Gangtok

Why To Go

Fascinating and unruly… that what describes Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim is located on the eastern side of the Himalayan range at an altitude of 1,650 metres. A place, where the clouds play hide and seek with the mountain peaks and kiss them whenever they pass along.

The town is a melting pot of different ethnicities such as Nepalese, Lepchas and Bhutia. Nestled within higher peaks of the Himalaya and enjoying a year-round mild temperature climate, Gangtok is at the pivotal point of Sikkim’s tourism industry.Gangtok became a major stopover on the trade route between Lhasa in Tibet and cities such as Kolkata (then Calcutta) in British India. After India won its independence from Britain in 1947, Sikkim chose to remain an independent monarchy, with Gangtok as its capital. In 1975, after the integration with the union of India, Gangtok was made India’s twenty-second state capital. Today, Gangtok is a centre of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning, with the presence of several monasteries, religious educational institutions, and centres for Tibetology.

On the bright sunny days, the captivating view of Mt. Kanchenjunga would certainly enthral you. The summer months see the blooming of rhododendrons make the place a region of vibrant colours.

The city is flanked on east and west by two streams, namely Roro Chu and Ranikhola respectively.  Most of the roads are steep, with the buildings built on compacted ground alongside them. With different attractive spots like Tsomgo Lake (Changu Lake), Tashi viewpoint or Ban Jhakri Falls, the ‘Hill Top’, the literal meaning of Gangtok is a place with abundance of natural greenery.

Travel Tips

The spring-summer months (March to May) and the autumn months (September to mid – December) are perfect time to make a trip to Gangtok. While the autumn months are sunny and offer magnificent view of the Himalayas, the blooming of rhododendrons in spring-summer season brings out a spectacular view. Avoid the monsoon months because of heavy rainfall and landslides. It is advisable to carry photo ID’s as one is required to show them before entering monasteries. Littering and spitting are fineable offenses. No Plastics carry bags are sold or used. Experience a crazy cable ride over the city of Gangtok. Try trekking, mountain biking and go for paragliding and enjoy breathtaking vie

Things To Do

The Enchey Monastery is more than 100 years old and was formed in 1909 in the Niangua (Nyingma) tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and is located above the town of Bangkok. It is a monastery of great historical value. The Dodrupchen Monastery is a large monastery, also in the Nyingma tradition. It is famous for its large chorten. A chorten is synonymous with the Sanskrit word ‘stupa’. When in residence, the Dodrupchen Rinpoche receives devotees to offer blessings in the morning time followed by a grand flower show during the spring –summer seasons and also in the autumn months. But by far the annual Cymbidium Orchid Show which commences from mid March to mid April is the best and the finest show in the entire South Asian region. Ganesh Tok and Hanuman Tok are the two view points from which Kanchenjunga is clearly visible. Hanuman Tok is located at a slightly more strategic position. The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology has an excellent collection of artifacts and manuscripts connected to Tibetan Buddhism that can be viewed by interested tourists. The Banjhakri Falls is a pristine waterfall, surrounded by gardens and stairwells. Many beautiful sculptures can also be seen there. If the weather permits, it is an ideal picnic spot. Another attraction of Gangtok is the cable car ride from the Deorali Market, however, the service is heavily dependent on the weather condition. Special delicacies like momo, wanton, thukpa, thenthuk or Sikkim style meat patty called Shah-Phaley along with different types of mouth watering soups are must to savour your taste buds.

Getting Around

Taxis have their routes around the city, and there are standard charges within the main areas. Private taxis are also available at Lal Market and M.G Marg. Private and state buses are available for inter-city travelling. You may also hire jeeps for local sightseeing.

How To Reach

FLIGHT

The nearest airport is at Bagdogra at a distance of roughly 124 kilometers. The Bagdogra airport is served by direct flights from Kolkata and New Delhi. From the airport, one can hire a taxi / jeep to reach Gangtok and the journey takes around 2 hours. The drive all along from Bagdogra to Gangtok is absolutely spectacular with natural greenery, mountains as your backdrop. There is helicopter service, too between Bagdogra and Gangtok which is quite expensive.

TRAIN

The nearest railway station to Gangtok is the New Jalpaiguri station which is at a distance of 148 km and has direct connections to New Delhi, Kolkata, and other major cities in India. Upon arrival in New Jalpaiguri, one can either hire a taxi from the station itself or take an auto-rickshaw to the Siliguri bus stand. From there, one has the option of travelling to Gangtok by state bus or hired taxi, private cars which is roughly a 5-6 hour journey.

ROAD

Dozens of jeeps travel to Gangtok daily from Siliguri, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and other mountain locales. The NH10 connects Gangtok to all major cities of India. The nearest major city is Siliguri from where taxis and buses ply regularly. Roads are well maintained and the drive is really charming.

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Surrounding Attractions

The Tsomgo Lake is a pristine, high altitude lake located near Gangtok. During the winter season the lake freezes over and the surrounding mountains are covered with snow, providing an excellent view. It is on the way to the Nathula Pass. It is surrounded by mountains on all sides but one. There is a pavement running by one side of the lake which goes on for a distance of approximately 200 meters. One can take a ride on the beautifully decorated Yak on this pavement. The Nathula Pass is a pass that connects India with Tibet. It is a few hours’ journey from Gangtok and is one of the must-visit places. The Ranka Monastery is a relatively new monastery and is about 26 kilometers from Gangtok and offers a beautiful scenic route and a tranquil atmosphere. The Rumtek Monastery is the more famous monastery and is a day’s journey including return, from Gangtok.
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