Gangtok is the capital and largest town of the Indian state of Sikkim. Gangtok is located in the eastern Himalayan range, at an altitude of 5,800 feet (1,800 m). The town's population of 98,658 belongs to different ethnicities such as Indian-Nepalis, Lepchas and Bhutia, is administered by the "Gangtok Municipal Corporation".Nestled within higher peaks of the Himalaya and enjoying a year-round mild temperate climate, Gangtok is at the centre of Sikkim’s tourism industry.
Gangtok rose to prominence as a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site after the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840. In 1894, the ruling Sikkimese Chogyal, Thutob Namgyal, transferred the capital to Gangtok. In the early 20th century, Gangtok became a major stopover on the trade route between Lhasa in Tibet and cities such as Kolkata (then Calcutta) in British India.
Apart from the major religious festivals of Diwali, Christmas, Dusshera, Holi etc., the diverse ethnic populace of the town celebrates several local festivals. The Lepchas and Bhutias celebrate new year in January, while Tibetans celebrate the new year (Losar) with "Devil Dance" in January–February. The Maghe sankranti, Ram Navami are some of the important Nepali festivals. Chotrul Duchen, Buddha Jayanti, the birthday of the Dalai Lama, Loosong, Bhumchu, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen and Drupka Teshi are some other festivals, some distinct to local culture and others shared with the rest of India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.
Residents of Sikkim are music lovers and it is common to hear Western rock music being played in homes and restaurants. Hindi pop songs are also common. Indigenous Nepali rock, music suffused with a western rock beat and Nepali lyrics, is particularly popular.
The hospitality industry is the largest industry in Gangtok as the city is the main base for Sikkim tourism. Summer and spring seasons are the most popular tourist seasons. Many of Gangtok's residents are employed directly and indirectly in the tourism industry, with many residents owning and working in hotels and restaurants. Ecotourism has emerged as an important economic activity in the region which includes trekking, mountaineering, river rafting and other nature oriented activities. An estimated 351,000 tourists visited Sikkim in 2007, generating revenue of about Rs 50 crores (Rs 500 millions).
The Nathula Pass, located about 50 km (31 mi) from Gangtok, used to be the primary route of the wool, fur and spice trade with Tibet and spurred economic growth for Gangtok till the mid-20th century. In 1962, after the border was closed during the Sino-Indian War, Gangtok fell into recession. The pass was reopened in 2006 and trade through the pass is expected to boost the economy of Gangtok.The Sikkim government is keen to open a Lhasa–Gangtok bus service via Nathula pass. Sikkim's mountainous terrain results in the lack of train or air links, limiting the area's potential for rapid industrial development. The government is the largest employer in the city, both directly and as contractors. Gangtok's economy does not have a large manufacturing base, but has a thriving Cottage industry in watch-making, country-made alcohol and handicrafts.