Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!

Gangtok, the jewel nestled in the heart of the Himalayas, beckons travelers with its mystical charm and breathtaking beauty. As you traverse its winding roads, adorned with prayer flags fluttering in the mountain breeze, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of enchantment and wonder. Join me on a journey to uncover the top places to visit in Gangtok, where every turn reveals a new adventure waiting to be embraced.

The Geographic and Geological Division of the Himalayan Mountain Range

Geologists have divided the Himalayan mountain range, which is about 2,400 km long and 250 to 350 km wide, into three main parts: Himadri, Himachal and Shivalik. These types also have many sub-types, like Pir Panjal, Dhauladhar, Zanskar, Ladakh, and Karakoram. Mountain ranges have been divided according to geographical locations as well as the average height of the mountains. For example, the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, is located in the Himadri mountain range, an average of 6,000 meters (21,000 feet) high, touching Pakistan, China, Nepal, and Tibet. Apart from this, peaks like Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, etc. are also included in Himadri.Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!

Exploring the Himachal Mountain Range: Heights, Settlements, and Hill Stations

The Himachal mountain range has a maximum height of 4,500 meters (14,500 feet). Many villages and towns are settled at a level of 1,500 to 2,000 meters in this long and wide mountain range. Some of the world’s best hill stations are located in the mountain range, one of which is Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim State, at 1,650 meters (5,410 feet) above sea level!

Sikkim: A Historical Journey from Monarchy to Integration

Sikkim was a monarchical nation before it became an integral part of our country in 1975. Sikkim was founded in 1642 by Dharmaraja (Chogyal) Phuntsog Namgyal of the Namgyal dynasty. Over a period of a few hundred years, Sikkim witnessed many political upheavals as well as invasions from nations such as Bhutan and Nepal and lost a large geographical area.

Sikkim’s Diplomatic Endeavors: Seeking British Support and the Treaty with Nepal

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!

In order to regain the lost area, the King of Sikkim extended his hand of friendship to the British in the 19th century and sought the military help of the East India Company. In 1814, the company’s army invaded Nepal. At the end of two and a half years of war, Nepal and Sikkim signed a peace accord, according to which Nepal ceded the geographical territory of Sikkim.

However, after that, the British East India Company gradually made Sikkim its puppet country. The East India Company began to collect taxes from various provinces of Sikkim, and by 1890, the whole of Sikkim came under the control of the British. After independence, Sikkim became an Indian protectorate when the British withdrew from India as well as other Asian countries. In 1973, the people of Sikkim started an internal revolt against King Chogyal, and in April 1975, Sikkim became the 23rd state of India on May 16, 1975, when 97.5% of the people of Sikkim voted to join India.

Cultural and Environmental Conservation: Gangtok’s Linguistic Diversity and Organic Initiatives

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
MG Road Gangtok

Today, in Sikkim the Nepali, Lepcha, Limbu, Magar, etc. are inhabited by people of various castes, who speak languages like English, Nepali, Sikkimese, Gurung, Limbu, Magar, Mukhia, Newari, Rai, Sherpa, and Tamang. In order to preserve linguistic diversity and cultural diversity in Sikkim, the state government has declared all these languages official. Sikkim deserves praise for the measures taken for the preservation of nature. For example, since 1998, disposable plastic bags have been banned here. Plastic bottles are banned in government offices and government functions. Also, disposable Styrofoam plates are prohibited here. Sikkim is the first state in India to practice 100 percent organic farming, meaning no chemical fertilizers are used here. Hence, Sikkim has been given the title of Organic State by the United Nations.

Gangtok: Environment and Civic Regulations

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!

Some more interesting information about Sikkim before starting the trip to Gangtok: Open defecation here is fined Rs 500. State law requires a toilet at home to receive government benefits and participate in local elections. To stop noise pollution and air pollution in the state Since 2014, a ban has also been imposed on bursting firecrackers. Sikkim is globally renowned for taking such measures to protect the environment and has earned the status of the cleanest state in India.

