Its strategic location, a strong Buddhist presence and heady cultural offerings make the First City of Sikkim Gangtok, a tempting insight into this stimulating lang. Sensational views of Mt. Khangchendzonga... orchid nurseries... great shopping – sample some of its treasures before heading out of town to savour Sikkim’s other delights. Sign up for one of the heli- tours to catch breathtaking vistas. During the Buddha Purniuma in May, delve into the city’s cultural leanings in those superlative Sage Dawa festivities. Follow the colourful procession of venerable lamas carring the holy books of Buddha’s teachings from the Tsuklakhang Monastery in the palace to different parts of town.
The world’s largest treasury of invaluable old Tibetan books and manuscripts on Buddhist philosophy and religion, science, medicine, astrology, etc the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology attracts Buddhist scholars from around the world. It also houses a wide range of Lepcha and Sankrit manuscripts and scrolls of ancient vintage. In the appended museum are over 200 icons, old tankhas and some ritual vessels amongst various objetsd’ art on display. Take trip upstairs to observe the cataloguing and restoration of these treasures. Open : 10 am - 4 pm.
Shoppers will find the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handlooms a most covenient place to catch up on their souvenir hunting. Craftsmen in the process of weaving , woodcarving, and paintings of typical Sikkimese designs give you an up- close and personal view of these beautiful crafts from start to finish. Take home hand-woven crapets, blankets, shawls and carved magnolia-wood tables.
Just 8 km away from Gangtok is a verdant expanse of 205 hectares encapsulating the Himalayan Zoological Park. This is the natural habitat of the endangered red panda, barking deer, spotted deer and bear.
One of the most important monasteries of Sikkim and the Nyingma order of Buddhism, the Enchey Monastery (3 km) is constructed on a site blessed by Lama Drupko Karpo, a revered tantric master reputed for his power to fly. Over 200 years old, Enchey has within its precincts many icons and religious artefacts of great veneration and antiquity.
Whizzing past tiny hamlets from which rise the lazy smoke trails from a cooking pot, or a shepherd bringing home his flock of sheep, head out to the historic Enchey Monastery (3 km) where you’ll get one of the best views of the entire mountain range with its snowy peaks a dazzling glitter in the bright sunshine. Savopur those grandstand views of Mt. Khangchendzonga and Mt. Siniolchu from the popular picnic spot Tashi View point (8 km) on the North Sikkim Highway. Best views - early morning.
About 14kms. From Gangtok is the Saramsa Garden, the home of Sikkim’s many exotic orchids and other rare tropical and temperate plants. Established and maintained by the Department of Forests, it is an excellent recreation, leisure and picnic spot.
Water Garden at Martam Khola is on 31 A National Highway, 16kms south of Gangtok. It is an ideal spot for picnic with a small swimming pool for children.
It literally means the “Source of the Lake” in Bhutia language. It is located at a distance of 38 kms from Gangtok. This serene lake is situated at an altitude of 3780mtrs.The lake is about 1km long , oval in shape, 15 metres deep and is considered sacred by the local people. This placid lake remains frozen during the winter months.
Between May and August, it is possible to see a variety of flowers in bloom, including the Rhododendrons, various species of Primulas, Blue and yellow Poppies, lrish etc. It is open for both the Foreigners and Indians. Foreign visitors have to be in a group of two or more and have to apply for the visitors’ permit through a registered travel agency.
From Gangtok is Nathgula Pass situated at an altitude of 14,450 feet at the border of India and China. It has one of the highest motorable roads and is richly covered with many varieties of alpine flora and fauna. A tranquil place to visit, Nathula is open only for Indian Nationals on Wednesday, Thursday Department through a registered travel agency.
Is about 8kms from Gangtok, acclaimed to be amongst the most popular photography point in the Sikkim Himalayas. From here, one can also see monasteries at Phodong and Labrang. An observatory tower has recently been set up S. Tourists can avail of the facilities provided by a small but well- stocked cafeteria located here.
Opposite the inspiring and imposing Sikkim Legislative Assembly is a view point called Hur Huray Dara. Tourists can walk on the footpath edging the cliffs of Namnang leading to this viewpoint overlooks the Bhushuk Chhu in the valley below. Light of Gangtok are viewed best in the evenings from the VIP Colony entry gates.