Gangtok

The capital of Sikkim, Gangtok, is a hill resort and one of the most frequently visited places in the north-east. It is known for its scenic beauty and striking views of the mount Kanchenjunga, 3rd highest peak in the world.

The hospitality industry is the largest industry in Gangtok as the city is the main base for Sikkim tourism. Summer and spring seasons are the most popular tourist seasons. Many of Gangtok's residents are employed directly and indirectly in the tourism industry, with many residents owning and working in hotels and restaurants.

Tips

  • Carry clothes according to the weather, because in these regions climate changes rapidly.
  • A handy umbrella would be very useful.

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 center. It became the capital of what was left of Sikkim after an English conquest in 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 Indiaat the end of the 19th century. Most of the roads and the telegraph in the area were built during this time.

Sikkim became a suzerain ofIndia, 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.

Culture

With various cultures and religions, Gangtok has proved that 'unity in diversity' exists in Sikkim. Sikkimese possesses firm bonding with their antique customs and traditions. Gangtok is not behind the rest of the places in the world in terms of modernisation and urbanisation.

Where to stay

Basic accommodations available for as little as Rs. 795 a night while a night at a deluxe, luxury room would cost anywhere in the range of Rs 2,500 - Rs 4,500. A number of resorts are scattered around the area and booking in advance may help beat the tourist rush. An air-conditioned room is not really recommended as the climate all year round is generally cool and breezy. Some of these hotels also organize excellent sight-seeing tours, as well as adventure tours.

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Where to eat

MG Marg is one of the main roads here, where you will find plenty of hotels and any other thing you may need.

Best time to visit

Enjoying beautiful weather all year round, Gangtok also experiences snowfall during winter thus making the months of November to January ideal times to visit. Best period to visit is September to June.

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