Saturday, November 24, 2018

Gangtok Tour Plan

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Gangtok, the gateway to the heavenly North East India and the capital of Sikkim, offers a plethora of wonders for tourist. From tranquil monasteries and exotic mountains to exciting adventure parks, Gangtok has it all. On an average, sightseeing in and around Gangtok would take two days. The taxi union has fixed the rates of sightseeing, saving you the hassles of negotiation.


Taxi Rate List as of October 2018

The cabbies swear by the rate list and do not deviate. However, what they don’t mention is the fact that all the places in the itinerary cannot be covered in one day. They might give you a list of 7-10 places but it is next to impossible to cover them all in a day because of following reasons:

1. Most of the time the narrow roads of Gangtok are packed with traffic. On unusual days, the waiting time is long as two hours.

2. Places like Rumtek or Hanuman Tok are quite far and the roads are extremely rough causing cars to slow down. Ask your driver to take you to Rumtek first which is 22 km from Gangtok. By the time you’d return, it would be dark and several sight points would shut by then.

3. If your itinerary includes the rope-way ride, you would lose three hours straight. Even if you get a place in the never ending queue, make sure you make it to the ticket counter before 12:30 pm as they break for lunch. Since the cable car ferries only 20 people at once and returns from the ride in 15 minutes, the waiting time is painfully long. It’s wise to skip rope-way from the itinerary and do it separately.

4. Chorten Gumpa and Tibetology Center are next to each other. The Tibetology Center is recommended only if Tibetan Culture excites you or the idea of a museum/school sounds interesting, lest you should spend a considerable amount of time here and miss out on the major sight-seeing points.

Husband and I had planned the day with 6 view points while we skipped Tibetology Institute, Flower Show and Rope-way Ride (which we had done in advance). Here is a virtual tour of Gangtok of what we covered one odd day.



1. Chorten Gumpa

Do Drul Chorten

Do-drul Chorten is a stupa was built by Trulshik Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism in 1945. Inside this stupa lie a complete set of Dorjee Phurba (dagger spike), Kangyur relics (holy books) and other religious objects. Around the stupa are 108 prayer wheels which when rotated in the direction mentioned while reciting the prayer brings good luck. We also met a cat peacefully sleeping behind the prayer bell. The main prayer hall is also open for visitors with prior permission. The stupa site is next to the Tibetology Centre.





Chorten Gumpa has a free entry and you can spend 30 to 45 minutes here. (We were stuck in traffic for one hour before reaching Banjhakri Waterfall)





2. Banjhakhri Waterfall




This is a recreation centre and tourist attraction near Gangtok spread over 2 acres of land. The park is based on a theme of shamanic traditions of the people of Sikkim. (Traditional shamanic healer who worships spirits living in caves around the falls). The park has a waterfall, an artificial lake with a dragon in the centre; gazebos; statues of jhākri and ancestors, sculptures of forest dwellers, Burma Bridge and adventure activities. The paved paths and footbridges wind through the beautiful garden decorated with ornamental trees and flowers.




Entry Fee: Rs. 50, Camera fee: Rs. 10. You will find lot of eating joints in and around the place. (We stayed here for about one and a half hours and reached Rumtek by 2pm)


3. Rumtek Monastery


22 km from Gangtok at an altitude of 4900 feet, Rumtek is the largest and one of the oldest monasteries of Sikkim. Heavily guarded by ITBP, the monastery has a controversial history dating back to 1994. The multi-layered buildings with tiers of white, yellow and oxblood has the throne of Karmapa in a grand assembly hall, where ornate wooden casements hold 1,000 Buddha statuettes and several ancient manuscripts. Home to several monks and the Nalanda University for Buddhism studies, Rumtek also houses the golden stupa with relics of 16th Karmapa. The place is tranquil and full of positive vibes, where you can spend some time meditating.



The ornamental entrance to the main assembly hall


This place is huge and takes about 1.5- 2 hours to explore. The roads to reach Rumtek are in bad condition and takes lot of time to reach. Entry is free. Carry your ID proof with you which is checked at the monastery main gate by ITBP. Weapons, sharp objects, pepper spray or objectionable items are not allowed beyond the second gate. Rather leave them in your taxi. Photography inside the monastery is prohibited. (We left at 5 pm and it had started turning dark)



4. Hanuman Tok




Hanuman Tok is known as the place where Lord Hanuman rested for a while during his search of Sanjeevani Booti. The roads pass through the curvy path of the forest area. Maintained by the Indian Army, the temple on the hill top treats you with a magnificent view of the Kanchenjunga peaks. A visit to this place is a spiritual sojourn.

As you ascend the stairs, a distant prayer or bell greets your ears, filling you with positive vibes.



Entry is free. The roads have no streetlight and are frequented by wild animals. Avoid visiting after dark. (We reached the temple around 6pm and headed to Ganesh Tok)




5. Ganesh Tok



A small temple dedicated to Lord Ganesh offers a bird’s eye view of the town below. Built in 1952-53 by Shri Appa B. Pant, the former Political Officer of Sikkim, the site has been beautified to provide superb view of the town and distant rolling hills and snowy peaks. This is a humble temple place with no extravagant carvings or designs yet feels beautiful, especially during evening. The temple is not wheelchair friendly and requires a flight of stairs to mount.





6. Tashi View Point  
Tashi View point- Courtesy TourmyIndia

It was pitch dark by the time we reached Tashi View Point. It is an elevated place to view the city dotted by colourful greens and bright hues. Had we reached on time, we could have enjoyed sunset view. But we made the best out of the opportunity and captured the twinkling city view at night. Personally, I think Tashi View Point isn’t that great. I am sure there are several other elevated places to watch the city.

Apart from the above, Gangtok sight seeing also includes Lingdam Monastery, Himalayan Zoological Park, Saat Kanya Jharna and Saramsa Garden, which we had to skip owing to shortage of time. In case your itinerary has Rumtek Monastery, it is recommended to go there in daylight. The roads would be riskier and worse in evening and you may not want to run into any trouble on the streets without lights.



P.S: This trip of mine was in Oct 2018.



2 comments:

  1. Been there long ago, but refreshed the memories:)

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    Replies
    1. This was my first time in Sikkim. Loved the place. Thanks for reading and leaving our comment.

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