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I am heading to Gangtok
History of Gangtok
The capital of Sikkim state is nestled at the foothills of the Himalayas at an elevation of 1,650 m. Recorded history dates back to the early 18th century when it just a small village. By the mid-19th century, it became a centre of pilgrimage for Buddhist monks. It was an important stopover point on the famous Silk Route connecting to various countries in Europe, West Asia, and North Africa. In 1975, the Sikkim monarchy came to an end and it merged with the India Union.
People and Culture of Gangtok
A majority of the population of Gangtok is ethnic Nepalese settlers who came here during the British reign. The natives are Lepchas while the Bhutias of Tibetan ancestry are also found in substantial numbers. There is a sizeable population of immigrants from other parts of India such as the Marwaris, Biharis, and Bengalis who have settled here in search of employment.
Hinduism and Buddhism are the most practiced religions while Christianity too has a good number of followers. A small Muslim community also lives here. Nepali, English, Hindi, Tibetan, and Lepcha are some of the languages spoken here.
Things to Do in Gangtok
Known as the ‘land of monasteries’ there are quite a few other things to do in Gangtok. The Himalayan Zoological Park is a fun place for families, kids, and wildlife lovers. It is the first park of its kind in the northeastern part of the country and is home to various animals like the Red Panda, Tibetan Wolf, and Himalayan Civet. Another of the Gangtok attractions is the holy Tsomgo Lake which is situated on the highway to Nathula. There is a temple of Lord Shiva near this glacial lake.
The Seven Sister Waterfalls is on the list of spectacular Gangtok tourist places to see where you can click some great photographs. It is also one among the many lovely picnic spots in Gangtok. Rumtek Monastery, Hanuman Tok, Enchey Monastery, and Yumthang valley are some other places to visit in Gangtok.
Food and Shopping in Gangtok
After a Gangtok tour, be sure to take a break from all the travelling to sample some ‘momos’ or steamed dumplings that come with vegetarian and non-vegetarian fillings. Thupka or soupy noodles is yet another local dish that visitors on a trip to Gangtok enjoy. Shah Phaley, Gack-ko soup, Churpee, Chhang, Fakthu, and Gyathuk are some other delicacies you might want to try.
The main market for tourists on Gangtok sightseeing is M G Marg with shops lining either side of the road. Porcelain cups with unique Sikkimese designs, metal jewellery, Lepcha weaves, wood carvings, handcrafted home décor items, bags, and dresses are all available here. Lal Bazaar is another of Gangtok places to visit if you love shopping.
Accommodation in Gangtok
As regards how to reach Gangtok, cabs and buses are the easiest means of transport. The closest railway station is in New Jalpaiguri which is about 124 km away. The nearest airport is Bagdogra in Siliguri. A helicopter service links Gangtok to Bagdogra, but the there are only a limited number of flights which can be inconvenient to those arriving for sightseeing in Gangtok. There are plenty of resorts in Gangtok offering comfortable accommodation to visitors. Many are conveniently located near places to see in Gangtok.