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Gangtok, the capital of the Indian state of Sikkim is a beautiful hill town situated at an altitude of about 1,800 metres, along the Ranipul river. The town offers excellant views of the world's thirds heighest mountain peak Kunchenjenga (8,585 metres). The town is an important centre of Buddhist learning and it has a mystic feel with prayer flags fluttering all around and prayer wheels spinning with Lama's invocation of God. The streets are lined up with brightly coloured pagoda roofed houses and the markets are bustling with friendly and smiling people.
Foreigners, in addition to an Indian visa, must be in possession of an Inner Line Permit to visit the state of Sikkim. Indian missions abroad are empowered to issue a permit for 15 days and the same can also be obtained from the Tourism Office, Delhi, Sikkim Tourism Office, Kolkata and Sikkim Tourism Office, Siliguri on the strength of an Indian Visa. The applicants should provide two passport photographs and photocopies of Passport and Visa details. The permit can be extended for further 30 days of 15 days each. The extension of permits can be obtained from Foreigners Registration Office (FRO), Gangtok and Superintendent of Police of North, South and West Districts.
Further, for those interested in trekking in the interior regions of the state, an additional permit known as Restricted Area Permit (RAP) or Protected Area Permit(PAP) is required. This can be obtained from the Police Check Post and Department of Tourism in Gangtok for groups consisting of 4 or more foreigners subject to the condition that the trekking program is arranged through a registered travel agency.
Gangtok enjoys pleasant weather conditions throughout the year. The maximum temperature during the summers average around 22 degrees Celsius, while during the winters it averages around 14 degrees Celsius. The region also receives heavy rainfall, which usually starts by the end of May and continues till late September. The best time to visit the town is during March-May and again from October-December.
|Avg Max||12.7 °C||14.2 °C||18.3 °C||20.9 °C||21.6 °C||22.1 °C||21.9 °C||22.4 °C||21.7 °C||20.9 °C||17.7 °C||14.4 °C|
|Avg Min||4.4 °C||5.8 °C||9 °C||11.7 °C||13.8 °C||16.2 °C||16.8 °C||16.7 °C||15.6 °C||12.5 °C||8.9 °C||5.9 °C|
|Rainfall||31 mm||76.7 mm||124.6 mm||287.8 mm||528.7 mm||614.9 mm||630.9 mm||565.8 mm||453.4 mm||180.4 mm||39 mm||21.2 mm|
The nearest Indian airport is at Bagdogra, which is around 124 kilometres from Gangtok. Bagdogra is connected with Kolkata, Guwahati and Delhi by regular flights operated by Indian Airlines and Jet Airways. Buses and Taxis are available from the airport to Gangtok and the journey usually takes around 4 hours. A helicoptor service has also been started by the Tourism Authorities and this 30-minute journey from the airport to Gangtok cost around 2,000 Rupees. Gangtok can also be reached from Nepal by taking a flight from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur in east Nepal, then drive to the Nepal-India border at Kakarbhitta (35 kilometres), then to Siliguri (37 kilometres) and onwards to Gangtok (110 kilometres).
The nearest railhead is at New Jalpaiguri, which is around 148 kilometres from Gangtok. New Jalpaiguri is in turn connected by train services with most of the major cities of India. Train timings and fare can be checked at Indian Railways website. Private taxis and shared jeeps can be hired from the railway station to Gangtok.
Gangtok is connected by good quality roads with nearby towns such as Darjeeling (4 hours), Siliguri (4 hours) and Kalimpong.
Most of the local transport is centred around the Lall Mall area.
|Bamboo Grove Retreat||Kazi Road||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Sonam Delek||Sonam Gyatso Margh||Hotel||-|
|Bamboo Grove||Gyatseling, Above Power House Kazi Road||Hotel||-|
|Bamboo Retreat||Sajong Rumtek, East Sikkim||Hotel||-|
|Tara Palace||Nam Nang Road||Hotel||-|
See also International Telephone Calls
India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost 50rs to 200rs. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.
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