The Best Places to Visit in Gangtok
It is beautiful and serene, and a visit is warranted to this city, whether you are travelling for your honeymoon or taking your family out on an annual vacation.
Gangtok features high on the wish list of many a traveller. It is beautiful and serene, and a visit is warranted to this city, whether you are travelling for your honeymoon or taking your family out on an annual vacation.
Gangtok is the capital of the State of Sikkim, and has its own municipality. It has one of the largest Buddhist populations in India. However, its over 1,00,000 population belongs to different ethnicities like Lepchas, Indian Gorkhas and Bhutias. It brings most of the State tourism revenue, and is being developed as a housing destination as well.
The Enchey Monastery, the region’s first Buddhist place of worship, was set up here in 1840. Apart from its spiritual leanings, Gangtok has also been a traditional point of commerce and trade, especially in the early 20th century. It has been a major stopping point on the trade line spanning Tibet and Kolkata, right from the time of the British Empire in India. The British wrested control of the region from the ruling Tibetans in the 18th century.
Sikkim was integrated into the Indian Union as late as 1975 – it had chosen to remain independent after India became free in 1947. However, it had declared Gangtok as its capital. After amalgamation, the Indian Union recognised Gangtok as a State capital in official terms. The capital of Sikkim is today recognised as a prime tourist magnet, especially owing to its location in the Himalayan range. Its geographical location gives it a strategic advantage, in terms of cool climate, fresh air and gorgeous scenery all around.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why you need to schedule a Gangtok holiday this year:
* It is so beautiful:- Gangtok is one of the most beautiful cities in India. Full of verdant landscapes, well maintained public squares and gardens, and convenient walkable distances to each and every tourist spot, you will be left entranced by its unsullied beauty. Your soul will yearn to visit it again and again, because it will make you feel so calm and peaceful.
* It is remarkably clean:- Like most of the North Eastern States, Sikkim – and by extension, Gangtok – are extremely clean. You will never find litter on the roads, and there are dustbins and public toilets everywhere. The roads are clean, the footpaths are devoid of mess and the traffic is orderly. The locals do not appreciate loud honking of car horns, nor cutting lanes, and especially littering. The cleanliness is a big relief for most visitors.
* The music scene is vibrant:- You cannot turn any corner in Gangtok, especially in the summer months, when there isn’t music playing somewhere. There are many local bands that perform at cafes and restaurants, and many more that perform on street corners. The music is eclectic and powerful, and you will be completely mesmerised by it. On the other hand, the music adds a spirit of bonhomie to the city. If you are a musician, you will certainly find second hand musical instruments for sale in the market square, at quite low prices.
* The food is heavenly:- Every foodie, and anyone interested in eating healthy and tasty food, should visit Gangtok. Not only are there cafes on every street, you get the most delightful street food everywhere. Try momos, thukpa, kinema (soyabean curry eaten with roti), pakku (mutton curry and churpi (cottage cheese lightly roasted and served with rice). You will come away licking your fingers and seeking out more restaurants in Gangtok to eat authentic local fare at.
* The people are fantastic:- Every place’s reputation is either made or marred by its local population. You will be charmed by Gangtok’s people: they are friendly, warm, kind and so hospitable that you will always feel welcomed. Never hesitate to ask for directions if you are lost or looking for a specific tourist spot recommendation, and always respond with a smile and ‘Thanks’. It is easy enough to make friends with locals once you start chatting with them; always accept invitations to have a cup of coffee or a small meal if asked to do so.
Let’s now get you started on the list of places of visit in Gangtok on your holiday:
* Kanchenjunga: The highest peak in India and the third highest in the world, Kanchenjunga is easily accessible from Gangtok. You can trek to the base camp – go further only if you are a serious mountaineer with sufficient climbing and altitude adjustment experience – and also explore the famous Kanchenjunga National Park. What makes this one of the most important places to visit in Gangtok is that it is possible to spend a night at the base camp to get a feel of the place after dark.
* Phodong Monastery: Another important place to visit in Gangtok, and which thousands of past visitors will attest to, is the Phodong Monastery. Dating back to the 18th century, it is rife with important sculptures, wall paintings and furnished in typical Tibetan style. You can find monks here going about their daily duties, or taking instruction in the classroom, or even humming in prayer. Take in the majestic mountain side views from the monastery.
* Tsomgo Lake: This pretty lake creates a heavenly backdrop for a daylong picnic with your family. It is a cold lake at an altitude of 12310 feet above sea level, and its surface is normally icy. The deep blue waters add to the area’s allure, and with the Himalayas in the backdrop, the panorama will surely take your breath away. Leave early in the morning to visit this lake, because it is almost 40 km away from Gangtok. Carry photo ID proofs and a copy of your residential proof because this is a restricted area that allows civilians with documentation.