 

Places to visit in Gangtok: Capital at the Top of the Hill

During the late nineteenth century, Dharmaraja Thutob Namgyal moved the capital of Sikkim from Tumlong to Gangtok. The word Gangtok in the local language means ‘top of the hill’. All over Sikkim, there are plenty of worth watching places. Similarly, Gangtok also has no shortage of places to visit:

(1) Tashi view point showing mount Kanchenjunga

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Tashi View Point in Gangtok

There is no doubt that one of the main attractions of Gangtok is the glimpse of Kanchenjunga Mountain. The meaning of Kanchenjunga in Tibetan is five treasures (gold, silver, gems, grain, and holy books) covered with snow. As the early morning sun rays fall on the world’s third tallest peak, the white snow appears to be covered in gold. . A place called Tashi View Point, 8 kilometers away from Gangtok, has been specially built to see this unforgettable view. It was built by a king named Chogyal Tashi Namgyal, hence, the view point is known as Tashi in his memory. Tourists can stand here like a meditating saints and enjoy the picturesque view of the Himalayan snow-capped mountains as well as the Phodong and Labrang Buddhist monasteries.

(2) Ganeshtok and Hanumantok

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Hanumantok Gangtok

Both these places are temples of lord Ganesha and lord Hanuman respectively. The Ganesha temple is very small and caved in, where only one person at a time can properly kneel for visit to the temple. The colorful flags on both sides of the steps of the temple look especially attractive. A special gallery has been erected above the temple for tourists, from where a beautiful view of the Himalayas and the Kanchenjunga peak can be enjoyed. Hanumantok is said to be where Lord Hanuman took hold while carrying Mount Sanjeevani. From here also one can enjoy a wonderful view of Gangtok city and the Himalayan mountain range. Hanumantok is supervised by the Indian Army.

(3) Border hill ghat Nathu la

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
India China Border and Nathu la Peak

Along the border, about 50 km from Gangtok is Tibet (China), where a hill pass known as Nathu La at an altitude of 4,310 m/14,140 ft, is located. (La = ghat in Tibetan). This pass is one of the highest passenger passes in the world. One can reach here by highway from Gangtok, and one can enjoy scenic views of several waterfalls and the towering peaks of the Himalayas along the way. Important for import-export trade between India and Tibet (China), this pass is open to visiting Indian tourists, for five days a week (Wednesday to Sunday) only.

Nathu La: Border Beauty
Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Nathu la Gangtok

The natural beauty of Nathu La is mesmerizing, and the surrounding Himalayan mountains welcome tourists. As this pass is on the international border, tourists can walk right up to the border and see the Chinese soldiers in uniform on the other side and enjoy the thrill of getting close to the Zero Line.

Nathu La: Altitude Adventures

The world’s tallest ATM is functioning here at Thengu, withdrawing some amount with credit/debit card and getting the receipt as a souvenir remains an exciting aspect of the trip. As Nathu La is situated at an altitude of 14,140 feet, the amount of oxygen here remains low. Tourists suffering from asthma should be aware of this. India’s highest internet cafe at Sherathang, 3 km before Nathu La, is also a place to visit for souvenirs. Gnathang Buddhist Monastery at Kupup on the way to Nathu La and A war memorial built to commemorate the British-Tibetan war fought in 1800 is a must-see. A permit is required to visit Nathu La, the details of which are given in ‘Good to Know’ at the end of this article.

(4) Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Baba Harbhajan Temple Gangtok

A few kilometers before the Indian Army post at Nathu La, the temple is a temple-cum-military post built in memory not of a saint but of a soldier. On October 4, 1968, Harbhajan Singh, a soldiers of the 23rd Battalion of the Punjab Regiment, was taking a pack of mules from his battalion headquarters at Tukla to Deng Chukla, when he lost his footing on the way and was swept away in a raging stream.

