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India >> India >> North East >> Gangtok
Gangtok North East, India
  Overview   Holiday Ideas 
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Gangtok a bustling cosmopolitan city is the capital and the largest city of the Himalayan state of Sikkim. It is nestled at an elevation of 1,437 meters (4,715 ft.) in the Shivalik Hills of the eastern Himalayan range, so it enjoys a mild temperate climate all year-round. The name Gangtok is derived from the Tibetan word for 'hillside'.


Gangtok is at the centre of Sikkims tourism industry, a seat for Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning, with the presence of several monasteries, religious educational institutions, and centers for Tibetology.


It was a small hamlet, rose to prominence as a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site after the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840. In the early 20th century, Gangtok became a major stopover on the trade route between Lhasa in Tibet and cities such as Kolkata (then Calcutta) in British India.


Gangtok is a popular tourist destination with a spectacular view of the Kanchenjunga providing a perfect base for travel within the state. Though the town is devoid of luxuries of high end stores, multiplexes and bookstores, it offers its visitors solitude way away from a typical city life with a wide array of lodgings to suit ones pocket and a variety of eateries serving cuisine to tingle the taste buds. Shopping complexes, cyber cafes, night clubs and pool parlours abound for those so inclined.


While there are many sightseeing spots but the best possible way to enjoy Gangtok is to saunter along the paved paths, the scene changes dramatically as you head out of the main town square. On a crystal clear day one can see the Kanchenjunga and rest of the range in all its majestic glory.


MG Marg, the main street runs through the commercial district of the town and a great place to chill out and shop. The countrys first litter and spit free zone, no vehicular traffic is allowed on this marg. The tourist season ushers in a carnival like atmosphere which can be enjoyed from the confines of Titanic Park or taking up a seat on the benches along the Mall.


Ganesh Tok, situated on a ridge at a distance of 7 km from Gangtok offers a bird's eye view of the sprawling Gangtok town with a perfect backdrop of the snow capped peaks of Mt. Kanchenjunga and Mt. Siniolchu looming over the horizon, a view truly breathtaking!


Hanuman Tok, a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, is situated at an altitude of 7200 ft, a distance of about nine kilometers uphill from Gangtok. Apart from peace and solitude   one gets an excellent view of the peaks surrounding Mt. Kanchenjunga along the horizon and the Gangtok town nestled below with its Selep water works and Lukshyama, the royal cremation ground.


Institute of Tibetology. Namgyal Research Institute of Tibetology, for those seriously interested in Buddhism. A must visit for it is the most prestigious research institute of its kind in the world, NIT is a treasure of vast collection of rare Lepcha, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts, statues and rare Thankas (colourful tapestries used in Buddhist liturgy). Apart from an attractive museum, it has over 200 Buddhist icons and other prized objects of art. As far as its collections are concerned, it is only next to an institute in Tibet. Today it is renowned world wide centre for study of Buddhist philosophy and religion. The institute was established in 1958 to promote serious study and research on Buddhism.


The Aritar Lake (Ghati-Tso) near Rhenock, about 3 hours drive from Gangtok, is worth visiting and a short trek in and around it is a thrilling experience. For those interested in spending a night or two in the tranquil environment, trekker's huts, few lodges and a private resort are available. Other attractions are boating, exploring the countryside, visiting near by villages to know about the lifestyle of villagers, also visit to the Lingsay Monastery and Manghim is worthwhile. 


Baba Mandir, a pilgrimage centre lies on the road between the Nathu La and the Jelep La Pass. The temple is believed to have mystical powers and the foot fall is by hundreds each day as devotees throng the temple to be blessed by divine spirit of the Baba.


Fambong Lho, the Wildlife Sanctuary, located at a distance of 25 kms from Gangtok covering an area of 51. 76 sq. km. The flora mainly comprises of oak, katus, kimbu, champa, thick bamboos and ferns. The sanctuary also houses a large variety of wild orchids, rhododendrons and many other flowering species. The richly forested cover is   home to various species of wild animals, birds and butterflies. The sanctuary being in close proximity to Gangtok has a short trekking trail and a log house with two rooms is available at Golitar and Tumin.


