Exactly 10 years ago I had visited this place on a school trip. However, this time the hilly city unravelled itself like a blossoming flower. Having nested there for almost a week, every second spent in the city of Gangtok made me fall in love with it.
While we settled in our family friend’s house, I found comfort in my favourite spot on the terrace- just me, some Coldplay music and the whole goddam city of Gangtok.
With its misty weather, polished roads, humble people and dramatic skies, the city cast a magical aura on me. You should definitely spare some time to walk around the and discover its nooks and corners.
So here is my guide to spots you cannot miss in the city of Gangtok
- Nathula Pass and Tsongo Lake
I missed seeing the China border in my previous trip to Arunachal, hence this time I was keen on making sure I tick it off my list. The trip to Nathula Pass was via Tsongo Lake, also known as Changu Lake, it is encircled by snow-clad mountains on all side. The lake is a translucent grey glass that perfectly showcases the reflection of the white mountains.
A popular touristy thing to do here is to relish the serendipity while you are riding on the back of a yak.
The border has a high presence of military because of which you require prior permission to visit. Owing to its vulnerable state, only 75 cars are granted permission, that too can be withdrawn in case of bad weather.
A considerable part of our journey lingered around snow and we finally made it to the base of the Nathula Pass. At 1 degree, we took snowy stairs to see the border. The breeze carried with it the white snow particles, sending in chills. In spite of the stairs being a 5-minute climb, you have to be cautious while you trudge through the path or you may return with an injury. How naive of me, but I touched China!
2. Jhakri Falls
The north east region of India is occupied by hidden waterfalls, some public while some untouched. Ban Jhakri Falls is one such falls located in a park that reflect the essence of Sikkimese culture.
It was widespread dropping with freedom from a great height to reunite with the water at its foot. While you dip your legs at the bottom of the falls, you will be embraced with fresh breeze mixed with sprinkles of water.
Jhakri Falls is a typical touristy spot, with offers numerous adventurous activities like zip lining, etc. If you are up for some real adventure, you will also come across paragliding activities on this same route (I would definitely recommend this).
3. Paragliding amidst the mountains
The persistent weather fluctuations in Gangtok made us miss the paragliding opportunity twice, but we were stubborn enough and got lucky the third time.
It was a breathe-taking experience, it amazed me how five steps of running can turn into flying in the sky accompanied by a rider. With the wind against my face, I felt like I was stuck in reverse in a time-frozen era.
For those prolonged five minutes, you feel like a free bird glancing at the clouds on top and lush green mountains filled with small houses.
You can feel the exact same frenzy in a helicopter ride, but why remain enclosed when you have an option of being free.
Since this was my first time, it was my best escapades ever.
4. The Exotic Mayfair
Nestled in the thick of Himalayan forests of Sikkim, Mayfair is one of the premium hotels in Gangtok. Every corner of the property depicts Tibetan architecture. The resort has a soothing atmosphere that would tempt you to spend an eternity here.
Even if you do not stay here, you can grab a meal or even better I suggest high tea by the pool.
SEEK FOR GOD & PEACE
The monasteries in Gangtok are so well-planned that its structure enlightens every aspect of the Buddhist architecture
Ranka Monastery– Not covered under the local sight seeing, this monastery is a pristine treasure located at a great height and surrounded by serene mountains. It may be out of the way but the glorification will entice you to pause and enjoy the peace. It is a privilege to be on the supreme most spot on earth.
Rumtek– Once we reached Rumtek, we had to leave our vehicle at the gate and take a small walk to reach the monastery. You will stumble upon monks of various ages in their red uniforms engaging themselves in various tasks. Since Rumtek was also a school for the monks, I spotted many of them engrossed in their religious book, this showcased how incredible their devotion was.
Ganesh Tok- One of the few famous Hindu temples, Ganesh Tok is at the highest point of the city. The temple had an adjacent balcony from where you can see the panoramic view of Gangtok.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Whether it is my own city or any other place in the city, I have to try the local cafes in the vicinity. Gangtok has an endearing cafe culture where you can sit on a table, sipping your cappuccino and glance at people passing by. Tucked away in the prime locations of the city, these cafes are a must visit.
The Coffee Shop– Situated on the bustling M.G. Road, this elite cafe has a quaint ambience. The menu offers everything from coffee to alcohol, from starters to pizzas. (Should definitely try they veg burger!) I enjoyed a hearty dinner here.
Baker’s Cafe –This is another popular cafe on M.G. Road, since I was running short on time I did not get to visit this place. The exteriors of the cafe were quite alluring for a perfect evening of people-watching.
Baking Magic– This cafe offers some delicious cakes. The founder is an amazing girl who studied architecture in Mumbai but followed her passion for baking and started this endeavour. All her baking goodies are so full of taste and moisture.
The Square– Situated in the same building as the coffee shop, this place was our last minute dinner idea. Decorated with a vintage vibe and dim lightings, the restaurant was designed with a pop-star theme. The walls were adorned with photographs of pop-stars like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Micheal Jackson, Audrey Hepburn and much more, I’d be surprised if you don’t end up gazing at the walls.
Sinful dessert to try at The Square
Being a vegetarian we had limited options, but if you are non-vegetarian there are ample of dishes to choose from. Their baked ice-cream is a must try dessert! (Mouth-water simple vanilla ice-cream, baked with chocolate sauce and nuts, just Whoa!)
Shopping & Entertainment
Geographically Gangtok is close to Bangkok and China which is why you will find the locals extremely well-dressed. The youth is pepped up with the latest fashions and looking like they’re just off the ramp. You can stroll here for hours and find the coolest spots in the most unexpected locations.
MG Road- Even if you do not go anywhere, you have to stroll through M.G Road. At first glance, it has a vibe of foreign streets so charming that you won’t realise how time passes here. In the evenings, the street is lit up with vintage lamps and bright store lights enhancing the atmosphere. You can spot popular brands, restaurants, cafe, souvenir shops, etc.
Casinos– In spite of being a small city, Gangtok has 3-4 casinos for entertainment. Surprisingly, the locals are restricted from gambling but yet all these casinos are occupied by tourists.
Lal Bazaar– If you breathe fashion, Lal Bazaar has to be your musing. The variety of styles will leave you amazed, it even beats the fancy options that are available in the cities. From clothes to shoes to bags, all the stores are dressed with the latest trends and at reasonable prices.
This was my version of sightseeing in Gangtok, if the city has charmed you with it’s magic I’d be happy to hear about it. Hope you have a pleasant stay.