Gangtok, the heartland of the mysterious Sikkim, is one of our top destinations in the northeast region of India. At an altitude of 5410 feet within the ridges of the Eastern Himalayas, Gangtok is a fantastic place to visit in Sikkim. Name: Gangtok means “Top of the Ridge”. The city is spread across an unforested mountain that faces the snow-covered Kanchenjunga Mountain ranges. There are numerous viewpoints within the vicinity of Gangtok from which you can take in stunning views of Kanchenjunga and the other Himalayan ranges. The city is the best views for all visitors. So, when you’re in the city, you will find many attractions to see in Gangtok and a myriad of other things that will inspire you to feel enthralled by the capital city of Sikkim. We’ve put together the best of these for your next visit to Gangtok.
About Gangtok, the Capital of Sikkim
Gangtok did not have always been the capital of Sikkim. In the year that the Namgyal dynasty was established on Sikkim from 1642 onwards, Yuksom was declared the capital city of Sikkim. Sikkim had been a sovereign kingdom governed by the monarchy. In the following years, Rabdentse declared the capital from 1670 until 1814 and Tumlong was declared the capital between 1814 and 1894. King Thutob Namgyal moved Sikkim’s capital Sikkim in 1894 to Gangtok in 1894. It became the central point of royal administration within the Kingdom of Sikkim.
In the year 1975, Sikkim was admitted to India with the status of a 22nd state. Gangtok was declared the capital city of Sikkim. Although Lepchas are the primary residents of the city, Bhutias and Nepalis are also a significant portion of the inhabitants. Gangtok tour packages has always been uninhibited and has an array of diverse different ethnicities and cultures.
How do I get to Gangtok?
As with Darjeeling, it is possible to get to Gangtok via Bagdogra, Siliguri or NJP. New Jalpaiguri or NJP is the closest railway station. Gangtok is situated just 125 km away from NJP and Bagdogra Airport, and it takes approximately 4 to five hours to travel there.
Recently, Sikkim has opened its airport in Pakyong. The town is approximately 22 km from Gangtok. Pakyong Airport, located at an elevation of 4646 feet, is one of the top Airports within India. But, Pakyong airport is not entirely operational. You can receive flights only between Kolkata or New Delhi to Pakyong. Private taxis are accessible at Pakyong Airport to Gangtok city and takes around 1 hour to get there.
Gangtok is 98 kilometres away from Darjeeling and takes approximately 3.5 or 4 hours to travel from Darjeeling towards Gangtok. Kalimpong is approximately 75 kilometres (3 hours of travel by car). Private vehicles are accessible from these areas to Gangtok and reverse.
Getting Around Gangtok
Taxis that are shared and private are the most popular means of transport within and around Gangtok. You can buy a complete trip package from local tour companies or visit the taxi stands in your area and negotiate the price on your own.
Travel between Gangtok and other areas of Sikkim, it is possible to hire a car or take shared sumo and jeeps. Buses are also available within Gangtok. However, they are not as frequent.
There are numerous taxis stops in Gangtok that are all designated for specific locations.
For those looking for budget-friendly options, there are various shared jeeps also available to Gangtok starting from Siliguri SNT Bus Stand. Buses can also be accessed at Siliguri Bus stand to Gangtok. However, jeeps are more comfortable.
Places to Visit in Gangtok
- M G Marg
The Marg M G is considered to be the heart of Gangtok and is. It’s a relaxing walking path that is free of cars or tense traffic, nor garbage. It is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable spots to visit in Gangtok. There are numerous food and retail restaurants on either side of M G Marg and seats in between. If you go to M G Marg, you may realize that you are in a completely different area, not any bustling Indian city.
- Rumtek Monastery
It is located about 23 km away from the central city; Rumtek Monastery is the most well-known monastery located in Gangtok and should be included in the list of destinations you should visit in Gangtok.
Rumtek monastery is among the biggest in Sikkim and is part of the Kagyu sect, established during the 12th century of Tibet. The monastery’s architecture is among the most beautiful in the world and resembles the original structure located in Tsurphu, Tibet.
On the top of a hill, there is a breathtaking panoramic view over Gangtok town and the surrounding area from the Buddhist monastery. It is home to some of the most precious Buddhist religious artworks in the form of murals on walls, silk paintings, thangkas (scrolls featuring intricate hand paintings), and 1001 miniature gold sculptures depicting Buddha.
- Enchey Monastery
The monastery is located in the northern part of the city, along the Nathula-Gangtok highway; Enchey monastery is almost 200 years old. Enchey Monastery means ‘the single temple’. The tiny Buddhist monastery is located amid conifers and pines. It is among the most stunning spots to see in Gangtok.
The monastery was rebuilt in 1908 under the 10th King Sikkim and was renovated to resemble a Chinese pagoda. The entrance to the main shrine is adorned with the four Kings of cardinal directions, which protect the monastery and the entire universe. It is open to the public all day long, from 6 am to 4 pm. You can take taxis from Gangtok and get to Enchey in between 15 and 20 minutes.
- Lingdum or Ranka Monastery
Lindum Monastery or Ranka Monastery is located 20 kilometres away from Gangtok and is thought of as the prettiest of East Sikkim. Like the two other monasteries, Ranka monastery is surrounded by forested mountains, too.
The monastery is situated in a large courtyard that is surrounded by a two-storey structure. The stairwell takes you to the second floor in which the inner sanctum is found, with a giant gold Buddha statue.
- Tashi View Point
Tashi viewpoint is situated around 8 km away from Gangtok town. It is the perfect spot to take in the valleys and mountains of Gangtok and its town. It provides a breathtaking sunrise view with the snow-covered mountain peaks lit by changing hues. On the other hand, there is a view of both the Phodong along the Labrang monasteries.