This hill top offers a perfect mix of mystical wonderland of spectacular natural beauty and adventure.
Wreathed in clouds, Gangtok the capital city of Sikkim, a small state in Northeast India is debatably one of the most beautiful tourist destinations of the India. It is the largest town of state Sikkim located in the eastern Himalayan range at an elevation of 1650 m. With the spectacular view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world, Gangtok a cosmopolitan town offers its tourists with all kinds of amenities like shopping complexes with variety of Himalayan woollen collections, luxurious hotels, night clubs, food, pubs which makes it a perfect base for travel through the state. Typical View from the balcony of the cliff sided hotels.
M.G Marg, the main street as well as the main attraction of Gangtok town, is the best place to hangout. It is the country’s first litter n spit free zone and does not allow vehicles to run on it. The place has benches stretched across the entire Mall, where travellers can sit and enjoy the carnival atmosphere. The Mall is lined up with a number of shops and restaurants on the both sides of the road which makes shopping an added pleasure. The best time to visit the Marg is the evening time. One can take leisurely stroll and browse through the Tibetans handicrafts in the shops. The cafeterias and restaurants provide a variety of local delicacies and a number of every cuisine that a foodie would want to have. M.G Marg is also the venue for the Annual Gangtok Food and Culture Festival which is held every year in December, when Sikkim’s rich culture is illustrated by its folk music and dance form.
For a panoramic view of Gangtok and its surroundings a visit to the Ganesh Tok is a must. It is situated at the Ridge at a distance of 7kms from Gangtok. From this point travellers can get a view of the hustle bustle of the town with Mt. Kanchenjunga looming over the horizon. Other major tourists attractions in this town comprises of the Rumtek Monstery, Enchey Monastery, Hanuman Tok, a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, situated at a height of 7200 ft. at a distance of about 8 kms from Gangtok. Adjacent to that lays the Changu Lake, which is on the ice kingdom of Nathula-Gangtok highway. The Beas River that flows across Sikkim is considered to be its lifeline.
As history traces, Gangtok remained a small hamlet until the establishment of the Enchey Monastery in 1840, which also made the town a popular Buddhist pilgrimage. By the end of 19th century it became the major channel in the trade between India (British India) and Tibet. Today, this small town is a busy administrative and trading centre, enjoying the busy life like any other big city. The geographical location of Gangtok enables it to hold varieties of cultures brought in by the population of the Nepalis, Bhutias, Tibetans, Tamangs It is also the largest centre of Tibetans Buddhist culture and learning centre, consisting of the highest number of monasteries in the world.
Gangtok is very well connected by roads from Siliguri NGP Railway station (West Bengal). One can reach Siliguri by train as well as flights and then rent cars that are available throughout the year or seek travel agents help to enjoy tour packages to Gangtok. It generally takes 4 hours on road from Siliguri to Gangtok. Warm clothes, portable chargers and Digital cameras are the ‘must items’ to be carried. The roads are no doubt pretty steep and bumpy but beautiful at the same time. The river Beas parallels the entire road adding beauty to the scenery of thin layers of clouds climbing the green hills.
Travellers embarking on a journey of Gangtok always discover a mystical wonderland of spectacular natural beauty. The panoramic perfection of the snow-capped Himalayas, the heady scent of flower-bedecked meadows, the vibrant culture and joyous festivals, the infinite variety of its flora and fauna makes it a holiday that is at once fascinating and challenging.
~Story and photocredits to our contributing author : Arindam Pal