Visit the Beautiful Monasteries
Situated at an elevation of 5,140 ft. Gangtok is the capital and the largest town of Sikkim. Placed amidst the high Himalayan peaks and blessed with pleasant weather all-round the year, the town is the centre of tourism industry of Sikkim.
After construction of Enchey Monastery, the town became a prominent Buddhist pilgrimage centre.
Gangtok which was once a major stopover by traders travelling between Tibet and India now serves as an important business centre. The cosmopolitan town is accommodated by people of diverse culture and societies like Nepalese, Lepchas and Bhutia.
The place with an unadulterated beauty invites many travellers across the country who wants to spend some peaceful leisure time.
There are many charming places in Gangtok which invites lot of tourists from all around the world. Being an important Buddhist pilgrimage centre, the place is home to many beautiful monasteries like Do-Drul Chorten and Rumtek Monastery. There are many points in the town from where you can have stunning views of Kanchenjunga peak. Tsongmo Lake is perfect spot to enjoy serenity and panoramic sights. The place with rich biodiversity has many wildlife sanctuaries and zoological park like Himalayan Zoological Park, Shingba Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary, Rhododendron Sanctuary and Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve offering huge delight for wildlife and nature lovers.
Let’s take a tour of some charming places of this beautiful town.
Tsomgo Lake is located at two hour drive from Gangtok, on the Gangtok – Nathula Highway (which is a part of the old route that connects India and China). This fifty-meters deep and one kilometre lengthy lake is revered and worshipped by Sikkimese. Surrounded by beautiful landscapes it is one of the major tourist attraction in the town. The water in the lake is the result of the accumulation of the melting snow of the nearby mountains and during winter it gets frozen. While you are here, you can visit the small temple on the lakeside dedicated to Lord Shiva. You can also indulge rambling either on the pathway around the lake or by a yak-ride.
The best time to visit the lake is from March to late May and from October to initial December. As it is located in the restricted area, tourists require an Inner Line Permit to visit the lake.
ADDRESS – East of Sikkim, 35 away from the town on the Gangtok – Nathula highway, Gangtok
Rumtek Monastery is the largest monastery in Sikkim, situated at a high elevation of 5,800 feet. The monastery is very significant as it is the seat of the Karmapa Lama, the third highest monk in Tibetan Buddhism. Originally it was built in the 16th century by the ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorge and rebuilt in 1979. Surrounded by lush greenery, the monastery offers spiritual retreat beside panoramic sights. It features a golden stupa and the sacred items and remains brought out from Tsurphu Monastery, the Karmapa’s seat in Tibet.
ADDRESS – 25 Km east from Gangtok
TIMINGS - All days of the week
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (during winters)
8: 00 AM – 5:00 PM (during summer)
ENTRY FEE – Free Entry
Located 50 Km from the city, Nathula Pass is trade pass and also one of the highest pass in India with an altitude of 4,310 m. this pass situated on Indo – Chinese border was closed after the Indo – China was in 1962, but get reopened in 2006. The pass reduces the travelling distance to some important Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims like Mansarovar Lake and Lhasa. A part of the old silk route, Nathula Pass requires special permit to visit the site. The pass is noticeable for giving stunning views from it especially while the break of the dawn. Two beautiful sites Jhakri Waterfall and Tsomgo Lake fall en route the pass.
ADDRESS – 50 Km from east of Gangtok
Located at a distance of 4 Km from the Gangtok, the 100 feet spectacular Banjhakri waterfall drops from a height of 100 feet. The whole park is places on a theme park featuring Shaman (Jhakri) culture and Sikkimese architecture in its structure and design. The place is ideal to spend some quality time with family and friends amidst green forest. One can also make a quick visit to the Ranka Monastery lying en route to the fall.
ADDRESS – Gangtok
TIMINGS - All days of the week
9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Tashi View Point
It is one of the best points in Sikkim to admire the splendid views of Mount Kanchenjunga. With and elevation of 4,586 meter, Kanchenjunga mountain is the third highest peak in the world. The unparalleled beauty of this snow-capped mountain is worth your admiration if you happen to be in Sikkim. One of the ideal places for this is Tashi view point, located at a distance of 4 Km from Gangtok. Constructed by the king of Sikkim, the place also offers rare views of Phodong Monastery and Labrang Monastery sited on the opposite hills. The place has also a cafeteria to relax and rest for a while.
