Gangtok is one of the most popular hill stations of India that has been ‘the’ destination for travelers around the world, for ages. Whether you want to have romantic honeymoon destination surrounded by hills or to go for a trekking in the Himalayas or just soak yourself into the pure bliss of unadulterated nature- do visit Gangtok.
It’s exquisite beauty is so attractive that even the greatest film-maker-author Satyajit Ray had described Gangtok vividly, and made it the backdrop of his celebrated Bengali detective novel ‘ Gangtok-e gondogol’ and instantly made millions of Bengalis around the world – devoted connoisseurs of Gangtok.
How to reach Gangtok
Though Gangtok is the state capital of Sikkim, the nearest airport is Siliguri (North Bengal)’s Bagdogra Airport. From there, either you can hire cabs like Xylo/Innova or smaller cars that charge relatively less (approx. Rs. 1800-2200).The helicoptor service is also available – flying from Bagdogra to Gangtok to and fro and Rs 2700/- is the ticket price you have to pay for around 50 minute of journey.
The railway station that is closest to Gangtok is New Jalpaiguri station (NJP) of North Bengal. New Jalpaiguri is connected with metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Guawahati, Chennai etc.
From NJP station, you have two options to come to Siligiru Bus Stand- either shared cabs or auto-rickshaws. From there, recurring bus service operates from Siliguri to Gangtok. Though the seats are luxurious, the bus journey is much slower. If you have time at hand and want to spend the journey in leisurely fashion, then bus ride is ideal for you.
But if you need a faster vehicle, then go for various Innova/Sumo/Xylo that you get outside of Bus stand. At Bagdogra airport, there is a pre-paid counter of taxis towards Gangtok. In the former case, you need to bargain a bit, though many a times, the fares are fixed as shared cabs generally charge Rs. 250-300 per head. The drive from Siliguri to Bagdogra takes around 3-4 hours.
The Places of attractions in Gangtok
Gangtok in itself is a place of tourist attraction – with it’s resemblance of Bhutanese style of architecture, the dominance of Buddhist culture in its temples, shops, eateries , the cleanliness of Mahatma Gandhi Marg – the main street of the city, etc. It’s nice to take a stroll at MG Marg, to explore the hidden alleys and gems of Gangtok. Besides that, there are-
Breath-taking scenery will wait for you once you reach at Tsogmo Lake. Though the badly maintained roads and bumpy ride are disappointing-once you get to Tsogmo Lake, especially during snow-fall, you will forget everything else except the beauty of calm water body and its surrounding place.
Located at the outskirt of Gangtok, Rumtek Monastery houses some of the holiest and rarest Buddhist scriptures, and tiben and Buddhist articles. It is built in 1960s and the architecture is modeled after another monastery in Lhasa – the capital of Tibet. Rumtek is one important place of worship as well as policatal significance in Sikkim.
Himalayan Zoological Park
The park represents some of the exotic species of animals that can be found only within the Himalayas- like snow-leopard, barking deer, Himalayan black bear etc. you will feel good after you visit the park as it’s clean, and the animals look healthy and well-fed.
Apart from the above mentioned places, there are many other destinations at Gangtok that require another post- Yumthang Valley, The Thakurbari Temple, Baba Harbhajan Temple, Enchey and Ranka Monastery, Tashi View Point to name a few.
What to eat
There are numerous restaurants in Gangtok that offer great varieties of fresh Sikkimese, Tibetan and Chinese cuisine at cheaper prices. From various momo to soup (especially beef noodle soup), thukpa, tenthuk to local condiments- you can eat at your heart’s content. Porky’s, Thalung, house of Bamboo are some of the best restaurants.There are some other shops that offer various sweets, South-Indian delicacies and snacks like Agarwal’s and The Roll House.Influenced by Buddhist culture, Gangtok has many places for vegetarians to eat. And there are some pubs for infusion-lovers.
Where to shop
Sikkim is famous for its tea, passion fruits and other handicrafts. Souvenir, Curio Craft Gallery and The Wayside Gardens and nurseries Pvt. Ltd- are some of the famous shops in Gangtok.
Where to stay
Mayfair Gangtok Spa resort and Casino and Suhim Portico are two classy and luxurious hotels indulgent travelers.Central Lodge and Ashishkhim Guest House are good for budget travelers. Sonam Delek and Bamboo Groov Rest House are popular among mid-range travelers.
- Explore the city by foot.
- Go for a trekking.
- Abide by the state-imposed restrictions.
- Littering and spitting is totally prohibited in Gangtok so respect that law.
- Sikkim has banned all forms of tobacco transaction and consumption. Gangtok is no exception so keep it in mind.
- By 9 PM the city is gone to sleep and all the shops remain closed. So it’s better not to roam around in streets by that time.
More info for travelers
- Carry your id and passport photographs while visiting some places like Nathula Pass
- Taxi fares in and around the city are fixed so no point in bargaining.
- Enjoy your stay at Gangtok. It’s serene, blissful and a great place to unwind your life.