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Gangtok Travel Guide

Discussion in 'Sikkim' started by Debapriya Deb, Oct 7, 2015.

  1. Debapriya Deb

    Debapriya Deb Active Member

    If the extreme summer is taking its toll on your body, then the little town of Gangtok nestled between the Great Himalayan Mountain ranges can be the perfect natural chill pill. Whether you are on the lookout for a quaint honeymoon destination or an unchartered trekking route or a relaxing family vacation by the hill-side, the sleepy capital of Sikkim can fit the bill well. It has a universal appeal to the adventure buffs, lovebirds and spiritual souls.

    Breathtaking views from high-altitude mountain passes, crystal clear glacial lakes, adventurous trekking trails and beautiful Buddhist monasteries - Gangtok does bring you all the ingredients to prepare a refreshing recipe.

    Situated in the Shivalik Hills of the Eastern Himalayan range, at an altitude of 1700 meters, Gangtok could easily be one of the cleanest cities that you have ever come across. It exhibits a colorful fusion of balanced ethnic culture. The Bhutias, Nepalis and Lepchas live together in complete harmony to form a truly cosmopolitan cultural hub. To sum up, it can be your ideal escapade from the typical and hectic city lives.

    Best Time to Visit Gangtok:

    October to June is considered as the tourist season in Gangtok. So except for the three months' monsoon time between July and September, Gangtok can be visited throughout the year. Monsoon season is characterized by deep torrential rainfall which is often the cause of landslides and blocked roads.

    December to February are the best time of the year to visit this city. The temperature can drop up to 5°C during the winter period. However, the sky remains bright and clear; so you could get fantastic views of the blue mountains and green valleys. Although situated in the foothills of Himalaya, snowfall is quite rare in the region.

    How to Reach Gangtok:

    Gangtok by Air:

    Not only Gangtok, but the entire Sikkim doesn't have a single commercial airport. Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal's Siliguri District is the nearest one 124 KM away from Gangtok. Bagdogra has regular flight connectivity to all parts of India via Kolkata. You can hire a taxi/cab to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra. The taxi ride can cost you approximately INR 1800-2500 depending on how hard you can negotiate. If bargaining is not your forte, then opt for the prepaid taxi service available from inside the airport premises.

    Alternatively, you can make use of the helicopter service operated by the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra airport. This 25 minutes' ride onboard a helicopter can be an incredible experience.

    Gangtok by Train:

    Again, there's no railway connectivity. West Bengal's New Jalpaiguri (NJP) is the nearest major railway junction. NJP station is well-connected to all major cities in India including New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Guwahati. From New Jalpaiguri station, taxi/Jeep can be hired for reaching Gangtok - which is situated at a distance of 125 KM.

    A cheaper option would be to reach Siliguri town (3.5 KM from NJP station) and board one of the Sikkim Government operated buses from Siliguri's Tenzing Norgay bus terminus. North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) also operates daily bus service in Siliguri-Gangtok route.

    Gangtok by Road:

    Siliguri Bus Terminus is sort of a lifeline for travelling to Gangtok. Every day dozens of vehicles, both public and private, ply to Gangtok from Siliguri via NH31. The road is generally in good condition, so even a 4.5-hour long bus journey is pretty comfortable. The bus fare is around INR 150. Besides connecting Siliguri to Gangtok, buses also operate in Darjeeling-Gangtok (97 KM), Kalimpong-Gangtok (73 KM) and Peling-Gangtok (117 KM) routes.

    Shared taxi service is available from Siliguri to Gangtok. You can catch a Gangtok-bound Tata Sumo, or Mahindra Maxx shared taxi in front of Siliguri bus stop. The fare is around INR 200.
    You may also hire a yellow board taxi/cab either from outside the Siliguri Bus Stand or NJP station. Luxury vehicles like Toyota Innova or Mahindra Xylo would cost you around INR 3000 while the approximate fare for an NON-AC Tata Indica would be around INR 2000.

