Switzerland of the East
For a while now Gangtok has been a favored destination for vacationers in search of peace and tranquility. Nestled amongst the verdant Shivalik Hill ranges, this quaint little city enjoys mild, temperate climes all year through. Perhaps it's because the world's third tallest peak Kanchenjunga lies to the east of the city.
In 1840, Gangtok, then a hamlet, came into its own with the establishment of the Enchey Monastery. You can catch stunning views of the mighty Kanchenjunga from here. Come January and this ancient monastery comes alive with the famed mask dance called the 'Cham'. In fact, Gangtok is dotted with monasteries and is a center for Buddhism, its teachings and culture. It's one of the cleanest cities in the world, well organized and maintained – the reason why it's called the Switzerland of the East.
If you plan to visit Gangtok in December, remember to visit the Palace of the Chogyal (Monarch) which is open to the public during the Pang Lhabsol festival.
Gangtok is an experience you won't forget soon. You will love the simplicity of life at a leisurely pace. For the curious traveler, the winding side alleys of this hillside city hide some unexpected gems. On the outskirts lie dense forests of poplar, birch, oak, and elm, as well as evergreen, coniferous trees of the wet alpine zone. Orchids are quite common. You could spot several rare varieties at flower shows in the city. Bamboos are also abundant. What's also abundantly visible is the simple charm of a city that is one with nature.
Gangtok's popular tourist seasons are March to late May and October to mid December.
Did you know?
- Pang Lhabsol is a festival that is held on the 15th day of the seventh month of the Tibetan calendar to worship Mount Kanchenjunga.
- Mount Kanchenjunga is called Dzonka in the local language.
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