• Hayde Fernandes

Outlandish day trips for your next visit to Gangtok

From Nathula pass to Banjhakri falls, Gangtok is home to some of the world's most spectacular views and sceneries. It is a living and active slice of north-eastern heaven, with just the right mix of everything from a fusion of cultural identities to modernity. There are a number of places to visit in Gangtok.


The capital city of Sikkim is highly appealing, refreshingly lively, and crowned by clouds. It also offers a wonderful view of Mt. Kanchenjunga from afar. The picturesque hill station is surrounded by hills and sky and when viewed from a cable car, the kaleidoscopic splendor and magnificent curving hill roads are even more spectacular.


With its incomparable landscapes and exquisite monasteries and attractions, Gangtok is vibrant and fascinating. You may be eager to move on and see more of Sikkim once you've seen the best of it. For now, there's enough excitement in there to last your entire trip.


Here are a few terrific places to start exploring when you need a breather from the city's nonstop bustle:


  1. Tashi Viewpoint

  2. Himalayan Zoological Park

  3. Nathula Pass

  4. Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary

  5. MG Marg

  6. Phodong Monastery

  7. Reshi hot springs

  8. Banjhakri Falls


1. Tashi Viewpoint


A group of people watching the mountains from Tashi Viewpoint
Photo by Exotic Miles

Tashi View Point is an ideal location to soak in the splendid views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and Gangtok. This popular tourist destination is noted for having some of the best sunrise and sunset views. As the sun slowly moves away from this vantage point, one can see the Kanchenjunga and Siniolchu Peaks change color, as well as notable monasteries of Gangtok, Phodong, and Labrang.


The magnificent Tashi Viewpoint is unrivaled because of its unspoiled atmosphere, which has been created in such a way that travelers can better understand the Himalayan trance. This place additionally serves as a great picnic spot due to the presence of an eatery and shelters close to the viewpoint site.


In addition to its serene environment, the scenic ambiance contributes substantially to the travelers' ability to enjoy views of the Phodong Monastery and Labrang Monastery by this place.


Fee: Free

Timings: 5 am to 6 pm


2. Himalayan Zoological Park


A red panda sitting on top of a branch
Photo by Viator

In Sikkim, the Himalayan Zoological Park is a must-see for wildlife enthusiasts. The Park was created to protect wildlife while maintaining them in their natural habitat. Several Himalayan wildlife species can be found in the park. Himalayan Monal Pheasant, Himalayan Red Panda, Snow Leopard Cat, Goral, Himalayan Palm Civet, Himalayan Black Bear, and Crimson-Horned Pheasant are only a few of the Himalayan species that can be found here.


The Himalayan Zoological Park is Sikkim's first zoological park. The Park achieves the illusion of a modern zoo, in which animals are raised in natural settings. The months of mid-February to May and mid-September to December are the finest times to visit the place. The Forests, Environment, and Wildlife Management Department of the Government of Sikkim looks after the park.


The zoo has a café, gift shop, drinking water stations, restrooms, and a watchtower from which you can enjoy a nice view of the region. One must explore the Himalayan Zoological Park in Gangtok to experience the natural habitat of a variety of species while taking in the wonderful scenery.


Fee: 25 INR

Timings: 9 am to 4 pm (closed on Thursday)


3. Nathula Pass


A winding road on a snowy mountain
Photo by Thrillophilia

Nathula is an elevated pass on the old silk route near the Indo-Chinese border. Every year, a large number of tourists go here to appreciate the magnificent hike into the valley while reveling in the rhythmic cascades that line the path between Gangtok and Nathula.


It has lessened the distance between significant Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimage sites, helping the economy and strengthening relations with China on the frontier. The route, which runs over 70 kilometers from Gangtok and passes by the turquoise blue Tsomgo Lake and the spectacular Baba Harbhajan Mandir, is an adventure in and of itself.


The Border Gates of India and China, a battle memorial, and an India Army Exhibition Centre highlight the border checkpoint at Nathula Pass. On a clear day, Nathula Pass offers spectacular views of Mt. Chomolhari.


You can see Chinese armed forces covering their side of the border as you approach closer to it. Tourists are allowed to snap photographs in and around this high-altitude pass, contrary to popular belief. Occasionally, you can shake hands with Chinese soldiers on the other side of the border.


Fee: 200 INR

Timings: 8 am to 6 pm (Wednesday to Sunday)


4. Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary


Three tigers sitting in a pond
Photo by North Bengal Tourism

The Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary is rich in a diverse group of mammals and birds. This sanctuary also includes enclaves, including Mangan, a tourist hotspot. There are no shops or restaurants there, so you need to obtain a stay permit and bring your meals, including lunch, dinner, and snacks.


If you’re a birdwatcher you will like Fambong Lho since it is home to endangered Rufous-headed hornbills and laughing thrushes. Animals such as the red panda, barking deer, and yellow-throated marten also inhabit the sanctuary, and you will find flora such as rhododendron and orchids.


