What is the Capital City of Sikkim?

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what is the capital city of Sikkim

The capital of Sikkim is Gangtok. Gangtok covers the largest city area in Sikkim as well as serves as the headquarters of the regional government. Situated in the Eastern Himalayas, the capital of Sikkim is a place which thrives on natural beauty. The abundance of historical significance, natural resources and cultural diversity filled with beautiful meadows, waterfalls, etc. Read this blog, to know more about what is the capital city of Sikkim, Gangtok.

About Gangtok: The Capital City of Sikkim

The name of the city of Gangtok means “Top of Hills”. Gangtok is the largest city of Sikkim and is situated at an elevation of 1,650 m (5,410 feet). 

  • Sectors of ecotourism and tourism sector is the biggest contributor to the state’s GDP.
  • The appealing ecotourism features activities such as river rafting, mountaineering, and hiking, becoming the hub for adventure enthusiasts.
  • The city is also based on a thriving handicrafts sector, an industry producing indigenous alcoholic beverages and a cottage industry.
  • Populations residing in Gangtok are from various cultural backgrounds and ethnicities like Bhutias, Lepchas and Gorkhas.
  • Gangtok served as a key trade corridor between Calcutta and Tibet during the British colonial era.
  • Sikkim is also a destination for Buddhist religious pilgrimages.
Gangtok, the capital of sikkim
Credits: Pinterest

Geography and Demography of Gangtok

  • On its eastern and western edges, Gangtok is bordered by two streams, Roro Chu and Ranikhola, splitting the natural flow of water into two sections: the eastern and the western. 
  • The area has predominant characteristics of steep inclines, with structures constructed on compacted soil.
  • Gangtok is rich in ancient geological formations, and features layered phyllites and schists, making the terrain prone to frequent landslides. 
  • The flow of water from natural streams (jhora) and artificial channels heightens the danger of landslides. 
Gangtok, the capital of sikkim
  • From Gangtok, one can observe the high peaks and the snow-capped Himalayan ranges.
  • The city is enveloped in lush green forests—a mix of temperate and deciduous trees such as poplar, birch, oak, and elm, alongside coniferous trees in the high-altitude areas. 
  • Gangtok is also home to some unique orchid species. Bamboo is widespread as well.
  • As one descends into Gangtok, the vegetation transitions from high-altitude to temperate, deciduous, and subtropical zones.
  • During November and December, the city is adorned with flowers like sunflowers, marigolds, and poinsettias, among others.
Orchids, flower from gangtok
Orchid Display and Seasonal Flower Display in Gangtok.

Administration of Gangtok

Now, we know what is the capital city of Sikkim, Gangtok. Let us know about the administration of the capital city.

  • The city of Gangtok is managed by the Gangtok Municipal Corporation (GMC) in collaboration with several government departments, especially the Urban Development and Housing Department (UDHD) and the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED). 
  • These departments are responsible for a variety of tasks including waste management, water distribution, tax collection, issuing permits, and developing public facilities.
  • A state government official is in charge of the UDHD.
  • As the central hub of East Sikkim district, Gangtok is home to the district collector’s office, a position filled by an official appointed by the Indian Union Government.
  • The city also serves as the location for the Sikkim High Court, which is recognized as the smallest High Court in India by both area and population covered.
  • Unlike other major cities in India, Gangtok does not have its own police commissioner. Instead, it falls under the purview of the state police, led by a Director General of Police, with oversight provided by an Inspector General of Police.

Also Read – 17 Interesting Facts About Sikkim

Culture of Gangtok

  • In addition to major celebrations such as Dashain, Tihar, Christmas, and Holi, the multicultural community of Gangtok like the Lepchas and Bhutias start their year with the new year in January, while the Tibetans observe the new year (Losar) with the “Devil Dance” during January–February.
  • Momo is a well-loved dish in Gangtok. Other favourites are the Wai-Wai, the thukpa and other noodle dishes like thenthuk, gyathuk, fakthu, and wonton are also preferred.
  • Traditional Sikkimese dishes include shah-phaley (Sikkimese patties filled with spiced minced meat, wrapped in a crispy samosa-like crust) and Gack-ko soup.
  • Soccer (football), cricket, and archery are popular sports in Gangtok.
  • Thangka, a distinguished handicraft, involves the creation of hand-painted religious scrolls on fabric, which are then displayed on a monastery or family altar and sometimes carried by monks during ceremonial processions.
  • Chhaams are costumed monastic dances that are performed on special occasions and festivals, particularly in monasteries during the Tibetan New Year.
Mask dance of gangtok
Mask dance Gangtok, Credits: Gangtokonline.in

Overview of Sikkim

  • The Namgyal dynasty established the Kingdom of Sikkim in the 1600s. This kingdom was governed by the Chogyal, who were Buddhist priest-kings.
  • Immediately following India’s independence in 1947, Sikkim continued to be an independent kingdom.
  • In 1975, Sikkim was brought into the umbrella of India, becoming the 22nd state.
  • Sikkim is neighbored by the Indian state of West Bengal.
  • It also shares borders with Nepal, Bhutan, and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
  • The first airport in Sikkim, Pakyong Airport, was opened in 2018. It stands as the sole airport in Sikkim and is the inaugural greenfield airport in the Northeast.
  • Khangchendzonga National Park spans approximately 35% of Sikkim’s land area. It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The primary languages of Sikkim include Lepcha, Sikkimese, English, and Nepali.
  • Sikkim has additional official languages such as Tamang, Sherpa, Limbu, Newari, Mukhia, Magar, Gurung and Rai.
  • Vajrayana Buddhism and Hinduism are the predominant religions in Sikkim.
  • The state’s economy is largely driven by tourism and agriculture.
  • Sikkim ranks second globally in spice production, following Guatemala.
  • It is also the largest producer of Cardamom in India.
Buddha temple in Sikkim
Buddha Temple in Sikkim

Interesting facts about Gangtok

Some of the interesting facts about the capital city of Sikkim, Gangtok are – 

  • The Rumtek Monastery, situated 23 km away from Gangtok, has made it to the top ten list for the largest monasteries in East Sikkim. Among the most fascinating pieces of art at the Rumtek Monastery is the ‘Black Hat,’ adorned with diamonds, rubies, and other valuable gems.
  • Kanchenjunga, situated on the border with Sikkim, is the third highest mountain in the world. It is known as Dzonka in the local dialect. To honour Mt. Kanchenjunga, the Pang Lhabsol Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th month according to the Tibetan calendar.
  • The Khangchendzonga National Park holds a distinguished position among India’s high-altitude national parks. In 2016, it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as the first ‘Mixed World Heritage Site’ in India.
  • MG Marg, also known as Mahatma Gandhi Marg, is renowned as the most significant road in Gangtok. It is recognized as India’s first spit and litter-free zone, with a strict no-vehicle policy. 
  • Red pandas, Sikkim’s state animal, can be observed in the Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary, which is located 31 km from Gangtok, and in the Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary, which is 20 km from Gangtok.


What is the real capital of Sikkim?

The real capital of Sikkim is Gangtok.

Which language is spoken in Sikkim?

Sikkim is a multilingual state. The official languages of the state are Nepali, Sikkimese, English and Lepcha. Additionally, other official languages include Gurung, Limbu, Magar, Mukhia, Newari, Rai, Sherpa and Tamang for the preservation of culture and tradition in the state.

What is the nickname of Sikkim?

The Lepcha community, the first settlers of Sikkim, referred to it as Nye-mae-el, translating to “paradise”. In ancient texts of India, Sikkim is referred to as Indrakil, which translates to “the garden of the war god Indra”.

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