Wreathed in clouds, Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim is located on a ridge at a height of 5500 feet. It has a spectacular view of the Khangchendzonga, the highest peak in India.
Travel Info: We took a 2 hour flight from Delhi to Bagdogra. Its a 6 hours drive from Bagdogra airport to Gangtok. There are cabbies waiting outside the airport who may give a good bargain, though the rates are fixed. Only one road connects Sikkim to the rest of the country. And it’s not in very good shape. The National Highway 31 connects Gangtok to Siliguri (in West Bengal).
Stay: We were booked in Club Mahindra, Royal Demazong Resort. It is situated at quiet a distance from the Gangtok market. Thus, the cabbies charge extra to reach you there. The resort gives an authentic feel of the Eastern culture, the moment you step in. They have an array of rooms to select. We were lucky to have got one with a spectacular view of the mountains. There are also wide range of pocket-friendly hotels in the M. G. Market area.
The soft white, slightly visible peak in the picture below is Mt. Khanchendzonga. This was the view from Hanuman Tok. You get a glimpse of this peak only if you are in luck. Mt. Khanchendzonga is much more than a mountain to the Sikkimese. It’s a deity which the locals believe watches over them. Literally!Gangtok is synonymous with the famous Enchey and Rumtek Monasteries. The Enchey Monastery was established in 1909 and the locals here believe that the protecting deities of Khangchendzonga and Yabdean reside in this monastery.
Rumtek monastry, also called the Dharmachakra Centre, is one of the most important gompas for Tibetan Buddhism and is located 24 km from Gangtok.
After scaling the Nathula, i.e. the India-China border which is at a good 14,000 ft, we came down to Tsomgo lake. The water is almost freezing. Here you have an option of riding a Yak or having just a photo-op. We chose the latter.
No trip to Gantok is complete without visiting the M. G. Market. The streets here are spic-n-span boasting of the gothic style street lamps and fountains that actually work!
Food: A popular food in Gangtok is the momo a steamed dumpling containing pork, beef or vegetables cooked in a paper-thin dough wrapping and served with watery soup. Restaurants offer a wide variety of traditional Indian, continental and Chinese cuisines to cater to the tourists. Churpee, a kind of hard cheese made from cow’s or yak’s milk is sometimes chewed. Chhang is a local frothy millet beer traditionally served in bamboo tankards and drunk through bamboo or cane straws.