Sikkim is a land of high passes, cold deserts, barren mountains, ancient monasteries, and stunning landscapes. It is a Land of Mystery and intrigue which never ceases to amaze travellers. Gangtok is a small and beautiful city & is the capital of Sikkim, is one place that will definitely take your breath away. Though our stay in Gangtok was only for a short time we really had a good time having momos & local cuisines drinking channg, talking to all the fellow travellers, while walking on the most cleanest street Mg Marg.
We booked a taxi from Thimphu to Phuentsholing, and from Phuentsholing we hired another vehicle to siliguri. We got down at the coronation bridge and thought of taking a sharing taxi to Gangtok. It was very difficult for us to Find a taxi to Gangtok. So we had to again break our journey into two parts, we got down at some point(forgot the name of the place) from there we hired an alto to Gangtok. Though we were tired after such a long and tiresome Journey from Thimphu we didn’t plan to rest because of our crunched itinerary. The very next day is the most awaited and the exciting North Sikkim trip. I was dreaming about Lachung, Lachen & Gurudongmar lake all day and night since the trip started. By the time we arrived at Gangtok it was around 6:30-7:00pm.
We went to MG marg which is the heart of the city and is the best place for travellers to find budget hotels. After renting a room in Rigwa international hotel, we had dinner at the same hotel and ended the day. Next morning we woke up with a call from Lahiri regarding our trip to Northsikkim, that due to the bad weather conditions the road to Gurudongmar Lake and Lachen has been closed. So, 3day and 2itinerary has come down to 2day and one night to Lachung. So we had a full day to explore Gangtok. We went to the taxi stand in MG marg and negotiated the price for a customised daytrip. Since we are four people we reserved a wagon-R car for us (there are also larger vehicles like Scorpio, Sumo which can take 7 persons) for local sightseeing tour. My first impression on this beautiful city is that it’s very clean& green, well organised city with lot of foot bridges and footpaths(almost all of the people were using it 😉 ), very organised cab system, hospitable people.
We thought of exploring Gangtok on a shoestring budget. A day trip to Gangtok was little bit hectic but we customized this itinerary, such that we are covering most of the must see places here. Our first stop was at Ropeway. This is a must see in the city and the ride is of 15 to 20 Minutes duration which provides spectacular bird view of Gangtok city and the surrounding vista.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology & Museum:
This place has a great collection of artifices and paintings related to Tibet. It’s a great museum showcasing lot of things on Tibetan Buddhism. Informative Museum and is the right place for the history enthusiasts. There’s a souvenir store inside the complex. If you are not a history lover then you can have a second thought on this place whether to visit or not.
Hanuman Tok & Viewing area:
Hanuman Tok is a temple of Lord Hanuman. it has wonderful serene ambience and the viewing area offers spectacular view of Kanchenjunga range. According to the local legends, when Hanuman was flying with the “Sanjeevani” (mythological: life saving herb) mountain to save Rama’s brother Lakshmana he rested in the spot where his temple now lies for some time. The mandir is actually managed by The Indian Army.
Ganesh Tok & Viewing area: Beautiful and serene temple with a great view from the top.
Himalayan Zoological Park:
Himalayan Zoological Park is quite unique and the first Zoological park of Sikkim. The Park accomplishes the perception of modern zoo, where the animals are kept in replicated natural conditions. The entrance to the Zoo is located at the end of a short pathway opposite to Ganesh Tok. It’s about 6kms from Gangtok town.There lot of rare and endangered species of animals.Biggest attraction of this park is Red Pandas, Himalayan Black Bears, Snow Leopards, Clouded Leopard, Common Leopard, Leopard Cat, Tibetan Wolfs, Himalayan Palm Civets, Barking Deer, Yaks, etc. You can also see different types of birds here.
Tashi View Point:
It’s located in Tashi and about 8kms from the Gangtok town. It offers a sweeping view of Kanchenjunga snow peaks on a clear day. It seems that the view of sunrise from here is quite impressive, One can see the peaks dazzling with changing colors. Because of our crunched itinerary we didn’t even plan of going there for sunrise.Since it was foggy day we didn’t get a clear view of the snowclad mountains. It was bit foggy and rainy day so the visibility was close to zero on that day. Unfortunate for us, But I am sure it would be spectacular on a clear day. Definitely a must see place.
Enchey monastery was later rebuilt in the year 1908 by the 10th King of Sikkim – Sikyong Tulku. The monastery follows an unique architecture which is an artistic adaptation of Gyanak Riwo Tse-Nga or the sacred mountain with five peaks in China – which is the spiritual place of Jampalyang. He is known as the god of knowledge to the northern Buddhists. The monastery is therefore one of the most recognized ones in the whole of Sikkim. quiet, and peaceful temple..
Flower Exhibition Center:
By the time we returned back to MG marg it was around 6pm and it was so beautiful with the colorful lights, grand decorations, diverse people. We had some momos and tea. Then had a walking tour in the city. After that we spend few hours in a bar. Then back to the hotel.. End of the day..
Tips from my perspective:
- Ropeway is open between 8 Am to 4.30 Pm. There is no sitting arrangement inside the ropeway. Ticket price is 60/Head.
- There’s no entrance fee for Enchey monastery, Ganesh tok, Hanumantok & Tashi View point.
- Namgyal Institute of Tibetology entrance fee is Rs.10
- According to me the Best time to visit Gangtok is in March-May and September-October.