Gangtok, Sikkim

 
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Gangtok / Rumtek

 © Sumit Sen

Introduction:

115 kms from Siliguri at 5500 feet is Sikkim's capital, Gangtok. It is located on a ridge that overlooks the Ranipul River. Gangtok means “High Hill.” While the city is densely populated and crowded, it is surrounded on one side by the forests of the Fambong Lo sanctuary. Rumtek is a sleepy town and is covered by oak and mixed deciduous forests.

The Gangtok / Rumtek area is good for a variety of Laughingthrushes with frequent sightings of White-crested, Chestnut-crowned, Striated and Blue-winged Laughingthrushes. Red-faced Liochicla, Black-faced and Grey-sided Laughingthrushes were also seen.  Small birds like Golden-spectacled and Whistler's Warbler, Fulvettas, Coal Tit, Wren Babblers and Redstarts are abundant as are Leiothrixs, Sibias and Slaty-backed Forktails. Raptors included Common Kestrel, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Himalayan Griffon, Steppe Eagle and Oriental Honey Buzzards.

Bird Images:

© Sumit Sen

Oriental Turtle Dove ~ by  Sujan
Grey Bushchat
Rusty-fronted Barwing
~ by  Sujan
Red-faced Liocichla ~ by  Sujan
White-crested Laughingthrush
Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush
~ by  Sujan
Blue-winged Laughingthrush ~ by  Sujan
Red-billed Leiothrix

On the road
Crested Kingfisher
Crested Serpent Eagle ~ by  Sujan
Grey-backed Shrike
Red-vented Bulbul
~ by  Sujan
Nepal Fulvetta

How to reach:
Gangtok is a 4.5 hour journey from Siliguri by road. It is also connected by helicopter from Bagdogra. Rumtek is 25 kilometers from Gangtok and is an hours drive.  Buses and taxis are available from both these places. Foreigners need a permit to enter Sikkim (available at Siliguri).

Places of Interest:
1) Rumtek, 24km from Gangtok at an altitude of 5000 feet, is the main place for the Kargyu-pa order (“Black Hat”) of Tibetan Buddhism. The Rumtek Monastery was founded in 1740, and was rebuilt after an earthquake destroyed it in the 1960s. It is the largest monastery in Sikkim. 
2) Gangtok: Orchid Sanctuary; Namgyal Institute of Tibetology; Tashi Viewpoint;Tsuk-La-Khang (Royal Chapel)

Where to stay:
Gangtok: Many hotels in all price ranges.
Rumtek: Shambala Tourist Resort.

References:
1. The Birds of Sikkim ~ Salim Ali  (Oxford University Press). 
2. A Birdwatchers' Guide to India ~ Krys Kazmierczak and Raj Singh (OUP). 

Websites:
Sikkim Information

Sumit Sen
Kolkata, India

   
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