ADDRESS - Tashi View Point, Gangtok
Hanuman Tok Temple
Dedicate to Lord Hanuman, Hanuman Tok Temple is surrounded by green parks and beautiful mountains. Situated on the top of the hillock, the place offers breath taking views of entire Gangtok, nearby hills and Kanchenjunga Mountain. The temple is taken care by Indian Army.
ADDRESS – 5 Km from Gangtok
TIMINGS – All days of the week
6:00 AM – 7:00 PM
ENTRY FEE – Free Entry
Do - Drul Chorten Stupa
Built by a Tibetan Buddhist named Trulshik Rinpoche in 1945, Do-Drul Chorten Stupa is the most popular and biggest Buddhist shrine in Sikkim. The place houses 108 prayer wheels on which Buddhist mantras have been engraved. The golden dome atop the shrine is what Do Drul is famous for.
ADDRESS – Near Tibetology Institute and Gangtok Centre, Gangtok
TIMINGS – All days of the week
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
ENTRY FEE – INR 10 per person
Himalayan Zoological Park
Situated at Bulbulay (a beautiful hilltop in Gangtok), Himalayan Zoological Park is intriguing place for the wildlife lovers. The park which was established to preserve wildlife in their natural habitat is stretched over an area of 205 hectares. As the park is situated at a high altitude, it offers beautiful view of nearby area and Mount Kanchenjunga. The park houses the Himalayan Black Bear, Barking Deer, Snow Leopard, Tibetan Wold, Masked Palm Civet, Spotted Deer, Red Pandas and many more wild creatures.
ADDRESS – Himalayan Zoological Park, Forest Secretariat, Deorali, Gangtok
TIMINGS – All days of the week except Thursday
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
ENTRY FEE – INR 25 per person for Indians
INR 50 per person for foreign tourists
Ganesh Tok is a small temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha, at a height of 6,500 meter. The place is famous for presenting mesmerising view of the beautiful Gangtok town, Mount Kanchenjunga and nearby beautiful places. The place is perfect for photo fanatics to take extraordinary shots.
ADDRESS – Located on a hilltop on Gangtok-Nathula Road, Gangtok
Seven Sister Waterfall
Located 32 Km away from Gangtok, Seven Sister Waterfall is one of the spectacular sites to enjoy the beauty of nature. The appealing fall got its name as it is said to fall in seven stages. The beauty of this fall can be witnessed in the best manner in rainy season when it plunges with full vigour and flow. Inviting tourist, photo freaks and nature lovers the place perfect to relax and have good view of the beautiful hills. There is also a waiting shed and cafeteria for the comfort of the visitors, established by Tourism and Civil Aviation Department.
ADDRESS – 32 Km away from Gangtok, Gangtok
Enchey Monastery is a 200 year old monastery built in 1909. Situated 3 Km from the town, the monastery is built on blessed spot by Lama Druptob Karpo (tantric master possessing flying powers). The shrine is also an important seat of the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The place is considered very sacred as it is believed that the protecting deities – Khangchendzonga and Yabdean reside in the monastery. It is also believed that these powerful deities grant the wishes of devotees. Surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges and tranquillity the place is worth visit. The monastery also holds the spectacular Cham Dance Festival (mask dance depicting mythological stories) on the 18th and 19th day of the 12th lunar calendar.
ADDRESS – Gangtok-Nathula Road, Gangtok
Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary
Accommodating around forty different species of rhododendron trees, Shingba Sanctuary is a nature park. Charming place for nature lovers, the place is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges and Yumthang Chu River meandering through the valley.
ADDRESS – Around 150 Km from Gangtok, North Sikkim
Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary
Known for its rich biota, Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most beautiful wildlife sanctuaries of Gangtok. With diverse species of flora and fauna, the sanctuary is habitat a number of animal species like Civet Cat, Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, and Bearcat. Plant species includes Bamboo, Ferns, Oak, Orchids, Rhododendrons and many more. It is a beautiful place calling animal and nature lovers.
