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Gangtok ("top of the hill"), capital of Sikkim state, lies at 5,600 ft. It was the seat of the kingdom of Sikkim until the monarchy was abolished (1975) and Sikkim became part of India in 1976. The town, a market centre for corn, rice, pulses, and oranges, was an important point on the India-Tibet trade route via Nathula (Nathu Pass), 21 km northeast, until the border with Tibet was closed in 1962. From Gangtok the North Sikkim Highway (1962) reaches the Tibetan border areas via Lachung and Lachen. The town's landscape is marked by the former royal palace and chapel, two monasteries, the open-air Lall Market, and the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology (1958; a centre for research in Mahayana Buddhism). The noted Buddhist monastery of Rumtek and the royal cremation ground at Lukshiyama lie nearby. The population includes Nepalese, Tibetans, Lepchas, and Indians. [Adapted from Lonely Planet India; Oct 05]
Rumtek Dharma Chakra Center (info)
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