Best Places to visit in Gangtok
Located in the eastern Himalayan range, at an altitude of 5410 ft, Gangtok – the capital of Sikkim, is tucked away between the higher peaks of the Himalayas and thus enjoys a year round temperate climate. Similar to most similar towns, Gangtok has 5 seasons, summer, monsoons, autumn, winter and spring. As spring and summers are extremely pleasant and sunny, with temperatures not exceeding 22 degrees celcius on an average, there is a lot of tourist inflow into Gangtok, the centre of Sikkim’s tourism industry during this time.
The city is bordered with thick, dense temperate and deciduous forests of oak, elm, birch etc, as well as evergreen coniferous forests. One can see orchids in abundance along with other flowers like poinsettia, sunflower, marigold etc. Gangtok is a beautiful destination with its climate, mountains, adventure sports and wonderful landscape which is covered in fog most of the time due to its elevation. Here are some of the places that one should visit when in Gangtok:
Mg Road :
MG Road is one of the most lively and happening places in Gangtok. Similar to a boulevard square or an open mall, this place is regarded as the town’s centre and one of the best shopping destinations for tourists. The avenue, dotted with Victorian lamps and several benches, is lined with several shops, hotels and restaurants on both sides and is a great attraction for tourists to take a relaxed stroll or just sit on the benches and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the place. MG Road is a striking and beautiful place when lit after dark.
Nathu La Pass :
One of the highest motorable roads in the world, at an altitude of 14450 ft, the Nathu La Pass is one of the biggest tourist attractions in India and is situated on the Indo-Chinese border. Situated just a few kilometers away from Gangtok, Nathu La is one of the three open trading border posts between India and China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. Famous for its beautiful environment and breathtaking beauty, the pass can be enjoyed by visitors by simply driving, trekking in the valley or just hiking at leisure to enjoy the numerous waterfalls cascading along the way from Gangtok to Nathu La and the beautiful snow peaks enclosing the area. The pass is accessible from Wednesday to Sundays, throughout the day and special permits are required to visit the area.
Tsomgo Lake :
The Tsomgo Changu Lake, at a distance of about 40 kms from Gangtok, is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful glacial lakes at an altitude of about 12,410 feet. A must-visit attraction when visiting Gangtok, the mesmerizing, crystal clear blue waters of the lake reflecting the snow capped hills and the lush green foliage of alpine forests surrounding it, present a spectacular visual for tourists and create an unforgettable memory. The lake has great cultural and religious significance for the Bhutia people and is considered sacred by the Sikkimese. It is believed that the Buddhist monks used to analyse the changing colours of the lake to forecast the future.
Rumtek Monastery :
The Rumtek monastery is one of the most prominent and significant monasteries, which is located on top of a hill, about 23 kms away from Gangtok. This monastery belongs to the Kagyu sect of Buddhists who started living in Tibet since the 12th century. Famous for its architecture, the monastery is built in the classical Tibetan Gompa style and is three floors high. Surrounded by lush green mountains, the monastery presents a very scenic picture for visitors and also provides a very calm environment for spiritual enrichment. One can get a magnificent view of the town of Gangtok from the top of the monastery. The monastery can be visited from 8 am to 5 pm in summers and from 10 am to 5 pm in winters.
Located at a distance of about 78 kms from Gangtok, the city of Namchi is situated at an altitude of 5500 ft above sea level and is fast becoming a famous tourist spot and pilgrimage centre. Besides the local Buddhist pilgrimage centres of Namchi Monastery, Ralang Monastery and Tendong Hill, from here, one can view the world’s largest statue of the Buddhist Padmasambhava (at 118 ft), also known as Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Sikkim, situated on Samdruptse Hill, opposite Namchi. Tourists can also get an amazing panoramic view of Mt.Kangchendzonga along with other neighbouring peaks, a part of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and the green plains of Bengal. Namchi is also famous for its annual flower show held in February, which is the biggest in Sikkim and exhibits rare and exotic orchids amongst many other beautiful, vivid coloured flowers.
Hanuman Tok :
Hanuman Tok is a very famous temple in Gangtok, situated at a height of 7200 feet, against the backdrop of the famous Kanchenjunga peak, acclaimed as the third highest peak in the world. This temple is maintained by the Indian Army. The view of the snow streaked Khangchendzonga and the entire Himalayan range from this high altitude is utterly captivating. Tourists can reach this point before 5 am and be witness to one of the most mesmerizing and spectacular sight of the rising sun, which leaves one gasping in awe. The serenity and utter tranquility of this temple place is the biggest draw for visitors to Gangtok. The temple can be visited from 5 am to 7 pm.
How to reach Gangtok :
By air – The nearest airport to Gangtok, is Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal, which is about 124 kms away. From here one can hire a taxi, private vehicle or helicopter (depending on availability) to Gangtok.
By train – The nearest railway station to Gangtok is at New Jalpaiguri which is in Siliguri, 148 kms away.
By bus – Tourists from nearby places like Darjeeling, Siliguri, Kalimpong and Kolkata can drive down to Gangtok or avail of the frequent public and private bus services to Sikkim.
Picture Credits : traveltriangle.com