Gangtok is a municipality, the capital and the largest town of the Indian state of Sikkim. It also is the headquarters of the East Sikkim district. Gangtok is located in the eastern Himalayan range, at an elevation of 1,650 m (5,410 ft).
The town's population of 100,000 belongs to different ethnicities such as Nepali, 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 rose to prominence as a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site after the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840. In 1894, the ruling Sikkimese Chogyal, Thutob Namgyal, transferred the capital to Gangtok. In the early 20th century, 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 22nd state capital. The precise meaning of the name "Gangtok" is unclear, though the most popular meaning is "hill top". Today, Gangtok is a centre of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning, with the presence of several monasteries, religious educational institutions, and centres for Tibetology.
Gangtok: Climate & Hospitality
Gangtok features a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate. Because of its elevation and sheltered environment, Gangtok enjoys a mild, temperate climate all year round. Like most Himalayan towns, Gangtok has five seasons: summer, monsoons, autumn, winter and spring. Temperatures range from an average maximum of 22°C (72°F) in summer to an average minimum of 4°C (39°F) in winter. Summers (lasting from late April to June) are mild, with maximum temperatures rarely crossing 25°C (77°F). The monsoon season from June to September is characterised by intense torrential rains often causing landslides that block Gangtok's land access to the rest of the country. Rainfall starts to rise from pre-monsoon in May, and peaks during the monsoon, with July recording the highest monthly average of 649.6 mm (25.6 in). In winter temperature averages between 4°C (39°F) and 7°C (45°F). Snowfall is rare, and in recent times Gangtok has received snow only in 1990, 2004, 2005 and January 2011.Temperatures below freezing are also rare. During this season the weather can be unstable, and change abruptly from bright sunshine and clear skies to heavy rain within a couple of hours. During spring and autumn the weather is generally sunny and mild. Owing to its elevation, Gangtok is often enveloped in fog during the monsoon and winter months.
Best Places To Eat In Gangtok
There are a large number of restaurants which offer a wide variety of cuisines, ranging from Indian to Continental. Tea is the most popular beverage in the town, procured from the famed Darjeeling tea gardens. All good trips start with a healthy food. Keeping this simple funda in life, Gangtok city offers you lot of tasty food and cuisine to choose from. If you are coming to Sikkim, one thing you should stop worrying is healthy food. Gangtok offers you with such a large number of tasty food restaurants that you will be delighted. Your tummy will keep asking for if you had a unique Gangtok cuisine. The food here in Sikkim is a mixture of Chinese, Bhutanese, Nepalese and Indian cooking. So you will have some great food in Gangtok both in veg and non-veg dishes.
PLACES YOU MUST NOT MISS TO VISIT
Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park
In a bid to save one of nature’s rarest and most beautiful animals, the Red Panda, the Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park (SHZP) in Gangtok has embarked on a breeding and conservation programme. Red Pandas are much smaller than the giant panda. The state animal of Sikkim, the Red Pandas are found in six protected areas of the State. the Gangtok zoo occupies an entire hill opposite Ganesh Tok viewpoint. Red pandas, civet cats, Himalayan bears, clouded leopards and snow leopards roam around in extensive forested enclosures so large that you’ll value a car to shuttle between them (although a walk through the dense greenery is recommended over motorised transport). There's a cafeteria within the zoo, with refreshments (snacks ₹30) and restroom facilities.
Do Drul Chorten Stupa
This huge stupa or monument is located at a short walking distance from the Research Institute of Tibetology and on a hillock. Car will drop you at the base from where a short but steep uphill pathway leads to the stupa. The Chorten Stupa is marked by a golden top dome. This golden top can be seen from various places in Gangtok. It is believed that this entire place was once haunted by evil spirits and many people who wandered around this place became victims and died. Later a very respected and celebrated lama of Tibet Trulshig Rinpoche who followed Nyingma Order of Buddhism came to this place for hermitage. He built this stupa in 1946 to drive away the spirits. The deity enshrined on top of the chorten stupa is known as Dorjee Phurpa or Vajra Kilaya. This chorten is regarded as one of the most important chortens of Sikkim.
Hanuman Tok Temple
About 11 km from the Gangtok city is Hanuman Tok dedicated to Lord Hanuman. The temple is surrounded by lush green parks and beautiful mountains. From the temple one gets unobstructed views of Kanchenjunga. One can relax on the benches in the parks and soak themselves in the magnificent and religious culture of Sikkim. Later in 1950 the idol of Lord Hanuman was established here. Since then the temple is locally known as the Hanuma Tok.In 1968, the temple was handed over to the Indian Army. Currently, the temple is maintained by the Units of 17 Mountain Division of the Army. Right above the temple, there is a famous shine of Sirdi Saibaba.
Kangchenzonga Tourist Park
Khangchendzonga Tourist Villa offers a breathtaking view of Gangtok and the adjoining valley. It is barely 200 m from the pristine Ban Jhakri Water Free parking facility is available. Tourist Villa is a 10-minute drive from Lingdum Monastery. It is 12 km from Gangtok City Centre and Gangtok Bus Station. The Bagdogra Airport and New Jalpaiguri Railway Station are within 125 km away. With 24-hour front desk, the property provides services like luggage storage and laundry. A meeting/banqueting space is available. Guests can approach the tour desk for sightseeing or rent a car.
The Bakthang waterfall is only 20 minutes drive from Gangtok town to a place called Swastik, adjacent to the army cantonment area. A serene waterfalls cascades down the rock forming a small pool down below. It is located along the 31A National Highway connecting to North Sikkim. In local language ‘Bak’ means a forest and ‘thang’ meaning meadow or place. The natural spring water source of this falls originates from the dense vegetation above this site which is preserved as a Smriti Ban by the Forest Department. This site is little away from the crowded market place and hidden from the urban sprawl. A offbeat place to relax and be completely free from pollution, noise and dust and much loved by many of the domestic visitors. The place also offers a cafeteria for tea and snacks and local photography services to take pictures with local costumes and dresses for visitors. Some of the adventure enthusiasts can also try rappelling down the cliff on a prefixed rope which is organized by the local tourism committee of the area.
Ranka Monastery (Lingdum Monastery)
The surrounding 2-storey building along the periphery of the courtyard has several classrooms where the young lamas undergo training. During breaks, the courtyard gets full with the young monks wearing their red & saffron robes ... it's a wonderful sight to see them so active, not only learning ways of Buddhism but also actively participating in upkeep of the monastery. If you want, you can take pictures with them.. they will be more than glad to pose with you. If you look at the 2nd floor balcony above, you will find senior lamas keeping a close eye on the activities of the younger ones. The best part is tourists are allowed free access to almost all parts of the monastery. You can freely roam about along with the monks.Stairways from the courtyard lead up to the inner sanctum at an upper level. This is where the main monastery building is located. You can see the receding terraces of the building which ends with a beautiful pagoda top. As you enter the prayer room you will see a huge golden statue of Buddha right ahead. There are low tables lying in rows where the lamas read their prayer books. The walls have intricate hand paintings and thankas hanging on them. There is an wooden donation box at the entrance to the prayer hall. Up on a hill and behind the main building, there is a retreat center where the lamas meditate.
Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden
Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden is situated very close by to Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. Maintained by the Parks and Gardens unit of the Forest Department of the Government of Sikkim, the Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden Sikkim house several varieties of botanical species, making it a treat for the plant lovers. Garden is an enchanting and soothing experience among the lush green stock of vegetation, rare plants and trees and certain species of Himalayan flowers and Orchids.
Deorali Orchid Sanctuary
Deorali Orchid Sanctuary in Sikkim is famous for its rare and exensive collection of orchids. The important feature of the sanctuary is the fact that the orchids in the reserve vary depending upon the change in seasons. Orchids are famous for their heady and sensuous fragrance. They are lovely flowers, often found in brilliant colors and attractive shapes. The tropical, humid climate of the north-east region of India is perfect for these orchids. Orchid lovers will definitely be charmed by the variety and beauty of the orchids in the Deorali Orchid Sanctuary. The Deorali Orchid Sanctuary is situated adjacent to the Namgyal Institute, Gangtok in Sikkim.Of 454 species of orchids known to exist in the world,200 species are found in the sanctuary. A visit to the sanctuary, especially during the blooming season, is a treat for the eyes. The blooming season extends from months of April to May, July to August and October to November.In addition to orchids, about 40 genus of rhododendron are also seen in the sanctuary. Deorali Orchid Sanctuary and the Orchidarium situated off the main road to Rangpo, are the two most prominent places to visit for orchid aficionados.Besides preserving the diversity of orchid species, Deorali Orchid Sanctuary is an ecological hotspot. Along with Kyongnosia Alpine Sanctuary, Deorali forms the two most popular sanctuaries to visit in Sikkim. Kyongnosia Sanctuary is best place to spot some rare, endangered ground orchids and rhododendrons.
Enchey Monastery is approximately 200 years old and is located 3 km northeast of Gangtok. It belongs to the Nyingma order of Vajrayana Buddhism. The location was blessed by Lama Drupthob Karpo, a renowned exponent of tantric art adept in Buddhism with flying powers. It is believed that initially a small Gompa was established by him after which he flew from Maenam Hill in South Sikkim to this site. The literal meaning of 'Enchey Monastery' is 'the solitary temple'. It is also said that the Monk built a small hermitage at the site of the monastery, after he came here flying from Maenam Hill in South Sikkim. .
