Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gangtok Hill Station

Gangtok is one of the most popular destinations of Eastern India. Kanchenjunga, world’s third highest peak flanks the city at its west and to add to the beauty is the river Ranikhola. It has a worldly presence on account of the Enchey Monastery built in 1840, which has given the city its pilgrimage status. Tourists can enjoy the mouth-watering Tibetan delicacies to satiate their taste buds. Gangtok is well maintained, well organized, and one of the cleanest cities of India.

Gangtok was a lesser-known small village till the Enchey Monastery was built. With Indian independence, Gangtok attained the status of the capital of Sikkim and the city thus started gaining in importance.

[caption id="attachment_954" align="alignright" width="384" caption="Lake Tsongmo is a glacial lake in East Sikkim."]Lake Tsongmo in Gangtok, Sikkim[/caption]

How to reach

By road
Gangtok has a national highway connecting it directly to Siliguri and also other major hill stations of the neighboring state of West Bengal such as Darjeeling and Kalimpong. The journey via bus or taxi should be a memorable one as each mountainous bend offers a new treasure trove of unspoiled natural beauty.

By rail
The nearest railhead is New Jalpaiguri Station situated close to Siliguri and major city of West Bengal, 124 kms away from Gangtok.

By air
Bagdogra Airport is the closest airport, which is again and very close to Siliguri. But Gangtok is well connected to Bagdogra by a helicopter service that runs on a daily basis.

Places to see
Tsomgo Lake located at about 35 kms away form the heart of the city is a place with religious connotation with its Shiva Temple and also holds historical significance because it was the old trading route with China in the ancient times. Do-Drul Chorten Stupa, built in 1945 is one of the most important stupas in Sikkim. Enchey Monastery is about 100 years old and is dominated by the Nyingma order. Ganesh Tok and Hanuman Tok are two temples about 7 kms and 11 kms away from the city and are dedicated to Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva, respectively. Dodrupchen Monastery, Tashi Viewpoint, Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary, Phensong Monastery, Kabi Lungchok, Deori Orchid Sanctuary, Pemayangtse Monastery, and Rabdentse Ruins are some other places of interest.

Famous spots you must not miss
Tsomgo Lake and Enchey Monastery are primary tourist attractions.

Gangtok has a thriving watch-making and locally brewed alcohol industry. Handicrafts such as prayer wheels and Buddhist artwork are major items of cottage industry. And while on a shopping spree, tourists need to look out for orchids too.

Places to stay
Hotel Pandim, Hotel Sonali International, Green Hotel, Hotel Nirvana, Central Lodge are some budget hotels. Bamboo Grove Retreat, Hotel Tibet, Hotel Rigrwa International, Hotel Delamare, Hotel Golden Nest, Hotel Sea View, and Sonam Delek fall into the mid-range hotel category. Premiums hotel range has The Nor-Khill and Teen Taley Eco Resort.

Best time to visit
Summers and spring season are the best time for tourists.

Gangtok has mild summers with summer temperatures not exceeding 25 degrees Celsius. Winter temperatures might drop down to 4 degrees Celsius. Snowfall occurs very rarely. Monsoon season and winters usually see a lot of fog increasingly because of the elevated heights.

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