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India has plenty of delightful places to visit in every nook and corner. One such hidden, pristine unexplored corner of the country is northeast India which is abundant in natural beauty. The whole region is a wonderful delight for those who love nature, adventure and even for the spiritual souls looking for some peace and quiet. Also Read - When Visiting Sikkim, These 9 Things Will Help You Understand it Better
Leading the list of marvelous northeastern states, which are worth a visit at least once in a lifetime, is Sikkim. From snow-clad peaks to deep valleys and mesmerizing monasteries to beautiful temples, Sikkim has it all. Its capital city, Gangtok, is one of the finest holiday destinations to visit in the country. Perched along a mountain ridge, Gangtok is the perfect example of a city that maintains a fine balance between natural beauty and man-made brilliance. Its lakes, monasteries, roads and views of the amazing Kangchendzonga attract visitors from all across the globe. When it comes to offbeat places to visit in India, Gangtok is one of the best places for you to consider. Also Read - Beautiful & Sacred: When And How to Visit Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim
The history of Gangtok dates back to the year 1716 when the hermetic Gangtok monastery was constructed. Gangtok was just a little hamlet not known to the world till the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840. This monastery became a huge pilgrim center putting Gangtok on the map.
Then, in the mid-nineteenth century, it became the capital of Sikkim and by the end of the century, it was a major stopover on the trading route between Tibet and British India. The roads that have made travel in the region fairly convenient were mostly built during this time. Following India’s independence in 1947, Sikkim became a nation-state under India’s suzerainty. It retained its independence on account of a treaty signed between Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and the Chogyal. It was in 1975 that Sikkim’s monarchy was abrogated and it became India’s twenty-second state with Gangtok as its capital.
One of the most striking features of Gangtok is its roads. The Rangpo-Mangan road, which is known as the NH31A, connects north Gangtok to south Gangtok. The road is as beautiful as it is adventurous. Most visitors like to spend a few days relaxing in Gangtok spending time enjoying views of the Kangchendzonga.
Gangtok is home to some amazing places to visit like the famous Namgyal Institute of Tibetology which is home to several Tibetan and Buddhist artefacts. The Do-Drul Chorten, which is a stunning white stupa, is also a big hit with tourists. This is also where you can find several monks’ hostels surrounding the stupa with beautiful lamps.
A popular place in Gangtok is the Ridge which has splendid views to its east and west. The MG road is one of the busiest places in the city and a great option for shopping enthusiasts as it is full of shops, restaurants, tourist agents and banks. The Damodar ropeway is worth a try for anyone who loves spectacular mountain views. The Himalayan zoological park is an excellent picnic spot and a delight for wildlife lovers. The Enchey gompa located on Gangtok’s outskirts is another place of interest.
Gangtok also has some stunning viewpoints like the Ganesh Tok and Hanuman Tok which provide spectacular views of the snow-clad peaks. The best of them, however, is the Tashi viewpoint which is the best place to catch mesmerizing views of the Kangchendzonga. The Tsomgo lake is renowned to be one of the most beautiful lakes in India.
The most important and popular landmark in Gangtok though is the old and venerated Rumtek monastery which is located in a green valley facing the city. It is the home-in-exile to the Buddhist Kagyu sect and is a must-visit for anyone who is in Gangtok. There are jeep tours available to show you important sites like the Ganesh Tok, Tashi viewpoint and the Rumtek monastery.
Weather in Gangtok is similar to the rest of the region. The best time to visit Gangtok is April-May and October-November. Monsoon is the worst time to be in Gangtok as the rainfall leads to landslides making it unsuitable to travel and risky for sight-seeing. Winters get quite cold and it becomes difficult to move around. The average temperature is as low as 4 degrees Centigrade.
Snowfall causes the route to Tsomgo Lake and Nathu La pass to close. The fog also causes visibility issues making it difficult to drive. So, the best season to visit Gangtok is the spring season which is March to April, the summer season which is May to June and autumn which is October to November.
The average maximum temperature in Sikkim during the summer season is 22 degrees centigrade making it a pleasant time for visiting the city and its surrounding areas. This is the peak season when most tourists visit Gangtok. Taxi and hotel rates are high during this time. Most adventure activities like water rafting are also available during this time. If you do not like crowds, you may prefer Autumn when it starts getting a bit cold but the sky is clear and the number of tourists is lesser. This is a great time for sight-seeing and fun activities.