Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, is a hill resort and one of the most popular places in north-east India. It is known for its scenic beauty and striking views of Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world. Tourism, which peaks in spring and summer, is the main source of income in Gangtok since it serves as a gateway to Sikkim.
Not much is known about Gangtok’s early history. The earliest records date back to the construction of the hermetic Gangtok monastery in 1716. Gangtok remained a small hamlet until the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840, which made it a pilgrimage center. It became the capital of what was left of Sikkim after an 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 19th century. Most of the roads and telegraph in the area were built during this time.
Sikkim became a suzerain 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 Indians the control of external affairs on behalf of the 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. Nathu La was finally opened for limited trade in 2006, fueling 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.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN GANGTOK
Budget accommodation is available for as low as Rs 800 a night. Deluxe or luxury hotels would cost in the range of Rs 2500 to Rs 4500 per night. A number of resorts are scattered around here and booking in advance may help beat the tourist rush. An air-conditioned room is not recommended as the climate all year round is generally cool and breezy. Some hotels organize excellent sightseeing tours; check if yours does too.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN GANGTOK
Most restaurants are located along MG Marg, the city’s arterial street. Gangtok also offers several cheap eating options. Thalung, Porky’s and House of Bamboo are some restaurants that you must visit on your trip to Gangtok.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Gangtok is as given below. The best time to visit Gangtok is also specified.