Surrounded by clouds, the capital city of Sikkim, Gangtok is located on a ridge at a height of 5500 feet. With a panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga, the town presents an excellent base for travel through the state. Gangtok, once an influential transit point for traders traveling between Tibet and India, it is today a busy administrative and business center and presents an interesting mix of cultures and communities.
Gangtok is a cosmopolitan town that offers the tourist all possible comforts. Hotels are available in a range of prices along with a variety of eateries serving cuisine for all tastes. Shopping complexes, cyber cafes, night clubs, and pool parlors abound for those so inclined.
MG Marg, the main street of Gangtok town is a great place to relax. Gangtok is the country’s first litter and spits free zone, and no vehicular traffic is allowed into the marg. You can sit at the Titanic Park or the various benches stretched across the mall and take in the carnival-like environment, especially during the tourist season. The Mall is lined with shops on both sides of the road so shopping becomes an added pleasure.
MG Marg is also the venue for the annual Gangtok Food and Culture festival held in December each year when Sikkim’s multi-cultural cuisine, along with music and dance performances are showcased. This event attracts a large number of locals and tourists each year.
For a bird’s eye view of Gangtok take a ride on the bi-cable Zig-back ropeway. The one-kilometer ride from Deorali to Tashiling Secretariat costs Rs. 30 one way and is completed in 7 minutes. Each cabin can ferry 25 people at a time. The ropeway has been fitted with a fully computerized modern safety mechanism of international standards. On clear weather, the ride offers a great view of the Kanchenjunga range apart from an overview of Gangtok town and the valley below. After you get off at Tashiling Secretariat you can walk to the Ridge Park and soak in the beautiful surroundings as well as visit the ongoing Flower Festival held just below the park.
For a view of Gangtok and all its surroundings, one can be got to Ganesh Tok situated on a ridge at a distance of 7 km from Gangtok. From this Spot, one can get a view of sprawling Gangtok town, while across the hills Mt. Khang-Chen-Dzonga and Mt. Siniolchu loom over the horizon. A cafeteria serves hot tea, coffee, and snacks. The view from here is truly breathtaking with snow peaks providing the perfect backdrop for a panoramic view of Gangtok town. Hanuman Tok, a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, is situated at an altitude of 7200 feet at a distance of about nine kilometers uphill from Gangtok on a blissfully calm and quiet hilltop. The location is completely free from the pollution of city life. Apart from the clear view of the peaks surrounding Mount Kanchenjunga, some portions of Gangtok town, one also gets a bird’s eye view of the Selep waterworks, which supplies drinking water to Gangtok. Adjacent to this area is Lukshyama, the royal cremation ground having stupas and chortens. Here the mortal remains of the erstwhile royal family members of Sikkim are cremated.
Namgyal Research Institute of Tibetology 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 (colorful 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 a renowned worldwide center for the study of Buddhist philosophy and religion. The institute was established in 1958 to promote serious study and research on Buddhism.
Best Time To Visit
Gangtok enjoys a subtropical, highland climate, which is moderate all the year-round. Winter temperatures from 4 to 7 ℃, without snowfall. Spring and summer are the most suitable time to visit (March-June), as you get clear views of the mountain ranges. Rain showers are common in the summer season, and nights can get chilly. Autumn is also pleasant, though a little colder.
The climate of Gangtok is perfect for outdoor activities and hiking. Moving around on foot is also common. The city is well suited for exploration and making day trips to other sights in Sikkim. Gangtok serves as a great base for touring around Sikkim.
How to Reach
Gangtok is connected to rest of India by air, train, and road.
Pakyong (PYG) Airport is currently closest to the Gangtok. The airport is located around 27 km from Gangtok by road.
Gangtok is connected by road to Siliguri, Darjeeling, and Kalimpong. State and private bus services connect the cities. To reach Gangtok by bus, travelers can board a bus from one of these cities. Taxies are an alternative to buses, the cost for which varies based on the vehicle type.
The nearest train station is New Jalpaiguri, in Siliguri. New Jalpaiguri is approx 123 km from Gangtok. It connects with Guwahati and the rest of the major cities like New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and many more.
Taxis, Buses are available from New Jalpaiguri station to Gangtok.