Tourist Attraction in Gangtok

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Gangtok the capital of Sikkim has several splendid places to visit. One of the most famous monasteries in India the Rumtek monastery is a worth visit monastery of Gangtok. Other attractive amusements of Gangtok are the Tsongmolake and the ruins of Rabdentse. Those who are nature and wildlife lovers for their interest, is the Deorali orchid sanctuary and Himalayan zoological park.

Famous for its scenic setting is the Yumthang valley in Sikkim. In addition to the monastries, Gangtok is also home to some beautiful temples like the Thakurbari temple. There are lots to visit in Gangtok so check out our list of places to visit in Gangtok.

Tsongmo Lake

Tsongmo Lake in Gangtok Lying 35 km on the Gangtok-Nathu La highway is the beautiful Tsomgo Lake. Located at an elevation of 12,000 feet and this water body is also known as Changu Lake

Rumtek monastery

Rumtek monastery in Gangtok Rumtek Monastery is the seat of the Karmapa Lama, the third highest monk in Tibetan Buddhism and is the largest monastery in Sikkim. Well known as Dharma chakra Centre the Rumtek Monastery also serves as one of the most important seats of the Kagyu (Black Hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism outside of Tibet. The monastery was built by the fourth King of Sikkim under the supervision of the ninth Karmapa (head of the Karma Kagyu sect) and is situated about 23 km from Gangtok.

Surrounded by lush green landscape with a location at an elevation of almost 5000 ft, the monastery is a visual delight besides offering spiritual solace.

The architectural design of the monastery is very much similar to the original Kagyu headquarters in Tibet. The Kagyu (also called Kagyupa or Kagyud) school is one of six main schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

A golden stupa is preserved by the beautiful monastery which contains remnants like statues and paintings belonging to the 16th Karmapa. When China took possession of Tibet the importance of the monastery increased greatly leading to relocation of many religious gurus from Tibet to Sikkim. Some of the world’s most unique religious scriptures and religious art objects are kept in this monastery.

Near the monastery you can find important Buddhist buildings like the Nalanda Institute of Higher Buddhist studies and less than a kilometer uphill from the monastery is a hermitage where monks go to meditate for a period of up to three years. From the main monastery when you can have a brief walk downhill then it will take you to the site of the old monastery which was destroyed in a fire but it was later re-established.

It is said that ten thousand fairies offered the first Karmapa who meditated for many years in a cave a strand of hair each after congratulating him for his achievement. With this strands of hair were woven a black hat which has been passed down over the generations and it still remains in the Rumtek Monastery. During ceremonies, the hat is worn by following Karmapas and it is said that the hat would fly away if it is not held by hand or kept in a box.

During winter the monastery is open from 10 am to 5 pm and during summer it is open from 8 am to 5 pm. For foreign nationals their passports and their permit is required but for others the entry is totally free.

Because of the controversy surrounding the 17th Karmapa Tthe monastery was in the news.


Built in the 16th century by Karmapa WangchuckDorje the Rumtek Monastery was the main seat of power for the Karma Kagyu sect in Sikkim.

Gyalwa Karmapa, the 16th Karmapa, who was responsible for ruining the monastery, fled Tibet in 1959 and despite being offered other sites; he chose to rebuild the monastery at Rumtek as he believed that the place had auspicious elements and many favorable conditions. Gyalwa Karmapa had the monastery rebuilt in four years with the help of Sikkim’s Royal Family and the Indian government, and it became his main seat in exile.

Relics that had been brought from Tsurphu Monastery which was his seat in Tibet were used to decorate the monastery.


  • Those who are foreign nationals they need to obtain a permit to visit the monastery.
  • From the main government office at Sikkim and Siliguri the permit can be obtained.

As such in the monastery there are no places to stay but near the monastery there are few affordable accommodation options. A wide variety of options for stay is provided by Gangtok.

As there are no restaurants nearby so must carry food and water while visiting the monastery.

Though the monastery can be visited throughout the year but the best time to visit Rumtek Monastery is between September and June.

Near to Rumtek Monastery

Gangtok the capital of Sikkim, a hill resort and one of the most frequently visited places in the north-east is about 23 km north east of the monastery. Gangtok is famous for the striking views of Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world and its picturesque and attractive beauty.

Kalimpong which was a part of Bhutan until it was wrested by colonial British and made part of India is about 75 km south west of the monastery. Kalimpong is a beautiful hill station and it possesses picturesque old churches, ancient Buddhist monasteries and popular temples.