ADDRESS – Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary, 25 Km from centre of Gangtok
ENTRY FEE – INR 5 per person
Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve
Surrounded by mountains and glaciers, Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve owes its name from the Mount Kanchenjunga. Spread over 1,784 Km area, the place is one of the highest biosphere reserves in the country. It houses some rare plants, animals and bird species. The biosphere reserve offers perfect natural retreat for wildlife enthusiasts and nature admirers. It is habitat of variety of animals like Musk Deer, Snow Leopard and Himalayan Tahr, Snowcock, Blood Pheasant, Osprey, Satyr Tragopan, Green Pigeon are some popular names out of 550 bird species the place has. The flora of the place includes Oak forests, Maple, Willow, Alpine meadow, Fir Birch and many more.
ADDRESS – Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, Gangtok
TIMINGS – All days of the week
10:00 AM – 6:30 PM
Sikkim is the fusion of cultures and traditions of Nepal, India, Bhutan and Tibet. So the food habit and cuisine of the state is also a blend of all these different dietary culture. The popular cuisine of Sikkim which is relished by large masses today is the result of continuous experiment with the culinary art for generation.
Rice is the chief food of the Sikkimese. Meat and dairy products are also integral part of Sikkimese cuisine. Apart from these fermented food and beverages impart a good portion of the traditional cuisine of the place. Crops like barley, soybean, finger millet, wheat, potato and vegetables are grown and consumed all over the region. Beside these lentils, bamboo shoots, mushrooms are part of the diet of Sikkimese people. Among non-vegetarian items beef, pork and fish are savoured with great delight. Some popular local dishes enjoyed by different communities of Sikkim are Thupka (Noodle soup), Kinema curry (fermented soybean curry), Momo, Gundruk and Sinki soup (Fermented vegetable soup), Chhurpi soup (Traditional cottage cheese), Chhurpi ka Achar, Sel Roti (Fermented rice product), Pakku (Mutton Curry) etc.
Among the beverages Chhang, a fermented cereal based alcoholic beverage served in bamboo, is very popular.
Let’s have some bites of Sikkimese food in some of the best eating places of Gangtok.
Golden Dragon Bar & Restaurants
Located on MG Marg, Golden Dragon Bar & Restaurant is a fine place where you can have North Indian Dishes as well as Chinese Dishes. You can get here Biryani with varieties like prawn, chicken, eggs and veg. with nice ambience the place has also an inside dining room with balcony overlooking MG Road.
ADDRESS – MG Road, Gangtok
TIMINGS – 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
PRICE – INR 160 - 220 (for two people)
Nine Native Cuisine
Popular for its Tibetan cuisine, Nine Native Cuisine is perfect to relish some great dishes like momos, Sikkimese Set meal with chicken, Fermented Soybean, Mushroom Kachi etc. don’t forget to try the especial Sikkimese dishes like Kinema (soyabean curry), Maachoo (cottage cheese gravy) and Sikkimese pork curry.
ADDRESS – New Market, MG Road, Gangtok
TIMINGS – 09:00 AM – 10:00 PM
PRICE –INR 200 onwards (for two people)
Situated on MG Road, the place is ultimate to sip different variety of classic coffee along with delicious snacks. In its nice ambience you can also enjoy outside view from the window overlooking the MG Road. The place mostly serves confectionaries like pastries, cakes, bread rolls, toasts and eggs, muffins, pancakes, sandwiches, pizzas and many more such items which you can savour with great delight.
ADDRESS – Baker’s Cafe, MG Road, Gangtok
TIMINGS – 09:00 AM – 10:00 PM
PRICE – INR 50-80 per cup of coffee
A foodie’s delight is unfinished without tasting the street food of any place s/he comes across. And if you are in Gangtok there are many places where you can gorge on a number of sumptuous eatables at very reasonable rates. Roll House is one such place where you can have some really delicious vegetarian rolls and momos.
ADDRESS – Near MG Road, Gangtok
PRICE – INR 30 – 40
It is one of the best and decent restaurants in Gangtok where you can have some special Sikkimese dishes like Sochhya. The restaurant serves some very delicious western snacks and variety of cocktails in its Japanese style floor cushioned bar area.
ADDRESS – Ground Floor, Chumbi Residency, Tibet Road, Gangtok
PRICE – INR 400 - 800
From immemorial time festivals are part and parcel of human life. And the culture and tradition of any place is best displayed in its vibrant festivals. There are many festivals of Gangtok which shows the rich culture of the state. Let’s take a look of these colourful fests.
