When people ask me, during my travels which place appealed to me the most, Sikkim automatically pops up in my head. My journey in Sikkim started with the city of Gangtok. I traveled to Gangtok from Darjeeling hiring a 10 seater shared Jeep. People visiting Darjeeling often visit Gangtok at the same time because of the proximity of two places.
I was hosted near Sikkim Manipal University by a locale in Sikkim who I connected to using the android application ‘Couchsurfing’. ‘Couchsurfing’ is a platform used by travelers where they share their places, food, cultures, experiences etc.
One of my fondest memories about Gangtok is the way houses are constructed. Houses in Gangtok are constructed by cutting hills. I could just climb down the stairs outside my host’s house and reach a new house which the host had allocated me to stay. I could again climb down the stairs outside my house and reach the house where the parents of my host stayed. Similar was the case at farmer’s market on MG Road. With every floor I climbed down, I found a road outside with taxi stand.
Another thing that impressed me a lot about Gangtok is their local public transport. I found it the most dignified public transport I have ever experienced in my life. These are taxis which are cars and cost just 10-20 Rs for any nearby places you wish to convey to. The taxi owners cannot allow more than 4 people to board the vehicle and Sikkim government seemed pretty strict about it as nowhere I got to witness overloaded taxis.
Gangtok youngsters, both from poor and elite backgrounds are really smart and cool. There is a high chance you might end up dating a smart looking driver in case you didn’t know he was one. Almost all the drivers know how to speak English. They are very sporty by nature.
Sikkim has a wide variety of colorful orchids. The government has maintained the aesthetics of the city by decorating public paths and seating places with colorful flowers.
I spent around 2 nights and 3 days in Gangtok with the first day spent on sightseeing and second day on visiting MG Market, issuing some permits and making arrangements to visit North Sikkim.
Upcoming articles are more about Gangtok and Sikkim. Stay tuned for more stories and information!
A little about Gangtok ( This information has been acquired from the people of Sikkim, Wikipedia, Indian Express and Darjeeling Tourism):
The precise meaning of the name “Gangtok” is unclear, though the most popular meaning is “hill cut”. The local population belongs to three different ethnicities such as Nepalis, Lepchas, and Bhutia. Bhutias are people with Tibetian origin and Lepchas are the people with their origin in Sikkim itself.
Between 1894 to 1975 it was part of the Namgyal kingdom and a center of Royal administration. After that Sikkim became a state of India and Gangtok became the Capital of Sikkim.
Sikkim being a border state has several areas marked as Restricted Areas while others as Protected Areas. Indians do not require permits to visit Gangtok. However, all foreign nationals (except Bhutanese) require an Inner-Line Permit to visit Gangtok.
In 2016, Sikkim became India’s first fully organic state besides being adjudged the cleanest state, overall best in education and tourist destination while the famed Kanchenjunga National Park was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.