Gangtok, a destination in India’s Northeast that looks like Europe

Gangtok, even though is a far off place, manages to lure backpackers from far and off places in India. It is indeed a beautiful town amidst lush greenery and home to rich culture.

The jeep ride up to Darjeeling is a real beauty, but it is nothing in comparison to the rather exceptional drive to Gangtok from Karmi Farm, in Darjeeling or from Jalpaiguri, which is at the foot of the hills and houses the nearest railway station. The journey to Gangtok from Jalpaiguri begins in a shared jeep or bus on a steep zig-zagging road passing through forests with the temperature continuously falling and flora becoming distinctly more tropical. As you approach the beautiful hill town, you simply cannot resist yourself from falling in love with the untouched and unparalleled beauty of this quaint hamlet. Today, Gangtok is one of the major tourist spot in Eastern India. However, a few years back it was famous among tourists of West Bengal only. People visiting Darjeeling often cover Gangtok as well. So it was not first choice or the preferred choice in those days.

But things have changed drastically. Nowadays Gangtok has become preferred destination for people in Eastern India.It is also becoming increasingly popular among tourists from other parts of the country and the increase in the number of Gangtok holiday packages and hotels are the testimony of the fact.

Surrounded by many peaks of the Himalayas, Gangtok has been a major pilgrimage centre for Buddhists. Many monasteries, small and big, dot Gangtok and the State of Sikkim. Thanks to its picturesque location and mild temperatures, this hill town attracts tourists from far and wide as well.

Gangtok is the state capital and more of a centre for business than tourism, it also has a very modern feel and lacks the colonial architecture that you find in Darjeeling, most likely because the British didn’t manage to colonize Sikkim! Gangtok is a surprisingly well developed place, most of the buildings in the city are very modern and in good shape, the shops, cafe’s and bars of the main shopping precinct look like they could have been lifted straight out of a modern European city and the large, clean shopping precinct they sit on is completely pedestrianised, something that is almost unheard of in India.

Enchey Gompa, a delightful and profoundly tranquil monastery should be in your itinerary. It is advisable to visit the Gompa amid the months of August and January. It is the time frame when the monastery becomes the venues of celebration as it hosts different ethnic dance and musical events and celebrations. The chief fascination here is a Chinese Pagoda styled structure that was assembled in 1901. Besides, the Gompa offers a dazzling perspective of the Kanchenjunga.

Rumtek Monastery is yet another major attraction. Nestled on the opposite side of the Ranipool Valley, it is about 24 kilometers from Gangtok and shares excellent road connectivity. The monastery is the seat of Gyalwa Karmapa, who is the leader of the Kagyupa order of Tibetan Buddhism. Although, it is an old enough monastery, the primary structure in any case, was established recently – it was built in the 60’s by the late sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, when he set up his base in Sikkim in the wake of escaping from Chinese rule rule in Tibet.

It is only obvious that Gangtok is a perfect destination to head this vacation. For the locals of Kolkata, it is a place that they can head on weekends. There are different good weekend packages that one can avail and head off for yet another memorable vacation.

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