flourished through the Nathula and Jelepla passes, benefiting Gangtok. Trade declined with the Chinese crackdown in Tibet in 1959 and the passes were sealed after the Sino-Indian War in 1962. The Nathula pass was finally opened to 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.

Tourist Places In Gangtok

Blessed with the tremendous natural beauty and sprawling landscapes, Gangtok is the largest city in Sikkim. This stunning hill station lies at an altitude of 5500 feet above sea level and is the capital city of Sikkim. One of India’s most popular tourist destinations, this scenic hill town is known for its salubrious weather and lush surroundings. Various other allures are counted in the list of tourist attractions in Gangtok. This cosmopolitan town is a must-visit if you are looking for a peaceful vacation clubbed with memorable experiences.

Extremely popular for offering magnificent views of the mighty Khangchendzonga Mountain, Gangtok has various attractions worth visiting. The city has a number of monasteries, stupas, wonderful viewpoints, floral exhibitions, lakes, varied exotic flora and fauna, Tibetology institutes, etc. Do not forget to shop for some wonderful stuff at Lal bazaar and MG Marg market here. The place is a perfect mix of cultural vibes and modern allures. Take a look at popular attractions in Gangtok that you can explore during the trip:

Tsomgo Lake Gangtok

Tsomgo Lake is situated near the Indo-China Border on the way to Nathu La Pass. Both domestic tourists and international tourists are allowed to visit Tsomgo Lake. Tourists need to obtain a permit from the Gangtok, or the Sikkim’s Government certified tour operator.

Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple

Baba Harbhajan Singh was a soldier of the Indian Army, often regarded as ‘Hero of Nathula. This is because he sacrificed his life at the young age of 26 years. In September 1967, he was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for his bravery and martyrdom.

Nathula Pass

Nathula Pass is a high-altitude mountain pass situated on the Indo-Chinese border in North-Eastern Himalayas in Sikkim. Nestled at an altitude of 14,140 feet above sea level, Nathula Pass connects Sikkim to China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

Ganesh Tok View Point

Located at a distance of 6 km from Gangtok, near the Tashi Viewpoint, Ganesh Tok View Point is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Gangtok. The viewpoint is set at 6500 m and offers spectacular sights of the snow-capped peaks.

Tashi View Point

Tashi View Point is one of the major tourist attractions of Gangtok and is located at a distance of 7 km from Gangtok city. The place is a must-visit for nature lovers as it offers great views of the imposing Himalayan mountains, specifically Mount Kanchenjunga and Siniolchu.

Himalayan Zoological Park

Himalayan Zoological Park is a famous zoo in Gangtok and is one of the few places in India where animals are kept in their natural habitat. The park spans 230 acres of forested land, with elevations ranging between 6500 to 500 feet and is one of the popular tourist attractions in Gangtok.

Rumtek Monastery

Rumtek Monastery or Dharma Chakra Center is located in the Indian state of Sikkim. It is one of the largest and most significant monasteries in Sikkim, which is the perfect depiction of Buddhism’s religious and cultural heritage in India.

Banjhakri Falls

Banjhakri Falls is one of the most visited tourist spots in Gangtok. Set at a distance of 4 km from the town, this is one of the major tourist attractions in Gangtok and is best known for offering breathtaking sights and a pleasant ambiance.

Hanuman Temple

Hanuman Tok in Gangtok is a famous temple dedicated to Lord Hanumana, which is maintained by the Indian Army. According to the legend, when Lord Hanuman was hunting for Sanjeevani Booti (herb) to heal Lord Lakshman, he rested at this spot for some time.

Do-Drul Chorten Stupa

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Gangtok, Do-Drul Chorten is a stupa situated on a hillock in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. Present at just a short walking distance from the notable Research Institute of Tibetology, Do-Drul Chorten Stupa in Gangtok can be recognized as a golden top dome.

Enchey Monastery

Located close to Gangtok, Enchey Monastery is a notable name among the spiritual circles. One of the most famous tourist attractions in Gangtok, Enchey Monastery in Sikkim is an essential seat of the Nyingmapa order of the Vajrayana school of Buddhism

Kanchendzonga National Park

Spread across 1784 sq. km, Kanchendzonga National Park is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in North East India and the largest wildlife reserve in Sikkim. It is one of the primary tourist attractions of Sikkim, which is situated in the northwestern part of the state.

Pemayangtse Monastery

Located around 111 km from West Gangtok, Pemayangtse Gompa (Pemayangtse Monastery) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region. Settled in Pemayangtse town, the impressive gompa was put up by Lama Lhatsun Chempo, mainly for ‘ta-sang’ lamas (the purest of monks).

Phodong Monastery

One of the most beautiful monasteries of Sikkim, Phodong Monastery (or Phodang Monastery), is perched at an altitude of 4500 ft. Here, you not only absorb the spiritual aura all around but also delight in a scenic visual treat. It is home to nearly 260 Kagyu monks.

Temi Tea Garden

Temi Tea Garden is the sole Tea Estate in the mountainous state of Sikkim. The tea garden is located 18 km from Ravangla and can be visited on a day tour. The garden is spread on a slope below Tendong along the highway to West Sikkim from Gangtok. The tea estate presides with the dominating view of snow-covered Mt Kanchendzonga.