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East Sikkim – Exploring Gangtok

For many of us 2020 had been a challenging year to say the least but even that couldn’t stop me from ticking off one of the long pending destinations from my bucket list, Sikkim. After having not travelled for 8 months, it didn’t take me long to grab this opportunity with both hands and I was already packed up for the trip. My first stop was in East Sikkim and I started exploring Gangtok, on the very first day.

River Teesta while crossing West Bengal – Sikkim border

As soon as I landed at Bagdogra airport, the Sikkim wave of joy hit the excited child in me. It took 3 hours to cross the West Bengal – Sikkim border and on the way, we got to soak in the beauty of the turquoise green colored Teesta river. We first reached Rangpo in East Sikkim followed by a 1.5-hour journey to Gangtok – the capital city of Sikkim. Once we reached our hotel, we were all in the mood to explore Gangtok.

What is the mode of transport in Gangtok?

We took shared cabs to wherever we wanted to go within the city. The cabs are currently running within the city between 5am – 9pm and during pre-Covid times the same cabs used to run all night long.

Taxi stand
Taxi stand in Gangtok

I stayed close to Swastik Gate and the cost in shared cab to go to mall road was Rs.20 from there and while returning it was Rs.25. The cost of hiring a cab dedicated for you would be the same amount multiplied by 4.

On the mall road (also referred as market by the locals), you can see the main taxi stand. You can speak to the drivers about the cost for local sightseeing which has 9-10 points within the city. When I visited in Dec 2020, they charged Rs.800 for a Maruti Suzuki Alto and Rs.1200 for a Mahindra Xylo.

Exploring Gangtok

The place where you start your Gangtok trip will be the place close to where you stay. I stayed at Udaan Hotels – Woodberry Resort and Spa which is opposite to Swastik Gate, so the closest point for me was Bakthang Falls.

Bakthang waterfalls
Bakthang Waterfalls

Bakthang Falls

There are umpteen number of waterfalls in Sikkim but what makes Bakthang falls special is the view of Gangtok you get from there. You can try wearing Bakhu which is a traditional clothing worn by the Bhutia tribe on their wedding day who reside majorly in Bhutan, Sikkim and few places of Nepal. The Nepalese women who helped me wear it charged me Rs.50 for trying out the clothes and clicked more than 50 pictures of me 😀

Bakthang and traditional clothes
My husband and I with the lovely Nepali lady who helped us dress

Tashi View Point

It is from Tashi View Point where you can have a complete view of the beautiful city of Gangtok and Mt. Kanchenjunga, if the skies are clear. You can find people with a telescope who charge you Rs.20 and help you view Mt.Kanchenjunga and few monasteries in North Sikkim from here.

Tashi View Point view
View from Tashi View Point

Note: Gongjang monastery was very close to Tashi View Point but I was not able to enter due to Government laid Covid restrictions in the state of Sikkim.

Tashi View Point
With Tenzing and his telescope at Tashi View Point

Ganesh Tok

The colorful Buddhist flags welcome you at this Hindu temple as well.? You will have to remove your shoes and climb up the stairs to see Lord Ganesha. There are small eateries and restrooms close to the temple.

Ganesh Tok
View of the road from Ganesh Tok

Hanuman Tok

It is one of the temples maintained by the Indian Army. The temple requires you to climb a bit. Hanuman Tok’s premises is bigger in comparison with Ganesh Tok. The temple is huge and so clean that you will not want to miss clicking pictures. There was a water heater even for washing hands. The temple also provides the tourists with drinking water and restrooms.

Enchey Monastery

The 200+ years old monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim and the present structure of it was built in 1910. This monastery belongs to Nyingma order of Buddhism and it is home to more than 100 monks belonging to the same order. This is one of the must visit places in Gangtok and it is said to give peace to the people who visit the monastery.

