Top Places To Visit In Gangtok
The panoramic scene of the pristine Sikkim is truly phenomenal. To travel Sikkim is to become a part of the place, whose sweet memories you can cherish forever. At the heart of this northeastern hill station, Gangtok is situated. Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim and was established as a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the year 1840’s and that is why you can find lots of Monasteries here. The town of Gangtok is only 4 hours away from the Bagdogra airport, which is situated in West Bengal.
Gangtok itself has a long list of alluring tourist places which you wouldn’t want to miss. If you are planning a trip to Gangtok, be sure to check out these amusing places.
1) Nathula Pass
Nathu La is the mountainous passage to China’s autonomous Tibet region. Situated at 4,310 m above the sea level, it is Gangtok’s one of the important locations, forming a part of the ancient Silk Road. The pass is blocked for the public on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Tip– Before visiting Nathu La, please take permits from the zonal office.
Fact– in Tibetan language Nathu means “listening ears” and La means “pass”.
Main Highlights– It’s a pleasant drive to the Nathu La pass with snow on the side of the roads. You can also watch Chinese soldiers performing their drills.
2) Rumtek Monastery
The Dharma Chakra Center, popularly known as Rumtek Monastery was built in the mid-1700s by Changchub Dorje, 12th Karmapa Lama. Karma Kagyu was the spiritual head of the Rumtek Monastery until he left the place and moved to Tibet.
Tip– Reach early at the Monasteries, as you can see the monks during their morning prayer doing Buddhist chants.
Timings– The monastery is opened from 9 am to 6 pm.
Fact- During its second construction in 1963, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, 16th Karmapa brought some of the few sacred items and relics from the Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet.
Main Highlights- Golden Stupa at the Monastery, mystical ancient relics, and down the hill river.
3) Tsomgo Lake
This glacial beauty which is located nearly 40 km away from Gangtok, is situated in the East Sikkim at an elevation of 3,753 meters which makes it one of the highest lakes in India.
Tip– as the Lake is pretty far from any hotels and resorts in Gangtok, leave early for your trip to Tsomgo Lake as you have to reach
Fact- Many urban legends are connected to the Tsomgo Lake and how it was formed. The native people of Sikkim to this day come to the Lake to pray for the spirits of the villagers, who were settled here till the lake wiped them out.
Main Highlights- Yak riding, ice skating, prayer flags, and hot noodles and tea at the eating joints.
4) Yumthang Valley
The mesmerizing beauty of this Valley of flowers will leave you in awe of the place. Located at the height of 11,800 foot, Yumthang Valley does not shy away from its name and hosts around 24 species of Rhododendron. From Lachung it takes two hours of drive to reach Yumthang Valley.
Tip- Don’t travel to Yumthang Valley from December to March, as the passage is blocked due to heavy snowfall.
Fact– There is a wide range of small to big hot springs scattered around the Yumthang Valley.
Main Highlights– Trekking towards the Shiva temple, relaxing in a hot spring, and capturing the picturesque view of the Valley.
5) Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve
This Kanchenjunga National park which is also called the Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve was established in the year 1977 and expands onto an area of 1,784 square km. Get ready to come across some of the never seen before wildlife like the Himalayan Tahr, musk deer, clouded leopard and much more.
Tip- Don’t go exploring the biosphere reserve on your own, as there are mostly no fences and the land is a home to some of the natural predators.
Fact- the National Park has few of the Lepcha Tribes, being settled here.
Timings- The reserve is opened to the public between the timing of 10 am to 6:30 pm.
Main Highlights– the National Park boasts of some of the highly endangered species, a variety of vegetation, and if you are lucky enough you might even spot a snow leopard.
Namchi, also known as Namtse, lies in the southern part of the Sikkim district. This pilgrimage center offers a stunning view of Mt. Kanchenjunga and the Rangjit Valley at the same time. Historically speaking, Namchi was once the land of a treacherous princess who was killed for poisoning one of the Chogyals of Sikkim.
Fact– in Sikkimese, Nam means “Sky” and Chi means “High”.
Main Highlights- Statue of Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Sikkim, Ngadak monastery, Shedrup Choling Monastery, a statue of Lord Shiva at Siddhesvara Dhaam in Namchi, and lastly the view of Mt. Kanchenjunga.
7) Hanuman Tok
This Hanuman Temple which is located in Gangtok lies at an elevation of 7,500 ft. The place is quiet and peaceful. It also has an origin story behind it, as the native people believe that Lord Hanuman himself rested at the place while carrying the Sanjeevani Buti, which saved Lord Ram’s brother Lakshmana’s life.
Fact- the Hanuman Tok is maintained by the Indian Army.
Timings- The temple is open for visitors between 7 am to 5 pm.
Main highlights– The peaceful walk to the temple and the view of Mt. Kanchenjunga.
8) Himalayan Zoological Park
This sprawling zoological park which lies in the eastern part of Sikkim has rarest of animals including Red pandas, snow leopards, Himalayan black bears, Tibet wolves, and Himalayan palm Civets.
Main Highlights- the Zoo does not look like a zoo at all, and more like a forest or a national park. You can also see large Indian Civets.
9) Phurchachu Reshi Hot Spring
The hot spring is located near a holy cave in Gangtok. The place makes up for a good trekking experience followed up by a relaxing hot spring. The place also makes up for a photography session.
Fact- The hot spring is rich in Sulphur and is believed to be medicinal.
Main Highlights- The ‘Cave of the occult fairies’ popularly known as Kadosangphu, beautiful Rangeet River, and the Phurchachu Reshi Hot Spring.
10) Banjhakri Falls
The Banjhakri falls is a recreational park in Gangtok. The 100 ft. waterfalls are located is located in a forest, some of which comes under Swastik, Sikkim. The place is very well suited for picnics with friends and family.
Fact- in Sikkimese, the Ban means “forest” and Jhakri means “healer”.