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In & Around Gangtok


M.G Road & Tibet Road

M. G Road is the center of Gangtok and is a ‘No traffic, litter and spit free zone’. Its cobbled streets and benches are a perfect way to start your evening in Gangtok. Together with Tibet Road, it has numerous shops, restaurants, bars/pubs, live band & karaoke restaurants and cafes and gives a glimpse of urban life in modern Gangtok.


Tsomgo (Changu) Lake, Baba Mandir, Nathula, Mementso & Kupup

After having acclimatized in and around Gangtok for day or two, the ride up to the alpine climbs of Tsomgo (Changu) Lake, Baba Mandir & Nathula is ideal to see Sikkim in all its mountainous splendour.


Tsomgo (Changu) Lake lies at an altitude of 14,310 feet (3,752) metres above sea level and has an average depth of 50 ft. This beautiful lake is situated 37 km north east from Gangtok on the Gangtok - Nathula highway and remains frozen during the winter months.


The steep mountainous road goes through the Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary where the scenery changes drastically driving higher into the mountains. Snow is present during the winter and spring months along the way.


Ahead of Tsomgo (Changu) Lake lies Baba Mandir at 13128 ft (4011 mt). It is dedicated to Baba Harbajan Singh, a soldier of the Indian Army, who died near the Nathula Pass. He is revered by the soldiers of the Indian army, who have built a shrine in his honour. Baba is said to have granted favours to the soldiers and is believed to guard each one in the inhospitable terrain.


Nathula Pass is an important pass on the border between Sikkim and Tibet Autonomous Region in China. A pass in the trading route, it was shut after the Indo-China War in 1962 but has recently opened itself to trading in the past decade. It closes to trade in the winter months due to heavy snow and the harsh cold.


Visitors are allowed at Nathula pass only some days of the week. Guests are advised to kindly check with the hotel travel desk on the availability of visiting Nathula on the said day along with arrangement for passes to Tsomgo (Changu) Lake.

 

Mementso Lake & Kupup

Guests can modify their Tsomgo (Changu Lake/Baba Mandir/Nathula) tour a bit by also including Mementso Lake and Kupup in their itineraries.


Mementso Lake lies a little below Baba Mandir, through an only jeepable road. It is truly pristine and beautiful. The Fisheries Division of the State Forests and Environment Department has a trout farm and the lake is an angling spot for trout fishing. However, permissions need to be obtained for angling and also 4 wheel jeeps are recommended to reach there.


Kupup is a little town a few kilometers beyond Baba Mandir. Here lies the Younghusband trail. The Younghusband Trail was named after the leader of the first British expedition to Tibet in 1902, Sir Francis Younghusband.


The Highest Golf Course recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records is also situated at Kupup at 13025 ft (3970 mts) above sea level. It is built and maintained by the Indian Army. The total length of the golf course is 6025 yards and it is an 18 hole golf course.


Rumtek Monastery

Perched on the southern opposite hilltop facing Gangtok, lies the monastery town of Rumtek, housing the Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre and Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies. It is also the seat of the Gyalwang Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu or Black Hat Sect, the largest sub-school of the Kagyupa and one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.


It was the vision and aspiration of the Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, to establish his seat-in-exile to help spread the teachings of the Buddha throughout the world. The main monastery is located in Tsurphu in the Tolung Valley in Tibet.


The monastery at Rumtek, the largest in Sikkim, is home to the monk community, the place where they perform the sacred rituals and practices of the Karma Kagyu lineage.


Many sacred objects are housed within the complex, and one of the most magnificent is the Golden Stupa, which contains the precious relics of His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa.

 

Saramsa Gardens

These botanical gardens and Convention Center is dedicated to the nature and display of the flora of Sikkim. It is situated about 14 kms from Gangtok beyond Ranipul. It is the premises of the International Flower Show and Exhibition.


It was built in the year 1922 by the erstwhile Chogyal (Maharaja) of Sikkim. It is home to numerous species of exotic orchids, fruit trees and other uncommon tropical plants of Sikkim. It has been established and maintained by the State Department of Forests, Environment & Wildlife.


The garden covers an area of six acres. It has a calm and serene surrounding with the constant echo of the of Rani khola (stream) running below.


Namgyal Institute of Tibetology  &  Do-Drul Chorten and Monastery

The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology was established in 1958 on a site donated by the late Chogyal (king) of Sikkim Sir Tashi Namgyal, in memory of his departed son, Paljor Namgyal. The foundation stone of the institute was laid by the 14th Dalai Lama on the 10th of February 1957 and the institute was declared open by the late first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on the 1st of October 1958.


The Institute promotes research on the religion, history, language, art and culture of the people of the Tibetan cultural area which includes Sikkim.


Its library holds one of the largest collections of Tibetan works in the world outside Tibet and a museum of Tibetan iconography and religious art. It has published the Bulletin of Tibetology since 1964 and numerous books over the years.

The building of the institute is an imposing monument and a splendid example of Sikkimese architecture.


