We all know India is a very beautiful country. It has a lot to offer to its tourists and explorers. But a road or locality can actually be litter free and spit-free, this is something you can’t imagine in India. But Sikkim being one of the cleanest states in India is definitely bending the rules. It actually has a zone called MG Marg (Mahatma Gandhi Marg) where people are not allowed to litter and spit.
When people plan a vacation in the mountains, they often decide between Kashmir, Himachal, and Uttarakhand, North East being entirely left out. It’s maybe because the North East is not very well connected to the rest of India. But considering the beauty and diversity it offers, You surely can bear a bit of inconvenience to travel to this serene and unexplored part of our beautiful country.
Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya , Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura all these 8 states altogether called North East India. But I will only talk about my trip to Gangtok which is the capital of Sikkim as this is the only place I have been to and trust me it was a spellbinding experience.
How to reach Gangtok?
Luckily Gangtok now has its own airport. The airport was inaugurated recently on the 24th of September, 2018. The airport is at a distance of 33 km from Gangtok. I know it is too much distance but if the people of Bengaluru can call kempegowda airport as Bengaluru airport 😛 then you can definitely consider this airport in Gangtok.
To embark on the Gangtok trip via train or bus, you have to first reach New Jalpaiguri ( NJP). New Jalpaiguri is very well connected from all corners of India by train. It also has a small airport which you can consider if you are short on time.
When I traveled to NJP, I preferred the train as this is the most convenient and cheapest way of traveling. My train was late so I reached NJP quite late in the evening. Gangtok is around 120 km from NJP so it would definitely take you around 4 to 5 hours to reach Gangtok from NJP.
After reaching NJP, you will find a plethora of travel agencies selling you holiday packages. Trust me not all the time holiday packages are bad. You can consider one if you don’t know much about the place. But make sure to inquire at 3-4 places to avoid getting duped.
When I reached NJP, I didn’t know anything about this place. There were few taxis available for Gangtok and Darjeeling. If you are traveling to Gangtok and have some extra time in hand then you can also include Darjeeling in your itinerary. The distance of Darjeeling is 70 km from NJP. And it is one of the famous hill stations in India.
As I stepped out of the station, I started inquiring about the vehicle to reach Gangtok. Sharing taxis were available but they would move only after filling all the 10 passengers. If you want to get it moved quickly then you have to pay for the price of all vacant seats. It was getting dark and we couldn’t afford to waste any more time. We booked a personal taxi and after 5 hours of long drive finally reached Gangtok.
Sikkim is blessed with few of the highest mountains and passes of the world such as Kangchenjunga, Mount Pandim. This state is really a treat for the trekking and mountaineering lovers. But when we talk about the trip to Gangtok it is more of a city. The main tourist attraction here is Lake Tsomgo, Baba Harbhajan Singh temple, and Nathula Pass. And needless to say, you can also visit local monasteries, temples, and gardens.
So the next day we woke up early in the morning, I was really excited as this was the first day of the trip when we were actually doing something instead of traveling. We went directly to the taxi stand of Gangtok and booked a shared taxi to Lake Tsomgo and Baba Harbhajan Singh temple. Unfortunately, Nathula Pass was closed due to heavy snowfall. Nathula Pass is nothing but a border between India and China. Soldiers from India and China guard their own territory. Lake Tsomgo is around 40 km from Gangtok and will take around 2 hours to reach.
Lake Tsomgo is beautiful for sure but it doesn’t have much to offer. Only a lake and few shops are there. Luckily I visited this place in March so there was snow everywhere. We climbed up to the highest part of the area and slid all through the bottom. But this place doesn’t have much to offer if there will be no snow.
Baba Harbhajan Singh temple is 11 km above Lake Tsomgo. It is actually a tourist site where people from all over the world comes to pay homage to one of the bravest soldiers of Indian army, Harbhajan Singh. And to visit Nathula you have to visit Gangtok particularly in summer as due to snow road will be blocked around winter.
Apart from these three places, Few local sightseeing can be done in Gangtok. Few temples and monasteries can also be visited. Sikkim is famous for monasteries so you will find tons of it.
If you like to go offbeat places where not many tourists reach, then the Gangtok trip is not for you. But this place can surely be considered as an escape from the hustle-bustle of cities, for the love of Himalaya and to explore North East culture and cuisine.