Gangtok is a popular Tibetan Buddhist pilgrimage site and capital of the alpine-laden state of Sikkim. The town’s name literally translates as flattened hillock, yet this does not do the destination justice. With exquisite beauty and a magical, almost mysterious air to it, Gangtok is the ideal launchpad for exploring the dramatic landscapes of the Himalayas. The town exudes a cosmopolitan flavour where old-world charm and culture collide with modern spirituality and hospitality. Expect inspiring mountain views and a temperate climate!
Visit the Tsongmo Lake or Changu Lake, a glacial lake about 40km from Gangtok and located at an altitude of 3,780m/12,401ft. Literally known as ‘source of the lake’ in Bhutia language, it is about 1km long, oval in shape, 15m/49ft deep and is considered sacred by the local people. It is also home to the brahminy ducks.
Visit Rumtek Monastery which is located on a hill, and considered to be replica of the original Tsurphu Monastery of the Kagyupa order in Tibet. Belonging to the Karmapa Sect of Buddhism, it is the largest monastery in Sikkim and contains traditional architecture, carved and painted woodwork, murals, manuscripts and icons.
Visit Labrang Monastery, a Buddhist monastery built in 1814 and belonging to the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Unlike most monasteries which were destroyed by fires, this one still retains its original structure. The name lliterally means ‘the Lamas dwelling’, consecrated to the memory of Latsun Chembo of Kongpu of Tibet, who initiated and propagated this school of Buddhism in Sikkim.
City Highlights of Gangtok
Gangtok, derived from the Tibetan word for ‘hillside’, is the capital of Sikkim located in the eastern Himalayas at an altitude of 1,650m/5,413ft. Visit the ‘Three Point View’ of Ridge Park, a small flat stretch of road above Gangtok town, and see White Memorial Hall, a two storey typical British architectural structure. Enjoy nice views of Kanchendzonga from Hanuman Tok and explore the Flower Show Hall near White Hall complex, where flower and orchid shows are held during spring. Visit the Do-Drul Chorten or Stupa, one of the most important Stupas here, with 108 Mani-lhakor (prayer wheels) which are turned by devout Buddhists while chanting ‘hail to the jewel in the lotus’, to invoke Buddhisattva. Enjoy nature walks and stroll the narrow lanes. Perhaps go on a picnic to the Water Garden at Martam Khola.