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Although Sikkim was never part of the Raj, the Sikkimese capital feels like a British hill station, with a string of parks and gardens strung out along the ridge, and epic views toward the high Himalaya from viewpoints above the city. Dotted around Gangtok are Buddhist monasteries and palaces and one of India’s foremost centers for Buddhist research, the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. A scenic cableway transports visitors from close to the institute to the top of the ridge, and helicopter rides offer the chance to get even closer to the mountains. Travelers use Gangtok as a launch pad for day trips to the famous monastery at Rumtek, treks ...

Although Sikkim was never part of the Raj, the Sikkimese capital feels like a British hill station, with a string of parks and gardens strung out along the ridge, and epic views toward the high Himalaya from viewpoints above the city. Dotted around Gangtok are Buddhist monasteries and palaces and one of India’s foremost centers for Buddhist research, the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. A scenic cableway transports visitors from close to the institute to the top of the ridge, and helicopter rides offer the chance to get even closer to the mountains. Travelers use Gangtok as a launch pad for day trips to the famous monastery at Rumtek, treks over the Goecha La pass, rafting trips on the Teesta River and jeep tours to the remote north of Sikkim. Although Gangtok is Sikkim’s largest city, the clean mountain air attracts hordes of holidaymakers from the plains, particularly during the Durga Puja holidays. A Sikkim permit is required to visit Gangtok, but this can easily be obtained in Siliguri, which has the closest airport and railhead (the airport is at Bagdogra, 10 miles out of town).

Joe Bindloss
About the Expert

Joe Bindloss has written more than 30 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Time Out and other publishers, with a focus on Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and island nations.

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Joe Bindloss for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located in the Shivalik Hills of the eastern Himalayan range and situated in the southeast of the Indian state of Sikkim.
  • Language: English, Nepali, Tibetan, Limbu, Bhutia, Lepcha
  • Currency: Indian Rupee
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    September to November and April to May. December and January can be bitterly cold.