Enchey Monastery
The most famous monastery in Gangtok
Image Source: Outlook India

Flower Exhibition Centre

If there was a place in my itinerary that I would have wanted to skip, it would have definitely been the Flower Exhibition Centre. The flowers there looked so dull and dry. The only good thing about the Flower Show was I got to meet a cute grandma with whom I clicked few pictures.
Entry fee: Rs.20

Gangtok Ropeway

Gangtok Ropeway is operational since 2003. There are only 2 rope cars and 1 rope car can carry upto 24 passengers. I would call it a 10-minute ride of absolute fun.
Note: They don’t operate the ropeway if it is windy or when it is lightening.

Entry fee: Rs.117 (adults) and Rs.77 (kids)
Camera: Rs.117 (no charge for phone cameras)

Ropeway view
View of the city from Ropeway

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

Even before visiting Gangtok, this Tibetan museum was on my go to list being a lover of history. The museum is a great place to learn about Buddhism, history and culture of Tibet. They have an extensive collection of artefacts and paintings. We spent around 45 mins at the museum.

Entry ticket: Rs.20
Camera: Not allowed

Tibetology museum

Do-drul Chorten Stupa

The Stupa built in 1945 AD is located 500 meters from the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. There are 108 prayer wheels around the stupa which you can see people rotating.

Do-drul chorten
The Do-drul Chorten Stupa

Ban Jhakri Waterfalls

The 100-foot waterfall is located 7 kms from the capital city Gangtok and very close to Ranka Monastery. It is a popular picnic spot and it is also referred as energy park since it uses non-conventional sources of energy.

Ban Jhakri translates to ‘Jungle Priest’. According to the Nepali folklore, he is a mythical man who has acquired the power of mastering the evil spirits and cure anybody affected by evil spirits.

Entry ticket: Rs.50

Once our sight seeing for the day was over, we asked our cab driver to drop us at Mall Road.

MG Marg Gangtok
MG Marg – My favorite street in Gangtok

MG Marg Gangtok (Mall Road)

I haven’t seen a mall road that looks as sparkling clean and lavish as the one in Gangtok. It is a vehicle free zone. You can get everything you think of on the Mall Road and Lal Bazaar. Locals refer these places as market. I saw shops selling woolens, dine in & fast food restaurants, gift shops, famous tea shops like Golden Tips, stationeries, cloth stores, medical shops, bakeries, hotels, banks, ATMs, barber shops, travel agents, grocery stores etc.

We went to MG Marg on our first day of arrival in Gangtok, after our local sight-seeing on the 2nd day and also on the 3rd day when we returned from Tsongmo Lake, Nathula Pass and Baba Mandir. On our 3rd day in Gangtok we bought goodies to take back home. We were in love with the mall road. We explored the market so much that we knew the short cuts within the market, good places to eat and where to shop for at the cheapest of prices.

Fun Fact: After exploring Gangtok and East Sikkim our most favourite eatery in the end still remained to be a Marwari Bhojanalaya right opposite to Roll House banner, in the street that goes down from the Mall Road. We got the tastiest unlimited meal in the afternoons for Rs.140 😛

The people I met while exploring Gangtok and East Sikkim were amazing. They were very good to us and made our trip much better than what it already was. The city has its own charm and it has people from places across India, Nepal and Tibet. Exploring Gangtok in East Sikkim was in my bucket list since a long time and after the trip Gangtok became one of my most favorite cities in India.

Happy me in the rope car

You can read more of my travel stories here.

Aarthy Chinnaiya

Hola, you travel-prying soul! Welcome to my blog and thanks for stopping by! My name is Aarthy Chinnaiya, exploring new places, food and people gets me excited. I focus on budget travel and exploring places to the fullest in limited number of days (being a Software Engineer I don't get much leaves you see :P). Follow me for a constant dose of my travel stories, experiences, tips and much more.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Solo Backpacker

    It’s beautiful to see Gangtok through your lens. Nicely explained.

    1. Aarthy

      Thank you! 😀

  2. Rathiya Angeline

    Gangtok looks beautiful.
    Such a lovely and well explained account of your time in the city 🙂

    1. Aarthy

      Thank you!:)

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