Nestled within Himalayan peaks, Gangtok adorns an amazing geographical terrain. Due to its pleasant weather throughout the year, it is one of the most loved tourist centres in India. This awesome destination has the ability to pacify the soul of any kind of traveller; be it religious, adventurous or a mere nature lover.
The state of Sikkim caught attention in the year 2007 when it bagged the recognition of attaining a 'Platinum Award' with the Today's Traveller magazine. Undoubtedly, this cosmopolitan city plays a vital role in attainment of this prestigious title.
Located amidst the Shivalik hills (lower Himalayas) at an altitude of 1437 m, the city faces Kanchenjunga viz. world's third highest mountain peak in the world. Ganesh Tok offers one of the best panoramic views, which would be a camera enthusiast's delight.
Home to the maximum number of monasteries in the world, Gangtok has now become a significant centre of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning. Innumerable Buddhists visit the place every year.
If you hail from a metropolitan city, Gangtok will still steal your heart, as it has everything to offer that an urban city provides. Simultaneously, it also has all the characteristics that a hill station pertains.
From pubs, night clubs, cyber café, shopping complexes, pool parlors to quaint snow-clad peaks and dense forests; it is a perfect blend of alluring nature and unstoppable city life. Don't miss the city's food and cultural festival (dance and music) if you plan to visit in December.
Mountaineering, trekking, river rafting, scintillating night life are worth giving a try once in Gangtok!
Starting point: Lucknow
Best Time To Visit Gangtok
Spring and summers (March to June) are great time to visit Gangtok. You will get superb views of Kanchenjunga and the snow-clad mountains as the sky remains clear normally.
Due to mild and decent temperatures during these months, it turns out to be a great escapade for family outings due to summer vacations! October and November are extremely pleasant as it marks the beginning of winters. Sight-seeing and other activities are apt during these months.
How To Get To Gangtok?
Avadh Assam Express runs daily from Lucknow. You can get off at New Jalpaiguri station. Hire a private cab or shared taxi from New Jalpaiguri to Gangtok, which about 90 km.
Bagdogra Airport is nearest to reach Gangtok. You can opt for air travel from Lucknow to Bagdogra (approximately 4 hours). From Bagdogra, you can hire a share taxi or a private vehicle for Gangtok i.e. about 125 km. The two-hour drive from Bagdogra to Gangtok will keep you occupied as it has trillions of picturesque views to offer!
PC: Giridhar Appaji Nag Y
The total distance from Lucknow to Gangtok is about 1020 km via Route 1, 1102 km via Route 2 and 1149 km via Route 3. The 3 routes are described as follows:
Route 1: Lucknow - Lohia Path to NH 230/NH30 - Araria - Jokihat Road via NH 27 - Chekarmari via NH 237 - Ranka road - Gangtok
Route 2: Lucknow - Rana Pratap Marg - Lohia Path to NH 230 - NH 27 - Sitamarhi Muzzaffarpur Road via NH 122 - Munger Ghat- Rashidpur Road via NH 31 - Gangtok Rangpo Road via NH 10 - Ranka Road - Gangtok
Route 3: Lucknow - Raebareli Lucknow Road - NH 19 to SH 17 in Bihar - Dariyawganj via NH 922 - Garkha Chirand Road via NH 722 - Jokihat Road via NH 27 - Chekarmari via NH 237 - Ranka Road - Gangtok
Lucknow to Gangtok Via Lohia Path – Major Pit Stops
Opting for a road route from Lucknow is a matter of great deal! It is not recommended to drive all by yourself if you don't drive longer routes in general. You can also hire a car if you don't wish to take your car.
Take the route via Lohia Path to cover the distance in faster time. You can start early with a religious vibe, while you pass by Vibhuti Khand by visiting Bara Imambara.
The aura of this tall grandeur is positive enough to give a kick start to the long road journey you are looking forward to! Kaiserbagh Palace, Rumi Darwaza and Jama Masjid are few other historic monuments that will leave you awestruck!
PC: Yash Seth
About 128 km drive from Lucknow, you will reach the old capital city of Awadh i.e. Faizabad. Located on the banks of Sarayu river, this city is the first capital of Nawabs of Awadh. Take a halt here only if history and historical stories enlivens you! Gulab Bari, Dasrath Bhavan, Guptar Ghat are few attractions here!
Basti is approximately 78 km from Faizabad. Lord Shiva believers ought to stop here to seek blessings at Bhadeshwar Nath Temple. Rashtriya Van Chetana Kendra is the only place to roam in the city.
Approximately 70 km from Basti, you will arrive in the flood prone district of Gorakhpur. You can prefer having lunch here. Major attractions here include Gorakhnath Temple, Kushmi Forest and Railway Museum.
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After gaining all the energy post lunch, you can consider driving at a long stretch. Muzaffarpur marks the entrance into the state of Bihar. It is located about 260 km from Gorakhpur. Don't miss the ‘Shahi' leeches that this exporter city produces. The fruits are well-known for their excellent quality.
Located approximately 81 km from the Lychee city, Darbhanga is a budding software technology park. You can spend a night here to get some sleep in order to witness the freshness and blissfulness of the road ahead!
See the beauty of rare migrating birds at Kusheshwar Asthan Bird Sanctuary. Unmask a heritage monument named Darbhanga Fort. It used to be the residence of Royal family of Zamindars. Few descendants still stay here!
Start early the next day to reach Kishanganj, which is about 260 km from Darbhanga. Nature has been kind to this city. The lush green tea gardens, beautiful parks and Mahananda River will make your drive satisfactory. You will not regret starting at dawn, if you happen to be a lazy bum!
The Mahananda River stretches across West Bengal. Situated about 100 km from Kishanganj, Siliguri is a delightful destination on the foothills of Himalayas. The awesome climate and greenery all across the roads will now leave you enchanted! Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Salugara Monastery and ISKCON Temple are the major tourist spots here.
61 km from Siliguri and you will reach Darjeeling- the city of hills! Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) is not just a school to encourage students for mountaineering at highly subsidized rates, but it also houses trainers, restaurants, souvenir shops. Sunrise at Tiger Hill can't be skipped. Other attractions include Batasia Loop, Japanese Peace Pagoda and Rock Garden.
Mahatma Gandhi Road (MG Road)
Apparently regarded as town center and best shopping destination for tourists, this road is spick-and-span. This road is free from smoke, litter and vehicular traffic. You will only find pedestrians walking over this 1 km stretch area. The Victorian style lamps and benches placed all through the lane will take you back in the British era!
PC: Richard Bogle
Trekking enthusiasts should not miss Nathula Pass. You can have a glimpse of various snow peaks and waterfalls while travelling from Gangtok to Nathula. It is one of the open trading border posts between India and China.
The region around Tsomgo Lake has no human inhabitation as such. It is home for distinct birds and certain Himalayan wildlife like Tibetan gazelle, snow leopard, yaks. Apart from wildlife, you will also find luxuriant flora in this area.
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Ban Jhakri Falls
Famous tourist attraction, Ban Jhakri waterfalls is surrounded by greenery. There is a beautiful pathway where one can witness the refreshing waterfall and feel the water sprinkling over the face.
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River Rafting In Teesta River
Some thrill and adventure will be instilled within you once you witness the ferocious rapids of river Teesta!
Interesting thing about this temple is that it can accommodate only one person at a time. One has to crawl to seek blessings from Ganesha! Outside the temple, the view of Kanchenjunga and entire city of Gangtok city will drop your jaw!