Gangtok is the capital of the Indian state of Sikkim located at northeast India. I will tell everything you need to know about Gangtok so that you plan a perfect trip for yourself. This gorgeous hill station is located in the lower elevation of eastern Himalayas at a height of 5410 feet. The beautiful landscapes, The lovely waterfalls, the local food, cool and pleasant weather combining with the happy cheerful people makes Gangtok one of the favourite destination for the tourists. Gangtok is also the gateway for offbeat destinations like Lachung, Lachen and other villages of East Sikkim.
How to Reach Gangtok
Nearest Airport is BAGDOGRA AIRPORT (IXB)
Nearest Railways Station is NEW JALPAIGURI (NJP)
You can book private taxis from Airport and NJP station which takes around 4- 5 hours to cover the distance of approximately 130 kms. Shared taxis / Sumo is available from NJP / Siliguri but you will have to wait till the vehicle is fully occupied.
If you wish to take shared taxi from Bagdogra the you will have to make a pre-booking online.
Best Time To Visit Gangtok
April to June is the best time to visit Gangtok. The weather remains cool and pleasant even during the Summers. The Capital city of Sikkim becomes crowded this time of the year as many tourists come to enjoy the cool and natural atmosphere away from the hustles and bustles of the cities.
November to March is also a good time to visit Gangtok. The winters in Gangtok is very cold and temperature may even fall below 0 degree at times. This is the best time to enjoy the snowfalls at Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir. However if there is heavy snow up on the hill then the roads may close till the weather gets clear. Please note the chances of snowfall in Gangtok is very rare.
July to September is monsoon season and it not advisable to travel this time. Anyway, you can visit Gangtok if you love rains and don’t have much interest for the sightseeing points. Please check the weather forecast and also check with the routes as landslide is a common scene during monsoon.
How Many Days To Stay In Gangtok
You are advised to spend at least 3 Nights in the city of Gangtok. As mentioned earlier it takes nearly 5 hours (Including a break) to reach Gangtok from Airport / Station. Though the journey is very scenic and beautiful, there are chances of exhaustion or even travel sickness because of the sharp zig zag roads. Also the major part of the day is already consumed because of the transfer. Hence it is better to relax in the comfort of your room on the first day of your arrival. You can certainly visit MG Road Market in the evening.
On the second day of your trip you can visit Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir which is a full day excursion. Third day is set to enjoy the local sightseeing of Gangtok.
Things To Do In Gangtok
Gangtok may surprise you with the variety of options it has got to offer. The picturesque valley views, beautiful green coloured Teesta River, The arts and culture of the locals and their love for the game of football are some of the factors which will make your trip very special.
Following are the must see places and activities of Gangtok
Tsomgo Lake & Baba Mandir
Tsomgo (Changu) Lake & Baba mandir is about 40 kms towards the elevation from Gangtok. You will have to get the permit of Indian army to visit these places. The hotel or local taxi people will help you in getting the permits, you just need to submit your Valid ID Proof and 1 passport size photograph a day before. Tsomgo is a Oval shaped glacier lake surrounded by high rising mountains covered with snow during winters. The Lake actually freezes during winters because of the extreme cold weather. However in summer when the snow and glacier melts, the lake looks very beautiful and attractive.
Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple is dedicated to an Indian army officer who was martyred in the year 1968. But the amazing part of the story is that his spirit is still serving his duties. It has been reported and confirmed certain times by Indian & even Chinese army personnel that they have seen him patrolling near the border areas.
Ban Jhakri Falls Park is a beautiful natural setup of forest which is comprised of various colourful floras and faunas, cute pathways and footbridges and a 100 feet cascading natural waterfall. It is at a distance of about 7 kms from Gangtok City. You will have to pay small amount of Rs 50 to enter the Jhakri Waterfall Park.
Nathula pass comes under the authority of Indian Army and is protected area. You will have to get a permit to visit Nathula Pass as well. Nathuala pass is located about 54 kms from Gangtok and is situated at an altitude above 14000 feet. It is a border area and you can notice the army officers of both India and China patrolling at their respective borders.
Nambgyaal Institute of Tibetology
The premises comprises of Library & Museum where you can spend your time learning the history, culture, language and traditions of Tibet and its people. The sublime image of Manjushri is the main attraction of this museum which was brought from Tibet. You will find Tibetan art work, hand painting (thangka), ancient coins, statues etc in the museum. The library is equipped with ancient literatures based on Tibetans.
Ganesh Tok is a temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha. The temple attracts tourists mainly because of its view point from where you can observe Gangtok City, panoramic view of snow covered mountains including Kanchenjunga. You also have the option to buy souvenirs from the nearby shops.
Ramtek Monastary, Ranka Monastary and Do Drul Chorten are some of the famous and important monasteries in Gangtok. You will get the opportunity to click pictures with many of the young monks as most of the monasteries is also a training centre for them.
Shopping & Food At Mahatma Gandhi Marg (MG Market)
This is one of the coolest and most amazing market you will ever visit. I suggest you visit the market in the evening as it looks at its best at that time. The market area looks very clean and organised. You can purchase various local products like Tibetan Carpets, Thankas, Prayer Flags, Cups, wall hangings etc. You will also get good quality woollen and leather winter wears at attractive prices.
You will find many restaurants, cafes and bars on MG Road. You can choose to sit at one of the restaurants facing towards the street and enjoy viewing the market while having your meals. Baker’s cafe serves some amazing pastries and snacks. You can visit Taste of Tibet to enjoy some authentic dishes like momos, thupkas and noodles preparation. Apna Dhaba serves simple yet tasty North Indian Thalis. Roll House prepares varieties of rolls and momos.