Darjeeling situated at an elevation of over 7000 ft is one of the most scenic and hugely popular hill resorts in India are about 100 km south west of the monastery. With the background of the forceful snow-clad Himalayan peaks, Darjeeling has been popular with tourists for its beauty and pleasant climate. On a sunny day one can get a clear view of the world’s third highest peak, Kanchenjunga, from the town.
Address: 24km from Gangtok, East Sikkim, 737101, India

Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve

Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in Gangtok

The Khangchendzonga biosphere reserve situated in Sikkim in North East India is the habitat to snow leopard, musk deer and Himalyantahr. The reserve is one of the few high altitude biosphere reserves in the country as it is spread over around 850 sq km.

The reserve was established in August 26, 1977 as a national park and the reserve is named after the third highest peak in the world Mount Khangchendzonga (also spelt as Kanchenjunga). In the local language Khangchendzonga means 'five treasures of snow'.

Surrounded by several mountain peaks and glaciers the reserve on its western side, stands the majestic Mount Khangchenjunga. To its north lies Nepal, Talung, tent peaks and the famous Zemu and Simyo glaciers. The other sides of the reserve are covered by other peaks like Narshing, Pandim, Siniolchu.

Temperate broad leaf and mixed forest consisting of fir birch, oaks, maple, willow etc is the flora of the reserve. Alpine grasses and shrubs at higher altitude with many medical plants and herbs are also included.

The reserve is treated as a dwelling to several wildlife species including musk deer, snow leopard and Himalyantahr. One can also find in the reserve animals like civet, sloth bear, Himalayan black bear, Tibetan wild ass, red panda, Himalayan blue sheep, serow, takin.

The reserve is also treated as a dwelling to about 550 bird species including blood pheasant, osprey, Tibetan snowcock, satyr tragopan, lammergeier, Himalayan griffon, green pigeon, snow pigeon, Tibetan snowcock, Asian emerald cuckoo and others.

At the biosphere reserve trekking is the well-liked activity. Yuksom which is located about 145 km from Gangtok is the point from which the trekking route starts. The most popular trails are Yuksom-Tshoka-Dzongri, Bakim–Dzongri-Thangshing-Samuteng-Goechala.

Address: Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, Gangtok, Sikkim, 737101, India


Rabdentse in Gangtok in Gangtok Even though it was in ruins, Rabdentse was the previous royal capital of Sikkim. The town which is located about 107 km west of Gangtok, was first established in 1670 by ChadokNamgyal after shifting the primary capital from Yuksom after it was declared sacred in 1642.

By Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) the ruins have been declared a monument of national importance. Rabdentse is situated in the district of West Sikkim, and its ruins lie on a ridge which offers a panoramic view of the dense forest and snow-capped mountains. By a two km trek from Pelling the ruins can be accessed.

Tourists are attracted towards the town just because of the bird park and the ruins.

The Nepalese Army was responsible for destroying the city completely leaving behind only the ruins of the palace. ASI by means of excavations and restorations has successfully recreated the hall, king’s bedroom, kitchen, public courtyard, assembly hall and guard’s rooms.

Buddhist pilgrimage which starts from Yuksom at Dubdi Monastery, and goes on to NorbugangChorten, Pemayangtse Monastery, Tashiding Monastery, Sangachoeling Monastery and ends at the Khecheopalri Lake, the ruins in the town are a part of this Buddhist pilgrimage.

For taking over the throne a dispute occurred between the third Chogyal (monarch), Chador Namgyal and his half-sister, Paden Wangmoo which led to the attack on the city by Bhutanese forces. The attack by Bhutanese forces make Chador Namgyal fled the city and sought shelter in Lhasa. Because of the attack the territory was invaded which is now the hill station of Kalimpong. As he was a minor he remained in exile for ten years. After his exile he returned to the kingdom and with the help of Tibetans, took control of the kingdom.

The region which was totally vanished was ultimately merged with Sikkim. As it was situated close to the border with Tibet and vulnerable to attacks the capital was shifted from Rabdentse to Tumlong. Over the years, several attacks on Rabdentse reduced it to the ruins that remain today.

