Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, Gangtok, the capital of the Indian state of Sikkim, is a mesmerizing destination that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, rich culture, and adventure. As you embark on your Gangtok tourism to explore the enchanting beauty of the city, you’ll be captivated by its breathtaking landscapes, serene monasteries, vibrant markets, and warm hospitality.
Gangtok is situated at an altitude of roughly 1,650 meters (5,410 feet) above sea level in the eastern Himalayan range. Gangtok tourism promises an enchanting experience amidst the lap of nature. The city is adorned with cascading waterfalls, dense forests, and picturesque landscapes that create a serene and tranquil ambiance. Visitors can indulge in activities such as trekking, river rafting, and birdwatching, immersing themselves in the raw, unspoiled beauty of the region.
Gangtok is a multicultural and multiethnic melting pot. The Lepcha, Bhutia, and Nepali communities make up the majority population in the area. The city has a rich cultural past as a result. Gangtok’s official languages are Hindi, English, and Nepali.
An important part of Gangtok culture is Buddhism. Numerous Buddhist monasteries dot the city, acting as spiritual and religious hubs. There are often monks going about their daily routines dressed in colorful robes, and prayer flags flapping in the breeze.
Gangtok observes a number of festivals all year long, which reflects the region’s diversity in terms of religion and culture. The yearly Gangtok Winter Carnival, Losar (Tibetan New Year), Saga Dawa (a celebration of Lord Buddha’s life), Dashain, and Tihar (Hindu holidays observed by the Nepali community) are a few of the major festivals celebrated in Gangtok.
The environment and natural world are highly respected by the people of Gangtok. Sikkim is renowned for its work in sustainable development and environmental preservation. The local communities’ eco-friendly practices and initiatives are evidence of this ethos’s influence.
These cultural components give Gangtok its distinct identity and make it a fascinating travel destination for anyone curious about the region’s rich cultural legacy.
History of Gangtok
The founding of the Sikkim Kingdom in the 17th century is where the history of Gangtok as the capital city begins. Originally, the Chogyal (King) governed Sikkim as a small kingdom. Phuntsog Namgyal, the first Chogyal, is said to have founded the kingdom in or around 1642.
Originally located in Yuksom, the capital of Sikkim was later moved to Rabdentse and finally Tumlong. Gangtok became the new capital during the reign of Chogyal Thutob Namgyal in the middle of the 19th century because of its better accessibility and location.
The British Empire began to exert its influence over Sikkim in the late 1800s. Sikkim became a protectorate of British India in 1890 after the British and Sikkim signed the Treaty of Calcutta. Sikkim’s administration and modernization were greatly aided by the British.
Sikkim continued to be an independent kingdom following India’s 1947 independence from British rule. However, Sikkim joined India as its 22nd state in 1975 as a result of political developments and mounting public demand. Gangtok remained the state capital of the recently established state of Sikkim.
Gangtok Tourism: Places to Visit
On your Gangtok Tourism, the city offers a variety of attractions and places to visit that cater to different interests. Here are some popular places to visit in Gangtok:
The Himalayan mountain pass known as Nathula Pass is 4,310 meters (14,140 feet) above sea level. It links the Tibet Autonomous Region of China with the Indian state of Sikkim. Two Tibetan terms that signify “listening ears” and “pass” are “nathu” and “la.” Stunning views of the snow-covered Himalayan peaks, including the magnificent Mount Kanchenjunga, the third-highest peak in the world, can be seen from here. It is a well-liked location for nature enthusiasts and photographers due to its rough terrain, immaculate landscapes, and expansive views. This mountainous pass is home to one of the three trading border posts between China and India; the other two are located in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. The best time to visit is during the summer, which runs from May to October.
However, one must first obtain a Protected Area Permit (PAP), which is only available to Indian citizens, from Tourism and Civil Aviation in Gangtok. This permit can also be obtained through a few hotels and registered travel agencies. Permits for Nathula Pass are Rs. 200/-, and children under 4 years old are exempt.
The charming and exciting journey between Gangtok and Nathula Pass features windy, high-altitude roads. Shared jeeps and other reserved vehicles from Sikkim government-approved tour operators are available in Gangtok.
Approximately 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from Gangtok’s city center, Ganesh Tok is situated on a hilltop. It is located at a height of approximately 1,980 meters, or 6,500 feet. The Ganesh Tok Temple, devoted to Lord Ganesha, who is regarded in Hinduism as the remover of obstacles, is the primary draw of Ganesh Tok. Due to its small size, the temple can only hold a small number of people at once. The temple is accessible only after ascending a set of stairs for visitors.
The breathtaking panoramic view that Ganesh Tok provides is the main reason to visit. Enjoy a stunning view of the surrounding mountains, including the snow-capped peaks of the Khangchendzonga range, from the temple’s vantage point. When the sky is clear, you can also see Gangtok town and the Teesta River meandering through the valley.
