Gangtok: Pure Bliss.
You know you are in Gangtok when you can feel the crisp clear mountain air, see streets beautifully lined with colorful flowers, look at the happy faces of the friendly locals & smell delicious mouth-watering momos from every corner. Add to that the mesmerizing views of the majestic Kanchenjunga on a clear sunny day & you know why Gangtok is a sheer delight.
As for me I can stare at the mountain peaks for hours & enjoy their changing colors throughout the day. This place has a tremendous happy & friendly vibe which is hard to describe in words.
The nearest airport is Bagdogra which is at a distance of 125 Kms (approx 4 hrs drive). The nearest Railway station is New Jalpaiguri which is also a 4 hrs drive from Gangtok.
Things to do:-
As I always say just wall around the city, take in the vibe, stare at the mountain peaks against an azure blue sky and enjoy piping hot momos with chilled beer at the numerous eateries on the mall road. Visit the old market or Lal market for colorful umbrellas and other souvenirs.
Situated at a distance of 90km from Gangtok is this beautiful lake surrounded by lofty mountains. The drive takes anything between 3 – 4 hrs depending on weather and road conditions. Located at a height of 12000 feet it was freezing even in the month of May.
After driving for more than 3 hrs on a bad road in the hilly terrain I was beginning to question my decision of going there at all. But one look at Tsomgo Lake and I knew it was worth the hype. Almost a kilometer wide of placid water surrounded by frozen mountains, Tsomgo was indeed surreal.
Since the road ahead goes all the way to Nathula pass sometimes special permit is required from the army. It is advisable to hire a local driver who is well versed with the road and can get the permit if required.
It is the largest monastery in Sikkim and houses a school and aviary for monks. There’s an amazing collection of Thangka paintings on display.
It is much smaller and nearer to Gangtok down. But I loved the tranquility and peace at this place.
Where to Stay:
There are many hotels from budget to luxury. I suggest splurge a little and ensure you have a mountain view from your balcony. Sipping your morning cup of tea and watching the snowy peaks of Kanchenjunga is a novelty which simply can’t be missed.
Where to Eat:
Again numerous option chooses from. Taste of Tibet, Bakers’ cafe, Chopsticks to name a few. Alcohol is heavily subsidized in Sikkim.
Tweak your itinerary:
Plan holidays for a week or more to spend in Sikkim and spend 3 days in Gangtok and include a trip to Lachung, Lachen, Yumthang valley and Gurudongmar lake. Alternatively, you could consider a visit to Pelling from where you can get spectacular panoramic views of the Himalayan ranges.
With its heady concoction of stunning mountain views, mouth-watering food and friendly locals Gangtok will leave you yearning for more.
If you like this post them don’t forget to go through my post: Udaipur: Romantically Yours
Images courtesy: Mr. Sushant Ghatak