Separated by Bhutan,Sikkim is the only brother to the seven sisters in the north-east India. And Sikkim’s capital Gangtok is the first destination that you would want to visit in Sikkim. Incredibly beautiful, blessed with nature’s abundance, Gangtok is one mystique destination worth visiting that will make you fall in love with the place every single time.
Gangtok boasts of scenic view points, Clean villages, peaceful monasteries, picturesque landscape, cascading waterfalls and of course the breathtaking view of the Mt. Kanchenjunga. Being a famous tourist destination, Sikkim has a number of spots that cannot be missed when you visit Gangtok.
M G Marg
When you think of Gangtok, MG marg is the first place that comes to your mind. It is the centre of all activities in Gangtok and hence its a default in your itinerary. The heart of Gangtok is famous for cozy cafes and restaurants. Gangtok’s MG Road looks stunning after dark when the lights are lit making it a much-thronged place in this quaint hill town.This vehicle free zone In the middle of the city is a must visit.
The first thing one notices when on this approximately 1 km stretch of road is the cleanliness.This place is also famous for the Gangtok Food and Culture Festival which is an extravaganza held in December every year and thronged by connoisseurs from all over.
Do Drul Chorten
Incredibly beautiful, blessed with nature’s abundance and shrouded by clouds, Gangtok is one mystique destination worth visiting that will make you fall in love with the place every single time.Around the stupa are 108 Mani Lhakor or prayer wheels. If you visit the stupa I would suggest to rotate the prayer wheels in a clockwise direction as this is considered as one of the most sacred chortens or stupas in Sikkim. It is located about 500 meters above the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology.
This sacred Buddhist pilgrim site is the mystical wonderland surrounded with splendid natural beauty.This 200 years old Monastery lies 3 km to the north-east of Gangtok.The large metal roofed prayer hall inside contains several images of God, Goddesses and other Tantric murals. There are wheels of law on the porch that gurgles in perfect symphony with the monks chantings.You can visit in the month of Sept and October to witness the yearly Festival ‘Detor Cham’ to enjoy the very famous Monks Cham Dance.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
Its building boasts of traditional Tibetan architecture amidst lush greenery, which is a striking sight for the visitors. there is a Tibetan library that has one of the largest collections of Tibetan documents and literature in the world.However the center of attraction here is the majestic image of Manjushri ‘the Bodhisattva of knowledge’ that was brought from Tibet.
Ganesh Tok is a small temple and a loved viewpoint in Gangtok. Situated on top of a hill, the quaint place has mind-stirring views – the Kanchenjunga hill can be seen in its true form of glory from here and is at its best especially in the morning. The Ganesh Tok viewpoint, situated at a distance of 6500, offers stunning views of the mountains dusted with snow. The temple (dedicated to Lord Ganesh) is, however, so small that it can only fit one person at a time. The sublime place takes you a step closer to nature with its surreal surroundings and comforting ambience.
A cable car experience with mountain view. Its a nice place to see the city in a bird’s eye view. Colourful houses surrounded by green mountains is a treat to eyes and gives a perfect view of the mountain city.The aerial ropeway is 935 m long, from the start to the endpoint and the complete journey takes a total of 15 – 20 minutes. It has three terminal stations – Tashiling, Namnang or Deorali. You can get on or get down at either of the three stations. The Deorali station is the lowest base point and is situated near the Institute of Tibetology and offers beautiful views of the Gangtok market and the township below. You can also see the famous butterfly bridge from the ropeway.
Tashi View Point
Located in Tashi, this point gives a sweeping view of the Kanchenjunga mountain on a clear day. You can get a breathtaking view of the shinning mountains early in the morning. There is no admission fee, but you can pay to get a closer view of the mountains. There are several stalls serving snacks like momos, samosa, tea and coffee. Also you can find stalls renting out traditional outfits where you can rent the costumes to click some traditional pictures.
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. The Ranka Monastery is one of the most pictorial monasteries in East Sikkim due to the presence of beautifully forested mountains on its borders. Near it lies a 2-storey building with classrooms for the young lamas to study in.The beauty of the Ranka Monastery has, however, attracted some filmmakers here, and it has been a part of several Bollywood movies that have been shot here.
Hanuman Tok is a Hindu temple complex which is located in the upper reaches of Gangtok, the capital of the Indian state of Sikkim. The temple is dedicated to lord Hanuman, and maintained by the Indian army. It was established in 1952. Both Hanuman Tok and Ganesh tok are maintained by the Indian army and you would also see Baba Harbhajan singh’s photograph being worshiped at both these temples.
A pretty waterfall right within the city is famous as a photoshoot point. You will be able to find traditional costumes on rent to click a picture in sikkimese traditional costume. You can easily spend some time having fun with your family at this waterfall.
Best time to visit:
Gangtok has a pleasant weather and a scenic beauty all year round, but the best time to visit would be during the winters and early spring. I would suggest to avoid visiting during the rainy season as there can be landslides at most of the places.
Places to stay:
You would find many homestays and hotels at reasonable rates, decent ones starting at Rs. 1000/night. My personal recommendation would be Yeshey’s homestay which is just 10 mins walking distance from MG Marg. You can book this stay on Airbnb.She will help you to get a travel agent for north and south sikkim at the cheapest price.
How to reach
By air: Nearest Airport is Pakyong Airport about 31 kms away from Gangtok, but because this airport is at an altitude of 4646 ft, the weather conditions are unpredictable. So I suggest to take a flight till Bagdogra Airport which is about 140 kms away from Gangtok, and then take a taxi till Gangtok. You can also book your ride in “Whizzride” which is a taxi service between Gangtok and Bagdogra. You can find a ride every hour and a shared ride would cost you around 1000-1200.
By train: Nearest Train station is New Jalpaiguri Station and from there you can again take a cab till Gangtok.
By Road: You can either hire a taxi or you can take your own vehicle. If you are driving your own vehicle I would suggest you to find out about the road conditions thoroughly before visiting as this area is prone to landslides.