Saga Dawa means Buddha Jayanti in Bhutia language. This highly revered festival is celebrated by Buddhist community of Sikkim. Saga Dawa is believed to be three-fold-auspicious as it commemorates Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and salvation. This much awaited and much celebrated festival falls on the full moon day of Buddhist lunar calendar. On this auspicious day a government holiday is declared and all Buddhists of the place assemble at sacred monasteries to worship Lord Buddha followed by singing prayers and devotional dances.
Phang Lhabsol is one of the Buddhist festivals celebrated on the fifteenth day of seventh month as per Tibetan Calendar. This festival is dedicated to Mt. Kanchenjunga, the guardian deity of Sikkim and Yabdu, the supreme commander of it. The festival also marks the peace treaty signed between the blood brothers Lepchas and the Bhutias. On this day the guardian deity is portrayed by masked Lama Dance with a red face and a crown of five skulls, riding a snow lion. Antics are played during the Chaams by the jesters called ‘Atchars’.
Although, Dashain is a much celebrated fifteen day long festival of Nepal, it is celebrated in Sikkim also with much zeal and joy. It is Durga Puja festival which is celebrated with much reverence under the name of Dashain here. It commemorates the triumphant of Goddess Durga victory over Mahishasura.
Celebrated in the month of December, the Gangtok Festival is organised by the Tourism Development Department of Sikkim. This is a food and cultural festival to promote the rich cultural heritage of Sikkim. The festival also imparts traditional dances and singing performances by local people.
Venue – MG Marg, Gangtok
Apart from scenic beauty and tranquillity the beautiful hill, Gangtok is dotted with a number of markets which is full of unique shopping items. Demand anything from handicrafts, gift items, rugs/carpets, tea & spices, jewellery or clothes, the shopping bazaars are replete with abundant such items to offer you. The place is best to by traditional items like Tibetan woollen carpets or tribal artefacts which show the skill of the local artisans the best.
Here let’s go for a shopping spree in some of the most bustling and popular markets of Gangtok.
This main market of Gangtok for tourists is lined with all sorts of shops on both sides. The place has large number of shops filled with innumerable varieties of shopping items like clothes, shoes, trinkets, gifts & souvenirs and many more such stuffs. One of the unique things to buy here is Sikkimese cups made of porcelain.
TIMINGS – All days of the week except Tuesday
9:00 AM to 8:00 PM
SHOP FOR – Tibetan clothes, handicrafts
Directorate of Handicraft & Handloom
Located at the end of the Tibet Road, Directorate of Handicrafts & Handloom was established in 1957 with an object of promoting the art and craft of the place. It has a large Sales Emporium which sells all types of traditional Sikkimese handicraft items made by local artisans and craftsmen. Some unique items to purchase from here are Thankas (religious scroll painting), wood cravings, wall hangings, woollen carpets, Choktse (carved wooden foldable tables), shawls etc.
TIMINGS – 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 1:00 AM to 3 PM
SHOP FOR – Shawls and traditional handicraft items
Located below MG Marg, the buzzing market area, Lal Bazaar is heaven for expert bargain-ers. Established in 1965 as an open market area, it was renovated in 2005 with a multi-storied shopping complex. The market is a treasure trove of different varieties of miscellaneous items. Explore the market and in reward get back some worth buying souvenirs and gifts at very reasonable price. If you visit this market on Haat Day (Sunday), you will come across villagers and folks coming from diverse culture. On this day you can buy some rural items like Churpi (dried cheese made from Yak milk), organic vegetables and some good and unique Sikkim Dairy Products like Alpine Cheese. You can also get some other items like pottery, cut flowers, Khukri (traditional curved Nepali Knife) and Daalo (baskets made from bamboo).
TIMINGS – All days of the week except Thursday
9:30 AM to 12:30 PM
SHOP FOR – Souvenirs and rural items
Being one of the major tourist destinations in Sikkim, Gangtok has ample options for good accommodation. The place stores variety of staying places including luxury hotels, mid ranged & budget hotels, resorts, comfortable homestays, guest houses, lodges and villas. Summit Norling Resort & Spa, The Orange Village Resort, Mayfair Spa Resort & Casino are the name of some lavish five star hotels of the place. Some popular three star hotels of the place are Mayfair Gangtok, Hotel Mount Siniolchu, Hotel Himalayan Heights, Tamarind Residency etc. there are many options for budget travellers also like Bamboo Grove, Hotel Tibet Gallery, The Royal Residency and The Silk Route Residency.