Various towers have been constructed in the forest to allow tourists to have the closest view of the colorful birds and animals. For thrill-seekers, the sanctuary also has some excellent hiking paths. Within the sanctuary, there are four jungle pathways. Fambong Lha is packed with things to see and the area is quite spread out, so you may want to hire a trail guide to show you around.


Fee: 5 INR

Timings: 8 am to 2 pm


5. MG Marg


People walking on a crowded street lined with shops
Photo by Pick Your Trail

MG Marg is like an addition to an open shopping mall where locals and visitors alike may enjoy casual strolls or simply relax on one of the many benches along the center and both edges of the lane to take in the atmosphere. It's a shopper's paradise because there's so much to choose from.


It is just a half-kilometer market that is always bustling because it is the town's main shopping center for both tourists and locals. Winters in MG Marg Gangtok are extremely harsh. Summers, however, are moderately cold, providing the ideal refuge from the scorching heat of the lowlands and urban centers.


Over the years, the Marg has undergone various alterations. On each side and in the center of the Marg, there are seats and Victorian lamps. So, people can sit and relax, converse, and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the setting. The lamps are strategically placed throughout the street to brighten the evenings.


With décor and cheap, fancy things, the addition of the China Bazaar enhances the market's appeal. There is plenty to do for everyone here, which adds to the place's excitement, beauty, and appeal.


Fee: Free

Timings: 8 am to 9 pm (closed on Tuesday)


6. Phodong Monastery


A monastery situated on the mountains
Photo by Trawell

The Phodong Monastery is one of Sikkim’s most prominent monasteries. Approximately 260 monks live near the monastery and offer regular prayers as part of their daily routine. It is situated at a vantage position of 4500 meters, with a beautiful backdrop of lush green hills on the horizon and a placid valley below.


Every year, on the 28th and 29th days of the Tibetan calendar’s tenth month, this monastery conducts a feast. The local monks perform a special Chaam dance as well as other spiritual ceremonies to commemorate the event.


The monastery's walls are lined with stunning murals, paintings, and frescos that will take your breath away. From here, you will be able to enjoy a beautiful view of the mountains and neighboring valleys.


Tourists, nature lovers, and wanderers frequent the site in addition to regular believers. The immaculate setting reverberates with peace, harmony, and stillness, making it an ideal spot to meditate and unwind.


Fee: Free

Timings: 8 am to 5 pm


7. Reshi Hot Springs


A steaming hot spring with stone borders
Photo by Holidify

Reshi Hot Spring is about 25 kilometers from Gyalshing, near Reshi, on the Rangeet River's banks. The sulfur content of the water within those springs is said to provide special medicinal value for skin conditions. There are lodgings in the form of trekkers' huts for people who want to enjoy the waters. The Kah-do Sang Phu, also known as the cave of the occult fairies, is located near the springs and is believed to be blessed by the locals.


There are many hot springs in Sikkim, but the Reshi Hot Spring is the most popular due to its geographical location and religious symbolism. These hot water springs, known as Cha-chu in Reshi, were once winter spas where pilgrims and visitors would spend a week or more soaking in the waters, which were thought to have curative benefits.


The spring is easily accessible and may be found following a one-hour downhill journey into the Rangit River valley. In the neighborhood, there are a few tiny shops offering veggies and other necessities.


Fee: Free

Timings: Open 24 hrs


8. Banjhakri Falls


A stream flowing into a body of water
Photo by Tripopola

The Banjhakri Falls cascades down with great velocity and is the focal point of the nearby Energy Park. The Park is themed around the legend of Ban Jhakri, a shamanic god who is regarded as the deity of the forest and the creator of Nepali shamanism.


The waterfall is bordered by beautifully sculpted gardens and magnificent statues of Lyam Lymay, Mangpas, Lepcha, and Ban Jhakri ancestors. There is a swimming pool accessible to visitors in addition to many resting areas.


Ethnic monuments and sculptures representing Jhakri culture can be found around the park. The park's figurines depict rites, some therapeutic practices, and others the initiation process in a shaman's life.


Banjhakri Falls is the park's crowning beauty, adding to the tourist attraction's natural aesthetic appeal. It forms a sparkling pool of water at the end of it, and the serenity of the setting is only enhanced by the thick greenery that surrounds it.


Fee: 50 INR

Timings: 8 am to 6 pm


Conclusion


Every traveler's Sikkim itinerary should undoubtedly include Gangtok. Tsomgo Lake, Ban Jhakri falls, Tashi viewpoint, and other natural features are among its many natural attractions. Apart from being the state capital, it is one of India's most renowned hill stations.


Gangtok combines a modern town style with traditional spiritual beliefs and a stunning natural heritage. Trips to Gangtok are always set against a backdrop of mountain views, with much of the focus on the monasteries, shrines, and temples of this ancient center of Tibetan Buddhist pilgrimage.


Ancient ruins, monasteries, and wildlife sanctuaries are all well interwoven into the natural environments here, making it a desirable destination for travelers who value culture as well as picturesque scenery.



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