Wreathed in clouds, Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim is located on a ridge at a height of 5500 feet. With a spectacular view of the Khangchendzonga, the town provides the perfect base for travel through the state. Once an important transit point for traders travelling between Tibet and India, it is today a busy administrative and business centre and presents an interesting mix of cultures and communities.
Gangtok is a cosmopolitan town which offers the tourist all possible amenities. Hotels are available in a range of prices along with a variety of eateries serving cuisine for all tastes. Shopping complexes, cyber cafes, nightclubs and pool parlours abound for those so inclined.
MG Marg, the main street of Gangtok town is a great place to chill out. The country’s first litter and spit-free zone, no vehicular traffic is allowed into the marg. You can sit at the Titanic Park or at the various benches stretched across the mall and take in the carnival-like atmosphere, especially during the tourist season. The Mall is lined with shops on both sides of the road so shopping becomes an added pleasure.
MG Marg is also the venue for the annual Gangtok Food and Culture festival held in December each year when Sikkim multi-cultural cuisine, along with music and dance performances are showcased. This event attracts a large number of locals and tourists each year.
For a birds-eye view of Gangtok take a ride on the bi-cable Zig-back ropeway. The one-kilometre ride from Deorali to Tashiling Secretariat costs Rs. 30 one way and is completed in 7 minutes. Each cabin has the capacity to ferry 25 people at a time. The ropeway has been fitted with fully computerized modern safety mechanism of international standards. On clear weather, the ride offers a great view of the Khangchendzonga range apart from an overview of Gangtok town and the valley below. After you get off at Tashiling Secretariat you can walk to the Ridge Park and soak in the beautiful surroundings as well as visit the ongoing Flower Festival held just below the park.
For a view of Gangtok and all its surrounding, one can get to Ganesh Tok situated on a ridge at a distance of 7 km from Gangtok. From this Spot, one can get a view of sprawling Gangtok town, while across the hills Mt. Khang-Chen-Dzonga and Mt. Siniolchu loom over the horizon. A cafeteria serves hot tea, coffee and snacks. The view from here is truly breathtaking with snow peaks providing the perfect backdrop for a panoramic view of Gangtok town.
Hanuman Tok, a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, is situated at an altitude of 7200 feet at a distance of about nine kilometres uphill from Gangtok on a blissfully calm and quiet hilltop. The location is completely free from the pollution of city life. Apart from the clear view of the peaks surrounding Mount Khangchendzonga, some portions of Gangtok town, one also gets a bird’s eye view of the Sleep waterworks, which supplies drinking water to Gangtok. Adjacent to this area is Lukshyama, the royal cremation ground having stupas and chortens. Here the mortal remains of the erstwhile royal family members of Sikkim are cremated.
Namgyal Research Institute of Tibetology is the most prestigious research institute of its kind in the world, NIT is a treasure of vast collection of rare Lepcha, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts, statues and rare Thankas (colourful tapestries used in Buddhist liturgy). Apart from an attractive museum, it has over 200 Buddhist icons and other prized objects of art. As far as its collections are concerned, it is only next to an institute in Tibet. Today it is renowned worldwide centre for the study of Buddhist philosophy and religion. The institute was established in 1958 to promote serious study and research on Buddhism.