Nestling in the lush greenery of the Himalayas, Gangtok in Sikkim is situated at 5,800 ft. This small capital city of Sikkim showcases Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the mountain breeze, exotic orchids and chirruping birds in a colourful melee. Visit Gangtok for a peek at the profusion of blooming rhododendrons in the deepest of reds and savour the serene cool beauty of the snow clad peaks in an ambience enhanced by the cheerful bustle of a warm, hospitable, pleasant and hard-working people.
Gangtok is a blend of the traditional and modern, where modern concrete multi-storeyed structures clinging to the hillside stand alongside ‘chortens’ (stupas) and monasteries; young college girls in trendy dresses rub shoulders in the market place with elderly matrons clad in traditional 'bakus' and lamas in colourful maroon and mustard robes play football with youngsters in blue jeans and T-shirts.
Mesmerising, picturesque, colourful - Gangtok is the exuberant capital of Sikkim that lures you for an unforgettable vacation.
How to Reach Gangtok?
By Air : Gangtok is not directly served by air. The closest airport is at Bagdogra, West Bengal which is served by regular flights from Kolkata, Guwahati and Delhi operated by Indian Airlines and Jet Airways. The 124 km drive to Gangtok takes 5 hours and is facilitated by numerous taxis, shared jeeps and hired cars with chauffeurs. Helicopter services are also available from Bagdogra to reach Gangtok and vice-versa.
By Rail : New Jalpaiguri, is the nearest mainline railhead which is about 125 kms from Gangtok (about 4 hrs). One can also take a train to Siliguri, located at a distance of 114 kms from Gangtok. Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri are well connected with all the cities in India. Once here, from the station itself, tourists can get on to the tourists buses, coaches, taxis and jeeps to reach their final destination.
By Road : The drive to Gangtok from Siliguri (West Bengal), 114 km away, is the shortest. Darjeeling, the beautiful and oft-visited hill station in West Bengal is also connected by road to Gangtok. Taxis, buses and hired cars with drivers ply regularly on these routes as they inch past the narrow but well maintained mountain roads. There are regular Sikkim state transport buses between Gangtok and Siliguri. The drive is very scenic with the Teesta River flowing on the left hand side and the green hills on the right. As you get closer to Gangtok, look out for the multihued flowers that dot the landscape, especially in spring.
Best Time to Visit Gangtok
The best time to visit Gangtok, is between October and mid-December when clear views of the Himalayan peaks are guaranteed or again between March and May when the flowers are in bloom. January and February means snow in the higher altitudes and visits to many of the tourist spots are not possible, as roads remain closed. June to September brings heavy rains causing landslides that often disrupt communication.
Things to do in Gangtok
Gangtok is a small capital city of Sikkim offering a range of things to do and see to her visitors. Offering some stunning views of the Himalayas, Gangtok is an ideal place if you want to enjoy some moments of bliss.
There are various monasteries in the city which are a crash course in history of the state. If you want to sweat it out then you can go for trekking and depending upon your fitness level you can choose a short trek or a week long trek where you will enjoy the scenic beauty of Gangtok.
Shopaholics can shop here to your heart’s contents for footwear and handicrafts and don’t forget to buy some Sikkim tea to take back home. Hungry after all the activities then head to any of the restaurants that serve a variety of Indian cuisines to satiate your hunger.
With its lush green landscapes and thriving nightlife, Gangtok is waiting to be explored. So just come and revel in the natural beauty of this capital city of Sikkim.
Places Near Gangtok
The places near Gangtok include Rumtek Monastery that is 24 kms away and is one of the most important monasteries of the ‘Kagyud Order’. It has some amazing artifacts and manuscripts that are hundreds of years old. Traditional in design, it is almost a replica of the original Kagyud headquarter in Tibet.
Kanchenjenga National Park is not as frequented as the other parks in India but it is one of the most beautiful. It is home to the snow leopard, musk deer, Himalayan tahr and a very wide variety of animals and birds that are rarely found anywhere else in the country.
Nathula Pass is 56 kms from Gangtok and is an offshoot of the fabled Silk Route. Situated at an altitude of 14,450 ft at the Indo-China border, it was an important trading point with Tibet since ages but was closed after the 1662 war with China. It has been reopened and certainly calls for a visit.
Changu Lake at 3,780 mt, 40 km east of Gangtok remains frozen through the year and comes alive during summer when rhododendrons, irises, primulas and poppies burst into bloom on its banks and on the adjoining hill slopes. It is also an ideal habitat of Red Panda and birds.
Hotels in Gangtok – Choice is Yours
There are numerous hotels in Gangtok ranging from 3-star, 4-star and 5-star deluxe to budget hotels.