If you are looking for a perfect hill station to escape from the city chaos and to immerse yourself in natural beauty, then Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim, India, is an ideal destination. Nestled in the eastern Himalayas at an altitude of 5,410 feet, Gangtok is known for its panoramic views of the snow-capped Himalayan range, Buddhist monasteries, and vibrant culture. In this guide, we will explore everything you need to know about Gangtok, from where to stay to the best things to do.
How to Reach Gangtok
Gangtok can be reached by air, train, or road. The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport, which is about 125 km from Gangtok. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a shared cab to Gangtok. The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri, which is about 148 km from Gangtok. From the railway station, you can hire a taxi or take a shared cab to reach Gangtok. Gangtok is also well-connected by road with major cities like Siliguri, Kolkata, and Darjeeling.
Best Time to Visit Gangtok
The best time to visit Gangtok is from October to June. During this time, the weather is pleasant, and you can enjoy the scenic beauty of the place. The monsoon season (July to September) is not recommended for traveling to Gangtok due to heavy rainfall and landslides.
Places to Visit in Gangtok
Tsomgo Lake, also known as Changu Lake, is a glacial lake located at an altitude of 12,400 feet. The lake is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and its crystal-clear water reflects the surrounding landscape. You can take a yak ride or go boating in the lake.
Nathula Pass is a mountain pass located at an altitude of 14,140 feet on the Indo-China border. It was a major trade route between India and China before the 1962 Sino-Indian War. You need to obtain a permit from the Sikkim Tourism Department to visit Nathula Pass.
Rumtek Monastery, also known as the Dharma Chakra Centre, is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located 23 km from Gangtok. It is the largest monastery in Sikkim and is famous for its exquisite architecture, murals, and thangkas.
Enchey Monastery is a 200-year-old monastery located on a hilltop in Gangtok. The monastery is known for its traditional architecture and is a popular pilgrimage site for Buddhists.
Ganesh Tok is a small temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha, located on a hilltop in Gangtok. It offers a panoramic view of the city and the surrounding hills.
Hanuman Tok is a Hindu temple located at an altitude of 7,200 feet on a hilltop in Gangtok. The temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and is believed to be the highest Hanuman temple in the world. The temple offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding hills, valleys, and the city. Visitors have to climb a few stairs to reach the temple, but the view from the top is worth it.
Things to Do in Gangtok
Cable Car Ride
The cable car ride in Gangtok is a popular attraction that offers a bird's eye view of the city and the surrounding hills. The ride takes you from Deorali to Tashiling and back, covering a distance of 1 km.
Paragliding is an adventurous activity that allows you to soar high in the sky and enjoy the panoramic view of the hills and valleys. The best time to go paragliding in Gangtok is from September to June.
River rafting in the Teesta River is a thrilling experience that takes you through the rapids of the river, surrounded by the scenic beauty of the hills. The best time to go river rafting in Gangtok is from October to June.
Gangtok is surrounded by hills and mountains that offer excellent trekking opportunities. Some popular trekking trails are the Dzongri trek, Goecha La trek, and Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek.
Where to Stay in Gangtok
Gangtok offers a range of accommodation options, from budget hotels to luxury resorts. Some popular places to stay in Gangtok are MG Marg, Tashi View Point, and Rumtek.
Best Restaurants in Gangtok
Gangtok is known for its delicious food, influenced by Nepalese, Tibetan, and Indian cuisine. Some popular restaurants in Gangtok are Baker's Cafe, Roll House, and Taste of Tibet.
Local Festivals of Gangtok
Gangtok celebrates several festivals throughout the year, such as Losar, Saga Dawa, and Bhumchu. Losar is the Tibetan New Year, celebrated in February, while Saga Dawa is the holiest month for Buddhists, celebrated in May or June. Bhumchu is a festival celebrated in Tashiding Monastery, where a pot of holy water is opened, and the level of the water is believed to predict the future.
Shopping in Gangtok
Gangtok is a paradise for shoppers, with a range of traditional handicrafts and souvenirs available. Some popular items to buy are thangkas, prayer flags, carpets, and traditional dresses. MG Marg is the best place to shop in Gangtok, with a range of shops and street vendors selling a variety of items.
Tips for Traveling to Gangtok
- Carry warm clothes, as the weather can get chilly.
- Keep a raincoat or umbrella handy, as it can rain anytime.
- Obtain a permit from the Sikkim Tourism Department to visit Nathula Pass and other restricted areas.
- Respect the local culture and traditions.
- Hire a local guide to explore the city and its attractions.
Gangtok is a charming hill station that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, culture, and adventure. Whether you want to explore the Buddhist monasteries, go trekking, or simply relax and enjoy the scenic beauty, Gangtok has something for everyone. So, pack your bags and head to Gangtok for an unforgettable experience.
- Is Gangtok safe for tourists? Yes, Gangtok is safe for tourists. However, like any other tourist destination, you should take necessary precautions and be aware of your surroundings.
- What is the best time to visit Gangtok? The best time to visit Gangtok is from March to June and from September to December, when the weather is pleasant and the skies are clear.
- What are some popular monasteries to visit in Gangtok? Some popular monasteries to visit in Gangtok are Rumtek Monastery, Enchey Monastery, and Phodong Monastery.
- Is it necessary to obtain a permit to visit Gangtok? No, it is not necessary to obtain a permit to visit Gangtok. However, if you want to visit Nathula Pass or other restricted areas, you need to obtain a permit from the Sikkim Tourism Department.
- What are some popular souvenirs to buy in Gangtok? Some popular souvenirs to buy in Gangtok are thangkas, prayer flags, carpets, and traditional dresses. You can find these items in shops and street vendors in MG Marg and other market areas.