History of GangtokLocated on the eastern Himalayan range, Gangtok is the capital and the largest town of the state of Sikkim. The capital city is the main business and tourist hub of Sikkim. With the presence of several monasteries, centres for Tibetology and religious educational institutions, Gangtok is a famous centre of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning in Sikkim. The literal meaning of Gangtok is hill top and it is justified with the fact that it is situated at an altitude of 5,410 ft.
Nothing much is known about the history of Gangtok. Traces of history of the capital city are found in the ancient monasteries located in Gangtok. The earlier account of the history of Gangtok goes back to the time when the Gangtok monastery was made in 1716. During this time other monasteries were also made in Gangtok. The construction of Enchey Monastery in 1840 marked the importance of Gangtok as a pilgrimage centre. Today the Enchey monastery is one of the important monasteries in Gangtok serving as a popular Buddhist pilgrimage.
In the mid 19th century after the British conquest, Gangtok became the capital of Sikkim. Later at the end of the 19th century Gangtok became the stopover in trade between India and Tibet after the defeat of Tibetans by the British. During this time most of the roads of Gangtok and telegraph were constructed. In 1894 Sikkimese monarch Thutob Namgyal shifted the capital to Gangtok from Tumlong and a grand palace and other buildings were built during this time in Gangtok increasing the city’s importance.
After the independence of India Sikkim became a nation-state and Gangtok was made its capital. During this time trade flourished between India and Tibet via the Nathu La Pass near Gangtok but with the sealing of the pass in 1962 Gangtok was deprived of the trading business. In the year 1975 Sikkim was made a full-fledged state and Gangtok was made its capital. Today Gangtok is a municipality and the largest town of the state of Sikkim. Situated at the East Sikkim district, Gangtok serves as the headquarter of the East Sikkim district.