Sikkim is considered to be the ‘Switzerland of the East’ and Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim. Gangtok is located at the centre of Sikkim’s tourism industry. The name Gangtok literary means ‘Hill Cut’ lies on the lap of Shivalik Hills. Gangtok is well connected to all major parts of the state including East, West, North and South Sikkim. Gangtok is at an elevation of about 5410 feet. Gangtok is mainly inhabited by Nepalis, Bhutia and Lepchas. The famous area of Gangtok city that has gained the most tourist importance is the M.G Marg. The premises of M.G. Marg looks like a piece foreign land. Around M.G Marg one can go for shopping of colourful cloths, designer umbrella, winter cloths, varieties of caps and shoes. M.G. Marg has been converted into something like a long stretch of open promenade and a mall area. It is a pedestrian only zone and vehicles are not allowed here. Gangtok is also famous for its authentic Tibetan and Chinese dishes. Gangtok is considered to be the land of Momos, dry noodles, Thukpa or noodles in soup and Sha Feli which are worth tasting. Today, Gangtok is a centre of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning, with the presence of several monasteries, religious educational institutions, and centres for Tibetology. In 1975, after the integration with the union of India, Gangtok was made India’s 22nd state capital.
Things to See and Do: Around Gangtok there is numerous places to visit those has gained most of the tourists attractions. Gangtok remained a small hamlet until the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840 made it a pilgrimage centre. The Enchey Monastery dates back to 200 years old and is located within 3 km from Gangtok. It belongs to the Nyingma order of Vajrayana Buddhism and blessed with the historic importance of Lama Drupthob Karpo. The main attractions of this monastery are the pictures and remains of different Gods and Goddesses. Another religious sites those have gained importance are the Dro-Dul Chorten and Namgial Institute of Tibetology. Dro-Dul Chorten was constructed in the year 1945 by Krulsi Rinpoche of the Ningyma tribe. There are around 108 prayer circle. From there visit Chorten Lakhang and Guru Lakhang these two spots has gained the importance due to the presence of 2 large idol of Guru Padmasambhava. From there visit the N.I.T (Namgiyal Institute of Tibetology) this is the cultural and research center of Buddhism in India, here one will get to see numerous collections of ancient scripts, idols and Thanker. The premise of this Institute is surrounded by dense greenery. Another point of tourist’s attraction is the Sikkim Government’s Flower show Complex that exhibit flowers show throughout the year. The Flower Show Complex has the widest collections of different flowers and orchids. From there at the nearest location is the Directorate of Handloom and Handicrafts that has the antique collections of local cloths and handicrafts which is worth visiting. One can purchase any item from here. For nature lovers Gangtok has the option of few viewpoints those has gained much importance. Those may include Hurhuredara or Namnang Hall located just opposite to Sikkim state legislative assembly. To reach there one needs to step on the uphill route. Another point located around 7 km from Gangtok is the Ganesh Tok at an elevation of around 6100 feet; the name was derived from a small temple of lord Ganesha. From Ganesh Tok view a bird’s eye view of the whole town of Gangtok can be seen and if the sky remains to the far horizon Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Siniolchu and other mountain peaks are clearly visible. There is a cafe from where one can enjoy this view with a cup of hot coffee. From Ganesh Tok at a distance of 4 km uphill route is Hanuman Tok lies at an elevation of about 7000 ft. From Hanuman the mountain peaks are clearer. Gangtok also has the service of ropeway or cable car facility from that offers a full view of the city. 1 km of cable ride takes around 7 minutes. Another point of tourist attraction located within 8 km from Gangtok is the ‘Tashin View Point’ at an elevation of about 6100 ft. One a clear ‘Tashi View Point’ offers a panoramic view of Mt. Kanchenjunga along with other peaks. For children there is the ‘Himalayan Zoological Park’ located within 8 km from the main town of Gangtok. The Zoological is spread over an area of 205 hectares and conserves species like Red Panda, Snow Leopard, Spotted Deer, Himalayan Sloth Bear and numerous species of birds. Other places of tourist importance is ‘Bonjhakri Falls’ located at a distance of 4 km from Gangtok, the spot is centred by an ‘Energy Park’ spread over an area of 2 acre. Another spot is ‘Saramsa Flower Pavilion and Exhibition Centre’ located within 14 km from Gangtok and to the opposite direction at a distance of 16 km is ‘Marmatkhola Water Garden’ located NH 31. This place is a picnic spot decorated by cafeteria and swimming pool. From here one can visit ‘Rumtek’ located within 24 km from Gangtok. A large area has constructed with Monastery and Buddhists religious centre and school. From there on the way to Sang Martam village another 5 km is ‘Lower Rumtek Monastery’. From Gangtok within 38 km is Tsomgo Lake (Changu Lake) at an elevation of around 12400 ft, an oval shaped lake most of the time round the year Changu Lake remains covered with snow. Nathula is at a distance of 56 km from Gangtok at an elevation of 14450 ft. Nathula is the border between China and India connecting with Tibet via Lhasa. Another spot of tourist attraction is Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary located within 30 km from Gangtok, at an elevation of 1524 to 2749 meter above sea level. The Sanctuary is spread across an area of 51 sp km and hosts numerous species of floras and fauna. To get in the sanctuary one need to get the permission from Gangtok. Butterfly Park at Gangtok also hosts more than 400 different species of butterflies. From Gangtok on a two to three days tour one can visit Lachen, Lachung, Gurudongmar Lake, Yumthung Valley and Zero point.
Things to Know: Being a neighbouring state of West Bengal, Sikkim is open for all but after following few guidelines. As Sikkim is the cleanest state therefore no one is allowed to litter anywhere and at some places smoking is prohibited. Everybody needs to get the required permit to enter Sikkim.
How to reach: The nearest rail head from Gangtok is New Jalpaiguri and the nearest Airport is Bagdogra 124kms (takes around 4.5 hours). From New Jalpaiguri railway station at a distance of about 126 km is Gangtok. Gangtok has several taxi and bus stands, and each earmarked for specific purpose. While coming from Siliguri/NJP or Bagdogra by bus or taxi, you will be dropped at the Deorali taxi stand located 2kms below the Gangtok town centre. The Sikkim Government Bus Terminal is located about 5 minutes walk from M G Marg. From NJP railway station or Bagdogra airport shared cars or hired cars are available those reaches to Gangtok.