India Travel

Things to Do When in Gangtok

Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim, one of the most mesmerising North-Eastern states in India. The capital city is very scenic. Surrounded by the majestic Himalayas and situated at a considerably high altitude, Gangtok acts as an ideal place for relaxation and a place for attaining oneness with nature. It was a Buddhist pilgrimage site before independence but later went on to become the capital itself.

But Gangtok isn’t only popular because it’s the capital city and its abundant natural beauty. Surprisingly, there are many interesting things to do here that will keep you on your feet. Here are some of them.

1. Cable Ride

Cable Ride
Cable Ride, Photo by Holiday Keys

You cannot come to Gangtok and not experience the thrilling cable ride.

There are two pairs of zig-zag rope-ways spanning the high city and giving a bird’s eye view to the onlooker. Each cable car can accommodate 24 passengers. Unfortunately, there are no seating arrangements within so you’ll have to stand throughout the ride. But it’s all worth it. In fact, it is one of the most adventurous things to do in Gangtok.

It is approximately a 1 km ride from the point where you start to the highest point. In between this ride, there are two stations, namely Deorali and Namnang. The topmost station is Tashiling. You can disembark anywhere you like, but the price of the ticket will remain the same nevertheless. You’ll have to pay the price for the entire journey.

If you calculate to and fro distance, it covers 2 km. But everyone recommends that you shouldn’t get off midway and complete the ride as it is. The cable ride not only offers a glorious view of the capital but if the weather is right, you also get a glimpse of the breathtaking Kanchenjunga Ranges.

2. Trekking

The uneven and rocky terrains, the clean mountain air, the chilling climate and the abundant flora are only some of the essential reasons that make Gangtok a trekker’s paradise. But let me tell you that it’s a hard trek to all the way up there.

Besides trekking, mountain biking is another most favoured activity in these slopes. In fact, many groups are arranged for the same by the local tourism department. You can join any of these groups if you want to have an experience of biking in Gangtok.

Based on the kind of package you choose, your biking or trekking trip can range from four days to a whopping fifteen days. You can choose one that suits you. The route for these adventurous activities is selected in such a manner that you’re given a complete and amazing experience of the forests, streams, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls and even the monasteries present here.

The price for these packages can differ and actually be quite costly. It all depends on the route and operator you choose. The rate can start from 8000 INR and can go anywhere up to 15000 INR. Choose one that gives you maximal opportunities so that you get the worth of your money.

3. Monastery Tour

Rumtek Monastery near Gangtok
Rumtek Monastery near Gangtok. Photo by Sourav Das

As I mentioned earlier, Gangtok was a significant Buddhist pilgrimage site, and people from around the world came here to visit these monasteries. Today, even after it became the capital city, it’s still known and visited by many because of its historical Buddhist monasteries.

Because of the increasing number of tourists, there is no shortage of tour operators in the capital city. Naturally, many operators can arrange a complete monastery tour for you if that’s what you like. Indeed you should visit these Buddhist sites because they tell you a lot about the kind of past and culture that Gangtok had through centuries. You can find some of the oldest existing disciples of Buddhism here.

Your Gangtok trip can never be completed without a tour to its monasteries.

4. River Rafting

Rafting in Teesta
Rafting in Teesta. Photo by Manar Holidays

Teesta river flows through Gangtok and one of its tributaries Rangit river also. Both these rivers are graded on the international level 1 to 4, and this makes rafting a thrilling experience in both.

The route of Teesta river is spectacular as it starts through Sikkim and goes on to Darjeeling (in West Bengal). The river courses through breathtaking valleys and forests and it makes the adventure all the more worth it. The turbulent waters are for the daring heart.

Since many people are opting for river rafting now, a lot of camping sites are being set up on the river banks. Again, you can choose one among the various packages available. Make sure you don’t go back without rafting in Gangtok.

5. Local Cuisines

Road to Lal Bazaar
Road to Lal Bazaar, Photo by Wikimedia Commons

This is an essential and very obvious activity to be done in Gangtok. Of course, you can get the necessary Western food here, but that’s not the point. It’s about tasting the unusual and unique cuisines that a state like this has to offer.

The delicacies served in the North-Eastern states of India are quite different from that of the other states in the country. Therefore, you have to try them out. The most recommended place to do so is M.G. Marg. This lane is famous in the capital with its various restaurants and cafes that serve some of the most delicious dishes paired with a fantastic view of the mountains and valleys. It is also one of the cleanest roads in Gangtok.

Also while you’re here, take your time to go to a stroll in Lal Bazaar. It’s a famous market in Gangtok which is usually packed with people on Sundays. You can get anything and everything here, especially antique items. Stroll through the market and buy a souvenir to take back with you.

6. Paragliding

If there are mountains, there has to be paragliding there. This is one of the most chosen adventure activity by tourists coming here, and the reason is obvious.

With a glorious view of the mighty Mount Kanchenjunga and the green forests, valleys and capital below you, paragliding in Gangtok is truly a heavenly experience. It’s very safe because a professional always accompanies you. You can choose the height between middle or high. The highest paragliding point is 2200 m high.

So if you can muster up the courage, then undoubtedly, this will be one of the best experiences of your life.

By Merlin Chacko

Currently studying English Literature at Delhi University. Obsessed with Harry Potter and NOT Shakespeare. I believe that nothing nourishes the soul like books and travelling. Constantly amazed by the Indian culture and its history. Personally feel that the old forts and ruined palaces in India are almost magical.

Leave a Reply