Don’t miss these simply enchanting destinations in Gangtok, if you want the best of your Gangtok tour package.
North-East is in itself nothing short of a marvelous recess of the country. Not only is the region rich in culture, but it is a haven of peace, natural beauty and charm all combined in one. Tucked away in the mighty Himalayas, Sikkim holds as much truth to this as its sisters. It is thus no wonder how popular Sikkim is among travelers or those who appreciate the tranquility and appeasement that mother nature blesses one with.
Gangtok, the alluring capital of picturesque Sikkim, can well be called a big wonder enclosed in a small package. As much as Gangtok depicts the clonal beauty, charm and serenity of its peers, it is also a center for those who find gratification through indulgence in myriad adventure activities.
Before embarking on your journey to Gangtok, here is all the information that you will require for a pleasant and hassle free vacation. Thank us later.
How to Reach Gangtok?
To reach Gangtok, you have the option of both flight and rail.
The nearest airport to Gangtok is at Bagdogra, which is a small town in West Bengal. Upon reaching there, you can either hire a shared taxi or take your private vehicle to reach Gangtok. The journey between the two places will take 2 hours (124 km), but the gorgeous views of the Teesta river and mountains forming the backdrop will not let you know how the time elapsed.
There is also a chopper service available to take tourists from Bagdogra to Gangtrok in just 20 minutes, but it is subject to weather conditions and the number of bookings. Oops!
The nearest railway station to Gangtok is 128 km away and is located at Jalpaiguri in Siliguri which is well connected to major stations like New Delhi and Kolkata. You can take a taxi directly to Gangtok or Siliguri , from where you can take the inter state bus to reach your destination. The whole journey will take about 5-6 hours.
Best Time to Visit Gangtok
Except for the months of July- September, the whole year is suitable for a trip to the stunning Gangtok. While winters (average low 4°C.) are simply amazing with clear weather and mountains and valleys at their peak of their beauty, summers are pleasant with maximum temperature never reaching more than 22°C.
Where to Stay in Gangtok?
Gangtok has its fair share of hotels and motels. You will find both budget and luxury hotels to choose from to fit your pocket well. But because of this large assortment of hotels and stiff competition among the hoteliers, you need to be wary of being sold a duping deal. Do not fall victim to low prices with claims of mountain views since those can only be a pinhole view of the mountain, mostly blocked by another building in front of yours. Exaggerating?
While OYO rooms or Mandarin Village Resort can be a good option if you are on a budget, there are also some good mid range hotels to try, like Netuk House, Tamarind Residency or Nettle and Fern Hotel. Some of the most beautiful and popular hotels and resorts in Gangtok include the Mayfair Spa Resort & Casino which is perfect if you love to stay in a colonial style setup and Summit Norling Resort and Spa which is sure to make you all tingly inside with its lovely romantic ambience set in bamboo.
What to Eat in Gangtok?
Gangtok is not just a place that looks good but it also tastes amazing, err, what we meant is its food is amazing. Predominantly a non-vegetarian paradise, you will find a wide array of yummy food. The most popular dishes of Gangtok include momos, thukpa, gyathuk, gundruk and sinki, thentuk and sha phaley. While momos is popular (and very much in love with), you will find the most authentic taste in them here. Filled with vegetable or meat, these steamed goodies are a must try. Available at all major eateries , thukpa is another popular dish of the region which is typically a Tibetan noodles based soup flavoured lightly and containing either meat or vegetables. Sha phaley is a type of meat patty indigenous of Sikkim while gundruk and sinki are appetizers which are prepared with leafy green vegetables at homes and seldom found in restaurants. They are made by fermenting the roots and leaves of mustard, raddish and cauliflowers and then cooked with a mix of tomatoes and onions.
Things to Do in Gangtok?
Apart from soaking in the local beauty of the capital, you can indulge in a lot of exciting and interesting activities in Gangtok. From riding a Yak to river rafting and mountain biking, there is plenty of activities to strike off your bucket list.
1. Yak Safari
Yaks are known to traverse the difficult mountain terrain of the region with ease which is why they have become the preferred choice among the locals for transportation. The perimeter of Tsomgo Lake or the Dzongri region with its Yak trails are the ideal spots to try this horned and hairy mountain beast. The Chota Valley serves as the best place for Yak safaris and the time from March to October is the best time for it.
