About Gangtok

Sikkim is a north-eastern state of India and Gangtok is its capital. Almost the whole of Sikkim is in a hilly terrain surrounded by the Himalayan mountain range. The altitude across Sikkim varies widely and ranges from the lowest elevation of 280m (920ft) to the highest point of Kanchenjunga peak which lies at the border of Sikkim and Nepal and at an altitude of 8,586m (28,169ft).

Most parts of Sikkim are well developed for tourism and offer a range of tourist accommodations along with food and transports. Gangtok is one place which many tourists like to combine along with a visit to Darjeeling. In fact the combined trip of Darjeeling & Gangtok is a common recipe when people think about visiting this part of the country. This is mainly because of the proximity of the two places as well as easy access. And while in Gangtok, tourists visit several other places in Sikkim.

Actually the whole of Sikkim is divided into 4 zones - East, West, North and South. There are magnificent places to visit in each of these zones. Other than Gangtok, East Sikkim has great attractions such as Tsomgo Lake, famed Baba Mandir, high altitude Nathula Pass that connects India with Tibet that is now part of China, etc. West Sikkim is home to wonderful tourist places like Pelling, Yuksum, Kaluk and more. The beautiful flower valley Yumthang, Zero Point and the largest high-altitude lake Gurudongmar are located in North Sikkim. And Namchi - the religious and cultural tourism center of Sikkim, as well as wonderful places like Ravangla and Borong are located in South Sikkim.

About Gangtok

Gangtok is located at an altitude of 5,410 ft in East-Sikkim. Distance from NJP (the nearest major railway station) is 126kms, from Bagdogra airport 124kms (takes 4.5 hours from both), from Siliguri 114kms and from Darjeeling 98kms (4 hours). Private and shared taxi services are available in plenty between Gangtok and these places. There is also bus service from Siliguri SNT bus stand and helicopter service from Bagdogra airport to Gangtok. The name Gangtok means the 'Top of the Ridge'.

Gangtok spreads over a forested mountain that faces the Kanchenjunga snow peaks. There are many vantage points in and around Gangtok from where you get magnificent views of Kanchenjunga and other Himalayan snow peaks. In fact every spur extending from this hill town offers a setting of a great sight.

How to reach Gangtok

Gangtok is only 4 hours drive from Darjeeling, 4.5 hours from both NJP (the nearest major railway station) and Bagdogra (the nearest airport).

NJP (New Jalpaiguri) is the major railway junction closest to Gangtok or rest of Sikkim. There are many trains from all over India passing through and some terminating at NJP. Most tourists avail trains and get off at NJP to reach Gangtok. NJP is at a distance of 124kms from Gangtok. At NJP plenty of private taxis and shared Jeeps are available, and it takes about 4.5 hours to reach Gangtok.

Bagdogra is the nearest airport for Gangtok and has frequent daily air connections with several cities of India and even with some neighboring foreign countries like Bhutan. NOTE: A new airport at Pakyong (about 35kms from Gangtok) is scheduled to be operational in 2018.

Bagdogra is at a distance of 126kms from Gangtok. Private taxis are available from Bagdogra airport. It takes about 4.5 hours to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra by road. There is also a helicopter service available between Bagdogra and Gangtok (takes 35 minutes one way).

Siliguri is a township close to NJP (8kms) and 114kms from Gangtok. Other than private and shared taxis, public bus service is also available between Siliguri and Gangtok.

Gangtok Weather & Best Time to Visit

Like all other places in north Bengal and north east India, Gangtok too faces the extremes of winter and monsoon. However, summer (April - May) and autumn (October - November) are quite pleasant and best for the views with clear sky.

Attractions & Tours in Gangtok

You can easily be absorbed for days in Gangtok with its so many attractions & entertainment activities. There are great view points to watch Kanchenjunga snow peaks & sunset, monasteries & gompas with awesome architecture, museums, gardens, waterfalls, lakes, art & craft, rides, paragliding etc.

The Top Attractions in Gangtok

1) Tsomgo or Changu Lake

This is a beautiful glacial lake located about 35kms from Gangtok and at an altitude of 12,310ft. It takes about 2 hours to reach by road. This wonderful 1km long lake with an average depth of 50ft is surrounded by hills. It's a stop over grounds for migratory ducks, and has Alpine vegetation and flowering plants surrounding it. Over all a picturesque setting. There are shops and food stalls around.

The day trip takes you to Baba Mandir as well which is named after the Sentry Harbhajan Singh who died in 1968, but border security personnel here believe that his spirit is still alive. It's a wish fulfilling Temple. Many also combine Nathula Pass with this day trip which is located at the Indo-Chinese border at an altitude of 14,140 ft. You will need to get permits to visit Tsomgo lake, Baba Mandir and Nathula. However Nathula pass is a restricted area and foreigners are not allowed.

2) Ropeway: Awesome Cable Car Ride

This is an awesome cable car ride which starts from Deorali below the town center and takes you along a 1km ride to the uppermost station at Tashiling. You can see the whole of Gangtok township from the cable car, wonderful views of the valley and the river below and of course the lovely snow peaks of Kanchenjunga on a clear day.

