Nestled deep in the Sivalik hills, Gangtok offers a curious mix: it has everything that a popular hill station should, and just the right amount of mystery. Summer is a great time to explore all that the quaint city has to offer and here are the five places we suggest you look up to visit when here!
At an altitude of 12,400m above sea level, Tsongmo Lake is 38km from Gangtok, towards the Chinese Border. The winding road that runs through the rugged mountain terrain and sharp cliffs makes for a beautiful drive. If you continue along the same road, Nathu La, or ‘Listening Ears Pass’, lies about 18km ahead. At a height of 4,310m above sea level, Nathu La is famous for its stunning views. A permit is mandatory to visit the pass, which can be obtained in Gangtok.
Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park
Among India’s better-maintained zoos, the Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park occupies an entire hillside. The star attractions are the red pandas, which look a little like cuddly little foxes. The park is also home to Himalayan bears, snow leopards and many other endangered species that live in extensive natural enclosures. You’ll need at least three hours to explore all the enclosures.
Ban Jhakri Falls & Energy Park
Located near the Ranka Monastery, the Banjhakri Falls and Energy Park is spread across 8,093sqm of land. The main attractions are the cascading waterfalls and the beautiful garden landscape. You’ll find several ethnic sculptures and figurines in the park that depict local culture, art and history.
The rich green valley of Rumtek is home to the walled complex known as Rumtek Gompa. Essentially a village inside a village, the Rumtek Gompa houses religious structures, schools and a number of lodge-hotels. Visit the monastery building and the Golden Stupa within the complex. The gompa hosts some of Sikkim’s finest chaam masked dances, notably before Losar, the Tibetan New Year.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
A museum with Buddhist manuscripts and thangka (paintings), the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is known for its traditional Tibetan architecture. The teak-and-glass cases in the shrine-like library house religious scriptures and the 135-volume Encyclopaedia Tibetica.