Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim with 50,000 inhabitants, is the state's only significant town. Gangtok has developed into a cosmopolitan flavour where old-world charm and hospitality exist along with the Internet Age. With different cultures and religion existing in perfect harmony, the capital is definitely not behind the rest of the world in terms of urbanization - Broad roads, flyovers, posh markets, state-of-art hospital, educational institutes, fast food outlets, discothèques, and all other modern amenities. One imposing manmade landmark of the town is the 200 ft-high TV tower which overlooks the town and is situated near the Enchey Monastry below Ganesh Tok. A stroll along the Mahatma Gandhi Marg is shopper's delight- Hotels, restaurants, curios, footwear and almost everything is available. By Air
How to reach
Nearest airport is Bagdogra in West Bengal which is 124 kms. away. Helicopter service is also available between Gangtok - Bagdogra - Gangtok.
Nearest railway station is at New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal which is 148 kms. Away.
Gangtok is connected with all weather mettaled road with Siliguri, Kalimpong, Gangtok etc. Private Taxis, Jeeps and Landrovers ply regularly on the Gangtok- Siliguri Highway and are available for transfer of passengers between Gangtok and Siliguri/ New Jalpaiguri Junction/ Bagdogra, and also for local sightseeing at fixed rates and may be reserved through Tourist Bureau, Govt. of West Bengal, Gangtok.
Foreigners visiting Gangtok must possess an Indian visa. In addition to an Indian visa, foreigners must obtain Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit Sikkim. The permits can be obtained from all Indian missions, Tourism Office, New Delhi, Sikkim Tourism Office, Calcutta and Sikkim Tourism Office, Siliguri on the strength of an Indian Visa
Places of Interest in Gangtok
Government Institute of Cottage Industry
Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology
Do-Drul Chorten (Stupa)
Ridge Park & White Hall Complex
Tashi View Point
Himalayan Zoological Park
Rumtek Dharma Chakra Center
Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden
Government Institute of Cottage Industry
It is now known as the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handlooms as well as the Government Institute of Cottage Industries(GICI). Started during the time of the Chogyals of Sikkim, as a venture to preserve, protect and propagate the authentic Sikkimese arts, handicrafts and skills of local and village artisans, it has become one of the major attractions for people visiting Sikkim where beautiful souvenirs like carpets, hand carved tables (choktses), traditional handcrafts, furniture, handlooms carpets and other products are produced & exhibited for sale. It is closed on Sundays, all government declared holidays, second Saturdays and the odd unforeseen holidays.
Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology(SRIT)
About a kilometer downhill from the main market of Gangtok, amidst a small forest of oak, magnolia and birch trees stands the Institute of Tibetology. The building accommodating the Institute is an example of Tibetan architecture. It is world renowned and is one of the few of its kind. It has one of the world's largest collection of books and rare manuscripts on the subject of Mahayana Buddhism plus many religious works of art and incredibly finely executed silk embroidered thangkas.
Do-Drul Chorten (Stupa)
Encircled by 108 prayer wheels built by late Trulsi Rimpoche in 1945-46. This is one of the most important and biggest stupas found in Sikkim. The Do-Drul Chorten or Stupa was built by the venerable Trulshi Rimpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism in 1945. Inside this stupa, there are complete mandala sets of Dorjee Phurba (Bajra Kilaya), a set of Kan-gyur relics (Holy Books), complete 'Zung' (mantras) and other religious objects. Around this Chorten, which is one of the most important stupas in Sikkim, are 10 Mani-Lhakor (prayer wheels). These prayer wheels are turned by the devout Buddhist while chanting "Hail to the jewel in the Lotus", to invoke the Buddhisattva. The Chorten is surrounded by Chorten Lakhang, where there are two huge statues of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava).
This park which commands a good view of the hills surrounding Gangtok is perched on top of a hillside that plunges almost vertically deep into the valley. It was established in the late fifties and is located adjacent to the new Secretariat and is also called the Rustomji park so named after one of the Dewans of the Chogyal of Sikkim and the author of the book "Enchanted Frontiers". The park has a big open enclosure in which different types of deer can be seen. There are also a few cages in which some animals native to Sikkim like the Red Panda and the Himalayan Bear are kept. A big statue of Lord Buddha commemorating his preaching of the noble truths in the deer park at Sarnath adorns the park premises. A butter lamp perpetually burns in front of the statue which is surrounded by flowers of the most exotic variety.
Permanent Flower Show
Close by the White Memorial Hall and just below the Palace Ridge park is the more recent Flower Show Hall. In recent years this show has become quite popular and famous as there are flower exhibitions throughout the year in accordance with the seasons and the flowers in bloom.
Located on a hilltop above Gangtok this monastery rebuilt in 1910 belongs to the Nyingmapa order and was once the hermitage site of Lama Drupthob Karpo renowned for his power of flying. An important seat of the Nyingma order, the Enchey Monastery meaning the Solitary temple, was originally built with the solace that no other construction would be allowed near it is built on the site blessed by Lama Druptob Karpo, a tantric master known for his flying powers. This 200 year old Monastery has in its premises images of god, goddesses and other religious objects. Every year around January 'Chaam' or religious masked dance is performed with great fanfare for two days. It is situated adjoining the Sinolchu Tourist Lodge, 3 kms from Gangtok Town.
The White Hall has historical value and is situated on the Ridge. It is a two storied structure and has typical British architecture and was built in 1932. It is so called not because it is painted white but because it was built in memory of the first Political Officer of Sikkim, Claude White. There is an Officers' Club and a badminton court in the White Hall.
The Ridge is a small stretch of plain and flat road above the town of Gangtok. It is just about fifteen minutes walk from the main market. The Ridge has the White Hall and the Chief Minister's official residence, known as the Mintokgang, meaning "blossomed crowned hilltop" on one end and the beautifully designed Palace Gate with a pagoda rooftop on the other end. A statue of Nehru, the late Prime Minister of India, adorns the roundabout above White Hall. Situated on the Ridge is also a resting shed using Tibetan architecture. The ridge is lined with plants and trees which when in bloom are a riot of colours. Flower shows which attract tourists from all over the world are held just below the Ridge. From the ridge, the, road winding its way up along the Chola range towards Nathula( border between India and China) can be clearly seen. Long ago, a small market called the Sadar Bazaar consisting of a few shops lined the Ridge. In the early twenties this market was shifted to the present M.G. Marg.
Tashi View Point
It was built by the late King of Sikkim, Tashi Namgyal, it is situated 4 km from Gangtok town from where one can have a clear view of opposite hills, besides Mt. Khangchendzonga. This site offers a breathtaking panorama of the majestic Mt. Khangchendzonga and surrounding hills. On the opposite hill, the Phodong and the Labrang monasteries can be seen. A resting shed and a small cafeteria situated at Tashi View Point provides shelter and other amenities to the tourists. A park above the View Point is a good place to enjoy a picnic.
Situated about 5 km uphill from White Hall at an altitude of 7200 ft.on a bifurcation road of the Gangtok-Nathula Highway, is a temple devoted to Hanuman, a God worshipped by the Hindus. On selected points on the road to the temple, breathtaking views of Gangtok and the adjoining rolling hills can be seen. From the temple itself, the snowy peaks of Khangchendzonga present a panoramic picture. One also gets a bird eye view of the Selep waterworks, which supplies drinking water to the Gangtok town, a few hundred feet in altitude below Hanuman Tok. The temple at Hanuman Tok is maintained by a unit of the Indian Army and can be found to be spick and span. A short distance before the stair case leading to the Hanuman Temple is the cremation ground of the erstwhile royal family of Sikkim. The cremation ground has stupas and chortens each marking the place where the mortal remains of the departed souls were consigned to the flames.
It is a very small temple at an altitude of 6500 ft. dedicated to Lord Ganesh, a diety worshipped by Hindus. The temple is so small in size that it can hardly accommodate one person and one has to crawl to get inside it. It is located on the hill adjoining the TV Tower. It is on a hillock on Gangtok-Nathula Road from here you can get a panoramic view of Gangtok town and the Raj Bhawan Complex and on a clear day one can get a breath taking view of Mt. Khangchendzonga. During the tourist season, a small cafeteria is opened for the convenience of the visitors. Just adjoining the Ganesh Tok is a pinetum garden containing pine trees. A walk on the footpath amongst the pine trees is refreshing.
