Northeast India is unique as it derives its culture and lifestyle from India of course, but also from its neighbouring countries like Tibet, Nepal and China. I'm going to share my travel experience at this beautiful little state in the Northeast of India called Sikkim. I chose to go to Gangtok. The place was offering me all that a solo traveller desires. The weather, the route and the journey was optimal. It was the right breakaway destination.
I would like to mention what is most fascinating about Gangtok before I detail out my trip and guide you if you're planning for one.
1. The sight of The Himalayas everywhere you look around is grandiose. It is a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by the world's third-highest mountain- The Kanchenjunga.
2. The atmosphere here gives you a fresh feel. The place is not humid and you can enjoy your trip to Gangtok wearing your cosy warm clothes. We all long to wear winter clothes, don't we?
3. For people who love sunrises, you're going to love it here. Watching the sun come out amidst the snow-capped mountains is a captivating view. Waking up early in the mornings in cold places could be an issue for many but the sunrise is worth giving up on that sweet early morning slumber.
4. Just like the rest of Northeast India, the people here have a simple lifestyle. Their smiles and food is so heart-warming. Their food majorly includes momos and thupka. They are the best dumplings you will ever have.
5. We all hate litter and clatter. Welcome to India's first litter free and spit free zone. This fact makes our craving to go to Gangtok even stronger, right?
How to reach Gangtok?
By Flight: The airport that is closest to Gangtok is at Bagdogra. It is about 124 km away from Gangtok. It would take you two hours approx. to reach Gangtok by cab.
By train: You can take a train that goes to Siliguri which has the railway station closest to Gangtok. Siliguri is approx 117 km away from Gangtok.
By Road: Rental bikes are available from Siliguri. The per-day rent for the bike ranges from Rs. 900 for a 350cc Royal Enfield to Rs. 1300 for a 500cc Royal Enfield.
Things to pack for Gangtok:
1. Inner thermals and warm jackets.
2. Socks, caps, gloves and mufflers.
4. Goggles and moisturising lotion.
5. Essential medication- Antiemetics and analgesics for those who have travel sickness on the hills.
6. Vaseline and oil, for the skin if it is prone to dryness.
7. Camera to capture this memorable trip.
Where to go during the trip?
This is a Hanuman Temple that is maintained by the Indian Army. This temple has got a lot of bells and is also an outstanding viewpoint. The view from the top is magnificent revealing the beauty of the mountains surrounding this town.
This viewpoint is about 8km from the main town of Gangtok. There are buses or cabs available to take you here from the town. The sunrise seen from this viewpoint is commendable. To see the sunrise, you will have to be here before 5 a.m. The peaks of the mountains covered with snow glisten when the rays of the sun fall on them. It is a sight which is a treat to the eyes.
Seven Sisters falls:
This is a lovely sight of seven cascades flowing down naturally symbolising the seven sister states of Northeast India. The sight of the seven waterfalls flowing down simultaneously is very pleasing. The sound of the water gushing down among the rocks is a pleasure to the ears. Apart from the beautiful view and calm feeling you get there, you get amazing momos there too.
This lake is about 40 km from the main town. This lake is located at an elevation of about 3700m above sea level and hence remains frozen during the winter seasons. The temperatures at the lake are always low. This lake is a perfect place to be at if one wants to be just with their inner selves surrounded and being pampered by the winds and hills.
This place is 120 km from Siliguri and about 68 km from Gangtok.
There are many reasons why people love to visit this place when they are at Gangtok- Hot Springs, view, bird watching. This place is known to have hot springs that possess healing power. The Kanchenjunga and three other major mountain peaks are seen from here making for a majestic view. It's a wonderful sight and feeling to have both the hot water springs from the earth and the snow-capped mountains when you look around. A lot of the Himalayan birds and a few forest bird species are seen here. It is considered the bird watcher's paradise.
Buddha Park, Ravangla:
This place is located in Ravangla and attracts tourists of all kinds. The centrepiece of the park is a 130 feet tall statue of Gautam Buddha. It is a calm and serene place to be at. The park has a museum and a meditation centre. It is spacious and allows the people to stroll freely with their thoughts. The timings to visit this park is from 9 a.m to 5 p.m.
This is a border pass between India and China. It is approx. 55 km from Gangtok. In case you are on a bike, the ride to this place is charming. This pass was earlier used for trade between the two countries.
M.G. Marg is a beautiful street in Gangtok. Apart from its cleanliness and the homely feel of the place, it is also known for its shopping market. You get delicious momos as well. This street is paradise!
Things to shop at Gangtok:
Just like every place has some unique art and tradition, Gangtok has lovely things to offer too. You can buy Tibetan carpets, Sikkim tea, Sikkim cups, Buddhist prayer flags, handwoven jackets, alpine cheese, Sikkimese Liquor and wall hangings.
The ideal time of Visit:
The months of September and October, and the spring and summer season, that is from March to June is considered an ideal time to visit Gangtok. But for people who love the cold, you can visit around November-December. It doesn't always snow during winters but it has during three winters until now.
Places to stay at:
Gohills backpackers Hostel- Rs.1300 per night
Gesar Homestay- Rs.1500 per night
Shambala Inn- Rs.899 per night
Great Eastern Valley Residency- Rs.929 per night
The total trip of three days might cost up to Rs. 10,000- 12,000
This includes 1500 for food, 4000 for transport, 3000 for stay and 1500 for miscellaneous expenses.
Being crowned by the Himalayas, Northeast India is immensely beautiful. The people are very kind and loving. The tradition and culture have its influence from the neighbouring countries and therefore is very attractive. A trip to Gangtok would be an added pleasure for the tea lovers. The atmosphere will only give you more reasons to grab your cup of love. Every place you go here gives you a peaceful and calm feel. The temperatures aren't humid and therefore owe to a calm and cool state of mind.