Gangtok is the capital of the state of Sikkim in north-eastern India. But for me, it is a city of flowers. Everywhere I looked around I saw flowers blossoming along the roadside, boulevards, and fences and balconies along the houses. Colorful flowers, green hills and people in fashionable clothes make quite a view to enjoy in Gangtok.
I was there during the second week of May, 2016. With pleasant weather and abundance of hotels and transport, Gangtok serves as a perfect base for exploring various scenic places in North and West Sikkim. For more information, travel photos and itinerary, check out:
- Sikkim Diaries: Visiting a Piece of Heaven Called Gurudongmar
- Sikkim Diaries: Waterfall-breaks on the Way to Lachung
We returned to Gangtok after Gurudongmar trip and stayed there for one night and two days. Gangtok sightseeing comes in packages such as 3-point, 7-point, or 10-point tours for half-day or full day. We booked a 7-point tour package, which covered the following places:
- Rumtek Monastery
- Shanti View Point (There is nothing much to see here. However, we enjoyed Momo sold here at reasonable price – Rs 40 for a plate)
- Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
- Do-Drul Chorten
- Suicide Point (Don’t be afraid! This is just another view point. 😉 :D)
- Flower Exhibition
- Handicrafts & Handloom Center (You’ll find a variety of Tibetan handicrafts including mask, clothing accessories, carpets, wall rugs, bags, and many more at authentic price.)
It was a half-day tour. We started at around 9:30 in the morning and completed by 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The post-lunch session was meant for a ropeway ride and shopping at the main market at MG Marg.
More than an hour drive from Gangtok, Rumtek Monastery is a must see. The monastery is a center of Tibetan Buddhism offers beautiful and quiet surroundings where you would love to spend some time watching the rituals by the little monks, listening to their chanting, and praising the colorful architecture of the monastery.
Oh yes! Before you leave, don’t forget to stop by this handicraft shop once. You may find something interesting to buy.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
If you want to delve deeper into the Tibetan culture this is a place to be. The institute conducts different programs to promote research Tibetan history, religion, art and culture. Exquisite silver accessories and beautiful thangkas caught my eyes as soon as I enter the museum.
A Tibetan Buddhist shrine and a peaceful place for prayer Do-Drul Chorten is situated right beside the Institute of Tibetology. The snow white stupa is surrounded with prayer wheels. I peeped through the window of the prayer hall to find that young priests were chanting and learning their part.
I don’t know why this beautiful place has a terrible name like this! But I loved walking along the canopied trail that took me to the spot from where I could see green slopes all around and a winding river stream deep down the gorge.
This is a must-see in Gangtok. A variety of flowers with their scientific names and descriptions are displayed in a greenhouse-like place.
After the day-trip we came back to hotel for lunch. I could see the ropeway cable cars moving up and down sitting right at our hotel’s dining room. By 3:30 pm we set out again for a ropeway ride and walked to the station near Butterfly Bridge.
However, we had to wait for nearly two hours at the ticket counter as there were only two cable cars with a capacity of 24 people each. By the time we boarded the cable car the sun was about to set beyond the hills. 😦
However, it’s a short 15 minute ride which offers colorful panoramas of the city, Gangtok.
With a lively atmosphere, numerous shops and restaurants, MG Marg is the pulsating heart of Gangtok. Sikkim government’s Tourist Information Center is also located here. From beautiful accessories to delicate handicrafts to fancy umbrellas there are many things you can buy as souvenirs.
Well, if you don’t like wasting money in shopping, just sit on a bench at the plaza and watch people and activities around you. People-watching is a nice time pass, isn’t it? 😉 😀