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Gangtok          

    Gangtok means, aptly enough “hill top” and the little capital of Sikkim is perched at 5,500 feet, high on the ridge of a valley. It lies snuggled between the borders of Nepal and Bhutan at an altitude of 1547 m above sea level, and is famous for its numerous important monasteries and picturesque Himalayan views.

Gangtok is a beautiful hilly town, which spreads down the western side of a long ridge flanking the Ranipul River, and houses some of the most important Buddhist religious sites in India. The entire Kanchenjunga range is visible from the town and locals worship the range as a deity. It is a quaint mix of the old and the new, of modern structures and ancient Buddhist monuments, of bustling commercial centers and quiet monasteries emanating an aura of spirituality. Gangtok is also famed for its wonderful orchids and every spring, an orchid festival and flower show is held to celebrate this exotic bloom. The Kanchendzonga, considered to be Sikkim’s guardian, is visible from many parts of the town. Gangtok offers every traveler a unique traveling experience.

Gangtok, the "Lofty Hill" capital of Sikkim, lies at an altitude 1600 meters and is occupied on the west side by Ranipool River. Gangtok has a very spectacular setting and offers excellent views of the entire Kanchenjunga range from various points in its vicinity. Sraddling a ridge, Gangtok has a cosmopolitian flavour with a lively mix cultures and has undergone rapid modernization in the last two decades or so. Being the capital of state, Gangtok contains all modern facilities.

There are good schools, a railway out agency, an Indian Airlines Counter, cinema halls, well-equipped hospital, fast food centers and telephone booths for making outstation calls and sending faxes.

The Private Bus Terminus and the Main Taxi Stand are located half a minute walk from the Tourist Information Centre and the main market on the M. G. Marg. The Govt. Buses are run by Sikkim Nationalised Transport (SNT). The Terminus is located about 5 minutes walk away from the M. G. Marg.

An imposing manmade landmark of Gangtok is the 60ms high TV tower, which overlooks the town and is situated near the Enchey Monastery below Ganesh Tok. The Main market, which has hotels, restaurants, curio, garment, footwear and grocery shops lines the flat M. G. Marg.

Getting in, Around & Away

AIR : Gangtok does not have an airport, but the Bagdogra (124 kms from Gangtok) airfield serves it.

RAIL : The nearest railhead is at NJP, which is 125-km (about 4 hours drive) from Gangtok. NJP is well connected with all major cities of India. Gangtok, railway bookings can be made at the booking counter of the Sikkim nationalised transport terminus.

Road: Most of the major places of North Bengal are connectd with it by the national highway 31A.

The language used for communication is Nepali. However everybody seems to know a smattering of Hindi. Written Official correspondences take place in English.

Indian tourists require no entry permits into Sikkim, except for the restricted areas. Foreign tourists require a special permit, which is easily available at all Indian missions abroad who are authorized to issue a 15-day permit. The same can also be obtained from any of the Sikkim Tourism offices. The tourist officer at the border town of Rangpo is also authorized to issue a 2-day permit to foreign tourists to enable them to enter the state and acquire the full 15-day permit.

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