Gangtok: The Modern Himalayas- gateway to China!
"The Clean/ Green Gangtok!!"
Hi everyone! Those who communicate regularly know that I again went to Gangtok on 14th April, exactly after a month. This time it was I visited many places, I missed last month like Tsomgo Lake, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, the famous flower and Orchid show, Kyomiang water falls, Melli Bazar for River rafting etc etc. My five days in Gangtok was really great and highly enjoyable.
I also had the opportunity to visit several new and better hotels in Gangtok. I shall be building tips on them soon just for VT as there is not much information on VT about hotels of Gangtok. I am sure it will be enjoyed by the future travellers to Gangtok.
I also did river rafting at Melli Bazar & Teesta , while coming back to Siliguri , I shall also be writing about White water Rafting.
Oh yeah ! This time the mountain Kanchendzonga did not deprive me. I could watch her for about an hour or so on the day we were coming back to Siliguri. Please enjoy my latest tips and write ups.
Gangtok is surely the most beautiful and most clean hill town of India. It has left behind Musoorie, Darjeeling, Oooty, Koorg, Srinagar and all other hill towns of India. Now I have visited all of them in recent years, it's cleanliness and freshness can not be compared with any other hill town. The courtesy goes to the ruling by the Sikkimese government that any one comitting nuicence in public place will be imposed with heavy fine. Visit any part of Gangtok, the filth and bad odour of hill towns is missing. You are going to love this place! The main mall Mahatma Gandhi Road, is spotlessly clean and heavily policed. It has been made a transport free zone but at the same time they have erected many public utility places like three tiered parking places ( very difficult to get place in hills), clean pay toilets, bus stands for various places with tired parking for vehicles. Now Gangtok has 14500 vehicles and there no traffic jam in the city. Great planning! It also proves, if you have political wisdom, it can be done with ease.
Gangtok is located at 27�‹20�ŒN 88�‹37�ŒE / 27.33�‹N 88.62�‹E / 27.33; 88.62. It is situated in the lower Himalayas at an altitude of 5,500 ft (1,676 m). In addition to being the state capital, it is the headquarters of the East Sikkim district. The town lies on one side of a hill, with "The Ridge",a promenade housing the governor's residence at one end and the palace, situated at an altitude of about 6,000 ft (1,829 m), at the other. The city is flanked on east and west by two streams, namely Roro Chu and Ranikhola, respectively.These two rivers divide the natural drainage into two parts, the eastern and western parts. Both the streams meet the Ranipul and flow south as the main Ranikhola before it joins the Teesta at Singtam. Most of the roads are steep, with the buildings built on compacted ground alongside them.
"How to go to Gangtok from different parts of India"
The state of Sikkim and the city of Gangtok is very well connected by Air, Rail and Road. The nearest Rail head is New Jalpaiguri or NJP is about 126 KMs and nearest airport is Bagdogra ( Near Siliguri/ NJP) 125kms. NJP is major or perhaps the largest rail junction in North Bengal or in the entire North East. It is very well cnnected with entire North East, Guahati, Kolkata ( Calcutta), New Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, North India and South India as well. The station is always bustling as trains are arriving in all 24hrs from various directions. In my view travelling by road to Gangtok is the best way to reach the city. There is Helicpoter Service from Bagdogra airport but the timings may not suit you.
Fare: From Calcutta by Darjeeling mail: Rs700/- ( USD$14)in ACIII, Rs1000/- in ACII ( USD$20) apx. The major trains that goes to NJP are Kanchenjunga Exp, Uttar Banga Exp, Kamrup Exp, Teesta Torsa Exp, North Bengal Exp etc. Most of the North Bengal bound trains leave from Sealdah.
Recently, Indian Railway has introduced a new ACII Air Conditioned exp named Garib Rath, from the station KOLKATA ( a new railway station at Chitpur, Kolkata). This station is different from Howrah or Sealdah. The fare is little cheap here ( Rs.700/-)in this train and the full tain is ACIII only. It leaves at very convenient time of 21.40 hrs and reaches NJP at 07.30hrs.
Darjeeling mail is super fast train and it is very difficult to find accomodation in this train as everybody prefers to travel by this train. Most of the time it is full.
Just outside the staition, there is taxi stand for Darjeeling, Panitanki ( Kakarbhita, Nepal), Gangtok, Phuntsoling ( Bhutan), Lava, Lolegaon and various other places. The fare is fixed for all destinations. From NJP to Gangtok the are is Rs150/-( or USD$3 at current exchange rate, really cheap for Westerner) per passenger. It takes about 3.5 hrs to 4.30 hrs to reach Gangtok from NJP depending on the road condition( Please remember driving condition on hills is entirely different from highways). The vehicles are all 10 seater diesel jeeps, they take 10 passengers for a trip. If you want little more comfort you may take the entire front seat ( 2 persons) or back seat ( 4 persons).
In the city of Gangtok for local travelling or sightseeing around you get petrol vans or cars who allow only 4 persons to seat including the driver. The local fare is Rs. 10/- per pax per destination say from Baluakani to M.G.Road a distance of 4kms or you can book the entire vehicle for Rs 40/- ( or USD$1 only!).
For local sight seeing for 7 points or 10 points you get cars for Rs.600/- ( USD$12) to Rs1000/- (USD$20) including journey to Rumtek Monastry and Banjhakhri Falls( both will take about 24+ 15 KMs one way or about 80kms return). Time given about 4-6 hrs or even more! It works out very cheap for Rs.600/- you can travel more than 100kms in hills and use the vehicle for more than 6hrs! The Sikkim drivers are very polite and cooperative as well. ( See pictures)