Tok means ‘temple’ in the local language and as the name suggests, Hanuman Tok is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god. Located at an altitude of 7,200 ft, Hanuman Tok is more than just a holy place. According to a legend, this was where Hanuman flew down to rest while bringing the Gandhamadana mountain from the Himalayas to Lanka to save Lakshman. The temple and the surrounding area were handed over to the Indian Army in 1968. It is now preserved and maintained by the 17 Mountain Division Army Units.
You can feel the air shifting to a spiritual vibe as you start climbing the stairs. Prayers and religious music surround you, and when you reach the viewing gallery, you are gifted with the most beautiful view of Kanchenjunga! Summer is the best time to visit because you’ll get a very clear view of the surrounding mountains and the massive peak. There are benches along the paved stairs where you can rest and soak in the lovely view. Don’t forget to ring one of the prayer bells hanging from above, just to hear the resonating sound.
Located 11 km from Gangtok, you can easily hire a taxi from the town to reach Hanuman Tok.
Also Read: Best Places To Visit In Gangtok
Located at an altitude of 12,310 ft, Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake literally means “Source of Water”. Approximately 1 km wide, it’s one of the most amazing high-altitude lakes in India. There are several stories attached to this oval-shaped glacial lake. According to a legend, in olden times, Buddhist monks would study the lake's color and predict the future.
This lake remains frozen during winter. Even though you’ll get a fantastic view of snow-covered mountains as the backdrop of the frozen lake, it's best to experience the lake in summer. This is when the snow starts melting and the wildflowers bloom. Thanks to this, the surroundings of the lake glow colorfully bright, reflecting onto the lake! This makes it an amazing spot for birdwatchers, so keep your binoculars and cameras ready when you get there.
Tsomgo Lake is located at a distance of 41 km (1 hour 19 minutes) via NH310 from Gangtok. You can easily hire a taxi or cab to get to your destination. Since it’s on the way to Nathu La pass, you’ll need to get a permit from the Sikkim or Gangtok’s Government certified tour operator to go to the lake. You’ll also need to carry your Voter’s ID and 2 passport-size photos; kids below 18 require their birth certificate. Please note that the Aadhaar card is not valid.
Also Read: Gangtok Travel Guide
If you thought Tibetan culture was all about prayer flags, monasteries, and delicious food, a visit to the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is sure to enlighten you. Constructed in a traditionally Tibetan style, this institute was inaugurated by the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1958.
Other than being a famous institute for its research of Tibetan culture and language, it also houses a museum, a Tibetan library, and a reference center about the Himalayas and Tibet. You’ll get to see a lot of rare statues, coins, and ancient manuscripts in Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, and Lepcha. The library also houses Thangkas, scrolls with embroidery work, and hand paintings.
The main highlight among the rare collections is the majestic image of Manjushri who is the bodhisattva of knowledge and wisdom, a very apt image to be placed in a library. This image was brought in all the way from Tibet. The library, located on the first floor of the building, is home to a large collection of Tibetan documents. You can also visit the memorial park dedicated to Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal, the last king of Sikkim, located adjacent to the institute.
Opening hours of the institute are from 10 am to 4 pm from Monday to Saturday. Please note that the institute remains closed on government holidays, Sundays, and second Saturdays every month. The entry fee is INR 10 per person. The distance from Gangtok is just 2.2 km (12 minutes) via NH10.
Rumtek is the largest monastery in Sikkim, located on a hill overlooking Gangtok. It is also known as the Dharmachakra Center and is the seat of Karmapa Lama, the third highest monk in Tibetan Buddhism. This monastery is a place of practice for the Kagyu sect which originated in Tibet.
Rumtek’s unique architecture is a treat for the eyes since the main building is constructed according to the traditional designs of Tibetan monasteries. The interiors are adorned with murals, traditional Tibetan architecture, and sculptures. You can take photographs from outside, but inside the monastery, it's prohibited. Don’t miss the main temple of the monastery where the relics of the sixteenth Karmapa are preserved!
You’ll also get to see a golden stupa and a great Buddha statue here. More so, you can witness the lives of the monks living here, giving you a deeper glimpse at the history of Buddhism. The time to visit the monastery in summer is from 8 am to 5 pm.
Kanchenjunga National Park, also called Khangchendzonga, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Covering an area of about 1,784 sq km, this high-altitude national park is known for its wide variety of exotic animal species. You’ll find animals like the red panda, snow leopard, musk deer, bharal, and great Tibetan sheep, and birds like the gray peacock pheasant, Tibetan snow cock, black-necked crane, and black-necked crane. This makes the park a great place to explore wildlife. It is also home to the Lepcha tribal community.
You can go trekking here and admire the beauty of the trees and lakes on your trail. The park has about 19 Himalayan peaks that act as a backdrop for over 17 alpine lakes. Mount Kanchenjunga is the most popular peak among these. So, the park is named after it. You’ll come across many glaciers while walking around the park, especially the Zemu Glacier, the largest glacier in the Eastern Himalayas.