Himalayan Zoological Park
The park is located exactly across the road opposite Ganesh Tok and covers an area of 205 hectares. This area is also known as Bulbuley and extends almost upto Hanuman Tok. Although a 3 kms long jeepable road runs right through the park, vehicles are not allowed in. There is a paved cement path that passes by fenced open air enclosures housing the red pandas, Barking Deer, bears and other animals of Sikkim in a semi natural habitat. As the enclosures encompass a huge area the animals are sometimes not easily visible and one has to be patient to get a sight of them. Making noise drives away the animals to take refuge behind bushes.
Located about 5 km away from Gangtok on a beautiful hill top is a Tibetan refugee monastic institution established in 1961 by his Eminence Luding Khen Rimpoche, Head of Ngorpa, sub-sect of the Sakya Order, with the blessing of H.H. Sakya Trizin and H.H. the Dalai Lama. This is the only monastery of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism in Sikkim.
Sikkim Time Corporation Ltd. (Sitco)
Situated at a distance of 1.5 Kms from Gangtok town is one of the first industrial units set up in Sikkim. The Sikkim Time corporation Limited (SITCO), set up in 1977, has grown from strength to strength & now has 4 units which manufacture quality mechanical watches and top class watch crowns. In its 20 years of existence, besides attaining the distinction of producing over 7.5 millon HMT mechanical watches, the unit is presently involved in marketing its own brand of fashionable digital watches having Functional versatility and Analog Watches with exquisite dials and various colour options These quality watches are reasonably priced & available in all the leading outlets of the country. Located in the beautiful campus is a showroom from where the watches can be brought at ex-factory cost. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm except Sundays and National Holidays.
Rumtek Dharma Chakra Center (24 km)
A short drive from Gangtok will take you to Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre. Built in 1960 by his Holiness the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa it is a replica of the original Kagyurpa Monastery in Tsurphu, Tibet, the seat of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa Rinpoche, head of the Karmapa sub sect of Kargyudpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. It now functions as the headquarters of the Dharma Chakra Religious Centre. Located within the complex are the main monastery, the memorial stupa of the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa inlaid with gold plate and semi precious stones, Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies and the Jamyang Khang Primary School. The centre houses some of the world's most unique religious scriptures, manuscripts and religious art objects. A fifteen minute walk downhill from Dharma Chakra Center takes one to the Old Rumtek monastery which was originally built in 1730 by the ninth Karmapa but was destroyed by fire and had to be reconstructed to the present state. His Holiness late Gyalwa Karmapa lived in this monastery till the completion of the Rumtek Dharma Chakra Center.
Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies
Initiated by the late 16th Karmapa, the institute is housed in the adjoining building of the Rumtek Monastery. The Jamyang Khang Primary School meant for 5 years of primary monastic studies is also located here.
Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden
Located very close to Rumtek Monastery just half a kilometer before reaching Rumtek Monastery on the highway, it is maintained by the parks and Gardens unit of the Forest Department of the Government of Sikkim, the Garden is an enchanting and soothing experience among the lush green vegetation, rare plants and trees and certain species of Himalayan flowers and Orchids. This garden is a mixture of well tended tropical and temperate plants and trees can be found here. A huge greenhouse containing many species of orchids has been constructed within the garden. For children there is even a small playground with a merry-go-round, swings and a see-saw. A cemented footpath winds its way through the garden and is good for taking a relaxed stroll. The sprawling town of Gangtok can be seen on the hill opposite. The garden is indeed an ideal picnic spot.
Saramsa Garden/ Ipecac Garden
Also known as lpecac Garden, the home of Sikkim's most exotic orchids and other rare tropical and temperate plants. The garden is known as Ipecac garden because of the plant Ipecac that is grown here. Established and maintained by the Department of Forest, it is an excellent recreation and picnic spot. Besides this plant, this garden also contains a wide variety of other flora including numerous types of orchids and medicinal plants. A large green house also accommodates many other species of plants. One has to take a taxi to reach this place. It is around 14 m from Gangtok.