* Ganesh Tok: Another important place to visit in Gangtok if you can’t get enough of its scenic beauty, is Ganesh Tok. This is a popular spot even for tourists, who come here to hang out and chat. It is located near the Bakthang Falls and Tashi Viewing Point, and there is a Ganesh Temple close by. The temple is built on the higher slopes, and offers mesmerising views all around.
* Nathula Pass: This pass is geographically and strategically important, because it connected Sikkim with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, a disputed area between India and China. The Nathula Pass formed part of the famous yesteryear Silk Route between the two countries. All of this politicking aside, the area is gorgeous and a must-visit place in Gangtok. Again, keep your original photo ID proof with you to show if asked. However, the area is open only to Indian nationals on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Some Sundays might be open, but this is often a last-minute scheduling change.
* Namgyal Institute of Tibetology: Gangtok is rife with Buddhism and the teachings of Gautam Buddha. Not only are there ancient and modern monasteries and prayer halls here, but there is also the famous Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, where Tibetan Buddhism is taught and shared. The building symbolises Tibetan architecture, with exhibition halls, statues, a museum housing old coins and weaving works, fine arts, handicrafts and other antiquities. There is also a large library housing more than 60,000 books on Gautam Buddha and Buddhism.
* Ban Jakhri Falls: Still not had enough of Gangtok’s natural beauty? Then this place to visit in Gangtok is just right for: Ban Jakhri Falls. It is located inside the Energy Park, and the water descends from a whopping 100 feet above the ground. Despite the roar of the waterfall, the entire region has a hushed silence that will calm your nerves and refresh your spirit. The water from these falls is said to have both spiritual and medicinal properties, if the local residents are to be believed. The legend goes that the spirits that guard this place must never be disturbed, or they will unleash the water on all of the land and wreak havoc! Do note that there is an entry fee of Rs 20 to go inside the park and see the waterfall.
* Magnan: You cannot visit Gangtok and not take a shy at Mangan, the small village outside the city that also offers adventure activities. If you want to just enjoy the peace and quiet, you can walk up and down the narrow alleys, admiring the views and stopping for coffee at a little café or restaurant in Gangtok. Or you can go mountain biking or paragliding. Round off your visit with a look at the small monasteries here.
Staying at the right accommodation is key to enjoying your vacation in Gangtok. We recommend the Club Mahindra Gangtok Resort. The property overlooks the Chola Mountain range, and offers luxurious rooms in an idyllic setting. You will love the food served at the resort’s restaurant, as well as the spa and every modern comfort that you desire. When you wish to explore the property, do so at will and also step out to take a walk around, or enjoy a trek close by. If you just want to relax at the resort, stay put at the library or go for a swim.
Q: Which are the best Sikkim tour packages?
You can find the best tour packages for Sikkim from a travel aggregator website, or a hotel bookings site, or even a premium resort like Club Mahindra. It depends on what you are looking from your holiday, how many days of stay, and how much you are willing to spend.
Q: Which is the best place in Gangtok?
Anybody would be hard pressed to pick just one place that qualifies as Gangtok’s best. However, there are a few places you must visit, like Nathula Pass, Tsomgo Lake, Ban Jakhri Falls, Magnan village, Ganesh Tok and Phodong Monastery.
Q: Is passport required for Gangtok?
Gangtok requires local permits because it lies along the international boundary between India and China. These permits can be procured at specific points, depending on where you wish to visit. Indian nationals do not require a passport, but they must carry valid permits and personal identification. Foreign nationals require a passport and special permits.
Q: What is the famous food of Gangtok?
Gundruk and Sinki soup, momos, thukpa, churpi, phagshapa and sael roti are the famous foods of Gangtok.
Q: When does it snow in Nathula Pass?
Nathula Pass is normally snowed over in the winter months of November and December. The Pass is often kept open during these months for tourists, and closed thereafter till end of February.
About Mahindra Holidays
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited (MHRIL), India’s leading player in the leisure hospitality industry, offers quality family holidays as also stated by Club Mahindra Membership Reviews, primarily through vacation ownership memberships. While Club Mahindra is the flagship brand offering Club Mahindra Membership, the other brands offered by the company are –Club Mahindra Resorts Fundays and Svaastha Spa. As on Mar 31, 2019, MHRIL has 61+ resorts across India and abroad and its subsidiary, Holiday Club Resorts Oy, Finland, a leading vacation ownership company in Europe has 33 resorts across Finland, Sweden and Spain. Visit us at www.clubmahindra.com