"The Gateway to Sikkim"
Incredibly alluring, pleasantly boisterous and wreathed in clouds - Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, is one of the most popular hill stations in India. Lying at the height of 1650 m above sea level, the town during its bright sunny days offers spectacular views of Mt. Kanchenjunga. Gangtok is a base for adventure enthusiasts comprising of trekkers and campers to the Himalayan mountain ranges. During the months of March to Mid-May, blooming of wild Rhododendrons transform the surrounding regions in vast fields of colourful carpets.
Its name meaning hill-top, Gangtok can be safely said to be one of the most beautiful hill stations in the country. With everything in just the right amount from a blend of cultural identities to urbanisation, Gangtok is a breathing and dynamic bit of paradise of the northeast. Gangtok and its surrounding regions are abundant in natural beauty and have various natural attractions such as the Tsomgo Lake, Ban Jhakri falls, Tashi viewpoint and more. Other places to visit include many famous religious sites such as the Enchey Monastery, Ganesh Tok, Do Drul Chorten Rumtek Monastery, etc. Also, river Teesta is one of the best spots for white water rafting in North East India.
Places To Visit In Gangtok
1. Nathu La Pass
This is a pass which connects Tibet with Sikkim at a height of 4310 m. Nathu La Pass was once the part of the ancient Silk Route. To visit this place, one need to collect a permit from Gangtok and only Indian citizens are permitted to see the Indian side of the pass and that too just on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
2. MG Road
MG Road is the heart of Gangtok and its most happening place. It is the central shopping hub of this beautiful state capital with various shops, restaurants, and hotels lined up along both sides.
3. Rumtek Monastery
This Monastery is situated 24 km from Gangtok and is considered to be of the most sacred monasteries in Buddhism. The most sacred traditional Buddhist rites are performed in this very building and the religious significance of Rumtek Monastery has attracted devotees and tourists from all over the world.
4. Tsomgo Lake
The Tsongmo Lake is situated 35 km away from the main town of Gangtok. The lake has been considered as holy and been worshipped by Sikkimese people since years.
5. Ganesh Tok
Ganesh Tok is a Ganesh Temple located 7 km from Gangtok at an altitude of 6500 m. The temple is so small that it can accommodate only one person at a time and one has to crawl to reach there.
6. Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
The museum, housed in a traditional Tibetan-style mansion, boasts a jaw-dropping collection of artefacts related to Vajrayana Buddhism and the Tibetan culture. The main aim of the museum is to promote scholastic and cultural research. The museum displays Buddhist manuscripts, icons, thangkas, which are Tibetan cloth paintings and some Tantric ritual objects, such as a thumpa, which is a bowl made from a human skull and the kangling, which is a human thighbone trumpet. The museum also houses ritual objects, jewellery, mementos, books and documentaries on Sikkimese tradition and culture.
The third highest peak in the world, the majestic Kanchenjunga is one of the most stunning mountains in the world. Surrounded by Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet, this mountain was fisrt scaled in 1955 but since then has been declared sacred. Kanchenjunga is a Tibetan name which means 'The Five Treasures of the High Snow'. The treasures represent the five repositories of God, namely gold, silver, gems, grain and holy books. There are a lot of trekking routes in Kanchenjunga which will take you through woody forests and serene countryside.
8. Baba Mandir
Situated on the road passing between Nathula and Jelepla Pass, Baba Mandir is the shrine which was built at the Samadhi of Baba Harbhajan Singh. People worship him as a saint who guards the lives of soldiers along the border.
The town of Mangan, situated in the northern part of Sikkim is a major tourist attraction for trekking, monasteries and its Yumthang Valley.
10. Himalayan Zoological Park
Himalayan Zoological Park is located in Bulbuley, 3 km away from Gangtok and is definitely the place for all the wildlife lovers. With an altitude of 1780 meters, one gets an amazing view of the Mount Khangchendzonga from here.
11. Reshi Hot Springs
Sikkim has numerous hot springs, but the Reshi Hot Spring is the most famous one due to its strategic location and the religious significance that it holds. Easily accessible, the spring is present right after a downhill drive of an hour towards the Rangit River valley.