To reach the national park from Gangtok which is about 45.9 km away, you can either fly or go by road (4-5 hour drive). By air, the nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport and from here you can hire a taxi which may cost you about INR 3,500 to INR 4,000.
Also Read: Best Homestays In Gangtok
Known for offering breathtaking views and a pleasant ambience, Ban Jhakri is one of the most visited tourist spots. The surrounding lush greenery of the waterfall makes it more alluring and beautiful. According to Nepali mythological stories, Ban Jhakri is a creature or half-man who possesses powers and lives in the forest in the rock caves. This is where the fall gets its name from.
There’s a well-maintained park near the falls with beautiful sculptures that are said to represent the ancestors of Lyam Lymay, Mangpas, Lepcha, and Ban Jhakri. It is also said that the figurines depict the curing practices that were part of a Shaman’s life. The main attraction of the place is a footbridge which is built over the stream. This is the perfect place for you to enjoy a walk or spend some time in tranquility with your loved ones.
Take part in the leisure activities offered at the park gateway and enjoy some yummy refreshments. In addition to other relaxing areas, there’s also a bathing pool open for tourists. This 100 ft waterfall is located near the Ranka Monastery, so you can definitely pay a visit to the monastery as well.
It’s best to go to Ban Jhakri from Gangtok via road. Since the roads are not smooth, you can take a larger car or hire a taxi to the location. If you take the Indira Bypass Road and Ranka Road, it will take about 27 min (7.5 km) to reach the falls.
Located at a distance of 3 km from Gangtok, Do Drul Chorten is one of the most magnificent and beautiful stupas in Gangtok. According to a legend, the place where the stupa is now located used to be haunted by evil spirits that caused the death of many people who wandered here. This is why the stupa was built by Trulshik Rinpoche, (head of Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism) to drive away the spirits.
The stupa has 108 Manii Lhakor (prayer wheels), rotated by Buddhists as they chant ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’, a Buddhist mantra. Visitors can rotate the wheels in a clockwise direction. The stupa also stores various religious objects, books of mantras, as well as Kanjur holy books. Since it is a sacred structure, travelers from all around the state come here to pay their respects. The beautiful golden top that crowns the stupa can be seen from different spots in Gangtok.
The Do Drul Chorten Stupa is located in the Deorali area, within the town of Gangtok. There are several other small stupas built around the main one. It’ll take you 9 minutes by cab but if you’re keen on walking, it’ll take you about 30 minutes to reach your destination.
Located at Fatak Bojoghari near Tashi Viewpoint, Gonjang Monastery was blessed by the Dalai Lama. After basking in the glory of Gangtok and trekking the slopes, visiting the Gonjang Monastery is the best way to enjoy a peaceful time. Since the monastery is situated quite close to Gangtok, you can go here if you’re too tired to travel far but still want to experience more of Gangtok.
This monastery was founded by H. E. Tingkye Gonjang Rimpoche in 1981. As you step into the monastery, you’ll be encapsulated by intricately painted murals. These are guaranteed to transport you into a peaceful world. One of the main attractions of the monastery is the idols of the 8th-century founding fathers of Tibetan Buddhism, Khen-lop-Choe-Sum. The engraved statues of Padmasambhava’s 25 disciples, collectively known as Jebang Nyernga, are also not to be missed.
Since the monastery is located at a height, you can see the beautiful mountains in the background. You can take pictures of the exterior but clicking photographs inside the sanctum is not allowed. Also, make sure to not touch any idols. The distance between Gangtonk’s main town and Gonjang Monastery is less than 8 km (22 min) via NH10. You can easily hire a taxi from the local taxi station to reach your destination.
The lovely places mentioned above are sure to make your travel plan to Gangtok a cakewalk. Be prepared to unload all your worries along with your luggage at this charming destination and have a great time.
What Is Gangtok Famous For?
Gangtok is rightfully known as the Land of Monasteries since it’s famous for its monasteries. It is also famous for places like Tsomgo Lake, Nathula Pass, Ganesh Tok, and Rumtek Monastery.
Is Gangtok Warmer Than Darjeeling?
Gangtok’s climate is somewhat similar to Darjeeling, but Gangtok still remains much cooler.
How Many Days Are Sufficient For Gangtok?
A 2-day trip is enough to experience all the main attractions of Gangtok. Day 1 can be used to visit places like the monasteries, directorate of handicrafts, and handlooms, while day 2 can be used to visit places like Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir, and Nathu La Pass.
What Is The Easiest Way To Reach Gangtok?
The easiest way to reach Gangtok is by road. You can easily get cabs or buses from Bagdogra, New Jalpaiguri, and Siliguri. Please note that during monsoons it can be difficult to get a ride and you might have to bargain.
Which Month Is Best For Gangtok?
Is Nathula Pass Open Now?
Nathula Pass is closed to the public on Monday and Tuesday. But it is open from Wednesday to Sunday. During winter months if there’s heavy snowfall, permits will not be issued.
Which Day Is Gangtok Market Closed?
The New Market remains closed on Tuesdays while the Old Market is closed on Sundays. On other days, the shops usually open by 8 am and close by 7 pm