Ideal duration: 2 – 3 days Major Airports: Bagdogra Airport Best time: October to May (Read More)
Canvassing the tranquillity, nestling itself in the magnificent mountain ranges of Kanchenjunga, escalating its high peaks to the beauteous white clouds, grazing the high plateaus of lush greenery and plush aroma of the cool breeze lies the most bewitching, marvellous and charismatic city of Sikkim known as Gangtok. The capital of the town and holds the most extensive area from any other town in Sikkim and is situated at a high elevation of 5410 feet. Other than being the most elegant and peace-seeking city of Sikkim, the town is also the headquarters of the East Sikkim district. The place is an effervescence of peace, serenity and silence nurturing high as a centre for Tibetology and Tibetan Buddhist culture. The view of the Kanchenjunga Mountains, the third highest peak in the world from the city is breathtaking and awe aspiring. The vibes around the place are all worth remembrance and highly compelling.
The city is a perfect blend of transcendence and tranquillity with elements of modern and sophisticated nature. The urbane nature of the city explores shopping complexes, cyber cafes, nightclubs and pool parlours. The town is at par with its educational qualifications including various monasteries and educational universities. Some of the key institutes of the city are the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Himalayan Zoological Park, Ganesh Tok, Enchey Gompa, and White Memorial Hallto name a few. The picturesque view of the majestic places acts as a gateway for luring in the aura of the other abodes for dwellers. The city is amazement with its simple lifestyle and easy travel to visit the other concealed beauties of the state.
The name Gangtok means a“Hill Cut”.The city is a hub of tourism for the state owing to its rich culture and heritage reflected in the art, crafts and people of the state. The city grazes the eastern Himalayan range. The tourists can enjoy fun activities like White water rafting, Kayaking, Trekking, Mountain Biking, Sightseeing, Traditional Sports and Bird Watching. A visit to Gangtok is going to leave with footprints of reminiscence and enthral. The mesmerizing beauty of the city is going to tangle you in its beauty and serenity. A visit to the city of gushing peace is a must.
The pages of the history of the state like the entire Sikkim; is adrift or forfeited. Not much is found about the early antiquity of the state. The earliest dictations related to the historical narration records from the date of construction of the hermetic Gangtok Monastery dating back to 1716. The city was a small hamlet until and unless the Enchey Monastery built in the year 1840 reckoned it as a pilgrimage centre.
The city was established its name and fame after the British invaded Tibet and established a halting military point in Gangtok. Looking over to the immense importance of Tibet for the military, a trade route was established between Gangtok and Tibet. Slowly and steadily the city developed due to expanding commerce and opportunities. It was during the reigns of the Thutob Namgyal, the reigning emperor of Sikkim also known as the Chogyal shifted his capital from Tumlong to Gangtok. The time of the 19th century is the time Gangtok gained its reputation of eminence and bulge. The capital was decorated with the grandeur of palaces, exquisite state buildings and rich cultural heritage. The capital was highly renovated to suit the needs of the kingdom, and the fellow architects highly praised the rich architecture.
After India’s Independence in the year 1947, Sikkim became a nation-state with Gangtok jewelled as its capital.
Culture of Gangtok
The diverse culture of the city of the city is painted vibrant and colourful. The major festivals of the city are Dashain, Tihar, Christmas and Holi. The diverse and rich cultural heritage of the town relishes various local festivals. There are a lot of ethnic groups spread vastly around the city engaging in various traditions. The most famous form of entertainment in the city is music. It is very much loved and appreciated ranging from different genres of Western music, Hindi Rock songs and Nepali songs.
The festivities are celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm. You can see brightly coloured daunting costumes called Chhaams worn by the locals dancing across streets in the festive occasions. People of Gangtok are very fond of football, cricket and archery. The first and delicious mouth-watering meals in the city consist of Sikkimese cuisine. The cuisine is offered in significant restaurants treating the visitors with finger licking dishes.
Best time to Visit
Well, Gangtok enjoys pleasant weather throughout the year. But for tourist its ideal to visit in between the months of October to mid-December, when the weather is all perfect for sightseeing, and one can enjoy the natural aura of the Himalayan ranges. Through December and January are considered to be the coldest months of the year, sometimes temperature drops down to as low as 1°C. June to September is regarded as the months of Monsoon season that causes massive landslides and disrupting communication in Gangtok.
How to reach Gangtok
By Air– The town does not have any airport of its own, and the closest airport is that of the Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri, Darjeeling at a distance of 125 km. The Bagdogra Airport receives flights from all the prominent metropolitan cities of the country like New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Guwahati. From the Bagdogra Airport, you can then board a taxi which will drop you till Gangtok.
By Rail– The nearest rail track to the city of Pelling is the New Jalpaiguri Railway Station situated at a distance of 170 km only. Also, the Bagdogra Airport at Siliguri is only 6 km away from the railway station.
By Road– The road connectivity till Pelling is both safe and secure well connected with all the major cities of Sikkim such as Gangtok, Siliguri and Darjeeling. The transport inside the city is available for various means of cabs, rentals, interstate buses and local buses plying on the road.