So, there are all types of accommodating place varying with traveller’s need and pocket. Let’s know about some of the good hotels in detail.
Mayfair Spa Resort & Spa
Not fit for everyone’s wallet, Mayfair Spa Resort & Spa is a luxurious choice for accommodation. Well supplied with all the top-notch facility this five-star hotel is within the close proximity of shopping centres, restaurants and nightclubs. The hotel also features bar/lounge, swimming pool, gym/fitness centre, conference room and sauna. From ambience, food, hospitality to high class amenities, the place has everything to give its visitors and unforgettable experience.
Address – Lower Samdur Block, Ranipool, Gangtok
Located at 35 min drive from the main town Gangtok, Bamboo Retreat is place in the natural surroundings of paddy fields, bamboo groves and forest. The place is best to enjoy some true tranquillity of the place. The complex has been designed in keeping with the comfort of the visitors with touch of the local culture and tradition. The room are well decorated and furnished with pleasing interiors. They are also provided with private balcony to enjoy the panoramic sights of the surroundings. The complex has garden restaurant where you can savour local Sikkimese as well as Indian, Chinese and Italian cuisine. It is also provided with a good bar.
Address – Rumtek, Gangtok
The Lindsay Himalayan Heights
Located in the centre of the city, The Lindsay Himalayan Heights is a well maintained staying place offering a cosy stopover to its guests. The rooms are provided with all the necessary service and facilities. Due to its ideal location, it is near to shopping centre, bus stop, restaurants and nightclubs of the town. It has also an on-site restaurant Sharkila that serves Sikkimese as well as Chinese, Continental and North India dishes. The place has also Zumba bar where you can have some fine quality of cocktails, beers and wines. The complex is also furnished with a conference room, ideal for business meetings.
Address – Palzor Stadium Road, M. G. Market, East Sikkim, Gangtok
Ideally located in the heart of Gangtok, Hotel Karma is one of the modern hotels supplied with all the basic amenities. Meeting the needs of every type of traveller whether its business or leisure, the accommodating place is ready to serve them with warm hospitality. The hotel is also provided with a multi – cuisine restaurant – Masala offering wide choice of Indian, Chinese, South Indian and Continental food.
Address – M. G. Road, Gangtok
The Maplewood Resort
An ideal option for budget travellers, The Maplewood Resort is perfect if you want to explore north Sikkim. The room are spacious, clean and well maintained. Apart from basic amenities and service you will meet good staffs during your stay. You can enjoy good views of outside from the room.
Address – Lower Bozoghari Bypass Road, Near Sivalaya Mandir, Gangtok
Being a prominent Buddhist pilgrimage centre and hill station, Gangtok is well connected to nearby cities and major towns. The closest airport from Gangtok is Bagdora, closest railway station is New Jalpaiguri and closest commercial hub is Siliguri. Taxi is the best mode to move around the town. You can also hire shared taxi, which is comparatively cheaper.
Reaching Gangtok by Air
The nearest airport to Gangtok is 124 Km away in Bagdora, West Bengal. From Airport Gangtok can be easily reached by hiring a shared taxi or private vehicle. One can also go for helicopter services operated by the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation, which takes only 20 min to reach. Although this service is operated on daily basis, it very much depends on the weather condition.
Reaching Gangtok by Train
The closest railway station to Gangtok is New Jalpaiguri, which is located 117 km away. The station is well connected to other major cities like New Delhi or Kolkata. From New Jalpaiguri one can hire a taxi or state run buses (available in Siliguri Bus Station).
Reaching Gangtok by Road
Gangtok is well linked by road to all nearby major town/cities/tourist places like Siliguri (115 Km), Darjeeling (98 Km), Kolkata (670 Km) and Kalimpong (74 Km). The regular Sikkim State Transport buses provide its services between Gangtok and Siliguri. One can also opt from private buses/jeeps/taxis from Siliguri or Bagdora. One can opt for NH 31 A to reach the place.