"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things" ~ Henry Miller


Sikkim: Gangtok


There is a sense of calm and serenity, symbolized by the stupas and monasteries in Gangtok.

Gangtok means the top of a hill. The capital of Sikkim, it is at an elevation of 5,600 feet (1,700 m), and built on the flank of a ridge. With a resident population of 30,000 people, it is the largest town in Sikkim. In recent times it has developed somewhat haphazardly and can get quite congested during the peak summer season and in Oct, during the Dussehra holidays. At other times, and away from the main hub of town, there are delightful walks with great natural scenery and some excellent views of Mt. Khangchendzonga. The town's ambience derives from a blend of tradition and modernity. There is a sense of calm and serenity, symbolized by the stupas and monasteries in Gangtok.


Directorate of Handicrafts & Handloom - Centre for promoting and keeping alive traditional arts & crafts, this is a veritable storehouse of exquisite carpets, blankets and shawls in 'Lepcha' weaves. (Closed on Second Saturdays and Govt. holidays)

More about Sikkim
An Overview
People & Culture
Off the Beaten Track
Wild Life
Monastery Magic
Tourist Information
Getting There

Journey to Remember
Rumtek Diary
Yumthang Valley

Freedom From Fear
Classic Dzongri Trek
When Climbers Trek

Deer Park - The Red Panda and fleet footed deer can be observed in a natural habitat. An imposing statue of the Buddha is situated here. (Open from 8.00 am- 11 am. on working days and 8.00 am. to 5.00 pm. on holidays).

Do-Drul Chorten (Stupa) - Encircled by 108 prayer wheels, this is one of the most important stupas of Sikkim, built by Truisi Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma order, containing rare mandalas, of Doli Phurpa (Bajra Kilaya), holy books and mantras.

Research Institute of Tibetology - Renowned worldwide centre for study of Buddhist philosophy and religion, it is a treasure house of rare thankas, statues, over 200 Buddhist icons and prized objects of art. (Closed on Second Saturdays and Govt. holidays).

Orchid Sanctuary - An exotic treat of over 200 species of orchids set amidst beautiful landscape. Situated just below the Institute of Tibetology.

Enchey Monastery - 3 kms. from Gangtok, this 200 year old monastery was built on the site blessed by the great tantric master Lama Druptab Karpa, revered for the flying powers accredited to him. Religious masked dances are performed here on special occasions.

Orchidarium - Maintained by the Dept. of Forests, one can see a spectrum of colourful orchids and other rare tropical and temperate plants.

Rumtek Monastery

Situated 24 kms away, this is the seat of the 'Kagyu order' a close replica of the original Kagyu in Tibet. Here one can find some of the most unique art objects in the world. Tashi View Point - Situated 8 kms from Gangtok, this place offers a breathtaking view of the majestic mount Khangchendzonga and Mount Siniolchu.


Situated 24 kms away, Rumtek Monastery is the seat of the Kagyu order, a close replica of the original Kagyu in Tibet. Here one can find some of the most unique art objects in the world.

Phodong Monastery - 38 kms from Gangtok, one of the six major monasteries of Sikkim. About 4 kms. from Phodong is the uniquely architectured Labrang Monastery.



There are a number of small, medium and large sized hotels to suit individual budgets. At Gangtok the starred hotels include Hotel Mayur, Norkhill, Tashi Delek, Tibet and Siniolchu Lodge. Sikkim Tourism also operates Hotel Mt. Pandim at Pemayangtse, West Sikkim.

In the medium range, there are Gangtok Lodge, Hotel Sonam Delek and Hotel Mount View. Among the budget hotels, there are Green Hotel, Modern Central Hotel Blue Heaven Lodge and Hotel Lakhar. Visitors are advised to book their accommodation well in advance during the peak season. Latest tariff rates are available at Sikkim Tourism Offices.


Most of the hotels in Gangtok have their own restaurants and several of them are worth a visit. The Snow Lion Restaurant at Hotel Tibet is up-market with a great atmosphere and serves a variety of cuisine. The Oyster at Hotel Sonam Delek also serves a variety of cuisines. The Blue Poppy restaurant at Hotel Tashi Delek has a pleasant terrace restaurant, ideal for daytime. There are numerous small eating joints, and fast food and snack food places serving local food and catering to a mix of tourist palates. Some are distinctly seedy, while others have character and can serve tolerably good food.


How to get there

Air The nearest airport is Bagdogra in North Bengal which is 124 kms and approximately 5 hrs. drive from Gangtok. Bagdora has regular Indian Airlines Services from Calcutta and Delhi and also within the North East.

Rail The two closest railway stations are Siliguri (114 kms.) and New Jalpaiguri (125 kms) connecting Calcutta, Delhi, Guwahati, Lucknow and other important cities in India.

Road Gangtok is connected by road with Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Siliguri and other centres and also with all the district headquarters within Sikkim. The Sikkim Nationalised Transport plies regular bus services linking these places.

The Transport wing of the Department of Tourism, Government of Sikkim has a number of cars, luxury coaches and jeeps for hire.

Private taxis are available at Bagdogra for Gangtok and also for Siliguri. All taxis in Gangtok are provided with fixed rate charts.


Reliable shops for local handicrafts are the Govt. Institute of Cottage Industry in Gangtok or the Dalai Lama Trust Fund shop in the basement of Hotel Tibet. These are also available in other shops, but shop around for an idea of prices. You can check out the canvas wall hangings, thankas, prayer wheels, Tibetan carpets, rugs and jewellery, particularly the exquisitely carved dragon sets in silver and gold inlaid with precious stones, which are unique to Sikkim. Sikkim tea and cardamom are other good buys.


General information :

Entry Formalities

Indians only need permits to enter the restricted areas or the inner line permit areas. Indians travelling in Sikkim would be advised to carry either passport, drivers license or election voting card or ration card. It is generally not required, because Indians do not need permits to enter Sikkim. But identification documents proving your Indian identity may be needed. An NRI holding a valid Indian passport is also allowed. Foreigners need a permit to enter Sikkim. Indians with foreign passport also need permits.

Foreign nationals are permitted to visit Gangtok, Rumtek, Phodong and Pemayangtse on the basis of a 15 day visa. A special endorsement allows access to areas around Pemayangste. A 15 day visa-extension is available in Gangtok from the Home Office, Tashiling Secretariat. Foreigners are allowed a day visit to Tsongo lake provided they are in groups of four or more. They are also permitted to trek to the Dzongri area and to Yumthang valley and Lachen provided they are in a group of four or more and are doing the trek through a recognized travel agency.

Permits can be obtained from the Foreigners Regional Registration Offices at Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Darjeeling as well as from the Sikkim Tourism Information Centre in Calcutta and Siliguri.

Tourist Office

The Tourist Office is located on M.G Marg and facilitates all your travel arrangements and offers efficient and helpful advice.

Compiled by Romola Butalia

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.