GANGTOK
Sikkim: Small but Beautiful
GANGTOK
Sikkim: Small but Beautiful

Gangtok is a municipality, the capital and the largest town of the Indian state of Sikkim. It also is the headquarters of the East Sikkim district. Gangtok is located in the eastern Himalayan range, at an elevation of 1,650 m (5,410 ft). The town's 100 thousand population belongs to different ethnicities such as Nepali, Lepchas and Bhutia. Nestled within higher peaks of the Himalaya and enjoying a year-round mildtemperate climate, Gangtok is at the centre of Sikkim's tourism industry.

Gangtok rose to prominence as a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site after the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840. In 1894, the ruling Sikkimese Chogyal, Thutob Namgyal, transferred the capital to Gangtok. In the early 20th century, Gangtok became a major stopover on the trade route between Lhasa in Tibet and cities such as Kolkata (then Calcutta) in British India. After India won its independence from Britain in 1947, Sikkim chose to remain an independent monarchy, with Gangtok as its capital. In 1975, after the integration with the union of India, Gangtok was made India's twenty-second state capital.

Summer and spring seasons are the most popular tourist seasons. Many of Gangtok's residents are employed directly and indirectly in the tourism industry, with many residents owning and working in hotels and restaurants.

MG Marg: The Mahatma Gandhi Road or M G Road in short is the main marketing area of Gangtok for tourists. The road is lined with all types of shops on both sides. A pert of the shopping area here is known as New Market. The shops usually open by 8am in the morning and close by 7pm. The market here is closed on Tuesdays.

While there are large number of shops selling men's and women's dress materials, shoes, souvenirs & gifts, trinkets etc, one of the unique things here to buy is Sikkimese Cups. These have unique and attractive traditional Sikkimese designs printed on them and come in different color combinations.

Nathula Pass: Located about 50 km (31 mi) from Gangtok, used to be the primary route of the wool, fur and spice trade with Tibet and spurred economic growth for Gangtok till the mid-20th century. In 1962, after the border was closed during the Sino-Indian War, Gangtok fell into recession. The pass was reopened in 2006 and trade through the pass is expected to boost the economy of Gangtok.The Sikkim government is keen to open a Lhasa–Gangtok bus service via Nathula pass. Sikkim's mountainous terrain results in the lack of train or air links, limiting the area's potential for rapid industrial development. The government is the largest employer in the city, both directly and as contractors. Gangtok's economy does not have a large manufacturing base, but has a thriving Cottage industry in watch-making, country-made alcohol and handicrafts. Among the handicrafts are the handmade paper industry made from various vegetable fibres or cotton rags. The main market in Gangtok provides many of the state's rural residents a place to offer their produce during the harvest seasons. The majority of the private business community is made up of Marwaris and Biharis. As part of Sikkim, Gangtok enjoys the status of being an income-tax free region as per the state's 1948 Income tax law. As Sikkim is a frontier state, the Indian army maintains a large presence in the vicinity of Gangtok. This leads to a population of semi-permanent residents who bring money into the local economy.

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