The capital of Sikkim, Gangtok, lies at an altitude 1600 meters. It occupies the West side of a long ridge flanking the Ranipool River. Gangtok has a very spectacular setting and offers excellent views of the entire Kanchenjunga range from various points in it's vicinity.
SHOPPING: 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 a tourist 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 can 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.
Being in the lap of Himalayas, Gangtok never experiences the hot weather as in the plains. The winters are cold and there is rain through the year. Usually the upper reaches are blocked by snow during winters and are accessible only during the mild summer months. The best time to visit Sikkim is between March to May or mid October to December.
Rumtek Monastery: The Rumtek monastery is Located at a distance of about 24 kilometres from Gangtok. It is an ancient structure that was built in 1717, and resurrected later in 1960. It is covered with murals, Tibetan paintings, Tankhas and frescoes. It is also the largest monastry in Sikkim.
Views of Gangtok
Himalayas from Gangtok
Phodong Monastery: the Phodong Monastery is located at a distance of 28 kilometres North of Sikkim. It is regarded as the most beautiful monastery of Sikkim, and is home to around 260 monks and some old mural paintings.
Tsongo or Changu Lake: The Tsongo or Changu Lake is located about 35 km towards the northeast of Gangtok, and for a visit to it, tourists need to take special permits. It makes for a good picnic spot.
Attractions and Places to Visit in Gangtok
Namgyal Institute: The Namgyal Institute has world's largest collections of books and rare manuscripts on Mahayan Buddhism, in addition to the works of art and silk embroidered Tankhas. It was built in a traditional style in 1958 to promote research in Mahayan Buddhism and Tibetan language and traditions. It also houses relics of monks, samples of Lepcha scripts, masks and sacred objects like Kapali, a bowl made from a human skull, and the carku, a flute made from a thigh bone.
Do Drul Chorten: The Do Drul Chorten is regarded as the most important ?stupa' of Sikkim. This highly revered Chorten has a sacred gold-topped shikhara with 108 prayer wheels, and is characterised by complete sets of Holy Books, mantrasand other religious objects. The Chorten also has two huge statues of Guru Rimpoche around it.
Orchid Sanctuary: The Orchid Sanctuary is famous for its rare and extensive collection of almost 454 species of orchids.
Tashi Ling: The Tashi Ling monastery is known for its 'Bumchu' or Sacred Pot that contains holy water and has never run dry in the last 300 years. It offers beautiful views of the Himalayas, as well as the Phodong and the Labrang monasteries located on the opposite hill. It's scenery makes for a wonderful picnic spot.
Tsuk la Khang: Tsuk la Khang is the main worshiping place for the local Buddhists. It also has a large collection of scriptures, and is characterized by beautiful mural covered interiors, lavishly decorated altars or images of Buddha, bodhisattvas and Tantric deities. It remains open for the general public and tourists during Losar, the famous dance festival.
Enchey Monastery: Literally meaning the solitary temple, the Enchey monastery is worth visiting during the religious dances or 'Chaam' performed in January.
How to Reach Gangtok
Gangtok is 721 km from Kolkata, 584 km from Patna, 140 km from Darjeeling and 589 km from Guwahati.
The nearest airport is at Siliguri, and the nearest railheads, are at Siliguri/New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. there are direct flights connecting Bagdogra and Kolkata, and by car Gangtok is five hours away from Siliguri.
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