Situated at a height of 5,500 ft Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, is one of the cleanest and most beautiful hill stations in India. Brimming with Buddhist monasteries against the backdrop of mighty Kanchenjunga and home to several sightseeing sites, it is not without reason that Gangtok or “hill top” has earned the epithet ‘Switzerland of the East’. Gangtok and the nearby areas are known for beautiful flowers that bloom round the year.
In close proximity to the Sikkim Assembly building is the tranquil Namnang View Point from where you can have a panoramic view of the wide open valley. The cable car ride to Deorali is great fun not only for kids but also for grown-ups.
8km from Gangtok, Tashi View point, named after a former ruler of Sikkim, is a popular tourist attraction in East Sikkim. The observatory tower at Tashi View Point offers stunning views of the peaks, the landscape and the sunrise.
4 km from Tashi View point, Ganesh Tok is a famous tourist spot, located 10 km away from Gangtok. Here a small temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha attracts visitors who can have wonderful view of the Gangtok city. People plant saplings in memory of their loved ones at the Smriti Van, located next to the temple.
14 km from Gangtook is the Saramsa Garden which is the habitat of more than 400 species of orchids. The grade is home to some of the rare varieties of orchids.
Deer Park, Maharaja Chogyal Palace, Institute of Cottage Industries, Research Institute of Tibetology, Orchid Sanctuary, Ganeshtok, Hanumantok and Tashi View Point are some other points of tourist attraction in Gangtok. A famous attraction of Gangtok Lal Bazaar is the largest market of Sikkim and a huge drawcard for the tourists.
24 km from Gangtok is Rumtek, the largest monastery in Sikim. Focal point of Buddhist culture, the monastery houses the golden stupa containing the relics of the 16th Karmapa, prayer hall, beautiful paintings, wall hangings and thangkas. Behind the gompha is located the Karma Shri Nalanda Institute known for higher studies in Buddhism.
Rumtek monastery draws large number of visitors who come here to have a glimpse of the way of living of the Buddhist monks. The monastery plays host to the Tsechu dance in summer.
Located on the outskirts of Gangtok, Enchey monastery commands a panoramic view of the mighty Kanchenjunga. It is about 3km from MG Marg. Enchey monastery is the centre of Vajrayana form of Buddhism.
7 kilometres north of Gangtok, the small town of Kabi Longstok is a historical place where the treaty of friendship was signed between the Lepcha chieftain Thekong Tek and the Bhutia chief Khye Bhumsa in the 13th century. A stone pillar stands as a memorial to the treaty. A small Buddhist monastery stands in close proximity.
One of the six major monasteries in Sikkim, Phodong Monastery was built in 1740 and features beautiful murals. Located in North Sikkim, the Monastery is twenty six km from Gangtok.
Gangtok is the convenient base for exploring Yumthang, Lachen and Lachung.
140 km from Gangtok, Yumthang Valley is located at a height of 118, 00 feet. Replete with rhododendrons in full bloom, the valley is famous for snow and followers. Situated at the base of the Yumthang Valley, Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary is an added attraction.
40 km from Gangtok, Lake Tsongmo, also known as Tsomgo Lake, is a beautiful glacial lake located on the way to Nathu La Pass which is located at an elevation of 14,500 ft near the India-China border. Tsongo Lake is revered by the local people. The temple of the late Harbhajan Singh (known as Baba Temple), 10 km from Lake Tsongmo, is another attraction. Harbhajan Singh was an Indian solider who had died in 1968. It is believed that his spirit is still present here to safeguard the place. 58 km from Gangtok, Nathu La Pass, which was closed in 1962 during the Indo-China War, was reopened in 2006.
By Air: The nearest airport is at Bagdogra in Siliguri in West Bengal. The Bagdogra airport, about 124 km away from Gangtok, is connected with Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati by various airlines. Sikkim Helicopter Service also conducts special mountain flights, besides the regular runs to Bagdogra Airport and back.
By Rail: The nearest railway stations are at Siliguri, 124 km away and new Jalpaiguri at about 120 km. There are regular buses from Siliguri to Gangtok apart from taxis.
By Road: Gangtok is well connected by a network of roads with all important cities and towns. Some of the cities and places connected with Gangtok are Kalimpong (65km), Darjeeling (114 km) and Bhubaneswar (1204 km).
Other than the Sikkim government’s tourist lodge, there are hotels and holiday homes to suit every budget. Hotel Tashi Delek Regency, Hotel Royal Demazong, Hotel Saramsa Resort, Hotel Tamarind, Hotel Suhim Portiko, Hotel Modern Residency, Hotel De Villa, Hotel Lakar, Hotel Gyatseling Tashi Delek Residency, Hotel Bamboo Retreat, Hotel Yarlam Resort and Hotel Ridge are some of the famous hotels in Gangtok.