6 Reasons Why you Should Visit Gangtok
Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, is situated in the midst of the eastern Himalayas. An important centre of Buddhism, this charming hill station is surrounded by beautiful scenery at every step, especially stunning views of the snow-capped Mount Kanchenjunga. It is also a good base to visit Sikkim's Buddhist monasteries, high-altitude lakes and passes.
1. Enchey Monastery
Perched on a hill top above Gangtok’s ridge, the Enchey monastery offers picturesque views of the town and the Kanchenjunga peak. Built in 1909, it follows the Nyingmapa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. It is believed that a Tantric master called Lama Druptob Karpo had flew here from Maenam hill in South Sikkim and built a small hermitage here for his meditation.
The prayer hall contains beautiful Buddhist murals and a statue of Sakyamani (Buddha) and other Tantric deities. You can also observe Buddhist monks chanting during prayers. The monastery is especially vibrant during the Detor Chaam or masked and costume dance, usually held in December or January every year. During this time, it comes alive with colourful dancers performing to Tibetan music.
2. Tsomgo Lake
Surrounded by rugged mountains on all sides, this scenic lake is located at an altitude of 12,000 feet, around 35 kilometres away from Gangtok. Also known as Changu Lake, it is considered to be sacred by the Sikkimese. It is over a kilometre long, and around 50 feet deep. The high-altitude lake is covered with snow cover from early winter to mid-May. However, between May and August, it is surrounded by blooming rhododendrons, poppies, irises and other flowers. Visitors can also spot various species of bird and red pandas around the lake.
There are numerous stalls selling hot tea and food, as well as socks, boots and souvenirs. You can take rides on colourfully-decorated yaks and mules around the lake. Hike up to a nearby hilltop for a bird’s-eye-view of the lake. Visitors should note that Indians need an inner line permit while foreign nationals need a special permission to visit the lake. You can ask your travel agent to arrange one.
3. Rumtek Monastery
Located on a hill facing Gangtok, Rumtek is the largest monastery in Sikkim. The Tibetan-style monastery the seat of the Kargyupa sect of Buddhism and a near-replica of the Kagyu headquarters in Tibet. It comprises a temple, a school, an aviary, several stupas, a retreat for monks to meditate and other buildings. Originally built in the 16th century, the monastery was damaged by an earthquake and was rebuilt by the 16th Karmapa. The main temple is a four-storey building topped by a golden sculpture, and decorated by Tibetan-style murals.
4. Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
Established in 1958, this institute has one of the biggest collections of Tibetan artefacts outside Tibet. It has been built in a traditional style, and promotes research in Tibetan culture and Mahayana Buddhism. Its museum is a treasure-trove of thangka paintings (painted, woven and embroidered silk scrolls); ancient manuscripts in Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese and Lepcha; statues and other religious objects. The Tibetan library contains a large number of books on Buddhism, Tibet, Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan, in different languages.
5. Ganesh Tok and Hanuman Tok
Gangtok is dotted with innumerable viewpoints, which offer spectacular vistas of the surrounding hills, especially Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. Ganesh Tok, 7 kilometres northeast of Gangtok, is the best of the lot. Decorated with Buddhist prayer flags, it also has a small restaurant selling tea and snacks. Located right next to Ganesh Tok, the Himalayan Zoological Park is a must-visit for animal-lovers and families with kids. Spread across an area of 205 hectares on the mountain, this open zoo houses rare animals such as Himalayan bears, snow leopards, Tibetan wolves, and red pandas. Another viewpoint called Hanuman Tok lies four kilometres above Ganesh Tok, and offers spectacular views and walking trails. It also has a small Hanuman temple.
6. Nathu La
The Nathu La pass was an important corridor between India and Tibet before it was closed in 1962. Situated at an altitude of 14,450 feet, it was part of the historic Silk Route that was used for trade between China and India. Located around 56 kilometres from Gangtok, the road to Nathu La passes through the Tsomgo Lake. It is one of the highest motorable roads in the world and offers spectacular views of the Chumbi valley.
Contact Prathvi Travels for Sikkim Travel Packages from Mumbai @ 022 25434401 / 2
Source - Happytrips.com
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