Despite many searches, his trace was not found. One night he came in the dream of a soldier of his own battalion and asked him to make his tomb, abandoning the search efforts. The soldier spoke to his commanding officer about the order given to the soldier, Harbhajan, in a dream, and finally a monument was built in the memory of Baba Harbhajan Singh. Over time, a temple named Baba Harbhajan Singh was also built.

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Baba_Mandir View Inside

Today the temple has become a center of faith for army personnel as well as common tourists. Baba Harbhajan Singh’s photo, table-chair, bed are seen in the temple. The soldier’s uniform and boots are also real. According to locals and soldiers, even today, Soldier Harbhajan Singh comes to do his duty and protect the border. According to people, wrinkles are mysteriously found lying on bed sheets in the morning, that are neatly spread at night. Boots that have been polished and polished the night before are caked with slush and mud in the morning.

Every year on 11th September soldiers Harbhajan Singh goes on official leave. At such times their personal belongings are packed in a bag. The three soldiers carry the bag by jeep to New Jalpaiguri station in West Bengal, from where the train reaches Kuka village (his hometown) in Kapurthala, Punjab. Apart from the three passengers, a seat is also booked in the name of Harbhajan Singh for this trip. The soldiers who had gone to escort Baba Harbhajan Singh would come back and at the end of the holidays would travel to Kuka village to receive him.

A similar system is also found on our Siachen front, where a martyred soldier known as O.P.Baba is revered by all officers and soldiers.

(5) Tsangmo Lake between the glaciers

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Tsomgo Lake Gangtok

Tsangmo Lake is also known locally as Changu Lake at an altitude of about 12,400 feet above sea level on the Gangtok-Nathu la road. The beauty of this blue lake between the Himalayas covered with white sheets on all sides is very attractive. During summer the lake is embellished with colorful flowers like pink, yellow, purple growing on its banks. In winter, the entire lake is covered with a sheet of ice.

It is said about this lake changing color during the day that in ancient times Buddhist monks could make accurate predictions from the color of the lake. Like Nathu La, this lake also requires a permit to visit. About 10 kilometers from here, lies the Kyongnosia Sanctuary, a natural habitat for the endangered red panda, Himalayan bear and blood pheasant.

(6) Historic Rumtek Buddhist Monastery

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Rumtek Monastery Gangtok

Located about 24 kilometers from Gangtok, this Buddhist monastery was built in the middle of the 18th century. With the passage of time it fell into a dilapidated condition. In 1966, the 16th Tibetan monk reopened it as a Dharmachakra center with the support of the royal family of Sikkim and the local people. Rumtek is the largest Buddhist monastery in Sikkim. The colorful artistic murals, decorative shells and colored stones here are very attractive. The three-storied mutt has monumental sculptures of Virudaka, Virupaksha, Dhratarashtra and Vaishravana. Another building at the back of the main monastery houses the remains of the 16th monk in a 13-foot-tall golden stupa, which is a special center of faith for Buddhists. The view of the lush green hilly forest in the background, the river flowing below, and the Gangtok in front is mesmerizing to the tourists.

(7) Himalayan Zoological Park

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Snow Leopard

A must-see for a half-day at Gangtok is this park in about 205 hectares, where one can have the privilege of spotting most of the Himalayan fauna. The sprawling Himalayan Zoological Park is an open nature zoo. Animals have been arranged to live in their natural habitat. Located at a distance of about 3 km from Gangtok, hundreds of animals and birds like the snow leopard, goral, Himalayan bear, Himalayan red panda, Himalayan monal, Himalayan bulbul, etc. are found in this zoo. There is also an option to hire a jeep for half a day in the vast park and explore all the sections of the zoo.

(8) Flower Exhibition Center

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Gangtok flower exhibition, Sikkim

Located in the heart of Gangtok city, the flower garden is a must for nature lovers, where all the flowers of the state of Sikkim are exhibited in one place. This garden remains open to tourists all year round, but the annual flower competition held in April is a major attraction for tourists. A display-order-competition of various species of colorful orchids, shatavari and other flowers is held, in which contestants from Sikkim and neighboring states come to participate and present their artistic flowers.

