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Gangtok

Gangtok is the capital city Sikkim, the second smallest state of India. Famous for its many important monasteries, and for the picturesque views of the Himalayas, Gangtok is one of the important hill station of the country. In Gangtok you can see a smooth blend of both tradition and modernity. Located at an altitude of 1547 m above sea level, Gangtok houses some of the important Buddhist religious sites too. The existence of the peaceful Chortens or Stupas, old monasteries and the unspoilt natural beauty of Gangtok offers you a truly unique travelling experience.

Sightseeing:

Do Drul Chorten:
Do Drul Chorten is one of the many important attractions of Gangtok. It is regarded as the most important ’stupa’ of Sikkim. Built in 1945 by Trulshi Rimpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism, this stupa also has sacred gold-topped shikhara with 108 prayer wheels. This highly revered Chorten is also characterised by complete mandala sets of Dorjee Phurba (Bajra Kilaya), a set of Kan-gyur relics ( Holy Books), complete ’Zung’( mantras) and other religious objects. The Chorten also has two huge statues of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) around it.

Enchey Monastery:
Enchey monastery is another place you must visit in Gangtok. The Enchey monastery literally means the solitary temple. At the time it was constructed, it was the only building in the entire area. This place especially attracts attention during the religious dances or ’Chaam’ performed in January. Located above Siniolchu Lodge, about 3 km away from the town centre, the relatively small monastery was built 200 years ago and the present building was constructed in the year 1909. The site where the monastery is built is supposed to be blessed by Lama Druptob Karpo, a tantric master known for his flying powers. You can also get wonderful view of Kanchenjunga from here.

Orchid Sanctuary:
The Orchid Sanctuary makes a must visit in Gangtok. The sanctuary is famous for its rare and extensive collection of orchids. The sanctuary’s collection also varies depending on the seasons. However, the wide spread orchid sanctuary has almost 454 species of orchid found in Sikkim. A interesting place to visit especially for nature lovers.

Tashi Ling:
Tashi Ling is located at a distance of just 6 kilometres from the main town. The Tashi Ling is another important site to visit in Gangtok for it provides astounding view of the Kanchenjunga range. Here lies the Tashi Ling monastery mostly known for its ’Bumchu’ (Sacred Pot). This pot contains holy water which has never run dry for last 300 years. The place also provides view of the the Phodong and the Labrang monasteries located on the opposite hill. Just a day’s walk from Pemayangtse, this is also a wonderful picnic spot.

Namgyal Institute:
A must visit in Gangtok, the Namgyal Institute was built in the year 1958 to promote research in Mahayan Buddhism and Tibetan language and traditions. Built in a traditional style, this institute has world’s largest collections of books and rare manuscripts on Mahayan Buddhism, in addition to the works of art and silk embroidered Tankhas. Moreover, it also houses relics of monks, samples of Lepcha scripts, masks and sacred objects like Kapali, a bowl made from a human skull, and the carku, a flute made from a thigh bone.

Tsuk La Khang:
Another place that must be included in your sightseeing is the Tsuk la Khang. A depository of a large collection of scriptures, this is the principal place of worship and assembly for the local Buddhists. The Tsuk la Khang is also characterised by the beautiful and impressive building with mural covered interior, lavishly decorated altars or images of Buddha, bodhisattvas and Tantric deities and the many fine works of woodcarving. The Tsuk la Khang remains open for the general public and tourists during Losar, the famous dance festival.

Excursions From Gangtok:

Phodong Monastery:
Located at a distance of 28 kilometres North of Sikkim, the Phodong Monastery is another must visit in your excursion. This is regarded as the most beautiful monastery of Sikkim. It has around 260 monks and some old mural paintings. Many people come here to visit the temple during the festival time.

Rumtek Monastery:
Located at a distance of about 24 kilometres from Gangtok, the Rumtek monastery is one of the many must visit excursion points around Gangtok. The ancient monastery was built in 1717 but didn't survive for long. It was built again by Gyalwa Karmapa in the year 1960 and followed the architectural designs of the monastery in Tibet, from where the Karmapa had come. The monastery is also characterised by the structure covered with murals, Tibetan paintings, Tankhas and frescoes. The monastery is also the largest in Sikkim, sprawling over a wide area.

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