Gangtok Guide 5 Things To Do On A Weekend Break

Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim has a very cosmopolitan vibe with an eclectic mix of the old and new. On clear days, you can see the third-highest peak in the world towering above all else
Gangtok Guide 5 Things To Do On A Weekend Break
Gangtok Guide 5 Things To Do On A Weekend Break

Gangtok, the capital of the Himalayan state of Sikkim, lies at a height of 5,410 ft along a mountain ridge. Sikkim's capital was once an important transit point for those travelling between Tibet and India. Today, it is the administrative and business hub of Sikkim and a town with a very cosmopolitan vibe that has its share of multiplexes, shopping complexes, cyber cafes, nightclubs, pubs, and cafes. On clear days, you can see the third highest peak in the world, the deeply venerated Mt. Khangchendzonga, from here, towering above all else. Here are five things to do on a weekend break in Gangtok.

Take in the Monasteries

Rumtek Monastery, also called Dharmachakra Centre, is 23 km from Gangtok. It served as the residence of Rangjung Rigpe Dorje and the 16th Karmapa. There are two Rumtek monasteries - an older one from 1740 and a newer, imposing structure built in the 1960s. Foreign nationals undergo passport screening at the entrance. Photography is not allowed inside the inner sanctum but permitted outside. On the other hand, Enchey Monastery, 3 km northeast of Gangtok, is a 200-year-old monastery on the city's upper slopes. It is known as the "solitary monastery" and holds special importance in Buddhism. The courtyard is a beautiful spot, especially in the mornings.

Hang Out at MG Marg

This traffic-free pedestrianised zone is the main shopping, eating, and hanging out area of Gangtok. It packs in hundreds of eateries, shops, hotels, money exchange stops, banks and ATMs, salons, medicine shops, grocery stores, and even a few cosy tailoring outlets in a short stretch of about a kilometre. Come here after sunset to catch the local scene, drink at a pub and listen to live music. The many restaurants and cafes here serve various cuisines from Nepalese, Tibetan, Korean, Italian, and Indian. 

Shop for Local Products

You can pick up Sikkim's famous hand-carved wood choktse tables, carpets, blankets, thangkas, shawls, and prayer rugs at the shop inside the Directorate of Handloom and Handicrafts. Also, pick up handwoven loin loom bags, jackets, and fabrics. If you want contemporary local stuff designed by young Sikkimese, head to Studio Tetteluna on Nam Nang Road (about a 7-minute walk via the road between Denzong Cinema and Lal Bazar). They are professional photographers and print all images on high-quality German paper. They have a small collection of photos of Sikkim on excellent quality photo paper that you can buy as souvenirs. 

Take the Ropeway

This double-cable Deorali ropeway has three stations on a roughly 1 km-long ride. The lowest station is at Deorali, near the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. A stairway leads to the ticket counter. An elevator takes you to the cable car station, about 100ft above. The cars don't have seats &ndash you have to stand. It stops at Nam Nang first and then at Tashiling, next to the Secretariat. You can enter or get off at any point. The ride takes about 10 minutes. You get good views of the town, peaks, and valleys. The ropeway terminals are at Secretariat, Nam Nang, and Deorali and tend to leave only when one car has filled up completely.

Eat Out

Some of the best places can be found around MG Marg, which has a wide variety of eateries serving everything from excellent local dishes to Italian, Indian, and more. For a taste of quality local food, visit Solpon (Hotel Dhewhcen, NH 10, on Singtam - Chungthang Rd). They use locally sourced seasonal ingredients that are organic and sustainable (through partnerships with farmers). Café Fiction (attached to Rachna Books in the Development Area) has excellent coffee and bakes. We recommend a tall glass of Vietnamese coffee. Upstairs is their bookstore, Rachna Books, which has won several awards and regularly hosts readings and live music sessions. 

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