    Tourist Attractions at Gangtok:

    Do Drul Chorten (Stupa):

    This is arguably the most important Buddhism monument in Gangtok. Constructed in the year 1945 by Venerable Trulshik Rinpoche, this intricately decorated stupa is situated on a hill-top, offering beautiful views of the pristine natural landscapes. It houses a complete mandala along with a set of Dorjee Phurba and other objects of Buddhist religious significance. There are two huge statues of Guru Padmasambhava (Rinpoche) installed inside the Do-Drul Chorten. Do Drul Chorten remains open to the visitors from 8 AM to 6 PM every day.

    Rumtek Monastery:

    Surrounded by the calmness of serene hills, the Rumtek Monastery, also known as Dharma Chakra Centre, is a must visit place in Gangtok. The beautiful 16th century Tibetan Buddhist Monastery at Rumtek is situated at a distance of 24 KM from Gangtok town. Originally constructed in the 16th century by the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk, the monastery was later renovated during the reigns of 16th Gyalwa Karmapa.

    The main sanctum is supported by bright red columns and the columns are decorated with long silk thangkas. The interior walls exhibit beautiful paintings. A 10 feet tall statue of Sakyamuni Buddha and several other smaller statues are on display inside. A staggering 13 feet tall Golden Stupa ornamented with turquoise and coral stones is another widely appreciated attraction in Rumtek Monastery. You can pay a visit to the monastery from 9 AM to 6 PM throughout the week.

    Enchey Monastery:

    Established more than a couple of centuries ago, this grand old structure was constructed under the supervision of the famous Lama Drupthob Karpo - who is believed to have the flying power! The monastery houses several ancient Buddhist artifacts including the images and statues of various Gods and Goddesses. Enchey Monastery is the site of the annual 'Chaam Festival' (masked dance) performed by the Tibetan Lamas.

    Tashiding Monastery and View Point:

    Besides being one of the best places to get a splendid view of Mount Kanchenjunga, Tashiding is famous for its Gold-topped Tashiding Monastery, which is regarded as one of the holiest Buddhist abodes in India. The annual Bumchu Festival is celebrated here with great fanfare which attracts thousands of devotees from many distant places.

    Palace Monastery (Tsuklakhang):

    This spectacular monument is one of the finest examples of Tibetan craftsmanship on Indian soil. It resembles a finely crafted palace, with beautifully decorated lavish interiors and ornamented altars. During the annual Losar festival, the monastery comes alive with tourists vying to catch a glimpse of the traditional Lama dance. Its riches of Tibetan sculptures, scriptures and artifacts make Tsuklakhang a must visit place during your Gangtok holidays.

    Tsomgo Lake:

    Popular as Changu Lake among the natives, the Tsomgo Lake is a high-altitude water body situated at an elevation of over 12,000 feet. The oval shaped lake is around 1 KM in diameter. Due to the extreme weather condition in the winter, the lake remains frozen for almost 6 months between November and April. Hence summer is the ideal time for paying a visit to Tsomgo Lake.

    With blue mountains on the backdrop, the lake sports a layer of azzure, crystal-esque water. It's a popular photo shooting spot for the tourists.

    Hanuman Tok:

    Located en route the Gangtok–Nathula highway at a distance of 11 KM from Gangtok town, the Hanuman Tok is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Situated at an elevation of 7200 feet, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Gangtok for the spectacular bird's-eye views it offers. The breathtaking views of the entire Gangtok town surrounded by lush greenery is sure to leave you spellbound. You can also get a panoramic view of the snow-capped peaks of Mount Khangchendzonga from this viewpoint.

    Namgyal Tibetology Museum:

    Managed by the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, the museum is no less than a miniature Tibet with its collection of artifacts related to the Tibetan religion, culture, history and art. The museum is home to a rare collection of ancient statues, wooden crafts, thangkas and manuscripts. A huge silver statue of Manjushri Buddha and the sandalwood idols of Padmasambhava are regarded as the most prized possessions among its treasures.

