Ropeway Over Gangtok City
The Capital of Heaven
Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, is also the largest city in the state. It is one of a kind hill resort that is characterized by a amalgamation of different cultures. Situated at an altitude of 1700 m above sea level, it lies in the Eastern side of Sikkim and is the headquarters of the eastern district. Being on the lower Himalayas, Gangtok offers some breathtaking views of Himalayas and Kanchenjunga, the second highest peak in the world. Gangtok has been able to move on with time, developing itself into a modern city, and still preserve its olden charms. The city is the center for Buddhist culture studies and is studded with some magnificent monasteries. In fact, Gangtok was just a small hamlet before the construction of Enchey Monastery in the year 1840 after which pilgrims started pouring in and the city got recognition as a pilgrim destination.
The best time to visit Gangtok is from April to July. Most of the days during this period are clear and you get the best views of Himalayas. Gangtok is quite modern so will find number of malls where you can shop for international brands as well. The city is also the best place to shop for traditional items and clothes.
Attractions - Spreading Faith Far And Wide
Gangtok is simply a great place for tourism, especially for people who like to explore the wonderful Buddhist Monasteries. Not only are the monasteries, but the surroundings as well are exquisitely beautiful and appealing.
Deer park is one of the favorite places for locales to hang out or for picnic. The parks is also called Rustamji Park and is situated adjacent to the new secretariat. Here you can sight some beautiful animals like the Red Panda and Himalayan Bear. In the center of the park there is a huge Buddha Statue in front of which there is a butter lamp that keeps on burning and is surrounded by some lovely flowers. From Deer Park, one gets some of the most scintillating views of Himalayas making it a great place for some serene holidays.
Enchey Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim. IT is almost 200 years old and is situated around 3 km from the Gangtok city center. The monastery is said to have been built on the site blessed by the legendary tantric master Lame Druptab Karpn who was known for his ability to fly. When built, the monastery was just a small hermitage. It was expanded to present size during the rule of Sikyong Tulku who built it in the shape of a Chinese Pagoda. Enchey Monastery today is an important Nyingma order and is most famous for an annual dance celebration where a religious masked dance called 'Chaam' is performed. The celebrations goes on for two days and falls on 18th and 19th of 12 month according to Lunar Calendar. There are 90 monks in Enchey Monastery who perform all the religious rituals in the monastery.
Built in 1945 by Trulshi Rimpoche, Do-drul Chorten is one of the most important attractions in Gangtok. The beautiful milky white stupa has a revered golden Shikhara containing 108 prayer wheels which makes a highly religious place. Do-drul chorten contains the complete mandala set of Dorjee Phurba (Bajra Kilaya), a set of Kan-gyur relics (Holy books), and many other holy objects including complete Zung (mantras). Two huge statues of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padamsambhava) adorn the side of Do-drul Chorten that further add to the beauty of the stupa.
Rumtek Monastery is the largest and one of the most important monastery in entire Sikkim. The monastery is situated on a hilltop and is around 24 Km from Gangtok. The view of Gangtok city from the hill is simply breathtaking. Rumtek Monastery was the seat of Rangjung Rigpe Dorje when he was on exile. The monastery is home to the monks community who perform rituals continuing from many ages. The monastery is visited by many Buddhist pilgrims as it contains many sacred objects like Golden Stupa and relics of worshiped Sixteenth Karmapa.
Where To Stay in Gangtok
Being the capital of Sikkim, you will find number of hotels fitting every pocket and according to the needs of all. Though there are not many ultra luxuries hotels in Gangtok, their absence is well compensated by numerous above average hotels in the city. Most of these hotels are located near the main town area. Central Lodge and Green Hotel are the best budget hotels, Hotel Tibet, Hotel Rigwa International are higher level hotels whereas Royal Plaza Hotel is counted amongst the best luxury hotels in Gangtok.
How To Reach Gangtok
Nearest airport to Gangtok is in Bagdogra in North Bengal. The distance between the two cities is around 124 Km. There is a helicopter service provided by Sikkim Helicopter Services which connects Gangtok to Siliguri.
New Jalpaiguri is the closest railway station to Gangtok at a distance of 125 km from here. There are regular trains to New Jalpaiguri station that connect it to all Indian cities. To reach Gangtok, there is transportation in form of state and privately run buses. You can also hire a taxi to Gangtok. Though costly but far more comfortable.
Gangtok is connected to Siliguri, New Jalpaiguri and other important cities by NH 31 which is an all weather metaled highway. State owned buses, private coaches, taxis and jeeps run between Gangtok and nearby cities.
Shared taxis are the main mode of transportation inside Gangtok. There is a cable car service as well inside the city, though only for a very short period.