Gurudongmar Lake, situated at a height of 17,800 feet, it is considered one of the most sacred lakes by the Buddhists and Hindus alike. The beautiful and awe inspiring lake (190 km from Gangtok) remains milky in colour throughout the year. According to a legend, the lake remained frozen almost the year around baring a few months, its water was unavailable for drinking. It is believed, when Guru Padmasambhava was passing by on one of sojourns back from Tibet, the local residents approached him with the humble request for providing them with a constant source of water.


The Guru obliged. Since then a portion of the lake touched by him never freezes even during extreme winters. The water here is considered sacred and people do carry back some of this 'blessed' water.


Kanchenjunga Waterfalls is an hour and a half drive from Pelling and on the way to Yuksom. The twin waterfalls cascading from a height of 300ft down the granite rocks, boasts of lush greenery and rich natural beauty is truly spectacular.


Nathu-La Pass- Silk route

Located around 56 km from Gangtok at an altitude of 14450 ft, the road to Nathu-La passes through the Tsomgo Lake. It is among the highest motorable roads in the world and is richly surrounded by alpine flora. On a clear day one can even see the road winding down the Chumbi valley. Tourists are allowed to go close enough to the international border to get a glimpse of the Chinese soldiers across the barbed wire fence.


Silk Route is a generic name given to different trade routes that emerged out of China and went on through Central Asia, India and Arabia to Mediterranean. The trade on these routes sustained many economies, brought and kept societies in contact, transmitted cultures, and shaped civilizations. Traders, as well as pilgrims, religious seekers, long-distance merchants, soldiers, economic migrants, nomadic people, all kept these roads and cultures alive. These routes often branched off into a shorter journey, and often cris-crossed each other. One such route connected Lhasa to Bengal (some say specifically to Siliguri) via Nathu-La. Trade mainly in tea and horses, thrived here. Chinese silk, Indian jewellery and spices were also traded.


In the early 20th century, a good 80 percent of the trade between India and China took place across Nathu-La, finally coming to a halt with the hostilities between China and India in 1962. On July 7, 2006, this connection reopened after 44 years as a diplomatic and economic initiative.



Around 10 kms from Gyalshing is the quaint little town of Pelling , fast emerging as the second biggest tourist destination in the state after Gangtok. Although in itself it is little more than a strip of road lined with hotels, its main USP is the breathtaking view it offers of the Kanchenjunga and surrounding ranges, as well as the easy access it provides to tourist spots in the area. Pemayangste monastery is less than a kilometer from Pelling while a 40 minute walk on the hill opposite the monastery takes you to Sanga Choling monastery built in 1697, one of the first in the state.


Darap village

About 6 kilometers from Pelling on the way to Yuksam is Darap village inhabited mainly by people from the Limboo Community and a small number of families from mixed communities like Bhutias, Chettris, Tamangs, Rais, Gurungs and Lepchas. The landscape    has a gentle undulation unlike other locations in west. Being in  close vicinity of Pelling, the culturally and traditionally rich Darap possesses the potential for tourism and is coming up as a popular home stay destination.



38 km from Gangtok and at an altitude of 12,400 ft, the ethereally beautiful glacial Tsomgo lake is a must on every visitors itinerary. A winding road through rugged mountain terrain and jagged cliffs takes you to Tsomgo, meaning 'source of the water', in Bhutia language. Of legendary beauty, the oval lake looks different with the change of seasons. The  placid lake remains frozen during the winter months while in late spring the profusion of flowers in bloom adds a riot of colours around it. 


The lake is associated with many myths and legends, is revered by the Sikkimese as sacred. It is believed that in olden times, Buddhist monks would study the colour of  it's  water  to forecast the future.


The lake is also of special significance for the Jhakris [faith healers] of Sikkim who congregate here annually on Guru Purnima, which coincides with the festival of Raksha Bandhan, from all over the state to offer prayers.


