Places To Visit In Gangtok | Gangtok Sikkim

Places To Visit In Gangtok | Gangtok Sikkim

Gangtok is the capital and largest town of the Indian state of Sikkim. Gangtok is located in the Shivalik Hills of the eastern Himalayan range, at an altitude of 1,437 metres (4,715 ft). The town, with a population of thirty thousand belonging to different ethnicities such as Nepalis, Lepchas and Bhutia, is administered by various departments of the Government of Sikkim. Nestled within higher peaks of the Himalaya and enjoying a year-round mild temperate climate, Gangtok is at the centre of Sikkim’s tourism industry.

Gangtok rose to prominence as a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site after the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840. In 1894, the ruling Sikkimese Chogyal, Thutob Namgyal, transferred the capital to Gangtok. In the early 20th century, Gangtok became a major stopover on the trade route between Lhasa in Tibet and cities such as Kolkata (then Calcutta) in British India. After India won its independence from Britain in 1947, Sikkim chose to remain an independent monarchy, with Gangtok as its capital. In 1975, after the integration with the union of India, Gangtok was made India's twenty-second state capital.

The precise meaning of the name Gangtok is unclear, though the most popular meaning is "hill top". Today, Gangtok is a centre of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning, with the presence of several monasteries, religious educational institutions, and centres for Tibetology.

Fast Fact Sheet of Gangtok:

State : 
Sikkim, in the north eastern state of India.

Best time for Gangtok Travel :
March to late May, October to Mid-December makes for the best time to visit Gangtok Sikkim.

Weather Conditions :
Summer : Max- 21°C, Min - 13°C;
Winter   : Max -13°C, Min - 0.48°C; Rainfall : 325 cm per annum.

STD Code:

15 2 km (approx.)

5,480 ft (1780 m)

Annual Rainfall:
3894 mm

Best Mountain Views:
Mid Sept. - Mid Dec.

Recommended Clothing:
Light woollens and tropicals in summer (umbrellas and raincoats are useful) and heavy woollen in winter.

Language Spoken:
English, Nepali, Hindi, Bhutia, Lepcha and Tibetan

Location :
Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim is 148 km from New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, its neighbouring state.

Geography of Gangtok :

Gangtok is located at 27°20′N 88°37′E / 27.33°N 88.62°E / 27.33; 88.62. It is situated in the lower Himalayas at an altitude of 5,500 ft (1,676 m). In addition to being the state capital, it is the headquarters of the East Sikkim district. The town lies on one side of a hill, with "The Ridge", a promenade housing the governor's residence, at one end and the palace, situated at an altitude of about 6,000 ft (1,829 m), at the other. The city is flanked on east and west by two streams, namely Roro Chu and Ranikhola, respectively.[dead link] These two rivers divide the natural drainage into two parts, the eastern and western parts. Both the streams meet the Ranipul and flow south as the main Ranikhola before it joins the Teesta at Singtam. Most of the roads are steep, with the buildings built on compacted ground alongside them.

Most of Sikkim, including Gangtok, is underlain by Precambrian rock which contains foliated phyllites and schists; slopes are therefore prone to frequent landslides. Surface runoff of water by natural streams (jhora) and man-made drains has contributed to the risk of landslides. According to the Bureau of Indian Standards, the town falls under seismic zone-IV (on a scale of I to V, in order of increasing seismic activity), near the convergent boundary of the Indian and the Eurasian tectonic plates and is subject to frequent earthquakes. The hills are nestled within higher peaks and the snow-clad Himalayan ranges tower over the town from the distance. Mount Kanchenjunga (8,598 m or 28,208 ft)—the world's third-highest peak—is visible to the west of the city. The existence of steep slopes, vulnerability to landslides, large forest cover and inadequate access to most areas has been a major impediment to the natural and balanced growth of the city.

There are densely forested regions around Gangtok, consisting of temperate, deciduous forests of poplar, birch, oak, and elm, as well as evergreen, coniferous trees of the wet alpine zone. Orchids are common, and rare varieties of orchids are featured in flower shows in the city. Bamboos are also abundant. In the lower reaches of the town, the vegetation gradually changes from alpine to temperate deciduous and subtropical. Flowers such as sunflower, marigold, poinsettia, and others bloom, especially in November and December.

