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Glimpse of Gangtok: A Natural Escape in the Lap of Mountain and Monasteries

To enjoy a delightful time off during summer, we often look for a natural escape in the lap of a soothing knoll dotted with lush bush and natural abundance. Positioned at an altitude of 5,410 ft in the eastern Himalayan range, the beautiful town of Gangtok is one such spectacular destination that you can chalk out for a perfect summer escape. Let’s catch a glimpse of the city and the cultural face of Gangtok .

An Overview:

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Gangtok is the capital city of Sikkim, which is enclosed with scenic environs and breath-taking knolls. Since 19th century, the city has started witnessing a large number of Buddhist followers. The reason being, this was the time when the Enchey Monastery was constructed here. Being a popular Buddhist Pilgrimage Centre, the tempting city of Gangtok boasts a diverse range of monasteries. Perhaps this is why today Gangtok is also known as the ‘land of monasteries’.

The natural splendour of Gangtok is indisputably the key attraction here for visitors. Besides, the cultural diversity and religious practices of Gangtok also distinguishes the city from other popular hill stations in India. In Gangtok, you will come to see people of different ethnicity like Lepchas, Tibetan, Bhutia and Nepalese. This results into a blend of people here with different languages, religions and food styles. A greater percentage of inhabitants in Gangtok speak Nepali. In addition, Hindi, English and several other languages are also spoken here. Regarding religion, Gangtok shows a great reverence towards Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists. Some of the popular festivals that are celebrated in Gangtok with great enthusiasm include Drupka, Maghe Sankranti and Pong Labsal.  

natural beauty of gangtok

Akin to its cultural diversity, the food style of Gangtok also allures number of visitors here from all round the country. When in Gangtok, make sure you don’t miss some of the lip-smacking palters like Momos, shah paley, thukpa and chowmein.   

The people of Gangtok are generous by nature and most of them are involved here in agriculture. Some of the major crops grown on the land of Gangtok include rice, orange, maize, wheat and potato. Industrially the city is not yet transformed, but with mounting footfalls of tourists and pilgrims, the hospitality industry is gradually shaping up in the state.

Seasonal Climate:

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The land of ‘monasteries’ witnesses a moderate weather throughout the calendar. Even in summers (March-June), the maximum temperature can be felt here somewhere around 220C. After summer, monsoon hits the region in the month of July and it lasts here till September. Due to intense rainfall in monsoon the region faces frequent landslides and road blockage. Hence, visiting Gangtok during monsoon is not a smart idea for travellers. November to March is known for a pleasing winter in Gangtok. During winter the mercury levels range here from 20C to 100C temperature making the ambience of the entire hill station quite restful for visitors.

Best time to Visit:

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Being an elevated terrain, Gangtok is an all season place for visitors. However, to reveal the best out of the place, maximum footfall is spotted here from October to June.

Places to visit in Gangtok:

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The natural grandeur of Gangtok allures weekenders, honeymooners and history buffs from all round the sphere. If you are planning for an invigorating summer escape in the north-eastern part of the country, Gangtok may be the place you are long for. The beautiful hill station has no dearth of attractions for tourists. Hence, when in Gangtok you can’t afford to skip the following destinations:

#Rumtek Monastery

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Your voyage to the land of monasteries remains incomplete without exploring the Rumtek Monastery. Nestled along the green hills and about 24Kms from the capital city, Rumtek Monastery was set up way back in 16th century by the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk. Moving ahead, this sacred Tibetan Buddhist monastery was later refurbished by the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. The prime purpose behind the construction of this monastery was to spread the teachings of Buddha to all his followers across the globe. It is said that the Rumtek Monastery is reckoned amongst the most sacred hubs in India after those religious monasteries in Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh) and Dharamshala (Himachal Pradesh).

rumtek monastery in gangtok

Apart from its architectural brilliance, the overall ambience inside the monastery complex takes you to a different level of serenity. Some of the key attractions at this monastery include Sanctum Sanctorum, pictures of Lord Ganesha and Dalai Lama and Nunnery. In addition, there is also a Buddhist school along the monastery where various cultural and spiritual lesions are taught to spread the words of Lord Buddha. Rumtek Monastery is also popular as the Dharma Chakra Centre, which is visited by plenty of tourists from different parts of the sphere.  The monastery is open everyday from 9AM-6PM. 

#Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary

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Exploring the wildlife amidst knolls is always a rousing experience for enthusiast travellers. Spread with more than 50 sq km areas, Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the popular tourist pullers in Gangtok. This site is an absolute delight for photographers and kids. Hence, visiting this location with your family members is never a bad idea. Located nearly 20Kms outside the main city, the dense bush of Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary is an abode to various species of flora and fauna. Some of the key wild attractions in this region include Civet Cat Binturong, Himalayan Beer and Red Panda. Besides, various wild orchids and species of birds and butterflies can also be spotted amidst the forest area. Few more addition to the list of vibrant flora at this sanctuary includes oaks, ferns and bamboos. Reaching at Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary thus adds more thrill to your wildlife expedition. The best time to reveal the best wildlife here is from March to May and from September to December. However, entry to this exciting Wildlife Sanctuary incurs certain fees for visitors.

Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary

One more addition to this amazing tourist spot is the wooden observation tower, which is positioned at an elevation of nearly 7000 feet. Adventure freaks scale this height here to catch a picturesque vista of its surround areas. Near the observation tower, there is a provision for basic accommodation as well where visitors can spend their leisure time. 

#Do-Drul Chorten or Stupa

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Do-Drul Chorten or Stupa gangtok

Having said the diverse range of monasteries here, Do-Drul Chorten or Stupa is another addition to that list. Constructed decades back in 1945 by Trullshi Rimpoche, this religious site is visited mostly by the Buddhists and the history buffs. The captivating decor and soothing environs along the monastery also grabs the attention of photographers. Some of the major attractions that one must explore here include an array of religious books, Dorjee phurba, prayer wheels and Zung. Besides, several other spiritual objects can also be spotted here. Do-Drul Chorten is open throughout the week from 8AM-6PM. In Do-Drul Chorten, don’t miss the mesmerising religious chants that leads to a divinely environment here for visitors. 

#Hanuman Tok

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hanuman tok in gangtok

As the name suggests, this is a religious site here, which is devoted to Lord Hanuman. According to the local language of Gangtock, the word “Tok” means temple. It is said that the place has a significant connectivity with the epic Ramayana. The saying is that while carrying Sanjeevni from the Himalayas, Lord Hanuman took rest here for some time. Later, a holy shrine was built here at an elevation of about 7200 feet in the reverence of the Lord Hanuman. Today, ample of Hindu pilgrims flock this site from various parts of the country to offer their prayers and respect to Lord Hanuman. Visitors need to climb up the stairs that take them straight to the temple. The best time to visit the temple is during day time.

#Saramsa Garden

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Saramsa Garden in gangtok

Want to witness a rich variety of exotic orchids? Saramsa Garden is the place you should stop by. Located around 15Kms from the main city, Saramsa Garden is an offbeat destination for visitors. This place mostly attracts the photography buffs and nature lovers. Incorporated way back in 1922 by the forest department, Saramsa Garden boasts an array of exotic orchids and many other vibrant species of flora. Apart from orchids, various fruit trees can also be spotting here. 

#Tsomgo Lake

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Tsomgo Lake in Gangtok

Situated nearly 35Kms from the main city, Tsomgo Lake is a glacial lake, which is one of the major tourist pullers in Gangtok. The name of the lake is derived from Bhutia language wherein, the word ‘Tso’ means lake and the word ‘Mgo’ means source. Thus, the actual meaning of these two words stands ‘source of the lake’.  In Gangtok, Tsomgo Lake is also popular as Changu Lake and Tsongmo Lake. Along the lake, you can also see some holy shrines that are devoted to Lord Shiva. Visitors need to get prior permission while entering the lake area.

#Nathula Pass

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Nathula Pass in Gangtok

Located near the Tsomgo Lake and around 55 kms from the capital city, Nathula Pass serves as a corridor of passage between Tibet and India. This pass is positioned at an elevation of more than 4,000 metres from sea level. It is said that the road that takes you through the pass is the world’s highest motorable road. If you are here with your biddies and looking for a rousing bike ride, Nathula Pass could be an amazing site to fulfil your daring desire. Nathula Pass is delimited by rich variety of alpine flora. Peeping over the barbed wire from the international border will glimpse you a troop of the Chinese soldiers. Before accessing the Nathula Pass make sure to avail the permission from the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department.

