Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim, situated 110 kms from Siliguri and at an altitude of 1547 metres above the sea level, is filled with different cultures, religions and people existing in perfect harmony. Gangtok presents a perfect example of harmony between traditions and modernity. There are discotheques, posh markets, fast food outlets and many other modern amenities, at the same time Gangtok also owns some of the important Buddhist religious sites. Beautiful hills, lovely valleys, intriguing temples and monasteries spreading spiritualism and the natural beauty invite one and all.
Geography of Gangtok
Gangtok is situated in the lower Himalayas at an altitude of 1,780 metres (5,480 feet), in southeast Sikkim. In addition to being the state capital, it is also the headquarters of the East Sikkim district. The city overlooks the Ranikhola in the valley below. Most of the roads are steep, with the buildings built on compacted ground alongside them. The peaks of the snow-clad Himalayan range, including the world's third tallest peak, the Kanchenjunga, can be seen to the east of the city. Temperatures range from a high of 25 °C (77° F) in summer to a low of about 3 °C (37 °F) in winter. Owing to its elevation, Gangtok is often enveloped in fog during the monsoon and winter months. Between June and September (the monsoon months), the rain often causes landslides in the area. Flora around Gangtok includes temperate, deciduous forests of poplar, birch, oak, and elm, as well as evergreen, coniferous trees of the wet alpine. Densely forested regions of these evergreens lie just around the town. Rare orchids, sunflower, marigold, poinsettia, and other flowers bloom in this region. (Interactive map of Gangtok)
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. 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 the 19th century. In 1894, Thutob Namgyal, the Sikkimese monarch under British rule, shifted the capital from Tumlong to Gangtok, increasing its importance. A new grand palace along with other state buildings was built in the new capital. Following India's independence in 1947, Sikkim became a nation-state with Gangtok as its capital.
Major Tourist Attractions in Gangtok
Deer park also known as the Rustamji Park, adjacent to the new secretariat, it is named after one of the Dewans of the Chogyal of Sikkim. The park is home to some animals like the Red Panda and the Himalayan Bear. There's also a big statue of Lord Buddha in the park premises, in front of which a butter lamp burns perpetually, surrounded by exotic flowers. The park provides some mesmerizing view of the hills of Gangtok.
Dud-Dul Chorten has a set holy books, mantras and other religious objects. The Stupa was Built by Trulshi Rimpoche head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism in 1945. There are around 10 prayer wheels called Mani-Lhaskar around this Chorten.
Rumtek Monastery is the largest monastery in eastern Himalayas, built by Gyalwa Karmapa strictly according to the designs of the Tibetan monastery, just 24 kms away from Gangtok.
Research Institute Of Tibetology
The Namgayal Institute of Tibetology is a center of research into Mahayana Buddhism and the language and tradition of Tibet. The institute has some rare collection of Tibetan, Sanskrit and Lepcha manuscripts, statues, Thankas ( tapestry used in Buddhist liturgy) as well as more than 200 Buddhist icons.
Tasuklakhang-The Royal Chapel
This Chapel is situated in the Palace grounds and is the used as a
place of worship and assembly and is also a repository of vast
collection of Buddhist scriptures.
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