Sikkim the place with stunning cities for tourism boasts one of the stupendous city and its capital Gangtok. Among many beautiful cities of North-East India, Gangtok is one of the best place to visit. Surrounded by the Himalayan range the place is all time holiday spot as the weather here is mild throughout. The city is located at a height of approx. 5400 meters and lies in the eastern side of the Himalayan range. The city houses many people from different culture ethnicity like Bhutia, Nepali and Lepchas.
Lepchas are the natives while the other two are the immigrants. Mahatma Gandhi road lies in the center of the city and it has been converted into the paved walkaway and the place has been declared as the no vehicle zone, no litter zone and smoke free zone. There are many shops, bars and restaurants on both sides of the amble. One can spent time here sitting and enjoy watching the surroundings. Overall the city has developed quite good and a place to visit during leisure.
Tsomgo lake or Changu Lake is a lake formed from glaciers and is at an elevation of about 12000 fts. 35 kms from Gangtok the Lake is very attractive as the lights reflect on water from hills and make it look beautiful. The route was quite steep and some parts of the route were too dangerous such as the route below Karponang when the route was used for the trade between India and China before 1962. Though the routes are well developed but during the bad weather it is still dangerous. The lake is oval in shape and around 1 km long with a depth of 50 feet. You an see the alpine vegetation and primula flowers during autumn and summers while during winters the lake is frozen. There is a small temple of Lord Shiva on the banks of lake where native people offer prayers and believe temple to be sacred hence no littering is allowed in the adjoining areas. Some distance away from the lake you can find some stalls and shops where you can get a refreshment. These stalls also provide jackets, gumboots etc. but you cannot find any lodging accommodation, so do plan your travel accordingly and yes do not forget to get a permit for photography. The permit would be available from Sikkim Tourist Information Centre at MG Marg or you can request to arrange the permit from the hotel management where you are staying.
Located near Ranipool and around 15 kms from Gangtok the place is to be quite romantic due to the visit of couples in huge number. The place is often used for picnic and leisure. In the early time the place was used for growing fruits but the practice was discontinued in 1940. Afterwards the place was introduced with medicinal plantation but due to non viable situation this practice was also discontinued in 1970. Then the authorities came up with the idea to plant flowers which also included some species of orchid. The plants that are blossomed today are since 1975 and the place also boasts a large nursery inside. There is a convention center present in the garden that has a capacity of 500 people where one can arrange any function or a meeting. Entrance holds a nursery followed by a convention center and just opposite to it there is a garden that is made in various forms and shapes with the help of hedging plants. At the end of the gate there is a mini pool, beside that you can relax on the benches in peace under the shade of canopy trees. The place is full of leafage and it is so dense that just a ray of sunlight could be seen.One can spend time here in the beauty of nature with no hustle and bustle.
Temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha is located at an elevation of 6500 feet. Apart from offering prayers at the temple the place is also visited for viewing the serene beauty of the nature. The temple is small in size and the view point of the temple captures the Rolling hill, Kanchanjunga mountains and the Gangtok town. Upper level of the temple can be reached by climbing the staircase but you will have to take your shoes off. Down the stairs you can find a complex where you can have snacks and take rest for a while.
Tashi View Point
The view point is located 8 kms from gangtok in the Tashi. The speciality of the view point is the sunrise that is awesome, as the sun rises the mountain changes its colors but you will have to reach this place very early around 5AM. The circular viewing points accommodate 15-20 people only at once. The monasteries Phodong, Labrang can be seen on the opposite mountains. By paying a mere amount of ₹10 the closer view of the mountains can be seen through the binoculars and telescope available there. You can rest here and get some refreshment at shed cum shops that offer some tea, coffee, snacks etc.
Tok or temple of Lord Hanuman is located at a 7200 feet elevation and 11 km from Gangtok. Similar to Ganesh Tok, Hanuman Tok is mainly visited not only for offering prayers but also to get the panoramic view of the serene beauty of the Kanchenjunga range. The best view of Kanchenjunga are observed from Hanuman Tok. There are benches installed in between the parking lot and temple. Bells are hanged from above and produces renosance when rung. There are audio appliances that play religious songs and prayers and you can offer prayers and get the divine feeling in the temple. It is believed that while carrying Sanjeevani Parvat from Lanka, Lord Hanuman took rest here for some moment and since then the place is served as Hanuman Tok. The temple is also known as wish fulfilling temple. Beside the temple there is a temple of Saibaba where devotees visit and offer prayers. There is also the cremation ground of Royal Family of Sikkim. Several stupas and tombs can also be seen here.
Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple
Baba Mandir is a distinguished sightseeing place of Sikkim. This “mandir” or shrine is dedicated to “Baba” Harbhajan Singh, who was a soldier of the Indian Army. He died near the Nathula Pass in eastern Sikkim, India. Two shrines have been built to show reverence to Baba Harbhajan Singh. The old one has been built at the site of the bunker, where Baba Harbhajan was posted during his tenure in the Indian Army. The new one has been built at close proximity from Changu Lake.
Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary
Boasting the various species of flora and fauna the sanctuary is surrounded by Tsomgo Lake. The place is padded with Rhododendron and dense bamboo. The place is located near Gangtok-Nathula highway, 31 km towards East Sikkim. Mountains covered with snow showcases the serene beauty of the nature. Some species of flora that are found here are Rhododendron, juniper, orchid, wild strawberries, gentians, silver fin, poppies, rare panax and primulasm. There are medicinal plants too like nilo bikh, kutki, polygonum and jatamasi. Species of fauna that are present are serow, black bear, leopard, goral, satyr tragopan, hinalayan marmot, musk deer, tibetian fox, kestrel, red panda, langur, blood pheasant, fire tailed sunbirds, black winged kite, griffon vulture, brown headed gull and lamnergeier. Some places around sanctuary that can be explored are phurchachu hot springs, do-drul chorten stupa, yumthang valley, mangal dham rumtek monastry etc.
Nathula Pass is located 52 kms from Gangtok and at an elevation of approx.14000 feet. The place was used for the trade of gold, silk and many other items from India to Tibet and vice-versa. The place was closed for trade after India-China war. The place is fenced as Indo-China border and soldiers of both the countries can be seen guarding at the border. Once former prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru visited here in 1958 and his visit has been engraved on a stone here that memorizes that event. There is a memorial that has been built for Indian soldiers who were martyred during the war. In July 2006 the old silk route was opened again but allows only limited trade between India and Tibet. The products that are for trade here includes silk broades, clothes, yak tail and hair etc. that too is limited to border only. Some interesting places that you can find nearby are India’s highest altitude internet cafe at Sherathang which also has a well developed market. Place named Kupup that is most of the time covered with clouds. Kupup also has the golf course that is at highest altitude in India. World’s highest altitude ATM is located at Thegu. The ATM is operated with a generator that contains a special fuel that has a very high freezing point. It is highly recommended that people suffering from breathing problem should carry special measures and visit the place with doctors' advise only. Oxygen cylinders are available at medical shops as the oxygen level is low at the place. Nathula pass is a protected area and no foreigners are allowed here. Indians require a permit and that is available from Sikkim Tourism Department in Gangtok or you can get it from a registered tour agency. The hotel can also provide it by charging some amount.
Himalaya Zoological Park
Also known as the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is named after the daughter of Sarojini Naidu, Padmaja Naidu. At an elevation of 7000 feet the zoo is at the highest altitude in India. The zoo was made public in 1958 and boasts the most sucessful breeding programs for snow leopard, red panda and the endangered Hiamalayan Wolf. As the park is known internationally for conservation and breeding programs, the zoo is the central hub for Central Zoo Authority of India’s red panda program. In 1983 the leopard from US, Leh Ladakh and Zurich were brought here and since then the zoo is actively breeding the species. Some species that are present are barking deer, asiatic black bear, blue and yellow macaw, leopards, himalayan monal, lady amherst, royal bengal tiger, sambar deer, yak, siberian tigers, etc. The place is a must visit for nature lover and animal enthusiast.
- By Air
The nearest airport is in Bagdora, West Bengal that is 124 km from Gangtok. TSA helicopter is available from Bagdora to Gangtok that takes just 20 minutes to reach Gangtok in comparison with 2 hours via car or train.
- By train
The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri and is about 148 kms from Gangtok. You can board a state transportation bus or train for Gangtok.
- By road
The roads are well connected to the city and highway 31A connects the nearby cities to Gangtok. Buses are easily available on daily basis.
- State: Sikkim
- District: East Sikkim
- Population: 98,658 (2011)
- Language: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Limbu, Newari, Rai, Gurung, Mangar, Sherpa, Sunwar, Tibetans, Hindi
- Pincode: 737101
- Std code: 03592
- Best time: September-June
- Famous for: Adventure and Leisure