#Bakthang Waterfalls

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Bakthang Waterfalls in Gangtok

If you drive towards North Sikkim taking the route via NH 31A, you get to explore one more spectacular attractions around Gangtok. Located nearly 20 minutes driving distance from Gangtok, Bakthang Waterfalls is the prime water source of the entire city, which is initiated from Ratey Chu. The electrifying waterfalls make your presence absolutely spellbound leaving a picturesque vista of the Himalayas at its backdrop. Visiting Bakthang Waterfalls is an absolute paradise for nature lover. If you have zeal of photography, this place assures you some arresting moments for sure.

Yak Safari

Soaked with fascinating natural abundance and mountainous range, Gangtok has no dearth of attractions for you. Besides exploring its natural beauty, the city also offers you some exciting outdoor activities. Some of the popular outdoor activities that you must try here in Gangtok are Ropeway Cable Ride, Yak Safari, River Rafting and Paragliding. In addition, you can also visit the MG Marg, which is quite popular amongst the shopaholics. 

Getting there:

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Being an eminent hub for tourists and Buddhist pilgrimage, the popular hill station Gangtok is easily accessible from different parts of the country. If you plan to get there by air, the nearest airport is in Bagdogra, which is around 125Kms from Gangtok. There are several regular carries to Bagdogra that fly from Kolkata, Guwahati, Delhi and other locations. Once you reach Bagdogra airport, hire a prepaid taxi or any private vehicle that will take you to your destination in approximately 2 hours.

Gangtok can also be reached conveniently by train. The nearest railhead from Gangtok is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) station, which is located nearly 120 Kms. NJP is further well-connected to its nearby cities like Siliguri, Guwahati and Kolkata. From NJP, you can take a taxi for Gangtok or you can travel till Siliguri by bus and from Siliguri change the bus for Gangtok. Siliguri to Gangtok may consume maximum 4 hours time by road.

If you are residing in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kolkata or any other adjoining cities, nothing could be as convenient as reaching Gangtok by road. There are several buses, Jeeps and taxis that you can take from its nearby locations to reach Gangtok. By car the distance between Siliguri and Gangtok can be covered in 3.30 hours. From Kalimpong, it will take 2 hours 30 minutes time to reach Gangtok. On the other hand, from Darjeeling the distance to reach Gangtok is less than 100 Kms that can be travelled approximately in 3 hours 15 minutes time by car.

Places to stay in Gangtok:

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Delimited by lush bush region around the Shivalik Hills, Gangtok is one of the popular hill stations in India. Because of its natural abundance and sightseeing attractions, the place is visited by ample of tourists all round the year. Considering the mounting footfalls of visitors, the travel and tourism industry of the state has started paying more attention in establishing many budget and luxury hotels for visitors. So finding a comfy staying option in and around Gangtok is not a fuss for tourists.

hotel in Gangtok

Here are few hotels listed for your convenience:

#Hotel Tarika, Gangtok

Address: NH 31A, Near Mainline Taxi Stand,

Below Forest Office Anex II,

Deorali, Gangtok, 737102

Charges: INR 1400 Approximately

#The Lindsay Himalayan Heights

Address:Palzor Stadium Road,

Gangtok, India 737101

Charges: INR 1350 Approximately

#Delight Hotels The Fortuna

Address:Third Mile, By-Pass,

Lower Bojogori (Near Bakthang Petrol Pump),

Gangtok, India 737101

Charges: INR 920 Approximately

#Daizzo Royal Oaks

Address:Dr B R Ambedkar Road, Near Paljor Stadium,

Gangtok, India 737101

Charges: INR 3400 Approximately

#Hotel Renam Gangtok

Address: Church Road (Rai Cottage),

Near Pelling Taxi Stand, Gangtok, 737101

Charges: INR 2200 Approximately

#Gangtok Drift Hotel

Address: Bahai School Road, Daragaon,

Tadong, Opp. Khang-Ree Petrol Pump,

Gangtok, India 737102

Charges: INR 4400 Approximately

Note: The charges may differ from time-to-time, as the same has been outlined for reference.

So, get ready to beat the scorching heat of summer and plan your summer escape to the beautiful land of Gangtok. Don’t forget to carry your HD camera. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time now to travel and explore the exquisiteness of Gangtok. Do share your travel tale with us if you happen to be there this summer.

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