Sikkim, the second smallest state of India, is the land of a large variety of plants, animals, rivers, mountains, lakes and waterfalls. The mountain peaks, holy lakes, ancient monasteries, orchid nurseries and stunning trekking routes make Sikkim a perfect holiday destination for you.
The northeastern charm, coupled with the majestic Himalayan snow, make Sikkim one of the most beautiful state of the country. Sikkim is endowed with excellent natural resources, gorgeous mountains, beautiful waterfalls and some wonderful landscapes. The ethnic people and the natural beauty, along with the modern capital city of Gangtok, its own character. The Nepalis called this state ‘Sukhim’ or the New Place, the Bhutias called it as the ‘Demazong’ or the Valley of Rice and the Lepchas called it ‘Nye-mae-el lang’ or the Abode of the Gods. If you are the one whose aesthetic sense is superb and who longs to spend a moment in the lap of mother nature, then Sikkim invites you with clear sky and fresh air.
Extremely alluring, pleasantly boisterous and wreathed in clouds, Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim, can also give you a spectacular view of Mt. Kanchenjunga at a distant skyline. The pristine hill station nestled in mountains and clouds is also a base for a whole lot of trekkers to the Himalayan mountain ranges. The mesmerizing prismatic beauty and the beautiful winding hill roads are even more breathtaking if seen from a bird’s eye view in a cable car.
The name meaning hill-top, Gangtok can be safely said to be one of the most beautiful hill stations in the country. With everything in just the right amount from a blend of cultural identities to urbanization, Gangtok is a breathing and dynamic bit of paradise of the Northeast. It has an amazing view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain peak in the world. Also like everything around it, Gangtok is abundant in natural beauty and has various natural attractions such as the Tsomgo Lake, Ban Jhakri falls, Tashi viewpoint and more. Other places to visit include the Enchey Monastery, Ganesh Tok and Do Drul Chorten Rumtek Monastery. Also, river Teesta is one of the best spots for white water rafting in northeastern India.
Nathu La Pass
Nathu La, one of the highest motorable roads in the world, is a mountain pass in the Himalayan peaks that co-joins Sikkim and China. Nathula Pass is situated on the India-China border and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in India. Many tourists flock here every year for trekking in the valley and enjoying the scenic beauty. There are a number of waterfalls that gush along the way from Gangtok to Nathu La. It also offers an opportunity to see beautiful snow peaks encircling the area.
Situated on the border adjoining the Tibet region of China 14,450 feet above sea level, Nathu La is one of the most important Himalayan passes in the country. Nathu means ‘listening ears’, and La means ‘pass’. Nathu La is one of the three open trading border posts between India and China and is famous for its picturesque beauty and beautiful environment. The temperature here remains low for most parts of the year, and it becomes a hotspot for tourists during summer. The cold wind blowing across at great speed is a phenomenon worth experiencing.
Perched between the mountains at a dizzying height of 12,400 feet above sea level, the Tsomgo Lake is one of the few high-altitude lakes in India situated on the Gangtok-Nathu La highway. Also popularly known as Changu Lake, it is a part of every tourist’s itinerary and for a good reason – the overwhelming scenic beauty. Enveloped by steep snow-capped mountains and resting between a bright green carpet of alpine forests, the charming beauty of Tsogmo Lake is bound to leave you in awe. The lake’s mesmerizing scenic allure, combined with its legendary significance to the locals, definitely makes it a must visit attraction of Sikkim.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
One of the very few of its kind, the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology (NIT) is an abode of centuries-old Tibetan-
Buddhist culture and its history. NIT preserves the glorious past of the country, the religion and its precious culture with utmost dedication and that shows in the excellent collection in the museum and the library which are the main attractions here. As important as its role is for the pursuers of Asian culture and Buddhist studies, with its quiet and serene charm, it is a paradise for the tourists as well, especially for the occasional history-enthusiast. Photography is not allowed inside, but you can take some time off technology and take in all you want with the lens of your eyes.
Flower Exhibition Center
The Flower Exhibition Center, which is situated in Gangtok, showcases flowers from the different parts of Sikkim together under a single roof which makes it a heaven for all nature lovers. Located right across the White Memorial Hall and below the Ridge Park, it lies at a walking distance from the MG Marg in Gangtok. Though the flowers are displayed here all through the year, the annual flower show which is held from April to May should not be missed out on as during this time, the management gathers here and presents numerous varieties of orchids along with other flowers from around the state. Participants from the neighboring states are invited to be a part of the annual flower contest held in the premises by the Sikkim government.
Situated at a distance of 17 km from Gangtok is Kabi Longstok, the quaint little tow considered to be a historical place due to the initiation of the Sikkimese history here in the early 13th century. There is an exquisite Buddhist monastery situated nearby where you can spot kids and the followers of Buddhism studying about religion and its beliefs. Along with this, there is a library and a garden as well where you can discover more about the place and its past. There are life-size statues of Bhutia and Lepcha, who were the blood-brothers, erected near the stone pillar to pay respect. With the wonderful stories that this place holds, Kabi Longstok is surely going to captivate you with its wonderful beauty.
Reshi Hot Springs
Sikkim has numerous hot springs, but the Reshi Hot Spring is the most famous one due to its strategic location and the religious significance that it holds. These hot water springs or Cha-chu present in Reshi are winter spas from the ancient period where pilgrims along with visitors spend a week or more soaking themselves in the springs which are believed to contain medicinal properties. Easily accessible, the springs are present right after a downhill drive of an hour from Gangtok towards the Rangit river valley. For the comfort of the tourists, there are temporary huts available for an overnight stay at affordable prices with no bedding or cooking utensils. There are small shops in the neighborhood selling vegetables and other daily need items.
How to Reach
By flight: Bagdogra is the nearest airport which is 125 km away from Gangtok. You can book a taxi in advance to take you up to Gangtok. Helicopter services are also available from Bagdogra to Gangtok. It takes around four hours by a taxi to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra airport.
By road: Taxis are available from most of the cities nearby. Buses from Siliguri are also frequent.
By train: The closest railway station is New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri which is around 117 km from Gangtok. You can hire or book taxis from here to Gangtok. New Jalpaiguri is well-connected to major cities in India. It takes around four hours to reach Gangtok from New Jalpaiguri station.