Why do we travel? I believe we travel in search of stories. Now, what makes you travel to a specific place? Is it just about the beaches, snow-clapped mountains, deserts or the waterfalls? For me, it’s not just nature, but the culture, food, fashion, and civilization as well that bring me to a place. Gangtok Sikkim being a plethora of all of the above is exactly what brought me to this hill town.
View point Gangtok Sikkim
With a population of around 100,000, Gangtok is the largest town in the Indian state of Sikkim. It is situated at an elevation of 1650 m; the air gets cooler to roughly cold as one approaches nearer to Gangtok due to high altitude.
Cheapest way to reach Gangtok
The best and most preferred way to reach Gangtok is via railways. The nearest rail head is New Jalpaiguri (NJP), which is nearly 150 km from Gangtok. NJP is well connected to most of the major cities in India. For train bookings visit IRCTC.
Outside the New Jalpaiguri station, you can catch a shared taxi for Gangtok. The fare is around INR 200 – 250. Drivers might try to charge high, so double check with other taxi drivers. It takes around 3-4 hours to reach Gangtok. If you prefer to travel by bus, you can get the same from Siliguri bus stand (Rs 150 per person). Remember due to the hilly terrain, buses are slower compared to sumo/safari.
Permits required to visit Gangtok
Sikkim being a border state has several areas marked as restricted or protected. Indian nationals do not require a permit to visit Gangtok. But yes, foreign nationals do require an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit this part of the state. Check Sikkim tourism website for more details.
How I wandered in Gangtok
On my backpack solo journey to North East India and Bhutan, Sikkim was the last state I explored. After traveling for almost 20 days, I thought I would be too tired to explore the state to its fullest. But its scenic beauty overpowered my thought.
City view Gangtok Sikkim
Being a famous tourist place, I have to tell you, it was very tough for me to find a cheap room/dorm in Gangtok. However, my solo traveling experience so far helped me. After strolling around the city for about an hour, I finally managed a room for 300 INR/day.
And I am happy I took that walk across the city amidst the low clouds which would make you fall in love with Gangtok. Visit this part of India to experience mist, monk, and monasteries spread all over.
Amazing weather at Gangtok Sikkim
There are many points from where you get the magnificent view of Mount Kanchenjunga (3rd highest peak on planet Earth) and other Himalayan ranges. Sighting depends on your luck, as the low clouds disrupt the view often.
Breathtaking view of Kanchenjunga from Gangtok Sikkim
I was lucky as the weather was clear the day I visited which let me see the mighty Kanchenjunga. A couple of view points offer mesmerizing backdrops, sunlight falling on the snow-capped Kanchenjunga was one amongst them.
I tried to frame it in a picture with my camera but realized that my eyes did more justice to the beauty that this place beholds than any stupid pair of a lens. I sat there peacefully for about an hour, taking in all that it offered me.
Mt Kanchenjunga as seen from Gangtok Sikkim
Places to check out in Gangtok Sikkim
It is considered the center of the Gangtok town and is a great place to chill out. The road is lined up with shops, restaurants, and bars on both sides. What I liked is that the entire area is free of smoke, litter, and vehicles.
MG Road Gangtok Sikkim
Located 24 km away from Gangtok, Rumtek Monastery is one of the sacred pilgrimage centers for Buddhists. The monastery showcases many sacred paintings, art, objects, manuscripts and religious scriptures. The calm and serene environment which reverberates with the chants is only too captivating. To reach Rumtek from Gangtok, you can catch a shared taxi (INR 50) from taxi stand in MG Marg.
Rumtek Monastery Gangtok Sikkim
Situated at a height of 6500 meters above the sea level, it offers a spectacular view of the snow- capped Himalayan range. It can be reached after a 6 kilometer steep ascend from the main town.
What I liked most about Gangtok
What I liked most about the city is that it is very well managed, unlike other Indian cities. All drivers follow the traffic rules religiously and strictly; everyone drove in lanes. There were dustbins every few meters; no spitting on roads. Benches are placed at regular intervals on the footpaths as a pit stop for people who’d like to rest. All public areas are no smoking zones.
Where to eat?
Most good eateries, cafes, and restaurants are located on MG Road. If you are a coffee lover, Baker’s café is a must visit. If you want to try the Sikkimese food, Nine Native cuisine is the one I would suggest. It offered the best Sikkimse food I had ever had during my stay in the state. A journey to Gangtok would be incomplete if you don’t try the local hit beer.
Landscape view Gangtok Sikkim
Best time to visit Gangtok
The best time to visit Gangtok is March to May. The weather majorly remains clear and visitors are gifted spectacular views of the Himalayas.
Cheap stay options in Gangtok
Gangtok has become a tourist hub of India. Due to this, it is really tough to find budget accommodation being a backpacker. Ask at least at 5/6 hotels or lodges for cheap stays and you might be lucky enough to find one. I stayed at Dug hotel(INR 450/night). You can also check out Modern Central Lodge located at Tibet Road. It charges 150 INR for dorms and 300 INR for a single room.
Football ground Gangtok Sikkim
Also, you can take a 2-days tour to North Sikkim to visit Lachung, Yumthang Valley, and Zero Point. Check out the post Zero Point, Sikkim – Where Civilians Road Ends to Heaven
Our religiously diverse country has a beautiful chapter of Sikkim. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bag for a misty weekend.
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