04 July 2014


Gangtok is the capital of the tiny Indian state of Sikkim, in north-east India. And just how far the city physically is from other Indian cities, so is the city very different from other Indian cities.

A city of a mere 100,000 people or so, Gangtok is a very popular tourist destination in India due to its proximity to other highlights of Sikkim as well as being, in comparison with the rest of India, a very orderly and clean city. I didn't see a single shanty anywhere! Road rules are obeyed, drivers are very courteous and the city is very clean. Sounds good?

In the heart of town is Mahatma Gandhi Marg, a wholly pedestrianised road full of shops, small restaurants, banks, ATMs and other services. It is a pleasure to walk around at evening, when the road gets busy. There is a taxi depot very close by, where you can hail taxis to go back.

A section of Mahatma Gandhi Marg
Gangtok is home to the Gangtok Ropeway, a cable car that has 3 stops in the city, offering great views. They are not packed to full capacity, but the attendant will restrict you to one point to stand at while the car is in motion.

Duddul Chhoedten Stupa- A beautiful stupa complex which was once said to be haunted by evil spirits. It was constructed in 1946. Definitely visit if you like stupas and the like.

The stupa

Most of the big-name attractions people come for are not in the city itself, but a day trip.

Rumtek Monastery
Around an hour's drive from Gangtok is the Rumtek Monastery, the largest in Sikkim. You will need at least 45 min to see the place properly. The whole complex is very beautiful however photos are not allowed in several areas which can be a bit disappointing.

No special pass or permit is required to visit, but carry some ID.
Indians should carry their voter card, driving license or passport
(pan card is not accepted). Foreigners should carry their passports.

Nathula Pass
Nathula Pass is the India-China border around 2.5 to 3 hrs from Gangtok. The scenery around, especially at Lake Tsomgo (which is frozen in winter) is very beautiful and makes the long journey worthwhile.

You need to apply for a permit to visit Nathula. For Indians at least, the permit takes at least 1 working day and requires 2 passport photos and an identification (such as a passport, voter card or driving license; PAN card is not acceptable).

The area is home to army barracks and is under great security so stopping everywhere for photos is not possible. Definitely stop at Lake Tsomgo. There are a few cafes and shops on the way, where you can use a restroom.

Lake Tsomgo

We stayed at the Club Mahindra's property, which is really outside Gangtok proper and you will need to take a taxi to visit town (20-25 min). The property is designed in a very Buddhist style, and is therefore beautiful.

The nearest airport is at Bagdogra, in West Bengal, around 4 to 4.5 hrs by road.

Last visit- Jan 2014
No of visits- 1

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