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

Apart from the list of main places in Gangtok, let’s talk about some more tourist attractions. A trip through the ropeway can be enjoyed to take in the sky view of the entire Gangtok city. Tourists can add banjakari Falls, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Reshi Hot Springs, Seven Sisters falls, Bakthang Falls, Do drul Chorten Stupa, Gonjen Gompa Buddhist Monastery, Ranka Buddhist Monastery, Chardham Complex etc. to their itinerary.

If there is an idea to make a program to go to Darjeeling by taking the Himalayan toy train of West Bengal, then the journey from Darjeeling to Gangtok can also be included in the travel list. The Darjeeling-Gangtok drive through the foothills of the Himalayas and passing close to the Teesta River is extremely scenic.

Gangtok is a slightly less crowded hill station compared to the traditional and touristy hill stations like Shimla, Manali, Dalhousie, Nainital etc. A balanced mix of Tibetan, Nepali, and Bhutia cultures, cleanliness everywhere, and beautiful natural beauty everywhere, Gangtok leaves a distinct and indelible impression on the minds of tourists.

Sikkim: A state like a natural wonder

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Tsomgo Lake Gangtok

Ranging from 280 meters in the south to 8,586 meters in the north, the state shares international borders with Nepal in the west, Tibet (China) in the north, and Bhutan in the south-east. Talking about the superlative wonders that nature has gifted to Sikkim:

  • 80 glaciers and 100 tributaries of rivers originating from the Himalayas are located here.
  • The total area of the state is 7,000 square kilometers, of which 2,100 square kilometers are covered by dense forests.
  • In the glaciers here, at a height of thousands of feet, lush lakes have formed. There are five hot springs, as well as deaths.
  • Sikkim has no less than 28 snow covered mountains. Kanchenjunga, at 8,586 meters (28,169 meters) is the third highest peak in the world.
  • 4,000 types of flowers, 23 species of bamboo, 362 varieties of Hansraj (Adiantam) and 900 different types of medicinal plants grow in these forests.

Good to Know for a Perfect Trip…

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Tashi View Point in Sikkim

When to Go:

  • Ideal time: September to November and March to May.

Transportation:

  • Kolkata needs to reach By train or air.
Kolkata to New Jalpaiguri:
  • By train (Darjeeling Mail, Padatik Express, Kanchanakanya Express, Shatabdi Express) or air.
New Jalpaiguri to Gangtok:
Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Ranka Monastery Sikkim
  • Via bus or taxi.
  • If going by air: the nearest airport is Paekyong.
  • Flights from Kolkata to Paekyong are available, subject to passenger count and weather.
  • Alternative: Flight to Bagdogra, then a 6-hour taxi/bus ride to Gangtok.
Accommodation:
Gangtok accommodations:

Additional Information:

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Red Panda
  • Sikkim Tourism West website: www.sikkimstdc.com
  • Two to three-day trips from Gangtok available.

Places to Visit:

Permit Information:

Discover the Hidden Gems: Top Places to Visit in Gangtok That Will Take Your Breath Away!
Blood Pheasant
  • For Nathu La, Baba Harbhajan Singh Samadhi, and Tsangmo Lake:
  • Apply through the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department of India via accredited travel agency from Gangtok.
  • Documents required: government-recognized identity card (except PAN card), original plus 2 copies, and 2 passport size photos.
  • Items are to be couriered in advance to the tour operator.
  • Vehicles other than Sikkim vehicles are not permitted at Nathu La.
  • Permit Office Phone Number: 03592-209090.

Conclusion

In the embrace of Gangtok’s mystical allure, every moment becomes a treasure trove of unforgettable experiences. From the tranquil shores of Tsomgo Lake to the bustling streets of MG Marg, let the spirit of adventure guide you on a journey of discovery unlike any other.


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