Festivals and Fairs of Gangtok
The rich and vibrant culture of Gangtok is visible in its festivals and fairs. The taste of diversity and the abundant gems of nature are perfectly tangled in the culture and heritage of the city. The spirit of the people within the town is all high, the vigor and the zest are all worth compelling and awe-inspiring. There are many legends hidden behind the celebrations that make these festivals even more grand and cordial.
Annual fairs are also organized promoting the tourism of the city. There are some festivals celebrated throughout Sikkim while some are local tribal ones celebrated separately by different tribes. Stalls are acquainting the people about the culture and history of the festival, the food, tribal elements, clothes, flowers and other subjects of line. There is also an arrangement of music, dance competitions and sports activities organized. Some of the local traditional festivals includes: Saga Dawa, Lhabab, Dhunchen, Pang Lhasol, Drukpa Tseshi, Losoong, Losar, Bumchu, Dasain, Tihar, Maghey Sankranti, Flower festival and the Mask dances.
What can you shop at Gangtok?
The entire arcade of the state is what you can shop at this one tourist centralist place. The must visit markets include the Tsomgo Market found near the beautiful tsomgo lake. The street is full of Woolen Fabrics, Jackets, Shawls, Woolen Socks, Scarfs and Blankets. The commodities available at this place are high-quality woollen items that too at cheap rates. Another worth visiting place is the MG Market which is known as the epicentre of Gangtok. The market is full of bright fabrics and beaded fabrics. Also, a place where you can shop for souvenirs and curious as mementoes for your loved ones. It has a string of restaurants and food stalls to satisfy your hungry souls. Another abode for shopaholics includes the Handloom and Handicraft Emporium. Consists of products implementing traditional skills. The product catalogue consists of hand-woven carpets, traditional Sikkimese dresses, Tibetan style furniture and beautifully crafted toys. The institute admissions students who were interested in learning the overpowering technology of handicrafts.
What you will like in Gangtok
The place is a blend of several elements ranging from nature lovers to wildlife fanatics to adventure seekers to religious buffs and shopaholics. The vibrant energy of the city is what will drive you to explore it more and more.
What you might not like in Gangtok
Landslides also are a common occurrence during monsoons. Another one is as the town is situated at a very high altitude of 5249 feet above the sea level you might face acclimatization issues. Also, watch out for nightlife.
Ardent Trekker,solo travellers and backpackers, Nature lovers, avid photographers, pilgrims.
Day 1- On your first of your tour, it is perfect to visit one of the most famous tourist spots, which is Do-drul Chorten, largest stupa of the town. Take a whole around to explore the scenery and serenity the marvellous architecture and dwell into the spirituality this place offers. From here you can directly go out for Cable ride from Tashiling, Namnang or Deorali and witness the alluring beauty of Gangtok from the top. After lunch, spend some time at Teesta river adventure junkies can go for white river rafting as well. If you enough get fascinated by Tibetan culture you can visit Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, succour the knowledge about the culture.
Day 2- Kickstart your day, by having a good meal in your hotel and leave for the most alluring site from Gangtok Tsongmo Lake, that will take a 3-hour drive from Gangtok, but its all worth it when you visit the place. Tourist has to take permit first, from the police, or through the tourism department. Experience yak ride and explore the whole beauty an rich floras. After this pay, your attention to the Shiva temple, just at a distance of a few kilometres from the lake site, fill your mind with peace and positivity. Have a halt, and by evening you can head out for Enchey Monastery, attend prayers there and witness the majestic beauty of Kanchendzonga peak, from this place.
Day 3- At the last day of your tour, begin your morning in the middle of spirituality and peace, visit one of the largest monasteries,Rumtek Monastery explore serenity within the vicinity after this you can visit Banjhakri waterfalls, the crystal clear water gushing the ground is a spectacular sight to mesmerize anyone. Have lunch at any authentic restaurant present n the lanes of Gangtok.By evening you can take a stroll around the local Old, and New Market can shop stuff according to your interest.
Local Food of Gangtok
The delicious cuisine of Gangtok consists of meals that are going to satiate your taste buds into everlasting smell and aroma. Until and unless you taste these local cuisines you cannot enjoy the fabulous taste. The most traditional on the list includes the food items of countries such as China and Nepal such as Momos. You can enjoy them in vegetarian and non-vegetarian also. These are available in roadside stalls to pricey restaurants. Thukpa also was known as Gya Thuk is a Tibetan style noodles topped with soup further flavoured with vegetables and minced food. The best place to have Thukpa in Gangtok is in Denzong Inn located on the Lal Bazaar.
Gundruk prepared from drying and decaying the leaves of mustard oil/radish/cauliflower plant topped with tomatoes and onions. Sinki made up of tap roots. Generally sour, these are consumed as appetizers. There are innumerable numbers of restaurants serving you savory meals and replenishing your taste buds.
Other important information about Gangtok
Religion and Language : The dominant religion practiced in the town is Hinduism although the inhabitants also follow other religions like Christianity and Buddhism and certain tribal religions. Sikkimese and Nepali are the most common languages spoken by the people of Pelling; although some can speak Hindi too. English is spoken fluently here as Gangtok is the tourism capital of the state. Other languages spoken by the people are Limbu, Bhutia, Newari, Lepcha, Gurung, Rai, Sherpa, Mangar, Sunwar and Tamang.