RopeWay / CableCar Gangtok City
If you are at Gangtok you must visit ropeways or cable car located at Deorali market. This cable care journey is not included any local tour packages and this place can be easily reached by taking a local cab from any hotel. This rope way of about 1 km long has three entry points or stops. The lowest point is at Deorali market and the highest point is at Tashiling ( below the state secretariat ). There is a mid point stop at Nam-Nang. One can enter from any point and return to same point after touching other two points. Cable car journey provides spectacular view of Gangtok market, valley and assembly hall of state of Sikkim on its 15 to 20 minutes journey. The ticket fee for adult is Rs 50 and Rs 30 for kids below 6 years. One can carry a video camera by paying a fee of Rs 50. No extra charge for normal still camera.
Ganesh Tok Temple, Gangtok, Sikkim
Ganesh Tok is one of the most famous God Ganesh temple in Gangtok capital city of Sikkim. It stands at a height of 6,500 feet.The path to Ganesh Tok is covered with sacred flags hoisted and tied across the roads. The flags are colored in White, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow and Purple. The path looks like rainbow and it gives tourists hidden excitement approaching the temple of lord Ganesh. The flags are believed to be very sacred and on each flag something is written. The Sky gets covered by these flags and make a unique scene.The Sacred Flags sky as seen in Ganesh Tok temple is very rare scene near any Ganesh temple in India These scenes are nor common nor in this stature or magnitude near God Hanuman temple (these flags are known as Patakas a Sanskrit word meaning flag). These flags are only seen near the Ganesh Tok mandir of Gangtok only and not anywhere else in Gangtok.
Namgyal Institute Of Tibetology
The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is a unique Tibetan museum located in the picturesque city of Gangtok, resting in the north eastern reaches of the Indian subcontinent, Sikkim. The museum’s foundation stone was laid in the year 1957 by the tenth Dalai Lama, followed by its inauguration by the then Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, in the year 1958. Ever since its establishment, the museum, built in traditional Tibetan architecture, has tried to facilitate research in ancient Mahayana Buddhism and Tibetan culture, religion, art, history and language. The site on which the institute stands today was donated by the late king of Sikkim Sir Tashi Namgyal, in memory of his son Paljor Namgyal.
Ban Jhakri falls
Ban Jhakri falls has been for many years from now but has gained popularity very recently many operator still avoid this view point with other points due to its remoteness with other points. If added the one day sight seeing becomes very hectic. This is located on the route to Ranka Monastery and nearly 4 kilometers from Gangtok. Ban Jhakri Falls Energy Park lies amidst a lush green valley spread over nearly 2 acres and is quite nice and popular among tourist. It is surrounded by trees and gushing mountain stream. The Park has a Shamanistic theme. Hence, while the location of the park penetrating the forest spreads and seeks to enhance the essence of the occult and the unknown. The place itself is littered with ethnic sculptures and figurines of the Jhakri culture. We would advice our guest to visit five to six points and make the trip enjoyable rather than making it tiring.
Tashi View Point (6100 feet)
Situated along the North Sikkim Highway, it is only 8 kilometers from Gangtok. From this point one gets a breath taking view of mount Khang – chen - Dzonga, one of the most graceful peaks in the world. An Observatory Tower, Cafeteria and Public amenities have also been recently added. The Tashi View Point is one of the most popular places to see in the state of Sikkim in India and was built by Tashi Namgyal who was a king of Sikkim.It is also adorned with a park at its top and is often used by the tourists as a picnic spot. he ideal time of the day to visit the Tashi View Point in Sikkim is early morning or in the evening but ideal time to visit is early in the morning. The clear sky of the early or late morning creates a beautiful backdrop to the mount Khangchendzonga. The View Point is quite well equipped to cater to the tourist's enjoyment and resting place. A cafeteria is also built at this place so that the tourists can refresh themselves in between enjoying the fascinating natural views that the place offers.
HOW TO REACH
The nearest airport is at Bagdogra (IXB)situated about 40 mins drive to Siliguri. Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati is a much better connected airport but it's 550KM from Gangtok. Prepaid Taxi's can be hire for Airport for both Siliguri and Gangtok Drop.
Once you arrive in New Jalpaiguri, you can either hire a taxi from the station itself or take an auto-rickshaw to the Siliguri bus stand. From there, you have the option of travelling to Gangtok by state bus or taxi's outside, roughly a 4 hour journey.
The nearest train station to Gangtok is New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri all trains originating from Guwahati to rest of the country passes through New Jalpaiguri and hence has direct connections to other major cities in India. It is a 10-12 hour journey from Kolkata.