Gangtok is one of the more popular hill destinations in India‚s north east region. Most travelers visit Gangtok with the idea of catching a glimpse of the spectacular Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world. On a bright, sunlit day it is a sight to behold.
Part of the lower Shivalik hills of mighty Himalayas, Gangtok stands at an altitude of 5047 feet (null.3 meters). Gangtok roughly means ‚Majestic or Lofty Hill‚. Prayer flags fluttering in gay abandon, lamas busy mumbling holy chants, brightly painted pagoda roofed houses lined with begonias and orchids, are some the signature sights of this hill town.
Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalis comprise the main ethnic groups of the town. In recent years, Gangtok has emerged as a centre of Tibetology. Travelers interested in Tibetan Buddhism and culture make a beeline to the town‚s many monasteries and institutions of learning.
The two major shopping areas are the lower bazaar and M.G. market. These include finely worked metal images, bowls, prayer wheels, musical instruments, thangkas, carpets, pullovers, caps, socks and chunky jewellery.
Indian - There are many great and cheap places to eat in Gangtok. Parivar's on MG Road down a short flight of stairs, serves some of the best food in town, and is very popular with locals. The Roll House, tucked on the side of a stairway between MG Road and the main market, serves up vegetarian momos and hot rolls with various fillings (nullpaneer, egg, veggies). This place is always packed with both tourists and locals and deservedly so.
Quick Bite, and numerous other sweet shops up and down MG Road, serve up everything from samosas to momos.
Chinese - Tangerine Restaurant on Tibet Road serves good Chinese food. Baker's Cafe on MG Road is the only place in town to sell cappuccino, latte and offer a wide selection of western-style pastries and pizzas. Pub 25, also close by, is open till late and is an upscale pub right in the heart, serves good Mughlai food. Taste of Tibet on serves Tibetan fare that include thupka, gyathuk and thentuk. It includes a bar too. Cafe Tibet, on way up towards the Zero point, is run by a Tibetan, and serves very good coffee.
European/Continental - Royal Hotel, Hotel Karma and Tashi Delek are your options.
Regional Specialty - The Roll House, tucked on the side of a stairway between MG Road and the main market, serves up vegetarian momos and hot rolls with various fillings (nullpaneer, egg, veggies). This place is always packed with both tourists and locals.
A trip to Sikkim is not complete without sighting the Changu Lake. A glacial lake in East Sikkim, Tsomgo or Changu as it is popularly called means ‚Source of the Lake‚. It is 40 km away from Gangtok and takes 2Ĺ hours to reach by a hired car. The journey to the lake is an enchanting one with a number of beautiful waterfalls en route. The lake is surrounded with beautiful flowering plants/trees like primula and pine, thereby producing a breathtaking effect.
The lake remains frozen throughout the winters right up to April. To enter the lake area, tourists, especially foreigners, are expected to possess a permit, which can be easily arranged by a registered and recognized travel agent or from any of the Sikkim Tourism offices.
Located in the Shivalik hills of the eastern Himalayan range at an altitude of 5047 feet (null.3 meters), Gangtok sees a wide variety of seasons that include summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. Temperatures range from a high of 30 degree centigrade in peak summer to a low of about 3 degree centigrade in winter. Snowfall is rare in Gangtok in recent times. Temperatures seldom fall below freezing. Winter weather can be unpredictable changing abruptly from bright sunshine and clear skies to heavy rain within a couple of hours. During spring and autumn the weather is sunny and mild. Due to its elevation, Gangtok often gets foggy during monsoon and winter months. Landslides are common between June and September when the town receives heavy seasonal rains.
Surface - Gangtok is connected with Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Siliguri by the national highway 31 A. The Sikkim transport plies regular bus services between Gangtok and Siliguri and within Sikkim. Private buses, jeeps and taxis are also available from Siliguri and Bagdogra.
Train - The nearest railhead is at New Jalpaiguri (nullNJP). At a distance of 125 kms, it takes about 4 hours by road from Gangtok. NJP is well connected with all major cities of India. Railway bookings can be made at the booking counter of the Sikkim nationalized transport terminus.
Air - The closest airport is at Bagdogra, which is 124 km from Gangtok (nullabout 4 hours drive) and connected by air with all-important Indian metros.
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