This could be your closest opportunity to trek in the Himalayas. You can also feast your eyes on panoramic views of Mt. Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), the highest mountain in India and the third highest mountain in the world. A visit to Gangtok, the small capital city of Sikkim makes for a mesmerizing experience as it offers proximity to the lofty Himalayas.
Probably you can catch a sight of Mt. Everest if the skies happen to be favorably clear. Be it newly weds or a holiday getaway with the family, Gangtok has everything to lure tourists. Especially those who have a penchant for snow-clad mountains, valleys, natural springs and lakes would yearn to revisit Sikkim, smitten by its raw beauty. Read further and explore this land of pristine purity and mystic beauty.
By Air: The nearest Airport is Bagdogra in West Bengal, close to 124 kms. It takes five hours to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra.
By Rail: The closest railway stations are at Siliguri (114 kms) and New Jalpaiguri (125 kms)
By Road: Excellent road links makes road travel through the beautiful countryside an enjoyable experience. Gangtok is well connected with Delhi, Calcutta, Lucknow, Darjeeling, Siliguri, Guwahati and many other important cities in India. Luxury coaches, jeeps and cars are available for hire.
Gangtok is situated in the northeastern part of India. It is the capital town of Sikkim, which is one of the five states of India that are nestled in the heart of Himalayas. At an elevation of 5,480 feet above the sea level, Gangtok overlooks the Ranipool River. June and September is time for the rains while October to March is a full-fledged winter season.
Thanks to its elevation and sheltered environment, Gangtok enjoys a mild temperate climate year round. Be it summer, monsoon, autumn, winter or spring, Gangtok promises exhilarating holiday experience anytime during the year. Gangtok, being a picturesque hill resort attracts domestic as well as international tourists. While Indian tourists require no special permit, it is mandatory for foreign nationals to obtain Inner Line Permit to visit Sikkim.
Accommodation: From luxurious accommodations to affordable budget retreats, hotels of Gangtok promise a combination of service, quality and style. During peak season, advance reservation is desirable.
Gangtok, sight-seeing: A number of local tour operators in Gangtok offer customized tour packages covering museums, monasteries and scenic spots spread across Gangtok. Decide, agree and plan an itinerary only after familiarizing yourself with the endless places of interest.
Places to visit & shop:
Mahatma Gandhi Road is the hub of commercial activities of Gangtok. This road bustles with activity from 8 am to 7 pm every day except on Tuesday and is famous for procuring all kinds of consumer goods. It may interest you to watch workshops specializing in bronze and silver jewelry.
Lal Bazaar is the main market right at the end of M.G. Road where farmers from all over the state of Sikkim converge to sell their produce every weekend. This market is popular for dried fish, yak's cheese and yeast used for making the local beer. Lal Bazaar also happens to be a place of confluence of different cultures of Sikkim.
Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom is on the National Highway. Established by the government to promote and preserve the rich arts and crafts of Sikkim, tourists get an opportunity to watch carpet making, handloom fabrics, thangka paintings and exquisite wooden objects.
Tourists are attracted to wooden furniture, colorful carpets & durries with intricate designs. The bustling markets are ideal to shop for souvenirs and gift items.
Gardens of Gangtok Sikkim
Saramsa Garden is 14 kms from Gangtok. Also known as Ipecac garden, Saramsa garden is home to many unique species of exotic orchids, floras, and medicinal and tropical plants. You would enjoy spending long hours picnicking amongst the scented colorful environment.
Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden has a wide range of rare plants, floras and trees. It is also home to certain species of Himalayan flowers and orchids. You can visit this garden on your way to Rumtek Monastery.
Water Garden is at Martam Khola, 16 kms South of Gangtok. Yet another ideal spot for picnic and recreation, there is a swimming pool mainly for children.
Temi Tea Garden is located in Temi, South Sikkim. The tea estate produces best quality tea and enjoys great demand in the international market. Atop the hill slopes, you can enjoy spectacular view of the nearby villages.
Monasteries of Gangtok
Buddhism is the predominant religion in Sikkim. Close to 200 monasteries are present in and around Sikkim and most of these monasteries are easily accessible from Gangtok. Each monastery is unique and bears special historical or religious significance. Enchey Monastery, Pemayangtse Monastery, Phentsang Monastery, Phodang Monastery, Ralong Monastery, Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre, Tsuk-la-khang Monastery are popular tourist attractions.
Trekking in Sikkim
Trekking on the mountainous terrains is a major attraction of Sikkim. Individual tourists can obtain 15 days permission in Gangtok, Rumtek, Phodong, Pemayangtse, Tashigang trekking circuits. Most popular trekking routes are Nayan Bazar - Pemayangtse - Yaksum - Dzongri or Rangpo - Gangtok - Yaksum - Dzongri.
The route covering mighty Kanchenjunga in Sikkim to Gocha La offers spectacular views of Kanchenjunga and the nearby peaks and glaciers. Trekking in these routes is an enchanting experience as you tread through dense forests abundant in rich wildlife, small lakes, birch dominated thickets, alpine scrub and alpine meadows.
Gangtok, Sikkim sight seeing
Khecheopalri Lake: A sacred lake, popular for making wishes true.
Tashi viewpoint: Situated along the North Sikkim highway, Tashi viewpoint is just 6 kms from Gangtok. It offers fascinating, breathtaking views of Mt. Kanchenjunga and Mt. Siniolochu.
Tsongo Lake: This lake is 40 kms from Gangtok. The 1 km 50 feet deep lake remains frozen from January to April, the winter months. Red Panda can be often spotted roaming around, is also a favorite stopover location for various migratory birds.
Other attractions of Sikkim include mountaineering, mountain biking, river rafting, yak safari, hand gliding, browsing through the wildlife area. There is so much to see, enjoy in Sikkim. Sikkim is a photographer's delight - to capture the pristine beauty within the lens.