The capital of Sikkim, Gangtok, lies at an altitude 1600 meters. It occupies the West side of a long ridge flanking the Ranipool River. Gangtok has a very spectacular setting and offers excellent views of the entire Kanchenjunga range from various points in it's vicinity.
Gangtok has very few hotels to stay. But whatever hotels are here provide you comfortable stay. The largest and most elegant hotel is the Tashi Daleake. The government of Sikkim has two good hotels- Mayur and Sinialchu. Apart from these there are hotels like Orchid Green, Tibet, Nork Hill, Kanchan View, Shere-e-Punjab, Hungary Jack etc. There are youth hostels and various lodges, which give tourists a comfortable stay in Gangtok.
CLIMATE: Being in the lap of Himalayas, Gangtok never experiences the hot weather as in the plains. The winters are cold and there is rain through the year. Usually the upper reaches are blocked by snow during winters and are accessible only during the mild summer months. The best time to visit Sikkim is between March to May or mid October to December.
GETTING THERE: Gangtok does not have an AirField of its own. The Bagdogra Airfield serves the needs of not only Gangtok but of whole Sikkim. From Bagdogra it takes five hours by road to reach Gangtok. The nearest railway stations are those of Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri. But Gangtok is well connected by roads and one can reach here from anywhere in India. But during the rainy seasons travelling by roads can be a bit problem oriented as landslides are very common and frequent in the region.
TREKKING: If one goes to Sikkim and does not go trekking among its challenging foothills, he is bound to miss a major attraction of the state. Previously trekking was not allowed, but to develop tourism and encourage tourist inflow, Government is now encouraging the trekkers to apply their skills on the mountainous terrains of Sikkim. Trekking is allowed up to Dzongri for 10 days so long as you are accompanied by a travel agent recognised by the Indian tourist Development Corporation and a liason officer or guide provided by the Government of Sikkim. Trekking gears can be hired at Gangtok. The well-known trekking routes are Nayan Bazar- Pemayangtse-Yaksum-Dzongri or Rangpo-Gangtok-Yaksum-Dzongri. More information on the trekking routes can be obtained from the tourist information office Sikkim.
Tusk-la-khang - A beautiful and impressive building which is the principal place of worship and assembly for Buddhists.
Institute of Tibetology Orchid Sanctuary & Chorten - This institute is the only one of its kind in the world and was established to promote research on the language and traditions of Tibet as well as into Mahayana Buddhism. Adjoining the institute is the orchid sanctuary where most of the 454 species of orchid found in Sikkim could be seen, depending on the season.
Institute of Cottage Industries - Located high up on the main road above the town, this multicraft institute specialises in producing hand-woven carpets, blankets, shawls, Lepcha weaves, patterned decorative paper and 'Choktse' tables exquisitely carved in relief. In addition to the shop here, there is a smaller display of craftwork on the ground floor of the tourist office, which is worth a visit.
Deer Park - Next to the secretariat building is one of the popular viewpoints. Here you will find deers and an image of Buddha, which is a replica of that in Sarnath.
Enchey Monastery - This 200 old monastery stands three kms from the city centre. One should visit this monastery during December when the annual religious dances are performed.
SHOPPING: The main markets for shopping are Old market, New Market and Lal market. Here one finds shops of all kind which offer good range of items to be purchased. For a tourist there are many attractive items to be bought as carved furniture, the dresses, Lepcha weave bags, Carpets & Durries with intricate designs and colourful decorations. One can also buy wooden and bamboo artifacts. For a collector of handmade decorative pieces Gangtok is a paradise. The items from Gangtok leave a long lasting impression on the mind of the visitor. The Hindi speaking Marwaris dominates many of the shops in the Gangtok market.
The handicraft and handloom directorate office and the showroom are on crossing of MG Marg and New market. The Gramin Vikas Agency showroom is also located here. In these showrooms you can buy carpets, masks, bright Choktse tables, Thanka hangings.
Rumtek Monastery : Around the same height, 24 Kms away from Gangtok, on the other side of the Ranipool valley is the seat of head Kagyu-pa sect- Gyalwa
POPULATION: Sikkim- around three lakh and Gangtok- around 40 thousands.
MAIN LANGUAGES: Napalese
NEAR BY CITIES:
Bagdogra - 124 Kms
- 114 kms
Kalempong - 75 Kms
Jalpaigurhi - 125 kms
Calcutta - 724 Kms
TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES:
-Sikkim Tourist Information Centre - Department of Tourism, Gangtok, Sikkim, India . Tel. - 91-03592-22064 / 23425.
-Sikkim Tourist Information Centre -New Sikkim House, 14 Panchsheel Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi -110021 India. Tel. - 91-011-3015346.
-Sikkim Tourist Information Centre -4C, Poonam Building, 5/2, Ruseel Street, Calcutta-700017, India. Tel. - 91-033-297416 / 296717 / 298983.
-Sikkim Tourist Information CentreSNT Colony, Siliguri, West Bengal, India. Tel. - 91-0353-432646.
-Sikkim Tourist Information CounterBagdogra Airport, Bagdogra, India.