a peaceful getaway of Himalayas...
Gangtok, The capital of the Indian state of Sikkim, is a charming hill town hidden in the shadow of the magnificent Himalayas. For both nature lovers and adventure seekers, Gangtok has grown to be a famous tourist destination thanks to its tranquil atmosphere, beautiful landscapes, and vibrant culture. This post will assess Gangtok’s alluring beauty and explore why you need to put it on your trip wish list.
A little over 1,650 meters above sea level, Gangtok is known for its spectacular views, immaculate lakes, and verdant slopes. Visitors from all over the world are attracted by the city’s vibrant Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, picturesque streets, and serene atmosphere.
How to Reach Gangtok
To reach Gangtok, you can fly into Bagdogra Airport, located in the neighboring state of West Bengal. From the airport, it’s a scenic drive of approximately 124 kilometers to Gangtok. Alternatively, you can also travel by train to New Jalpaiguri Railway Station and then continue your journey to Gangtok by road.
Attractions in Gangtok
MG Marg: The main street in Gangtok is lined with shops, eateries, and cafes. It’s a pedestrian-only zone, making it a pleasant place to stroll, shop, or enjoy local food.
Tsomgo Lake (Changu Lake): Situated about 40 km from Gangtok, this glacial lake is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and is considered sacred by the locals.
Rumtek Monastery: A significant monastery for Tibetan Buddhists, it’s located around 23 km from Gangtok and offers a serene atmosphere along with vibrant murals and architecture.
Enchey Monastery: Situated within Gangtok itself, this 200-year-old monastery is important for the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism.
Nathula Pass: Connecting India to China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, it’s a historic trade route located at 14,140 feet above sea level. Note: Special permits are required to visit, and it’s open only on certain days.
Tashi Viewpoint: A popular spot to get panoramic views of the Kanchenjunga mountain range.
Ganesh Tok: Another viewpoint, located near Tashi Viewpoint, it offers spectacular views of Gangtok and is also home to a small temple dedicated to Lord Ganesh.
Banjhakri Falls: A beautiful waterfall and energy park that’s surrounded by gardens and traditional Sikkimese sculptures.
Himalayan Zoological Park: Spanning across 230 hectares, this park is home to several endangered species of animals including the snow leopard, red panda, and Himalayan black bear.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology: A research institute dedicated to Tibetan language and culture, it has a museum showcasing Tibetan artifacts and manuscripts.
Do Drul Chorten: A significant stupa in Gangtok surrounded by 108 prayer wheels.
Ropeway (Cable Car): Enjoy breathtaking views of Gangtok and the surrounding valleys by taking a ride on this cable car.
Flower Exhibition Centre: Located near MG Marg, this center showcases a wide variety of flowers, especially orchids which the region is famous for.
Handicrafts and Handloom: Shop for traditional Sikkimese arts and crafts, including thangka paintings, carpets, wooden carved items, and traditional costumes.
Taste local cuisine: Don’t miss out on tasting some local delicacies like momos, thukpa, gundruk, phagshapa, and local beverages like ‘chaang’.
Hotels in Gangtok
Gangtok offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. From luxury resorts and boutique hotels to cozy guesthouses and homestays, you can find a comfortable stay that caters to your needs.
Some popular choices include Mayfair Spa Resort & Casino, The Elgin Nor-Khill, and The Hidden Forest Retreat.
Best time to visit Gangtok
The best time to visit Gangtok is between the months of October and May, which is considered the peak tourist season. During this time, the weather is pleasant, with clear skies and comfortable temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
Itineary in Gangtok
Day 1: Explore the Heart of Gangtok
- Breakfast at your hotel.
- Visit the Do Drul Chorten, one of the most important stupas in Sikkim.
- Explore the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology to understand Tibetan culture and see some rare artifacts.
- Lunch at a local restaurant. Try traditional Sikkimese dishes.
- Walk around MG Marg, the pedestrian-only shopping street. Enjoy the ambiance, shop for souvenirs, and relax in the local cafes.
- Head to the Flower Exhibition Centre to see a wide variety of local flora.
- Enjoy the views from Tashi Viewpoint and Ganesh Tok.
- Dinner at a restaurant on MG Marg or nearby. Try the local cuisine like momos and thukpa.
Day 2: Nature and Spirituality
- Early breakfast and head out to Tsomgo Lake (Changu Lake). Enjoy the serene beauty of this high-altitude glacial lake.
- If the time allows and you have the necessary permits, continue further to Nathula Pass.
- Return to Gangtok and have lunch.
- Visit Rumtek Monastery, a significant center for Tibetan Buddhists. Explore the vibrant murals and the serene ambiance.
- Return to Gangtok.
- Visit Banjhakri Falls and Energy Park.
- Dinner at your hotel or explore another local eatery.
Day 3: Panoramic Views and Local Culture
- Breakfast at your hotel.
- Take the Ropeway (Cable Car) for panoramic views of Gangtok and the surrounding valleys.
- Visit Enchey Monastery, situated within Gangtok itself.
- Have lunch.
- Head to the Himalayan Zoological Park to see native species like the red panda and snow leopard.
- Shop at the Handicrafts and Handloom centers for traditional Sikkimese arts and crafts.
- Enjoy your final evening in Gangtok. Perhaps try a traditional Sikkimese beverage like ‘chaang’ at a local bar or restaurant.
- Dinner and relax, preparing for your onward journey.
Foods and Drinks in Mirik...
Gangtok offers a delightful culinary excursion for food enthusiasts. The local cuisine is influenced by Nepali, Tibetan and Sikkimese flavors, resulting in a unique blend of spices and ingredients.
Don’t miss trying momo, a popular Tibetan dumpling dish, and thukpa, a delicious noodle soup. You can also eat delicious Sikkimese dishes like Gundruk and Phagshapa, which are made with fermented greens and pork respectively.