2. River Rafting
Teesta river in Gangtok serves as one of the best places for white water rafting. Ideal for rafters with varying degrees of experience in this sport, Teesta offers different rapids to take your pick from. Many outdoor sports management companies in the region conduct river rafting. When in Gangtok ,it is a must to try your hand at this high adrenaline adventure sport.
3. Sandakphu Trek
The whole trekking route from Manebhanjan to Sandakphu is immensely satisfying, giving you the view of the countryside blessed with plush rhododendrons and mighty oak trees. As you reach the top, you can witness the pure beauty and supremacy of the Kanchanjunga and Mt Everest peaks thickly capped with snow. The view from here is enough to leave you stunned by its grace and poise, especially with the delightful optical illusion of the mountain tops showing the calm figure of a sleeping Buddha.
4. Mountain Biking
Going on a biking sojourn on the rugged and hilly terrain of the city leaves you spellbound with the surreal beauty that Gangtok offers. The unparalleled flora and fauna amidst the thick green woods and the happy smiling locals warms your heart all the way through your journey. Ideal for photography too, all your senses will thank you on this mountain biking trip when passing through the fragrant cardamom fields.
Therefore, setting Gangtok way above other places of the state and perhaps the whole of North-East. There are certain places in the region that you definitely need to visit to get value for money by your Gangtok holiday package.
Places to Visit in Gangtok
1. Tsomgo Lake
Situated at an altitude of 3,780 m above the sea level, Tsomgo Lake is a an enchanting glacial lake. Surrounded by frozen elevated terrain on all sides, the lake is 50 m deep and is in close proximity to the Chinese border. The small Shiva temple located in the region adds to the piousness of the tranquil atmosphere. You can enjoy some local eateries from the nearby food stalls and also a ride on a yak. The days when the sun feels shy, Changu lake in the region can be seen hidden under a thick blanket of mist, giving you an opportunity of wonderful landscape for a perfect photography session.
2. Nathu La Pas
Located on the Indo-Chinese border, at a distance of two hours from Gangtok, Nathu La Pas is a site of absolute beauty . Perched at an altitude of 4,310 m above sea level, the Pas is among the highest motor accessible mountain passes around the world. To reach the place, it is wisest to commence the journey at dawn and be there in the wee hours of morning to be able to truly witness the stunning vista here. While there is no entry fee for Indian citizens, foreign tourists require special permits to visit the place. Enroute, two very beautiful sights, one of Jakhri waterfall and another of Changu Lake will cross your path.
3. Rumtek Monastery
One of the biggest, most beautiful and the most popular tourist destinations in Gangtok, Rumtek Monastery is also one of the most prominent monasteries in all of Sikkim. It belongs to a sect of Buddhists called Kagyu, who began living in Tibet, as early as the 12th century, while the monastery itself was built in 1740 and then rebuilt in 1979. The magnificent building of the monastery, resembles in its style and construction, the original one ,established in Tsurphu, Tibet. You can marvel at the lovely Golden Stupa located here which contains the relics of the 16th Karmapa and the many holy Buddhist artefacts. You can also enjoy hiking downhill or exploring other historic monasteries.
4. Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, also known as the Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology, rests at the summit of a pleasing hill. The institute was previously known as Namgyal, named after the Chogyal of Sikkim, Lt. Palden Thondup Namgyal. It was established in 1958 with the aim to promote study and research in the Buddhist sect of Mahayana and Tibetan culture, heritage and language. You can enjoy the splendid view of the beautiful Gangtok spread below from the hilltop or learn much about the traditions and practices of the Tibetans and the Mahayana sect of Buddhists. In addition to this, the institute also houses one of the biggest collection of rare Buddhist manuscripts, books and Tibetan hand painted cloths known as thangkas.
5. Himalayan Zoological Park
Spread in an expansive region of 230 hectares and overlooking the resplendent Khangchendzonga mountain range, the Himalayan Zoological Park is a striking forest reserve blessed with lush deep woods. The objective of forming the park is to foster conservation and preservation of the rare and endangered mountain dwellers by providing them safe natural habitat. The Red Panda and the Snow Leopard are the two highlights of the park, where the former is also Sikkim’s state animal and the latter is the prime Himalayan predator. The zoological park offers an interesting blend of rocky unforgettable topography, with gentle and verdant slopes showcasing mesmerizing wild flora and fauna. Here you do not just get to enjoy the fortunate sights of the rare mountain species, but also the amazingly calm environment that rejuvenates from inside out.
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