12. Kabi Longstok
Situated at a distance of 17 km from the northern capital of Gangtok is the Kabi Town which is considered to be a historical place due to the initiation of the Sikkimese history here in the early 13th century. With the wonderful stories that this place holds, this place is surely going to captivate you with its wonderful beauty.
13. Seven Sisters Waterfalls
Justifying its name, Seven Sisters Waterfalls comprises of seven different waterfalls amicably arranged side by side on a wide rugged cliff which seems distinct when looked at from a distance. This famous waterfall is situated at a distance of 32 kilometres from Gangtok on the Gangtok-Lachung Highway.
Tinkitam Rayong is a petite village in Sikip Tehsil in South District of Sikkim State with Mount Kanchenjanga in the backdrop of this town and its natural habitat supporting a rare species of orchid, Paphiopedilum Faireanum or ladys slipper.
15. Flower Exhibition Centre
Flower Exhibition Centre showcases flowers from the different parts of Sikkim together under a single roof which makes it a heaven for all the nature lovers.
16. Do Drul Chorten
One of the most important stupas in Sikkim, Do Drul Chorten was built in the year 1945 under the supervision of late Truslshi and Rimpoche. The Stupa has around 108 Mani Lhakor or prayer wheels.
17. Saramsa Garden
Saramsa Garden, also known as Ipecac Garden, is indeed a treat for your senses. The exquisite range of different coloured flowers with the surrounding lush greenery is going to hold your attention. There is a large greenhouse in the garden as well which preserves a range of orchids.
18. Hanuman Tok
Hanuman Tok is a very famous temple of Gangtok which is named after Lord Hanuman and is a maintained by the Indian Army. The temple also gives an amazing view of the Kanchenjunga peak which is the third highest peak in the world.
Paragliding is one of the thrilling things to do in Gangtok and one activity that you must definitely experience. The place lets you try your hand at the opportunity with the help of a professional trainer and with complete safety measures. Besides giving you a very amazing adrenaline rush, the activity lets you have a bird's eye view of the beautiful city.
20. Tashi View Point
Situated 8 km away from the main town of Gangtok, Tashi Viewpoint is a scenic beauty from where travellers can get a view of the magnificent Mount Sinilochu and Mount Kanchenjunga. This spot also serves as an amazing picnic place for local as well as foreign tourists due to the presence of a cafeteria and sheds bordering the site of the viewpoint.
21. Tsuk La Khang Monastery
Situated in the complex of the Royal Palace, Tsuk La Khang is the prime place of worship for the local Buddhists residing in the region. This beautiful two-storied structure with mural covered interiors also comprises of a large collection of scriptures, is decorated with altars and images of Lord Buddha, and tantric deities.
22. Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary
Nestled in the exquisite Yumthang Valley in North Sikkim, the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary is a beautiful place to spend time amidst the picturesque location and natural beauty all around. The adventure lovers can also have their share of fun by trekking through the Yumthang Valley.
23. Banjhakri Falls
A new sightseeing destination for the tourists and spread over an area of two acres of land, the Banjhakri Falls is situated at a distance of 10-12 kilometres from Gangtok. Beautifully landscaped gardens are present around the waterfall along with beautiful statues of Lyam Lymay, Mangpas, Lepcha, and Ban Jhakri ancestors.
24. Ranka Monastery
Also known as Lingdum Monastery, the Ranka Monastery which follows the Zurmang Kagyud lineage of Buddhism is situated at a distance of 20 km from Gangtok. It is spread over a vast area and provides terrific scenic views to the tourists.
25. Enchey Monastery
Enchey Monastery meaning 'the solitary temple' is a holy pilgrimage spot for the Buddhists situated in a magical wonderland surrounded by natural beauty. The presence of tall pine trees, flower meadows and the beautiful view of the Kanchenjunga Hills, gives the devotees a feeling of being in the middle of a serene and blessed environment.
26. Saga Dawa
The Saga Dawa festival is one of the most important festivals for the people of Sikkim celebrated with much enthusiasm in the capital city Gangtok. The Mahayana Buddhist tradition recognizes the full moon day of the fourth month of the Buddhist calendar as the anniversary of Buddha's birth, his enlightenment, and his Nirvana. The day is celebrated by various names across India and abroad.