How to Reach Gangtok, Sikkim:

By Air:

Nearest airport to Gangtok is in Bagdogra in North Bengal. The distance between the two cities is around 124 Km. There is a helicopter service provided by Sikkim Helicopter Services which connects Gangtok to Siliguri.

By Rail:

New Jalpaiguri is the closest railway station to Gangtok at a distance of 125 km from here. There are regular trains to New Jalpaiguri station that connect it to all Indian cities. To reach Gangtok, there is transportation in form of state and privately run buses. You can also hire a taxi to Gangtok. Though costly but far more comfortable.

By Road:

Gangtok is connected to Siliguri, New Jalpaiguri and other important cities by NH 31 which is an all weather metaled highway. State owned buses, private coaches, taxis and jeeps run between Gangtok and nearby cities.

Local Transport:

Shared taxis are the main mode of transportation inside Gangtok. There is a cable car service as well inside the city, though only for a very short period.

HELICOPTER SERVICE - between Gangtok - Bagdogra - Gangtok

Weather Forecast of Gangtok / Gangtok Weather:

Distances of nearby cities from Gangtok:

  • Distance from Agra: 1188 km
  • Distance from Ahmedabad: 1652 km
  • Distance from Bhubeneswar: 1122 km
  • Distance from Chennai: 2357 km
  • Distance from Delhi: 1598 km
  • Distance from Kolkata: 720 km
  • Distance from Mumbai: 2385 km
  • Distance from Pune: 2402 km
  • Distance from Lucknow: 1118 km
  • Distance from Nagpur: 1522 km

History of Sikkim:

Like the rest of Sikkim, not much is known about the early history of Gangtok. The earliest records date from the construction of the hermitic Gangtok monastery in 1716. Gangtok remained a small hamlet until the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840 made it a pilgrimage center. It became the capital of what was left of Sikkim after an English conquest in mid 19th century in response to a hostage crisis. After the defeat of the Tibetans by the British, Gangtok became a major stopover in the trade between Tibet and British India at the end of the 19th century. Most of the roads and the telegraph in the area were built during this time.

In 1894, Thutob Namgyal, the Sikkimese monarch under British rule, shifted the capital from Tumlong to Gangtok, increasing the city's importance. A new grand palace along with other state buildings was built in the new capital. Following India's independence in 1947, Sikkim became a nation-state with Gangtok as its capital. Sikkim became a suzerain of India, with the condition that it would retain its independence, by the treaty signed between the Chogyal and the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.[6] This pact gave the Indians control of external affairs on behalf of Sikkimese. Trade between India and Tibet continued to flourish through the Nathula and Jelepla passes, offshoots of the ancient Silk Road near Gangtok. These border passes were sealed after the Sino-Indian War in 1962, which deprived Gangtok of its trading business. The Nathula pass was finally opened for limited trade in 2006, fuelling hopes of economic boom.

In 1975, after years of political uncertainty and struggle, including riots, the monarchy was abrogated and Sikkim became India's twenty-second state, with Gangtok as its capital after a referendum. Gangtok has witnessed annual landslides, resulting in loss of life and damage to property. The largest disaster occurred in June 1997, when 38 were killed and hundreds of buildings were destroyed.

Climate of Gangtok:

Gangtok features a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate. Because of its elevation and sheltered environment, Gangtok enjoys a mild, temperate climate all year round. Like most Himalayan towns, Gangtok has five seasons: summer, monsoons, autumn, winter and spring. Temperatures range from an average maximum of 22 °C (72 °F) in summer to an average minimum of 4 °C (39 °F) in winter.] Summers (lasting from late April to June) are mild, with maximum temperatures rarely crossing 25 °C (77 °F). The monsoon season from June to September is characterized by intense torrential rains often causing landslides that block Gangtok's land access to the rest of the country. Rainfall starts to rise from pre-monsoon in May, and peaks during the monsoon, with July recording the highest monthly average of 649.6 mm (25.6 in). In winter temperature averages between 4 °C (39 °F) and 7 °C (45 °F). Snowfall is rare, and in recent times Gangtok has received snow only in 1990, 2004, 2005 and January 2011. Temperatures below freezing are also rare. During this season the weather can be unstable, and change abruptly from bright sunshine and clear skies to heavy rain within a couple of hours. During spring and autumn the weather is generally sunny and mild. Owing to its elevation, Gangtok is often enveloped in fog during the monsoon and winter months.

