Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, is situated in the midst of the eastern Himalayas. An important centre of Buddhism, this charming hill station is surrounded by beautiful scenery at every step, especially stunning views of the snow-capped Mount Kanchenjunga. It is also a good base to visit Sikkim’s Buddhist monasteries, heritage hotels, high-altitude lakes and passes. There are myriad interesting places to visit in Gangtok.
Enchey Monastery: Perched on a hill top above Gangtok’s ridge, the Enchey monastery offers picturesque views of the town and the Kanchenjunga peak. Built in 1909, it follows the Nyingmapa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
Tsomgo Lake: Surrounded by rugged mountains on all sides, this scenic lake is located at an altitude of 12,000 feet, around 35 kilometres away from Gangtok.
Rumtek Monastery: Located on a hill facing Gangtok, Rumtek is the largest monastery in Sikkim. The Tibetan-style monastery the seat of the Kargyupa sect of Buddhism and a near-replica of the Kagyu headquarters in Tibet.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology: Established in 1958, this institute has one of the biggest collections of Tibetan artefacts outside Tibet. It has been built in a traditional style, and promotes research in Tibetan culture and Mahayana Buddhism.
The Elgin Nor Khill: The Nor-Khill Gangtok is a luxury Elgin heritage hotel. The hotel is situated in the heart of Gangtok town, 5000 feet up in the Himalayas. This hotel is celebration of the elegance and grace of the Kings era in Sikkim. The “Nor-Khill” translates to the “house of jewels”. Jewels here refer to the wealth of the natural beauty on display – the mountains, the valleys, the flowers and the fruits. The Kanchen garden in the hotel used to be a favourite spot of the Chogyal (King of Sikkim), who would set up his easel and paint for hours. Built by the King of Sikkim in 1932 around a beautiful garden, the Nor-Khill served as his royal guesthouse for receiving Heads of states and dignitaries.
Nathu La: The Nathu La pass was an important corridor between India and Tibet before it was closed in 1962. Situated at an altitude of 14,450 feet, it was part of the historic Silk Route that was used for trade between China and India. Located around 56 kilometres from Gangtok, the road to Nathu La passes through the Tsomgo Lake. It is one of the highest motorable roads in the world and offers spectacular views of the Chumbi valley. Now a part of the international border between India and China, it was reopened in 2006, after a gap of 44 years. Tourists are allowed to go close to the Indo-China border from where you can see Chinese soldiers on the other side of the barbed wire. It also has the world’s highest ATM. Nathu La is only open for Indian nationals on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays.