Gangtok is the capital and largest conurbation of the mountainous state of Sikkim. Its name roughly derives from the Tibetan word for 'hill side', which tells us two things: it is hilly, and there is a Tibetan influence! The bustling centre of the town is a mix of tight, steep, winding lanes, linked from north-to-south by a soaring ropeway, and boasts several dramatic viewpoints from which, on a clear day, one may catch a glimpse of mighty Kanchenjunga. The Tibetan influence is very strong: Gangtok has been a Buddhist pilgrimage destination since the mid-1800s, was the capital of the Buddhist Namgyal dynasty between 1894 and 1975, and has long been an important waypoint on trade routes between Lhasa and the Bay of Bengal. As far as tourist attractions go, most will come here a start or end point to treks throughout the Sikkimese highlands, or to learn more about Tibetan-Buddhist culture.

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