March 19, 2020
Gangtok is one of the most heavenly cities in India, if not the world. Blessed with a high altitude, a salubrious climate, verdant landscapes and friendly folk, it is a must-visit destination in Sikkim. If you haven’t planned a holiday this year, you should check out Gangtok.
Gangtok is many things to many people. For older persons, it is a serene retreat away from the rush of city chaos and stress. For youngsters, it is a place where they can indulge their love for play and adventure. Gangtok is full of beautiful places to see and a variety of fun things to do. Here are some of the must-experience things to do in Gangtok:
* Visit the best sites: Gangtok is full of scenic spots that you can marvel at, walk around, picnic in and simply sit and stare at. We recommend going to Tashi View Point for the sunsets, Pemayangste Monastery for the serenity, the Seven Sisters Waterfall for the surreal environs, and Menmecho Lake for the gorgeous backdrop.
* Take a yak safari: You will have one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life when you do one of the most popular things to do in Gangtok – take a yak safari. The safari commences at about 8 am during most times of the year, barring rainfall and extreme winter conditions. It goes across the Gurudongmar Lake, Thangu Valley and Chopta Valley. Your family will love this novel experience and the sights and sounds around you.
* Do the famous cable car ride: Take a 1 km-long cable car ride in a zig-back ropeway car, each of which carries up to 24 passengers. The ride includes three stations: Deorali, Namnang and Tashiling. You can choose to alight at any of the stations, or continue the to-and-fro journey. The cars are full and the queues are long during the tourist season, but this is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Gangtok.
* Go paragliding: Paragliding has gained prominence among major adventure sports in this city. It is one of the most exciting and calming ways to see Gangtok from your vantage point in the sky. You can go paragliding over the Himalayan ranges.
* Climb a mountain: Are you agile, have the perfect body balance and a thirst for pushing your physical boundaries? Then mountain climbing is for you. Mountain climbing is one of the best things to do in Gangtok, provided you do so under the guidance of an expert guide. However, you will need to have some basic grounding in this activity, and an optimum level of fitness. Head to Bulbulay Dara to hire the kit and gear for it.
* Get up close with nature: The Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary in Lachung is one of the most beautiful spots in Gangtok. Visiting it is one of the best things to do in Gangtok with the family in tow – marvel at the over 40 species of rhododendron trees that come into full bloom during the spring season. there are many other kinds of natural vegetation here that attract several species of birds.
* Get spiritual peace: Who would have thought that a monastery looks like a palace? But the Tsuk La Khang monastery does, and despite its lofty appearance, it is an abode of tranquil peace for every visitor. It is run by the Chogyals and also has a Royal Chapel in the main centre of the structure. There is also an assembly hall and several Buddhist sculptures all around. Interestingly, the palatial monastery is a popular choice for marriage and coronation ceremonies among Sikkim’s royal persons to this day.
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 extra special is that it is possible to spend a night at the base camp to get a feel of the place after dark.
* Ganesh Tok: Another important tourist spot 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.
* 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.
* 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. These facts aside, the area is gorgeous and a must-visit place in this area. You will need to keep your original photo ID proof with you to show if asked at any checkpoint. However, the area is open only to Indian nationals on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Foreign nationals are not allowed to visit this area.
* Ban Jakhri Falls: Still not had enough of Gangtok’s natural beauty? Then head for the 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 infuse you with new energy. 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 the mainland and wreak havoc! Do note that there is an entry fee of Rs 20 to go inside the park and see the waterfall.
* Phodong Monastery: Another important tourist magnet 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.
* 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.
* 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 important – it sets the tone for your holiday, and helps you relax and enjoy your trip a lot more. 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, which is one of the finest restaurants in Gangtok. Then there is the prospect of having every creature comfort at your disposal, from 24/7 housekeeping services to a well-appointed spa. 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. In short, everything you need is taken care of at this splendid resort, and you and your family will love staying here every time you are in Gangtok.
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), a part of Leisure and Hospitality sector of the Mahindra Group, offers quality family holidays primarily through vacation ownership memberships and brings to the industry values such as reliability, trust and customer satisfaction. Started in 1996, the company's flagship brand ‘Club Mahindra’, today has over 250,000 members , who can holiday at 100+ resorts in India and abroad.