27. International Flower Festival in Gangtok
The International Flower Show is held in Gangtok every year. Several beautiful species of flowers are showcased here, such as orchids, gladioli, roses, cacti, alpine plants, creepers, climbers, ferns, herbs etc. Also, lectures and seminars are held in which renowned botanical scientists come over to speak. The festival takes place throughout May and is a primary source of attraction among the tourists as well as the local inhabitants. The Flower Show is also accompanied by a food festival, where one may try several local delicacies.
28. Gangtok Ropeway
Known to be one of the top thrilling things to do in Gangtok, Gangtok Ropeway breathtaking bird’s eye view of the valley below. Inaugurated in 2003, the double cable zig back ropeway can carry up to 24 passengers and covers a distance of 2 km to and fro. Usually, the cable cars are full, and you have to wait in line for your turn, but the gorgeous views of the Kanchenjunga peaks is totally worth the wait. Also, since there are no seats inside the cable car, so to obtain a good view standing seat (next to the glass pane), you will have to try and get in first.
29. Yak Safari
Experiencing Yak Ride is one of the most essential activities and unique things to do in Gangtok. You can experience the joyride in any one of the three places where the activity is organized. You can try it at Dzongri area and/or Tsomgo lake. Never forget to leave the saddle or you disbalance and are on the ground in no time. Nevertheless, it is one of the most fun experiences that you will try in your life.
30. Mountain Biking in Gangtok
Another one of the thrilling activities and things to do in Gangtok is riding a mountain bike in the hills and valleys. Other than giving you a high adrenaline rush, mountain biking lets you take a peek into the unexplored and un-commercialized part of the city. The thrilling ride takes you through the best of forests and valleys, rivers, waterfalls and lakes.
31. Phodong Monastery
Located in Phodong near Gangtok in Sikkim, Phodong Monastery is one amongst the six most important Buddhist monasteries in the state. Besides being a popular place of tourism, the monastery is a very important place of Buddhist pilgrimage. Boasting of a striking architecture with vibrant coloured exteriors and delicate interiors that are adorned with gorgeous paintings, murals and frescoes, the monastery is also considered one of the most beautiful in all the country. It houses a total of around 260 monks at present.
Top activities in Gangtok
The top activities in Gangtok are Tsongmo Lake and Baba Mandir Day Tour from Gangtok, Private Sightseeing Charter Trip for Gangtok, Private Sightseeing Charter Trip for Phodong Monastery from Gangtok, Private Morning Sightseeing Charter Trip for Tashi View Point in Gangtok, Private Bagdogra Airport (IXB) Transfers for Gangtok, Gangtok Heritage 4-Hour Walking Tour.
Top sightseeing places in Gangtok
The top sightseeing places in Gangtok are Nathula Pass, MG Road, Gangtok, Rumtek Monastery, Tsomgo Lake, Ganesh Tok, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology.
How to Reach Gangtok
The nearest well-connected airport from Gangtok is in Bagdogra in West Bengal which lies at a distance of 126 Kms. One can hail a cab or taxi from there to Gangtok. The nearest railway station from Gangtok is in Siliguri, which is directly connected to the major cities of the country. Taxi and state bus services are available from Siliguri to Gangtok.
Food of Gangtok
Gangtok is home to almost everything that the cuisine of this area has to offer in its most rich, splendid, authentic form with a flattering variety of options. What is impossible to miss in Gangtok includes Momos, Thukpa, Wonton, Gyathuk, Thenthuk and more, along with a Sikkim style meat patty called Shah-Phaley.
Along with this you get to choose from a huge variety of authentic soups almost unique to the area. Chang is a locally made alcoholic beverage and is a must try while here. Authentic Tibetan and Indo-Chinese cuisines are also available in the restaurants and must also be tried.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Gangtok is during the months of late September to mid-December and from March to May. These autumn and spring-summer months experience a pleasant climate which is ideal for sightseeing. The period of late September to mid-December is when the days are sunny with unobstructed views of the Himalayas. Between March to May, the bloom of Rhododendron flowers is a sight worth its weight in gold. It is best to avoid a visit Gangtok and the state of Sikkim during the monsoon months of July to early September since the heavy rainfall leads to landslides which may cause a lot of inconveniences.