Travel Guide to Explore Gangtok
The capital of Sikkim, Gangtok is the most attractive tourist destination of all times. The meaning of Gangtok is said to be hilltop and it is one amongst the safest and the most beautiful hill stations of the country. There are several factors that keep this town alive and upbeat throughout the year. The lush greenery, exotic rare species in flora and fauna, the amazing views and lastly the helpful people makes Gangtok even better.
Gangtok has the modernity and old heritage balanced in the right amount which can be seen throughout the town. The food menus can be a tough choice as you get from local cuisine and drinks to all types of exotic dishes. You can get to explore plenty of places in walking distance and the places just have an individual unique architecture or view to present.
You can get to see Mt. Kanchenjunga from above the town and the availability of taxis or cab won’t be a problem. There are also places from where you can see clouds floating beside you or beneath you and that view makes you feel like you have seen heaven. You can also do some great adventure sports or just travel to different locations and make memories.
Gangtok is basically for all from solo travelers to groups of friends and family. You can explore this town taking your sweet time, you can go for adventures and trekking, you can shop till you drop, you can eat and drink all you want or just sit on a hilltop and take pictures. Gangtok has it all to offer to you.
CLIMATE AND BEST TIME TO VISIT GANGTOK
Gangtok enjoys a mild and temperate climate throughout the year therefore it has a very elevated and sheltered environment. During the winters the temperature falls down till 4°C without the snowfall and is quite chilly. During the summer it is warm and often rains at night.
Spring and summer months are the best time to visit Gangtok (March-June) as you get the clear views of the sceneries around and is also the time where all flowers bloom especially Rhododendrons as they are the specialty of the state. Autumn is quite cold in Gangtok but in a pleasant way.
For travel enthusiasts and adventure lovers Gangtok will always have various adventures and experiences stored up for you. No matter what time you decide to visit Gangtok will not fail your expectations.
THINGS TO DO IN GANGTOK
Gangtok is the place where you get to experience several things and literally it can be done with whichever way you want it. From chilling in the mountains to doing thrilling activities Gangtok has it all for you. Here is some list of things that you can do when you are in Gangtok.
DINE AND SHOP IN MG MARG
The very vibrant and upbeat MG Marg has a never dying rush and crowd. It is a non car zone with shops all across the Marg along with a park in between and benches for people to sit and just watch the beautiful busy Marg. You can just spend hours hopping shops in search of your perfect outfit and enjoy various food items from exotic menus to the local cuisines you can find it all in the Marg.
CABLE CAR RIDE
If you really want to enjoy the true view of the town then the cable car ride is a must. Once a small village which in time has grown to become our capital is a true scenic beauty which can be witnessed from the cable car ride. The short cable car ride is at a height from where we can see the whole town and the surrounding places and this facility is available at a very reasonable price.
One of the most popular things to do when you are in Gangtok is to visit the beautiful monasteries in and around. You can visit Rumtek monastery, Deorali Chorten monastery, Enchey monastery and several others in the surrounding areas. The monasteries will give you a glimpse of the deeply rooted Buddhist spiritual and religious beliefs of the state. The architecture of the monasteries is stunning and views from these monasteries are really something which you need to witness yourself.
Tashi Viewpoint is located just above the town and it is a very popular place. This viewpoint is not only loved by the tourists but also the locals. On a clear day you can see the mighty Mt. Kanchenjunga which is clear from this point along with snow capped mountains. You will also be able to see the two oldest monasteries Labrang and Phodong from here. You can also watch the sky change its colors and the beautiful sunset while sipping a cup of coffee right in this viewpoint. This place and the views that you get from here is just mesmerizing.
EXPLORE LAL BAZAAR
Right in the heart of this town is Lal Bazaar. This place is like the local supermarket, always crowded and busy. There is almost nothing that you cannot find in this place. So to explore this place is a very fun activity to do especially for people who love to see the local lifestyle and shops a lot. Like from clothing to flowers and food you get it all in this place. You can see the locals selling and buying while bargaining for things. Locally made handicrafts, food items and specials all can be found in this one place.
NAMGYAL INSTITUTE OF TIBETOLOGY
The history and the architect lovers are absolutely going to be stunned with this place. The institute as well as the museum will be such a rich experience for you. The very ancient and important Buddhist artifacts, relics, manuscripts, books and ancient cloth paintings which are used in the traditional prayers also known as the thangkas are all displayed here. The architecture of the institute is also another factor to be enjoyed.
PARAGLIDING AND CYCLING
For the adventure lovers there are many thrilling activities to do in Gangtok. Paragliding and Cycling are the two most exciting things to do when in Gangtok. If you are interested in exploring Gangtok and its surrounding landscapes on a slow pace then hire a bicycle and take a slow tour of the place. If you are interested in thrilling adventure then do go for the paragliding. You can enjoy the extreme top view of the town and Mt. Kanchenjunga. You can also get a certified pilot for your flight that will help you enjoy this activity safely.
HIMALAYAN ZOOLOGICAL PARK
Spread over 205 hectares of mountain forest terrain is the Himalayan Zoological Park. Unlike other zoos there are no grill enclosures here, the animals live in large enclosures which gives an almost natural habitat for them. The zoo is home to a variety of Himalayan fauna like the Black Bears, Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Monal Pheasant and many more. You can either take a car or else you can also take a walk of the entire zoo as you enjoy the rare animals and birds.
The Banjhakri Falls is a major tourist attraction which has a manmade lake, gazebos and a massive waterfall. The park is themed on the Shaman Culture, focusing on the banjhakri or the traditional shamanic healer who worships spirits living in caves around waterfalls. It is a very interesting and amusing place and the experience is just unique in itself.
Located in the upper reaches of Gangtok is Hanuman Tok. The temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and it is swarmed by devotees from all over. The view that you get of the town and also Mt. Kanchenjunga from here is just beautiful. Also the environment here is simply peaceful and soothing to one's soul and mind. This place is very popular because as the legends have it, Lord Hanuman took rest in this very place while flying with Sanjeevani Mountain from the Himalayas to Lanka.
HOW TO REACH GANGTOK
Reaching the capital is not a hassle as it is well connected with other parts of the country. The drive till the capital is just beautiful, the hilly terrains and green fields that you get to see on the way and also the great Teesta river is worth it. You can use these three means of transportation to reach Gangtok.
By Air - The closest airport to the capital is 1 hour 16 minutes away in Pakyong. Greenfield Airport is the closest to the capital and you can come till this airport either from Delhi or Kolkata. Once you reach the airport you can either take a cab or take a shared taxi till Gangtok.
The second nearest airport is the Bagdogra Airport (IXB) located in the outskirts of Siliguri. It is approximately 123 kilometers away from Gangtok and the flight connectivity to this airport is easily and regularly available from all the major cities of the country. Once you reach Bagdogra from there you can take a bus, share a taxi or hire a cab to take you till Gangtok.
By Road - Since the connectivity is so well you get plenty of vehicles and buses to reach the capital. Gangtok is well connected to all the neighboring towns mainly Siliguri. It is approximately 113 km away from Gangtok and in Siliguri you can go to the bus terminal and take a SNT (Sikkim Nationalised Transport) bus to Gangtok. You can also go to the Gangtok Taxi Stand and easily reach Gangtok in Sharing taxis or you can hire a cab according to your need and reach Gangtok the cost of which varies based on the type of vehicle you hire.
By Train - The main railhead serving the capital is located 120 km away and is called as New Jalpaiguri. The station is the one which connects the north east side to the rest of the country. Number of trains come from all different parts of the city till NJP and once you reach NJP, you can hire a cab, take a taxi or come by bus till Gangtok.