Next to the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is the Do-Drul Chorten and Monastery. It is a stupa encircled by prayer wheels. It was built by Trullshi Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism in 1945. The stupa houses a complete set of Dorjee Phurba, Kangyur relics (Holy Books) and other religious objects. Around the stupa are 108 Mani Lhakor or prayer wheels. The stupa is surrounded by Chorten Lakahang and Guru Lakhang, where two statues of Guru Rinpoche are present

 

Gangtok Ropeway

Guests can enjoy a ropeway ride over Gangtok at the Damodar Ropeway located at Deorali, below The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and Do Drul Chorten. One can see breathtaking views of Busuk Hill on one side, Ranka/Rumtek Hills on the other and views of Gangtok Town below.


The Ridge

The Ridge, as the name suggests, lies above Gangtok and leads to The Royal Chapel, Tsuklakhang , and also the Chief Minister’s Residence, ‘Mintogang’ on the other side. White Memorial Hall and The Flower Show premises are adjacent to the Ridge.


The Ridge also houses a park with fountains dedicated to the late Chogyal (Maharaja) of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal.


White Hall & Flower Show

Located adjacent to the Ridge, White Memorial Hall was built in 1932 in memory of the first Political Officer of Sikkim, Claude White.


Adjoining the White Memorial Hall is the Flower Show, which houses a variety of beautiful seasonal orchids and other flora of Sikkim.    


Enchey Monastery

The Enchey Monastery was established in 1909, on a spectacular ridge overlooking Gangtok and Mt Khangchendzonga. It is surrounded by prayer flags and belongs to the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism. The location is said to have been blessed by Lama Drupthob Karpo, a renowned exponent of tantric (adept) art in Vajrayana Buddhism and endowed with flying powers.


The literal meaning of Enchey Monastery is the “Solitary Monastery”. Its sacredness is attributed to the belief that Khangchendzonga and Yabdean – the protecting deities reside in this monastery. As according to a legend, Guru Padmasambhava had subdued the spirits of the Khangchendzonga, Yabdean and Mahākāla here. In view of this legend, the religious significance of Enchey Monastery is deeply ingrained in every household in Gangtok. It is also believed that these powerful deities always fulfill the wishes of the devotees.


Every year in January, "Chaam" or religious masked dance is performed.

 

Tashi View Point

A perfect viewpoint to catch the first rays of the sun on snowcapped Mt Khangchendzonga and its sister peaks. The pre-dawn hours are the best time to catch snapshots of the great mountain before it hides into the sea of clouds. However, if you miss the morning sights, it is always a pleasure to catch an anytime view with some hot coffee and momos at the various cafeterias around.


Hanuman Tok

For those who want to start a day in the hills with a visit to a temple may do so at Hanuman Tok. Located 6 kms above Gangtok at about 7200 ft (2195 mts) and is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. A clear morning permits great views of the snowcapped Mt Khagchendzonga and its sister peaks. It is built and maintained by the Indian Army.


Ganesh Tok

Located just above the town and Enchey Monastery, this viewpoint is named after Lord Ganesh. There is a small shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesh and also houses an observatory where one can get a splendid view of Gangtok right below, Rumtek Hill and the snowcapped Mt Khangchendzonga and its sister peaks.


Himalayan Zoological Park, Bulbuley

The Himalayan Zoological Park at Bulbuley above Ganesh Tok was
established in 1991. At an altitude of 5,840ft (1,780 mtrs), the Zoological Park is a first of its kind in North Eastern India. It also tenders a splendid view of Mt. Khangchendzonga and the Zoological Park sprawls in an area of 205 hectares.


The Park accomplishes the perception of a modern zoo, where the animals are kept in replicated natural conditions. Most parts of the Park is covered with forests that houses Musk Deer, Blue Sheep, Himalayan Black Bear, Barking Deer and Red Panda. It is a kind of an open zoo, where you can trace animals along walking pavements that passes by hedged open-air enclosures.


The park is also involved in conservation and breeding of endangered and other Himalayan species of animals and birds and restocking in the wild.


Government Institute of Cottage Industries & Emporium

This institute is located at zero point, a kilometer uphill from the main Gangtok town. It was established, in 1957 with the purpose of promoting the manufacture and sale of local handicrafts, carpets and furniture. The emporium at the institute sells handicrafts, Thangkas (religious scrolls with paintings), hand carved wooden tables (Choktsees) and exquisitely woven woollen carpets, masks and dolls. Hand made paper is another unique novelty of the Institute.


Mountain Flights

Sikkim Helicopter Services offers special mountain flights over Gangtok, North, South and West Sikkim, Khangchendzonga National Park & Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve. These flights are a great opportunity to see the mountains up close and are very reasonably priced.


Ban Jhakri Falls & Solar Park

The word Banjhakri refers to the forest priest (ban means primitive; jhakri meaning shaman/priest) and the park is dedicated to the shaman’s existence entwined in various myths of different Sikkimese communities with life-like sculptures of shamans. 


It also has various solar installations, exhibiting the possibilities of solar energy for such an idea of a park.


The park has well laid out walking trails and Sikkimese styled footbridges over a little stream and gazebos dotting the green landscape. Children can also enjoy the dragon sculptured splash pool.


A cafeteria and an exhibition center lies in the vicinity of the park.

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