Gangtok
Photos
 
Brief

Gangtok is located in the state of Sikkim on the eastern Himalayan range at an altitude of 1,650 meters. The town is a melting pot of different ethnicities such as Nepalese, Lepchas and Bhutia. Nestled within higher peaks of the Himalaya and enjoying a year-round mild temperate climate, Gangtok is at the centre of Sikkim's tourism industry. Gangtok became a major stopover on the trade route between Lhasa in Tibet and cities such as Kolkata (then Calcutta) in British India. After India won its independence from Britain in 1947, Sikkim chose to remain an independent monarchy, with Gangtok as its capital. In 1975, after the integration with the union of India, Gangtok was made India's twenty-second state capital. Today, Gangtok is a centre of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning, with the presence of several monasteries, religious educational institutions, and centres for Tibetology. The city is flanked on east and west by two streams, namely Roro Chu and Ranikhola respectively. Both the streams meet the Ranipul and flow south as the main Ranikhola before it joins the Teesta at Singtam. Most of the roads are steep, with the buildings built on compacted ground alongside them.

 
Travel Tips

It is advisable to carry photo ID’s as one is required to show them before entering monasteries. Littering and spitting are fineable offenses. No Plastics carry bags are sold or used. The local people have strong religious sentiments and they retaliate harshly to any word or action that they perceive as offensive to their religious sentiments.



When to visit

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • July
  • Aug
  • Sept
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
sprinkles Very Cold
  • 8.4° Max
  • 3.0° Min
  • 15.0 mm
  • Carry Heavy woollen
 
Things to do

The Enchain Monastery is a two hundred years old monastery in the Niangua tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and is located above the town of Bangkok. It is a monastery of great historical value. The Dodrupchen Monastery is a large monastery, also in the Nyingma tradition. It is famous for its large chorten. A chorten is synonymous with the Sanskrit word ‘stupa’. When in residence, the Dodrupchen Rinpoche receives devotees to offer blessings from around 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. the flower show, which takes place in the Ridge Park Complex from 10 a.m., is at its best during the flowering season which is mid March to end of May in spring and October to mid December in autumn. But by far the annual Cymbidium Orchid Show which commences from mid March to mid April is the best and the finest show in the entire South Asian region. The entry fee is just Re.10. Ganesh Tok and Hanuman Tok are the two view points from which Kanchenjunga is clearly visible. Hanuman Tok is located at a slightly more strategic position. The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology has an excellent collection of artifacts and manuscripts connected to Tibetan Buddhism that can be viewed by interested tourists. The Banjhakri Falls is a pristine waterfall, surrounded by gardens and stairwells. Many beautiful sculptures can also be seen there. If the weather permits, it is an ideal picnic spot. Another attraction of Gangtok is the cable car ride from the Deorali Market, however, the service is heavily dependent on the weather condition. 

 
Getting Around

Taxis have their routes around the city, and there are standard charges within the main areas. The standard fares are Re.40 for private service and Re.8 for shared. Taxis can only be hailed from designated taxi stands. Private taxis are also available at Lal Market and M.G Marg. Taxis here do not run on meter basis, so one can negotiate for fare before boarding. Private and SNT buses are available for inter-city travelling. For places like Tashiding, Yuksom and Pelling, buses depart from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. from SNT bus stop. Hourly services are also available for some places like Jorethang, Namchi, Rabangla and Geyzing.

 
Places to Stay

Several budget, mid-range and high range hotels are available in Gangtok.

 
How to Reach

  • The nearest airport is at Bagdogra at a distance of roughly 120 kilometers. The Bagdogra airport is served by direct flights from Kolkata and New Delhi. From the airport, one can hire a taxi to reach Gangtok. There is helicopter service between the Bagdogra and Gangtok once a day at around 2.00 p.m. the tickets need to be pre-booked as it carries only 8 passengers.
  • The nearest railway station to Gangtok is the New Jalpaiguri station which has direct connections to New Delhi, Kolkata, and other major cities in India. It is a 10-12 hour journey from Kolkata. Upon arrival in New Jalpaiguri, one can either hire a taxi from the station itself or take an auto-rickshaw to the Siliguri bus stand. From there, one has the option of travelling to Gangtok by state bus which is roughly a 5-6 hour journey.
  • Dozens of jeeps travel to Gangtok daily from Siliguri, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and other mountain locales. Fare of the shared taxis is generally fixed at around INR 155 to Gangtok from the New Jalpaiguri station. Drivers might try to charge higher so it is advisable to check the fare with other taxis before taking one.

 
Surrounding Attractions

The Tsongo Lake is a pristine, high altitude lake located near Gangtok. During the winter season the lake freezes over and the surrounding mountains are covered with snow, providing an excellent view. It is on the way to the Nathula Pass. It is surrounded by mountains on all sides but one. There is a pavement running by one side of the lake which goes on for a distance of approximately 200 meters. One can take a ride on the Yak on this pavement. The Nathula Pass is a pass that connects India with Tibet. It is a few hours’ journey from Gangtok and is one of the must-visit places. The Ranka Monastery is a relatively new monastery and is about 26 kilometers from Gangtok and offers a beautiful scenic route and a tranquil atmosphere. The Rumtek Monastery is the more famous monastery that is a day’s journey including return, from Gangtok. It is famous as the centre of the controversy between two sects of Tibetan priests.

 
Important Numbers

Police: 100

Fire Brigade: 101

Hospital: 102