Places to visit in Gangtok:

Gangtok is a wonderful tourist destination with monasteries and adventures all around. Some of the most important sites in and around Gangtok include the:

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. This Park exhibits a wide species of Himalayan fauna like the black beer, barking deer, snow leopard, civet cat, red pandas and the spotted deer.


It is a mountain pass situated about 56 km from Gangtok at an altitude of about 14,200 ft and is covered with rich varieties of alpine flora and fauna. It is a calm place to visit and is open only for Indian Nationals.

Pemayangtse Monastery:

It is one of the oldest monasteries in the state which was established by Lhatsun Chempo, the Lama who is said to have performed the consecration ceremony of the first Chogyal of Sikkim. This Monastery is located at the hill top and gives a wonderful view of the Himalayan ranges and the surrounding hills of the region.

Khecheopalri Lake:

This Lake located at East Sikkim is considered to be one of the most sacred lakes in the city both for Hindus and Buddhists. This lake lies in the rich forest cover and is believed that the birds in the region never allow a single leaf to keep afloat on the water of the lake.

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Menam Hill:

This hill situated at an altitude of about 10300 ft gives a wonderful view of the scenic beauty of the Kanchenjunga Hills and its surrounding ranges. On a sunny day, one can even see the plains of Bengal spanning across Kalimpong and Darjeeling Hills in the South.

Ganesh Tok:

Distance - km ( from Gangtok )
Altitude - 6,500 ft.
It is a very small temple 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.

of Gangtok town and the Raj Bhawan Complex and on a clear day you get a breathe 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.

Government Institute of Cottage Industry:

Note - closed on Sundays, all government declared holidays, second Saturdays and the odd unforeseen holidays.

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.

Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology(SRIT):

this internationally acclaimed centre of Tibetan Studies & Research houses a vast collection of rare Buddhist books, manuscripts and over 200 Buddhist icons.

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.

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).

Deer Park:

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. have been 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. Below the statue, in golden letters is the following stanza from the works of the renowned scholar saint of Buddhism, Shantideva:

Shower forth, Ye Heavens sweet rains in season due,
That Earth's rich harvest swell in ample stream,
Holdfast, O' king, the path of righteousness,
That world on world may rise to bliss supreme.

Permanent Flower Show:

White Hall, 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.

Enchey Monastery:

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.

White Hall:

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.

Ridge Park:

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. During 1967 (not 1962, when this border was quiet), a confrontation broke out between India and China at Nathula. Long ago, a small market called the Sudder 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:

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.

Built by the late King of Sikkim Sri. Tashi Namgyal, it is situated about six kilometres away from Gangtok on the North Sikkim Highway, this place offers an astounding view of the Khangchendzonga snowy range on a clear day. 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.

Hanuman Tok:

Distance - 5½ km ( from Gangtok )
Altitude - 7,200 ft.

Situated about 5 km uphill from White Hall 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 birds 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.


Rumtek Dharma Chakra Center :

Distance - 24 km ( from Gangtok )
Built in - 1960
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:

Distance - km ( from Gangtok )
Initiated by the late 16th Karmapa, the institute in 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:

Distance - 14 km ( from Gangtok)

Also know as lpecac Garden, the home of Sikkim's most exotic orchids and other rare tropical and temperate plants. The garden is know 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.

Water Garden:

Distance - 16 km ( from Gangtok )
Water Garden at Martam Khola is on the 31-A National Highway south of Gangtok. It is an ideal spot for picnic with a small swimming pool for children.

Tsomgo/ Changu Lake:

Distance - 40 km ( from Gangtok )
Altitude - 12,210 ft
Note - A must visit for all tourists.
The drive from Gangtok takes about 2½ hours by bus. 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.

Nathula Pass:

Distance - 54 km ( from Gangtok )
Altitude - 14790 ft.(4,392 m)
Note - 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.

20 km further away from is the famed Nathula pass. 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.

Menmecho Lake:

Distance - 60 km ( from Gangtok )
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. 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:

Distance - 25 km ( from Gangtok )
Altitude - 1280 - 2652 m
Note - A log house with two rooms is available at Golitar and Tumin. Charges are Rs. 50 per person per night
Entry Fee - Rs.5/- per head.
Best Season - October and April

It has 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.

Apart from this sanctuary there are others like

  • Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary
  • Shingba Rhododendrons Sanctuary
  • Meanam Wildlife Sanctuary

Gangtok Photo:

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