The Kingdom of Sikkim which was not a part of India decided to merge its state with the Indian Republic in the year 1975. With that decision, India got a gift of a beautiful hill station know as Gangtok, capital of the Himalayan state of Sikkim. The journey to this stunning place is equally beautiful and 90% of the road is by the side of the river Teesta.
Gangtok is situated at an altitude of 1437 meters above the main sea level. There is hardly any plateau in Gangtok and the entire place is located on different steps at various levels which add a special dimension to the view of the place. The word “Gangtok” has been derived from the Tibetan word for “hillside”. Although Sikkim has taken pains to preserve its history, ancient traditions, culture as well as historic monuments which are of religious significance to them, at the same time, it has taken care to keep pace with the modern age by building hospitals, wide roads and other modern amenities that the new age citizen wishes to have.
beautiful mountains
during the blue hour
During the British rule, Sikkim was an important trade centre between India and Tibet. Gangtok has been the capital of the state of Sikkim since 1894. When India gained independence in 1947, Sikkim chose to remain an independent monarchy till 1975 when due to certain internal circumstances; it decided to become a part of the Indian Republic. During the Sino-Indian war when the Nathu La Pass was blocked for trade, Sikkim suffered economically. However, since 2006, the pass has been reopened and it has thrown open new opportunities for trade between India and Tibet and a gateway to the prosperity of the Sikkimese.
Lake Tsomgo
rice field
Sun Sets On Nathu La
Sikkim has a long tradition of association with Buddhism. It boasts of quite a few ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples. The chief amongst them being the Enchey Monastery established in the latter part of the 19th century. These Buddhist temples have made Gangtok an important site of pilgrimage for Buddhists all over the world. The town’s former Royal Palace, the open-air Lall market and the Namgyal Institte of Tibetology also evoke the tourist’s interest. Lush parks and gardens are also spread over the landscape.
enchey monastery
Namgyal institute
Rumtek Monastery
The city of Gangtok is quite cosmopolitan with people of different ethnicities such as Nepalese, Chinese, Tibetans, and Indians living side by side and celebrating the Sikkimese festivals like Losum and Losar enthusiastically. Gangtok also enjoys communal harmony despite the diversity of ethnic backgrounds in its population of about 80,000. Due to the multiplicity of the cultures in its population, Gangtok also offers a multi-cuisine menu to its tourists to satisfy everyone’s culinary habits. Gangtok market also offers a very different kind of merchandise with Buddhist designs right from carpets to wall hangings and many items of handicrafts. Lall Bazaar is one of the best and cheapest areas for shopping.
wall art inside the monastery
Overall, Gangtok offers a totally different and absolutely satisfying experience to every visitor. The best time to visit Gangtok is from March to late May or October to mid-December.

Expedition To The Arctic

A remote wildernessDuring the Boreal summer, between June and September, the Arctic becomes the land of the midnight sun, where the sun does not set below the horizon and the ice melts just enough to venture into the European Arctic’s remote wilderness. Travelling by Zodiac remains one of the best ways to get up close to icebergs in Bjørn Oer (the Bear islands) in Scoresby Sund, eastern Greenland, where icebergs the size of apartment blocks dot the water in the thousands.

During the Boreal summer, between June and September, the Arctic becomes the land of the midnight sun, where the sun does not set below the horizon and the ice melts just enough to venture into the European Arctic’s remote wilderness. Travelling by Zodiac remains one of the best ways to get up close to icebergs in Bjørn Oer (the Bear islands) in Scoresby Sund, eastern Greenland, where icebergs the size of apartment blocks dot the water in the thousands.

A flock of kittiwakes feed in the nutrient-rich waters in front of the Samarinbreen glacier. The frequent calving of icebergs from the glacier face disturbs the water and causes nutrients and plankton to rise to the surface of the water, an easy feed for the birds

The 54-passenger Aurora Expeditions vessel, the Polar Pioneer, drops anchor in the iceberg-dotted bay of Harefjord in Scoresby Sund, Greenland, while passengers hike across the surrounding wildflower-and-grass covered tundra. 

The town of Ittoqqorrtoormiit, population 400, is one of the most remote villages in Greenland. Established in 1925 due to food shortages in the south, the town is heavily subsidised by the Danish government, which maintains a territorial claim to Greenland for the rich mineral deposits that lie in the permafrost.

Two cheeky children from Ittoqqorrtoormiit commandeer a Zodiac on the shores. Only a half dozen cruise ships visit the remote community in eastern Greenland each summer.

One of the most remote settlements on the planet, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, was established as a coal mining town but has since grown to include a university, a number of hotels and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which ensures that the genetic diversity of the world's food crops is preserved for future generations. Anyone who leaves the town centre must be on alert:Svalbard is also home to 3,000 polar bears, who occasionally wander into the township. 

Expeditioners hike across the tundra at Alkhornet in Svalbard, where lichen, moss and fungi thrive from the fertiliser left each season by the guillemot birds that use the cliffs as a nesting site.

In preparation for the winter when they will find little prey, the wily arctic fox will bury small parcels of food, normally small chicks that have fallen from their clifftop nest, in the ground around their den. 

Two wooden planks reinforce the door of an old trappers hut in Gnalodden, Svalbard, to protect it from both the elements and curious polar bears. Just beyond, the sheer, cloud-covered cliff is a nesting site for 20,000 guillemots and 2,000 kittiwake birds.

A purple wildflower stretches towards the midnight sun in Greenland. Surprisingly warm, the tundra along the east coast of Greenland is a lush paradise filled with flowers, bees, moths and butterflies.

The Sefstrom glacier in Alpefjord, Greenland, is accessible only in the summer. The glacier’s brown colour is caused by the powerful ice grinding into the dirt and rock of the surrounding cliffs. 

A polar bear enters the water near Greenland by crushing the edge of an ice floe. During the summer, the low ice levels make it difficult for the fierce predator to hunt seals. 

As the sun begins to dip towards the horizon, it is only a matter of time before the Arctic’s stunning landscape is ruled by ice yet again.

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