Water Garden at Martam Khola is on the 31-A National Highway south of Gangtok about 16 km away. It is an ideal spot for picnic with a small swimming pool for children.
Tsomgo/ Changu Lake
The drive from Gangtok takes about 2½ hours by bus. It is about 40 km from Gangtok at an altitude of 12,210 ft. The lake is about 1 km. long and oval in shape, 50ft deep . This is an alpine zone and snowbound from December to April and the lake is regarded extremely Holy holy and head of all lakes in Sikkim remains frozen from January to April, and attracts 99% of tourists visiting Gangtok, Sikkim. It is also a home of Brahmini ducks besides stopover for various migratory ducks
About 54 km away from Gangtok is the famed Nathula passat at an altitude of 14790 ft. The pass Nathula means the whistling pass. Nathula is the Indo-China border at Jawahar Lal Nehru Road whereby Indian troops and the Red army stand face to face. This is the closest an Indian Tourist can travel and pose a photo or two with the Red Army. The days for tourist visit is restricted and needs to be applied at least 24 hrs in advance and limited days of operation. The days permitted to visit Nathula are Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sundays only. Photography is strictly prohibited in and around Nathula.
This is another beautiful lake located twenty kilometres ahead of the (Changu) lake. Quite big in size, it lies cradled between the mountains below the Jelepla pass and is also the source of the river Rangpo-chu which meets the Teesta at Rangpo. Like the (Changu) Lake, it also derives its water from the melting snow around especially from the stream that originates just below the Jelepla pass. The lake is famous for its trout and a farm to cultivate these fish also exists nearby. It is about 60 km away from Gangtok. Accommodation for the visitors coming here is available at the dak bunglow and tourist lodge near the lake. Tourists are not yet permitted to visit this area.
Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary:
This sanctuary is situated about 25 km from Gangtok at an altitude of 1280 - 2652 m with an area of 51.76 sq. km. The main vegetation is Oak, Katus, Kimbu, Champ with thick bamboo forests and ferns. The Sanctuary is also home to a large number of wild orchids, rhododendrons etc. The richly forested area is known to be home for various species of wild animals and birds. This area is being developed as a short duration trekking trail. Best season to visit this sanctuary is October and April.
Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary.
Kyngnosla Alpine Sanctuary is situated some 26 kms. from Gangtok at an altitude of 3292-4116m on way to Tsongo Lake, this 3100 hectare sanctuary abounds in Alpine flowers like Poppies, Primulas and rhododendrons. Musk Deer, Serow, Himalayan black deer, Red panda, Lesser cats, Blood Peasant are some of the species found. The best period to visit Kyongnosla is July-August-Sept. The sanctuary is rich both in flora and fauna, Rare, endangered ground orchids and rhododendrons interspersed among tall junipers and taller silver firs are among the important plants present. Rhododendrons nevium the State Tree of Sikkim and Cypripedium tibeticum the ground slipper orchid on the verge of extinction, have been introduced here. Groung flora include different species of primulas, wild strawberries, irises, poppies and the rarely seen Panax pseudo-ginseng. Medicinal plants such as 'kutki' Picrorhiza scrophulariflora, 'jatamasi' Nardostachs graandiflora, 'Nilo bikh' Aconitun ferox, Podophyllum emodi and even the wild onion are occupied by the soil binding bamboo Arundinaria sp. The area is snow covered often upto May when primulas pop up through the snow and rhododendrons come into bud. By June-July they are full bloom. Flowering succession by the many species continues right through to October when Polygonum sp. the last to flower, dries up. First snowfall is normally by December - January. Tranquil trekking trail begins from Knongnosla Village.
The routes are:
Iris point- Tseten Tashi Cave - Rong Chu 1 km.
Helipad - Kheding and back
Helipad - Simulakha - Goral Rock - Tashipong - Rong Chu 6.5 km.
Rong chu - Namnang Lakha - Nakcho and back 20 km.
( Trekkers withpermit from Army can return from Nakcho via Tsongu Lake