The MG Marg is the main and a very important road in Gangtok that draws tourists towards in hoards all through the year. And it ought to be popular for it also happens to be the country's only spit- and litter-free lane and no vehicles are allowed to enter this road as well!
There are various attractions in this lane. While it is perfect to hang out at this street during evenings, it's a great place to shop at, with many interesting shops lined up on either sides of the fascinating lane. Also, there is a place called the Titanic Park where music is played exclusively for the visitors and tourists to sit, listen and relax, especially when the tourist inflow is high.
Also, it is here that the annual Gangtok food and cultural festival is held during December every year where a wide variety of tasty Sikkimese cuisines are available to relish. The event also includes cultural extravaganza and is one of the most popular festivals celebrated in Sikkim.
Banjhakri Falls in Gangtok is renowned for its scenic beauty and a must-visit spot for all those travelling to Gangtok. Surrounded by beautiful stairwells and waterfalls and decorated with various beautiful sculptures around, it forms a perfect spot to picnic in leisure.
This beautiful garden is situated at a distance of 14 km from Gangtok. Maintained by the department of forests, it is a lovely spot to picnic at for some recreation. This lovely garden had been the venue of the International Flori Show in the year 2008 and the lovely garden has recently become home to an alluring swimming pool and a musical fountain.
Also, a convention centre with about 500 seating capacity was constructed in the garden premises recently. The same was built with an idea of holding meetings, expos and conferences in an eco-friendly environment.
The Himalayan Zoological Park is situated 8 km ahead of Gangtok. Spread across an area of 205 acres, the park is also known as Bulbulay and includes a wide range of interesting wild animals living in open enclosures. Some of the interesting animals that one might get to view while at the park include the barking deer, pandas, panthers, Tibetan wolves, civet cats, the Himalayan black bear and more.
Also, there are two very interesting beings residing here. 'Kush' and 'Urbashi' – a pair of majestic snow leopards, which are worth seeing.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is a Tibetan Museum that has been promoting and sponsoring research works related to Tibetan culture, religion, language, art and culture and history, ever since its inception in the year 1958. The institute also includes a variety of rare collections like the Lepcha, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts, art pieces, thankas and statues. The museum also includes about 200 Buddhist icons.
The institute is also planning to come up with a project under which all the rare and old photographs related to Sikkim will be documented and digitalized. Constructed in a traditional Tibetan Buddhist style, the institute has an extremely beautiful architecture and is decorated with lovely wall paintings within.
Also present close by the institute is a park built in memory of the last king of Sikkim which is worth a visit. The park houses a lovely bronze statue of the king. Present in Deorali towards the South of Central Gangtok, the institute remains open to public between 10 am and 4 pm from Mondays to Saturdays. The entrance fee to the library and the museum is Rs 10.
The Do Drul Chorten in Gangtok is a stupa built by Trulshik Rinpoche – the head of Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddism and is considered sacred. It was constructed in the year 1945 and present inside the place are various religious objects, an entire set of Dorjee Phurba and Kangyur relics.
Also, present around the stupa are Chorten Lakahang and Guru Lakhang, where two of Guru Rinpoche's statues are present. Also present around the chorten are 108 prayer wheels with the chant 'Om Mane Padme Hum' inscribed on them.
Tsongmo or Changu Lake is present in East Sikkim, about 40 km ahead of Gangtok. The beautiful lake is a glacial water body, situated at an altitude of 3,780 m above sea level. One can find this lake on the way to the Nathu La Pass in Sikkim.
Also, the Chinese border crossing is just about 5 km ahead of this pristine lake. There is a speciality about this lake. The Indian Postal Service released a stamp dedicated to this lake in the year 2006.
Nathu La is a mountain pass which connects Sikkim with China's Tibet Autonomous Region. Perched at an elevation of 4,310 m above sea level, it is situated about 54 km east of Gangtok. Only Indians are allowed to visit the pass on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays with a prior permit from Gangtok.
There is also an Indian war memorial present here. One can hardly find any human settlement at the place, except for a few men from the defence who have been entrusted the work of guarding the borders on both sides. The pass has many sinking zones and is even prone to massive landslides.
The word 'Nathu' means 'listening ears' and 'La' means 'pass' in Tibetan language. The Nathu La Pass happens to be one among the three open trading posts in the border between India and China. This pass was sealed in the year 1962, following the Sino-India war and was reopened only in the year 2006 after various bilateral trade agreements were signed.
The opening of the pass was celebrated with an event that was attended by officials from either sides of the border. However, though it was expected that allowing access to the pass would improve the trade and economy of the region, it hasn't shown any significant improvement so far. But re-opening the pass has reduced the travel distance to various Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimage centres in this region. Geography Of Nathu La
The pass is situated 54 km towards the East of Gangtok. It remains blocked during winter due to excess snowfall. The road maintenance work of this area has been assigned to the Indian Army wing – Border Roads Organization.
