Location of Gangtok
Gangtok is located in the eastern Himalayan mountain range, at an altitude of 5,800 feet. The overgrown hill town of Gangtok occupies a rising ridge in the southeast of the state. It is also the headquarters of the East Sikkim district.
History of Gangtok
In 1840, Gangtok was a village which came into its own with the establishment of the Enchey Monastery. Gangtok became the capital of Sikkim after the British conquest in mid of 19th Century in response to a hostage crisis. After the defeat of the Tibetans by the British, Gangtok became a major stop-over in the trade between Tibet and India during British rule in India at the end of the 19th century.
In 1894, Thutob Namgyal, the Sikkimese King, who was under the British power, shifted the capital from Tumlong to Gangtok. From that time the importance of the city was gained. Following the independence of India in 1947, Sikkim became a nation-state with Gangtok. Sikkim came under the suzerainty of India, with the condition that it would retain its independence, by the treaty signed between the Chogyal (the former monarchs) and the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Geography of Gangtok
Gangtok is situated in the lower Himalayan region at an altitude of 5,500 ft. The town is located on one side of a hill, with "The Ridge", a boulevard royal housing of Governor of Sikkim and at one end is the palace of Sikkim king. The city is flanked on east and west by two rivers called Roro Chu and Ranikhola. These two rivers separate the natural drainage system of Sikkim into two parts: one is the eastern part and another is the western part.
Demography of Gangtok
The population of Gangtok according to the census of 2011 shows 98,658. Out of them, the males constituted 53 percent of the population and females 47 percent. Hinduism and Buddhism are the most popular religions in Gangtok. Gangtok also has a Christian population and a small Muslim minority. Nepali is the most widely spoken language in Gangtok. English language and Hindi language are the official languages of Sikkim and Gangtok respectively. Other languages spoken in Gangtok include Bhutia, Tibetan and Lepcha.
Culture of Gangtok
Sikkimese has strong bonding with their age-old traditions and customs. Diwali, Christmas, Dusshera, Holi and many other holy festivals are celebrated in Gangtok. The Lepcha tribe and Bhutia tribe celebrate New Year in January. The Tibetans celebrate the New Year called Losar Festival in the month of January-February. The Maghe Sankranti, Ram Navami are some of the important Nepali festivals. Chotrul Duchen, Buddha Jayanti, the birthday of the Dalai Lama, Losoong, Bhumchu, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen and Drukpa Teshi are some other festivals in Gangtok.
A popular food in Gangtok is the "Momo". A form of noodle called “Thukpa” served in soup form is also popular in Gangtok. "Churpee", a kind of hard cheese made from cow or yak’s milk is sometimes chewed.
Education of Gangtok
The schools of Gangtok are either run by the state government or by private and religious organizations. Schools mainly use English and Nepali mode of instructions. The schools are affiliated with the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education, Central Board of Secondary Education and National Institute of Open Schooling. Some of the notable schools include the Tashi Namgyal Academy, Paljor Namgyal Girls School, Taktse International School and Kendriya Vidyalaya. Colleges those confer graduate degrees include Sikkim Government College, Sikkim Government Law College and Damber Singh College. Sikkim University established in 2007 is presently functioning in Gangtok.
Tourism in Gangtok
Gangtok has been a favoured destination for vacationers in search of peace and tranquillity for a while. Gangtok is dotted with monasteries and is a centre for Buddhism, its teachings and culture. It is one of the cleanest cities in the world, well organized and well-maintained.
Some of the tourist attractions at Gangtok are mentioned below:
Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies: Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies is initiated by the late 16th Karmapa, the institute in housed in the adjoining building of the Rumtek Monastery.
Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre: Built in 1960 by His Holiness, the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre is a replica of the original Kagyupa Monastery in Tsurphu, Tibet.
Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden: This is located very close to Rumtek Monastery; it is maintained by the parks and Gardens unit of the Forest Department of the Government of Sikkim. The Garden is an enchanting and soothing experience among the lush green vegetation, rare plants and trees and certain species of Himalayan flowers and Orchids.
Tsomgo/ Changu Lake: This is an alpine zone and snowbound from December to April and the lake is regarded extremely Holy and head of all lakes in Sikkim. This lake remains frozen from January to April.
Lake Menmecho: This is another beautiful lake located 20 km ahead of the Changu Lake. It lies cradled between the mountains below the Jelep La Pass and is also the source of the Rangpo Chu River.
One imposing manmade landmark of the town is the 200 ft-high TV tower which overlooks the town and is situated near the Enchey Monastery below Ganesh Tok. A stroll along the Mahatma Gandhi Marg is shopper’s delight.