    Deer Park:

    Deer Park is located right on the heart of the Gangtok town. Besides deers, the park houses other animals as well. The Himalayan Stag is the main attraction here, but you can find various species of deers such as the spotted deer, blackbuck and swamp deer to name a few. The endangered Red Panda and Himalayan Bear can also be seen here in caged enclosures.

    Orchid Sanctuary:

    Located close to the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, the Orchid Sanctuary is a specialized garden where over 200 species of orchids are nurtured. The ideal time to visit the garden is during the blooming season between April to June. Having said that, some of the orchid species flower in the months of October and November also. So if you are unable to make it during the summer season, then the early winter can also be a good period to catch these colorful orchids.

    Bakthang Waterfalls:

    Situated at a stone throwing distance of 3 KM from the town along the National Highway 31(A) , Bakthang Waterfalls is a place that you should not miss out. The picturesque waterfalls is surrounded by untouched greenery with Mount Khangchendzonga standing tall on the backdrop. If you are looking for some relaxed time on the nature's lap, then Bakthang Waterfalls is the retreat that can serve you well.

    Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary:

    A perfect getaway to unwind for the nature-lovers, the Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary is situated 20 KM away from Gangtok town. You can find some exclusive Himalayan fauna at this wildlife reserve. Some of the animals that can be easily spotted here include civet cat, Himalayan black bear, Red Panda and Himalayan Binturong (bearcat).

    Reliable Hotels at Gangtok:

    There are a range of accommodation options suiting budgets of all sizes – from the bare basic to the most lavish. With a large number of hotels in and around the Gangtok town, it is possible to get a suitable accommodation on arrival, but if you are travelling with family, then its always better to book your stay well in advance.

    NoHotelLocationMinimum TariffContact
    1Green RetreatIndira Bypass, INR 750(+91) 94323 24780
    2Hotel GyatsoForest ColonyINR 900(+91) 3592 201 311
    3Denzong InnLall Bazar RoadINR 1200(+91) 3592 201 373
    4Hotel Twins PeakLall Bazar RoadINR 1350(+91) 3592 201 465
    5Mayal RetreatDPH RoadINR 1600(+91) 80177 16055
    6Hotel SagorikaUpper Aithang RoadINR 1950(+91) 3592 206 958
    7Hotel TibetPalzor Stadium RoadINR 2100(+91) 3592 203 468
    8Hotel Saikripa GangtokSungavaINR 2500(+91) 99030 42163
    9Central HotelOff NH31(A)INR 3000(+91) 3592 202 105
    10Hotel Mount SiniolchuVIP ColonyINR 4000(+91) 3592 201 571
    So are you ready to witness the nature unfolding itself in front of yourself? If yes, then head straight to Gangtok and experience serenity at its purest form.

  2. paudu

    paudu Member

    This looks like a truly magical place. I would absolutely love to visit the deer park and the orchid sanctuary. Is photography allowed at the monasteries?
  3. Debapriya Deb

    Debapriya Deb Active Member

    Yes, photography is allowed at all the four monasteries mentioned in the guide.
  4. amelia88

    amelia88 Active Member

    Tsomgo Lake looks incredible - the water is such an amazing shade of turquoise that it almost looks fake, like it's been photoshopped or something! I've seen lakes like that in New Zealand, with that amazing shade of water - I would love to check this lake out to see how it compares! Love the snowy mountain backdrop too, just stunning!
  5. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    That picture is untouched.
    amelia88 likes this.
  6. amelia88

    amelia88 Active Member

    It makes me completely in awe of the beauty of nature!! This planet we live on is pretty incredible!
  7. Vinaya

    Vinaya Member

    Sikkim is one of the states in India that I wanted to visit very much. I have a friend who has a restaurant in Sikkim and I may travel t Sikkim one of these days.

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