From Gangtok, Ganesh Tok is conveniently reachable by road. Private vehicles or taxis can transport you to the viewpoint. March to May and October to December are the best times to visit Ganesh Tok in general.
Rumtek Monastery, one of the biggest and most important in Sikkim, is situated atop a hill with a view of Gangtok. In the 16th century, Wangchuk Dorje, the 9th Karmapa Lama, founded the monastery. It was once known as the Dharma Chakra Centre and consists of a monastery for the monks as well as a lovely shrine temple. The shrine was built with the intention of bringing the Buddha’s teachings to as many people as possible. The Rumtek Monastery is located at a distance of 23 km from Gangtok.
Rumtek was the first monastery in India to be constructed using all of the traditional architectural styles, and it served as the model for numerous other monasteries that were subsequently constructed all over the country. The renovated 300-year-old Rumtek monastery, which was initially constructed by the fourth Chogyal, is located roughly 2 kilometers from the Dharma Chakra Center.
The best time to visit the monastery is between October to mid-December. To get to the monastery, one can take jeeps, taxis, and private vehicles from Gangtok.
Tsomgo Lake, also known as Changu Lake is a beautiful glacial lake about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Gangtok. It is located at an elevation of about 3,753 meters (12,313 feet). The lake, which the locals revere, is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and provides beautiful views. The journey begins with a hike along narrow paths among precarious cliffs that lead to the tranquil Tsomgo Lake. There, you can engage in activities like horseback riding on brightly colored yaks and mules, which make for the ideal weekend escape.
The lake appears differently depending on the season. For example, from January to March, the lake and the hills around it are frozen; from April to May, visitors can see rhododendron and orchid gardens; and from October to December, there is a pleasant atmosphere with the best views of the hills.
Tsomgo Lake is 38 km away from Gangtok; to get there, take a shared car or hail a private taxi, which will take about an hour.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
An influential Tibetan organization, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, supports and conducts studies in the areas of Tibetan language, art, religion, and culture. Visitors are struck by the building’s striking display of traditional Tibetan architecture set against a backdrop of lush greenery. The ground floor of the building houses a museum with a unique collection of statues, coins, masks, thangkas, Tibetan artwork, and antique manuscripts donated by notable monks and kings.
It is adorned with golden-lined towers, vibrant murals, frescoes, and an array of windows on the upper story that provide a stunning view of the surrounding landscape and sunlit mountains. One of the world’s largest collections of Tibetan documents and literature is housed in the Tibetan Library on the first floor. But the main draw here is the magnificent statue of Manjushri, also known as “the Bodhisattva of knowledge,” which was imported from Tibet. The late King of Sikkim, Tashi Namgyal, donated the land that the institute is situated on, which is how the institute got its name.
Gangtok town is located 2 km away from Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. In just 10-15 minutes, one can hire a taxi to get here. Additionally, if a person enjoys walking, they can walk the entire distance. The entrance fee to the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is Rs. 10 per individual. It is open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm (Monday to Saturday). Additionally, it is closed on public holidays, the second Saturday of every month, and Sundays.
Surrounded by lush greenery, Banjhakri Falls is a picturesque waterfall situated on the outskirts of Gangtok. The area surrounding the falls has been turned into a park with walkways, gardens, and traditional sculptures that represent the Lepcha tribe’s shamanic culture. The words “Ban,” which means forest or jungle, and “Jhakri,” which means traditional healer, combine to form the name Banjhakri.
Legends state that a man with certain abilities known as a Ban Jhakri appears in folktales within the Nepali Community of Sikkim. The locals hold the belief that a Banjhakri lives in the forest, dwelling in the rock caves where he honors the spirits. Since these mysteries are ingrained in the cultures and traditions of all the present ethnic communities, they continue to be believed in today.
The waterfall is located at a distance of 10-12 km from Gangtok and there are numerous ways to get to the Banjhakri Falls. However, it is advised to bring a larger vehicle to the location because the roads leading up to the waterfall are not smooth. After the monsoon season ends, October and February are the best months to visit Banjhakri Falls because of the pleasant and enjoyable weather during these months.
Tashi Viewpoint is a picturesque location, offering travelers a view of the majestic Mount Sinilochu and Mount Kanchenjunga. The name of the place comes from Tashi Namgyal, the king of Sikkim from 1914 to 1963, who built it. Due to its unspoiled surroundings that have been designed to aid visitors in comprehending the Himalayas’ trance, the magnificent Tashi Viewpoint is unmatched.
Travelers can enjoy a view of the Phodong Monastery and Labrang Monastery from this location thanks in large part to the serene and picturesque atmosphere. It is recommended that foreign visitors arrive early in order to witness a clearer and more distinct view of the majestic mountains set against the amber tones of the rising sun.
March to June are the ideal months to visit Tashi View Point because of the pleasant, warm weather during this time. Gangtok’s main town is 8 km away from the viewpoint. By taxi, you can get here with ease.
Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple
Baba Mandir is a temple that was constructed at Harbhajan Singh’s Samadhi. It is located 64 km away from Jelepla Pass and Nathu La on a road that passes between them at an elevation of 4000 meters. According to local belief, everyone who travels through the enchantedly beautiful Nathang Valley is obliged to pay their respects to Baba Harbhajan Singh.
There’s a big picture of Harbhajan Singh inside the Baba Mandir, and his followers worship it. Because it is said that drinking this water grants wishes, visitors to the area leave their water bottle here for several days and pick it up later. A dining area and a room for Harbhajan Singh to stay in while wearing his uniform and shoes have been constructed on one side of the temple as his office. Travelers are treated to an amazing view of the temple despite its location by the side of a road, surrounded by magnificent mountains. Because of the legends surrounding the site, Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple is a must-see.
Baba Mandir falls under a protected area, so in order to visit it, you must obtain a Protected Area Permit from a Sikkim tour operator that is registered. The tour operator should apply for the permit one day prior to the trip, and you will need to provide two passport-sized photos and proof of identity. You can reach the temple by taking a cab. A roundtrip from Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple in a fully reserved car like Scorpio will cost around INR 3,800. It takes about 3 hours to reach the temple from Gangtok, so it is better if you start early.
Gangtok Tourism: Things to do
During your visit to Gangtok, there are several exciting activities and attractions to explore. Here are some popular things to do during Gangtok tourism:
Take a Cable Car Ride: Take a cable car ride on the Gangtok Ropeway for sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and the city. The ride is a fantastic way to see Gangtok’s beauty from a different angle and takes you from Deorali to Tashiling.
Indulge in Local Cuisine: Savor delectable Sikkimese cuisine and learn about the local food scene. Indulge in some traditional fare such as sel roti, gundruk (fermented leafy greens), thukpa (noodle soup), and momos (dumplings). To sample the flavors of the area, go to some of the neighborhood restaurants or street vendors.
Shop at MG Marg: Enjoy a leisurely stroll down Gangtok’s main promenade, MG Marg. This pedestrian-only street is lined with eateries, cafes, retail stores, and gift shops. You can purchase tea, traditional attire, handicrafts made locally, and other mementos.
River Rafting in the Teesta River: River rafting in the Teesta River is a popular adventure activity in Gangtok and the surrounding areas. Rafting on the river usually begins in the town of Melli, about 30 km (18 miles) away from Gangtok. Depending on the exact package selected, the rafting experience can cover anywhere from 10 to 25 kilometers (6 to 15 miles) in length. The Teesta River is ideal for river rafting from October to May, which is the post-monsoon season.
Paragliding during Gangtok Tourism: The closest town for paragliding in Gangtok is Saramsa, which is about 14.7 miles (8.7 kilometers) away from Gangtok. Perched atop a hill, the takeoff location provides an attractive platform from which to begin your paragliding adventure. You’ll be in for some amazing views of the rolling hills, green valleys, and far-off snow-capped Himalayan peaks during your paragliding experience. Bookings for paragliding can be made directly with paragliding companies or through regional adventure tour operators.
Trekking: Gangtok is a good starting point for a number of beautiful trekking routes in Sikkim’s surrounding areas, even though the city itself may not offer many trekking opportunities. Some of the best treks you can explore during your Gangtok Tourism are the Dzongri Trek, Goecha La Trek, Singalila Ridge Trek, etc. The treks offer captivating views of snow-capped peaks, alpine landscapes, and glaciers. To enter the restricted areas, you need to have the right paperwork and a permit.
Best Time To Plan Your Gangtok Tourism
The best time to plan a Gangtok tour depends on your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. The months of March to May and September to November are considered one of the best seasons to visit Gangtok. The monsoon rains subside, and the weather becomes clear and pleasant. The temperatures range from around 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F). This is a great time for trekking, outdoor activities, and enjoying the stunning views of the Himalayas.
Gangtok tourism isn’t just about visiting popular attractions; it’s about immersing oneself in the rhythm of the city, embracing the warmth of its people, and experiencing the soul-stirring beauty that permeates every corner. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll along the tranquil lakes or a spiritual retreat amidst the ancient monasteries, Gangtok beckons travelers to embrace the essence of tranquility and rejuvenation.
Gangtok tour is a curated experience that leaves an indelible impression on the hearts of all who journey to this enchanting destination. With its ethereal landscapes, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality, Gangtok stands as a testament to the magnificence of nature and the enduring spirit of its people. A sojourn to Gangtok is not just a travel escapade; it’s an odyssey of the soul, a journey that leaves one longing for more of its mystical allure.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The third-highest mountain peak in the world, Mount Kanchenjunga, is breathtakingly visible from there. Gangtok has many natural attractions and is surrounded by a lot of beautiful natural scenery.
Newlywed couples, hikers, city dwellers looking for a vacation, and nature lovers.