The tourists have a lot to look out for from the springtime flowers like the rhododendrons, primulas, blue and yellow poppies, irises to various species of birds both indigenous and migratory  - a paradise for bird lovers, the red pandas and of course the  joy rides by the lakeside on colourfully decorated yaks and mules.


Tsomgo lake is open for both Indian and foreign nationals, however foreign visitors have to be in a group of two or more and have to apply for a visitors permit through a registered travel agency.



The Rumtek monastery, a replica of the Tsurphu monastery of Kham region of Tibet belongs to the Kargyupa sect. It was founded during the reign of the fourth Chogyal in 1740 in the East District. Having a four storied building, it is the biggest monastery of Sikkim. Consequent upon the Chinese aggression over Tibet, His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, the 16th incarnate of the Gyalwa Karmapa of Tibet came to Rumtek with a number of monks. The then Chogyal gifted him a large piece of land at Rumtek village to build a monastery and also develop a centre for religious studies.


The monastery has a special prayer hall, very impressive murals and Thanka paintings and 1001 miniature golden images of Lord Buddha. It also has a religious centre by the name of Dharma Chakra Centre and a big residential-cum prayer hall. It also has an impressive library and special rooms for the high ranking incarnate Lamas.


The monastery overlooking Gangtok receives a large number of devotees and tourists throughout the year. Behind the main monastery is an extremely impressive and elaborately decorated Karma Nalanda Institute of Buddhist Studies, wherein students from all over the world are enrolled. There is also a small hall having a beautiful jewel studded Chorten known as the Golden Stupa. It has the ashes and remains of His Holiness, the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa.


Pastanga village

Pastanga in Assam Lingzey is located at an altitude of 1425 meters (4676 ft.). It is two hours drive from Gangtok. The enchanting little village provides magnificent view of the mountain ranges. One can wander up lush Green Mountain trails interspersed with crystal clear meandering streams and a beautiful waterfalls. Very rare species of bamboo grow in dense rhododendron and magnolia forest. Home stay facilities are available with organised cultural program and local handicrafts show. It is worth visiting the traditional houses of ethnic communities, some are as old as hundred and fifty years. Pastanga is also the take off point for Khedi trekking route.


Yumthang (Valley of flowers)

Yumthang, situated at a height of 11800 feet is popularly known as 'Valley of Flowers', Located at a distance of 148 km from Gangtok, it is a paradise for nature lovers with a fascinating blend of flora and fauna with a breathtaking view. In spring, various species of wild flowers like Primulas and Rhododendrons bloom flooding the landscape in rich  vibrant colours and surreal shade making it a tourist hot spot. The Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary houses 24 species of Rhododendron flowers which bloom from April to May end.


A valley is known for its natural hot springs situated on the right bank of Yumthang river. A picturesque place with vast green meadows, lush green forest abounding in pine and silver fir trees, lofty mountains and as you drive along you come across cascading waterfalls and babbling clear streams -  it's heavenly!


Village tourism

Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim (ECOSS) together with local communities and UNESCO has helped set up home stays in this beautiful state. The goal of Sikkim Himalayan Home stays is to promote community based tourism while helping local communities benefit fully from the economic opportunities of low-impact tourism. In this way, the spectacular environmental and cultural heritage of these areas can be protected for future generations and tourism can develop to meet the needs of local communities. Their members are dedicated to community self-reliance and have a mandate to achieve the goals of sustainable development in the fields of ecotourism and conservation. A few of the destinations worth availing a stay are Dzongu, Kewzing, Yuksom, Hee-Bermiok, Lachen , Assangthang and Kabi.

 Getting there



Capital of Sikkim state, sharing borders with Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.




125 km from Siliguri

 Fast Facts
Name Gangtok Best Time To Visit September to May
Location North East   India   Destination  
Open From 0000-00-00  To 0000-00-00 Type Hill Station
Temperature Summar   20-28C      Winter   -5-10C      Rainy   15-20C
  Contact for your holiday plan at this destination [ Click Here ]