The nearest railway station to Nathu La Pass is the New Jalpaiguri station. The Indian government plans to extend train services from Sevoke in Darjeeling to Gangtok in Sikkim shortly.
Enchey Monastery in Gangtok is a very sacred and beautiful place of worship in Gangtok. Set up at the capital of Sikkim in the year 1909, it is constructed on a scenic hill above Gangtok from where one can enjoy a spectacular view of Mount Kanchenjunga.
According to a legend, this monastery which belongs to the Nyingma order of Vajrayana Buddhism is present in a location that was blessed by Lama Drupthob Karpo – an expert in a tantric art of Buddhism with flying powers and that he set a small monastery in the place, having come flying from the Maenam Hill in South Sikkim.
The name 'Enchey Monastery' means solitary monastery and yet another legend says that the place is sacred for the presence of the protecting deities – Khangchendzonga and Yabdean within the place. All these gripping legends have provided this beautiful place of worship, a special place in the hearts of the people of Gangtok and other devotees, who believe the powerful deities within the gompa will fulfill wishes of one and all.
The gompa is very decoratively constructed and has many attractive images of the deities inside. The main deities worshiped here are Loki Sharia, Buddha and Guru Padmasambhava. The gompa also includes an array of masks used for the annual religious dances and a library.
Unfortunately, the monastery suffered severe damages during the 2006 earthquake in Sikkim. The monastery celebrates a few important festivals every year. Some of them include the Detor Cham/Cham dance festival, Singhe Chaam and Pang Lhabsol.
This holy place of worship is one of the most tranquil shrines. Perched atop a quiet hill at an elevation of 7200 ft, the Hanuman Tok dedicated to Lord Hanuman is present about 9 km ahead of Gangtok. It is considered sacred and called a wish fulfilling temple. Situated in a location that's absolutely pollution free, the Hanuman Tok is taken care of by the Indian army resident units and contributions made by the local people.
The temple complex was renovated recently with which several public utilities were added for the convenience of visitors. From the Hanuman Tok hilltop, one can also enjoy a panoramic view of Mt Kanchenjunga, Gangtok town as well as Lukshyama – the royal graveyard with stupas and chortens where the royal family members of Sikkim have been cremated.
The Thakurbari Temple in Gangtok is a major pilgrimage centre at Gangtok. One of the oldest Hindu temples in the state of Sikkim, it houses idols of almost all major deities within. The Thakurbari Temple was constructed on a land donated by the Chogyal of Sikkim in the year 1935.
During the year 1945-47, the shrine was renowned as a major temple complex. Also, construction works began last year, for inclusion of a multipurpose hall and a library to the complex.
Dodrupchen is yet another popular monastery in Gangtok. It is a large gompa of the Nyingma tradition and is renowned for its large chorten. While at home, the rinpoche of Dodrupchen welcomes devotees for blessings in between 8 am and 9.30 am daily.
The ropeway ride that provides a beautiful panoramic view of Gangtok is a major tourist attraction. The car takes the tourists on a ride, high above the city from where they can enjoy a fantastic view of the entire town of Gangtok. It also stops at three different altitudes which adds up to the beauty of the ride. Tourists can board the car at Deorali Market for a cost of Rs 50 for adults and Rs 30 for children.
Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial Temple is located in between the Jelepla Pass and Nathu La Pass and is a popular pilgrim centre visited by hundreds of devotees each day. It is believed that the temple has wish-fulfilling powers and devotees visiting the temple leave a bottle of water at the temple and pick it up during their return journey.
There is very interesting legend behind this temple. Here it goes: This shrine is built in memory of Baba Harbhajan Singh, a sepoy of the 23rd Punjab Regiment, who actually went missing about 35 years ago, while leading a bunch of mules to Deng Dhukla, a remote area in East Sikkim.
Following this, a manhunt was conducted to look for the Baba's body which was found three days later. It is said that they could find him for he himself led them towards the body and also, one of his colleagues began dreaming about Baba and was instructed by the Baba himself to build a temple in his memory.
That is when the temple came into existence. The temple houses a samadhi in his memory and legend has it that he visits the temple and also does his rounds every night. He is believed to be 'on duty' even to this day and guards the lives of soldiers posted along the India-China border.
What's more, every year on September 14, he goes on his annual holiday and visits his native Kapurthala in Punjab. While a jeep with all his personal belongings departs to the nearest railway station, tickets are booked and a berth is reserved for his journey. Two soldiers accompany him on his journey and a small sum of money is also sent to the mother of this 'ghost soldier' every month!