Gangtok is the capital of the Indian state of Sikkim and is the hub of the state’s tourism industry.It is located in the eastern Himalayan range at a height of 5410 feet, occupying an area of 35km2 and housing 100000 people of different ethnic affiliations like Nepalese, lepchas, and bhutias. Located within the higher peaks of the Himalayas, the city enjoys a year-round moderate climate and is a hot-spot for trek trips and mountain lovers from around the world. Also, it is a Buddhist pilgrimage sight and houses many monasteries within its boundaries the first of which was the Enchey monastery constructed in 1840.
The Lepchas are the original inhabitants of Sikkim in general and are staunch believers of the bone faith or mune faith which is based on spirits, good or bad. They have a practice of worship of spirits of nature i.e., mountains, rivers and forests. The bhutias and Nepalese are migrants of Tibetan and Nepali origin respectively.
The Nepalese constitute 67%of the total population of Sikkim. The major religions followed by the people are Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. The traditional Lepcha dress consists of a two piece dress with a head cap and beautiful jewellery for women while a one piece dress with a belt and a cap for men. However, it is not the beauty of the dress but the polite nature of the people which holds the major attraction for the tourists. The people love to walk and the major means of transport is the taxi system which covers the whole of Gangtok.
The Mahatma Gandhi road or the MG road is the hub of the city. In the evening many people can be seen strolling the road or hanging out with friends and enjoying the peaceful walk on the road. It is located in the center of the city and is also the main market complex of the city. One can enjoy delicious rolls or gorge in mouth-watering momos and shop trendy clothes along with talking and laughing heartily. Gangtok is a place which makes one filled with happiness and peace of mind and is a must-visit place for tourists who want a relaxed yet fun-filled holiday.
Gangtok has a number of tourist destinations like the Nathula pass, Rumtek monastery, Ganesh tok and Hanuman tok, Tashi viewpoint, Himalayan zoological park and many others. The Nathula pass connects India and China and is covered with snow which makes it a hub for children and snow-lovers. It is an army controlled area.
The Rumtek monastery is presently the oldest standing monastery in Sikkim inaugurated on the Tibetan New Year’s day of 1966. Both of these are must-visit places for all. The whole of Gangtok is filled with an aura of Gautama Buddha and a harmony in life. The Ganesh and Hanuman tok are temples of the respective Gods. The word tok means something situated at a great height and true to its name both the temples are located at a great height from where the entire Gangtok is visible.
The whole of Gangtok is laid bare in all its beauty from the Tashi viewpoint. From here, we also get to see the beautiful sunrise revealing a hidden snowy mountain peak of Kanchenjunga which is a breathtaking sight.
The animal and nature lovers can find the time of their life in the Himalayan zoological park which is situated close to the Ganesh tok. From there, it is a beautiful 2.5km walk to the zoo which is filled with the beauty of nature.The zoo is home to some rare animals and birds of the Himalayan region like the red panda, various kinds of leopards like the common leopard and the snow leopard, blue sheep, barking dear many of which are endangered species. In the zoo, the animals are given a space of natural surroundings to live and are protected against the threat of extinction.
The roads of the whole state are managed by the border road organization (BRO). Most of the areas of the state are army controlled. Apart from the local tourist destinations, Gangtok also connects to the northern parts of Sikkim via road, which includes Lachung, Yumthang valley, crow’s lake and zero point as the major tourist hot-spots and the western Sikkim which includes Peling.
Gangtok is the center of all foodies who love Chinese food and non-vegetarian dishes. Also, the people of Gangtok drink a lot of locally produced wine and beer. The local people are quite well-to-do and also have local cottage industries but the hospitality industry is the biggest in the city which caters to the tourism industry. As an ecological state, Gangtok also has a flourishing ecotourism with people engaging in rafting, mountaineering and trekking activities.
Thus, Gangtok is a center for nature-lovers and people who want a break from their daily, hectic schedule. The nearest airport is the Baghdogra airport in West bengal which connects with all the major cities like Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata etc. From here, it takes araound 5 hours by road to Gangtok city. One can also travel via rail to the nearest railway station i.e., New Jalpaiguri and then via road to Gangtok which is 114km from there. The best time to visit the city is around February-March when one can enjoy the beauty of nature laid bare for all to see. Be it nature lovers, spiritual people or simple food buffs, Gangtok invites you all.