Gangtok, a Shangri-la on earth, awakens the senses and rejuvenates the soul.
A three-year stint in the capital city of Sikkim gave me a chance to witness the amalgamation of both nature and culture. Gangtok, meaning hill top, is a tourist’s delight.
One can reach the place via rail or air. The nearest railway station being New Jalpaiguri and from there by taxi. By air one reaches Bagdogra airport, and from there to Pakyong airport and then you hire a taxi to Gangtok.
The entry point to Gangtok is Rangpo. Atal Setu Bridge is located at Rangpo, Pakyong district, Sikkim. It is the longest roadway bridge of Sikkim.
The drive from Siliguri to Gangtok is just breath-taking. The place abounds in greenery. The serpentine roads, hairpin bends, and crisp mountain air is invigorating. Throughout the drive one can spot monkeys doing their Tarzan acts leaping from one tree to the other.
Once you enter Gangtok, which is 1650 m above sea level, you get the dopamine rush. Seeing the snow-capped lofty mountain peaks of the Kanchenjunga mountains. A gentle, cold breeze caresses your face followed by a slight drizzle. A pleasant weather can do a lot to evoke your senses and enhance your appetite.
A nice welcome awaits you when you can gorge on hot Momos, Thukpa and Gundruk. You wash it down with a cup of piping hot coffee.
The place has the old-world charm with small quaint and colourful houses with prayer flags flying in the wind. The helpful local people make you feel comfortable. The place boasts of a vibrant culture and a great nightlife.
The serenity awakens your soul. The place has a panoramic view with green meadows, waterfalls, lakes and fast-flowing rivers. It is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure sports enthusiasts.
You tend to enjoy a laid-back life. It is far from the madding crowd.
Their motto is clean and green. Pollution-free, well-maintained with law-abiding citizens is what you tend to admire. Polythene is banned, which is adhered by one and all. Traffic management is superb. Taxis have a speed limit, and limit on the number of people travelling.
The M.G road is a major attraction, which is a no-traffic zone. It is a hub for pubs, restaurants and curio shops. One can enjoy the salubrious weather, the aroma of freshly baked bread, and coffee brewing is a treat for visitors. Orchids and Rhododendrons in different hues are a treat for the eyes.
Visiting the frozen Tsomgo lake, Banjhakri Falls, The Ganesh Tok, Rumtek Monastery and the Nathula Pass is a delight. One can watch Red Pandas frolicking on trees in the local zoo. Wild colourful flowers and different species of birds are a nature enthusiast’s delight. The ladies look beautiful dressed in their local attire called the Bakhu.
Gangtok is a guide to new experiences, breath-taking vistas and unforgettable memories.
What are you waiting for, pack your bags and head off to Switzerland of the East and make memories.
Dr Preeti Talwar