3) Rumtek Monastery

This is a huge lovely monastery located in the opposite mountain at a distance of about 23kms from the Gangtok town. It has been built in grand Tibetan architecture and almost like a replica of the original monastery in Tibet. Apart from the monastery and its rare collections of Tibetan art work, relics etc, other attractions in the complex includes the Golden Stupa of the 16th Karmapa and Nalanda Institute of Higher Buddhist Studies.

4) Ranka Monastery (Also known as Lingdum Monastery)

Well you won't find much history behind this monastery. But you should visit to experience its vastness, the wonderful settings, lovely natural surroundings and views. No wonder why this monastery has been a site for several bollywood films. Inside the prayer hall you will find many great artwork and paintings, and also low tables where the monks read their religious books. This monastery is also a training ground for many young lamas and you will see them in plenty playing around and willing to take pictures with you. The view of sunset from the terrace is simply awesome.

5) Ban Jhakri Waterfall

Close to Ranka Monastery is the well known Ban Jahkri Waterfall. This 100-ft waterfall is located in a 2-acre area in a wonderfully landscaped forested area. It's a great picnic spot and a place to soak in the charm of nature.

6) Hanuman Tok

While this is a Hanuman Temple complex with a wonderful and vast sacred ambience, the place is also very popular for its view point offering sweeping views of Mt. Kanchenjunga. It is located about 11kms from Gangtok town and at an altitude of 7,200 ft.

7) Saramsa Garden

Located 14kms from Gangtok town, Saramsa Garden used to be a fruit garden during the Royal dynasty in the state. It's now converted into a vast manicured garden with many flowering trees and plantations with lovely romantic atmosphere and views all around. While it's a popular picnic spot, it's also a great place for romantic couples. Just stroll around through the various sections of the garden, sit and relax under canopy of trees besides mini pools, watch from the viewing area the river Ranikhola flowing through the ravine below ... it'll all be a great experience.

8) Ganesh Tok

This is a temple of Lord Ganesha located about 6kms from Gangtok town at an altitude of over 6,000 ft. While the Ganesha temple and the idol is small, the circular viewing area is marvelous. You get excellent views of the valley, snow peaks and parts of Gangtok town. There is a gift shop in the building and a cafe nearby.

9) Do-Drul Chorten Stupa

This is a large stupa or a religious Buddhist monument which was built in 1946 by the Tibetan Lama Trulshig Rinpoche to drive away the evil spirits that once lived here. It is now a major religious Buddhist shrine in Sikkim and also a Buddhism preaching center.

10) Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

This is a world famous institute that does research in the areas of Tibetan language and culture. The museum and the library are open to public and have some rare collections of art work, statues, coins and Buddhist scriptures.

11) Gangtok Zoo

A vast expansive zoo which extends from lower to higher elevations in forested land area. A unique feature of the zoo is its collection of rare animals like Red Pandas, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf, Black Bears and lot more that are all kept in large open enclosures almost like in their natural habitats.

12) Gangtok Handicrafts & Handlooms

Directorate of Handicraft & Handlooms is located in Gangtok (near Zero Point at the end of Tibet road). It has several training rooms where the novice artists learn making artwork, hand crafted items and handloom products. There is also a museum showcasing many rare collections and work by legendary artists & craftsmen. A large Sales Emporium at the backside sells most products that are manufactured at the center at reasonable prices. It's a great place for tourists to pick up local makes that can serve as excellent souvenirs & gifts.

More Attractions & Activities Tashi View Point

This viewing area is located close to Gangtok and near the Bakthang Waterfall. It's probably the best place in Gangtok to watch the glittering snow peaks of Kanchenjunga when the sun rises. Even otherwise the view of the peaks and the valleys all around is wonderful. There is a gift shop and a small cafe in the venue.

Enchey Monastery

This monastery is located on a hill top and close to Gangtok town. It has a unique architecture and pagoda style look. It was founded in 1840 by a lama who could perform extraordinary acts. The monastery was later rebuilt in 1908.

Bakthang Waterfall

This in my view is the second best waterfall in Gangtok after Ban Jhakri. It's located just by the roadside, so no walking required. You can enjoy the fall from inside your car, or come out and take a great picture with wide steams of water falling over a canopy of trees.

Ridge Park & Flower Exhibition Center

Close to Gangtok Town center is a posh and grand stretch of a road known The Ridge. Alongside that is the beautiful Ridge park. Walk along and at the end a stairway will lead down to the Flower Exhibition Center. As the name suggests, it's a paradise for flower lovers, and also a great place for photography.

Kanchendzonga Tourist Complex

This all inclusive complex is located in Ranka, about 15kms away from Gangtok town. There are nice lodges for overnight accommodations, landscaped parkland, amusement activities for children like rides, indoor & outdoor games, swimming pool, socio cultural activities, restaurant etc. One can also make a day trip from Gangtok, spend a few hours, enjoy the vast stretch of wonderful garden & park, let the children enjoy the amusement activities & games, have lunch and return. It's a great place for families as well as couples to enjoy a small world of their own.

Paragliding in Gangtok

Fly like a bird and get awesome sights of the Himalayan snow peaks from the sky and of course the amazing mountain landscapes and Gangtok town. There is no experience required as Tandem flight is offered which has a certified pilot flying with you. He will take care of the paragliding flight while you enjoy the experience while being harnessed safely and comfortably.

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