Pemayangtse Monastery

Pemayangtse Monastery in Gangtok The second oldest monastery in Sikkim is the Pemayangtse Monastery. Situated about 107 km west of Gangtok at an elevation of 5840 ft, the town has the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and valleys with dense forests cover. Believed to be a symbol of one of the four retes (a network of cells) in the human body, Pemayangtse means ‘perfect sublime lotus’. The main tourist attraction of the town is the Pemayangtse Monastery. Even thought the monastery is more than 300 years old, the monastery is in excellent condition and is well maintained by the monks. The monastery is a three-storied structure with several statues including those of Padmasambhava (Lotus Born) located at an elevation of over 6500 ft.

If you visit the monastery then you will see that the first level of the monastery has beautiful sculptures, paintings and ancient scrolls along with the notable statue of Padmasambhava’s eight incarnations with the seven layered wooden structure depicting the heavenly abode of Guru Rimpoche.

A huge room is the main prayer hall of the monastery. The garden adjoining to the monastery is well maintained and the statues near the entrance of the monastery are gracefully carved and have amazing attention to detail. The monastery which was later expanded was designed and founded by Lama LhatsunChempoway, the monastery in Pemayangtse and was originally built as a crypt. By the earthquakes of 1913 and 1960 the town and the monastery was ruined but they were rebuilt and have been renovated many times since. The monks who are sworn to celibacy for them the monastery is their home. The title of ‘ta-tshang’ is given to these monks. If you wish you can also visit the ruins of Rabdentse that are situated near the town.

For the 46 km long Dzongri trekking trail which is considered to be the most popular in Sikkim through the dense forests in Khangchendzonga National Park the monastery serve as the starting point.

Opening hours of Pemayangtse Monastery:
The monastery is open all days from 09:00 am to 06:00 pm.

Entry fee for visiting Pemayangtse Monastery:
The entry fees for Pemayangtse Monastery are mentioned below. We have listed the entry fees for Indians, the entry fees for foreigners, camera fees and other charges if applicable.
Domestic Adult: 20 per person

Address: Gyalshing 140 kms from Gangtok, West Sikkim, 737121, India

Deorali Orchid Sanctuary

Deorali Orchid Sanctuary in Gangtok Deorali Orchid Sanctuary in Sikkim is well-known for its exceptional and widespread collection of orchids. The truth that the orchids in the reserve vary depending upon the change in seasons is the remarkable characteristic of the sanctuary.

For their exhilarating and intense fragrance the orchids are well known everywhere. These lovely flowers are always found in bright and dazzling colors and beautiful shapes. The climate prevailing in the north-east region of India which is tropical and humid is ideal for these orchids. In the Deorali Orchid Sanctuary those who are orchid lovers they will definitely be charmed by the variety and beauty of the orchids.

The Deorali Orchid Sanctuary is situated nearby to the Namgyal Institute, Gangtok in Sikkim.

200 species of orchids out of total 454 species of orchids known to exist in the world are found in the sanctuary. A visit particularly during the blooming season to the sanctuary is a pleasure for the eyes. The blooming season is divided into three phases which starts from months of April to May, July to August and October to November.

In the sanctuary one can also see about 40 genus of rhododendron besides orchids. The two most important places to visit for orchid aficionados are the Deorali Orchid Sanctuary and the Orchidarium located off the main road to Rangpo.

In addition to engaged in preserving the diversity of orchid species, Deorali Orchid Sanctuary work as an ecological hotspot. Deorali forms the two most popular sanctuaries to visit in Sikkim beside Kyongnosia Alpine Sanctuary. In order to spot some rare, endangered ground orchids and rhododendrons Kyongnosia Sanctuary is the best place.

Yumthang Valley

Yumthang Valley in Gangtok Surrounded by mountains in the north Sikkim district of Sikkim in India and popularly known as the ‘Valley of flowers’, Yumthang valley is a beautiful, picturesque grazing meadow. At a distance of 150 km from the state capital Gangtok Yumthang valley is located at an elevation of 3,564 metres (11,800) above sea level.

The Himalayan Zoological Park

The Himalayan Zoological Park in Gangtok The Himalayan Zoological park is one which is showing evidence of the fauna of the Himalayas in their natural habitats. The zoo is he dwelling to several animals like the Himalayan Black Bear, the snow leopard, the barking deer, and the leopard cat, Masked Palm Civet, Tibetan wolf, red pandas and the spotted deer amongst the others.

Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Gardens

Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Gardens in Gangtok Situated near Rumtek monastery in Sikkim is the Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Gardens and Institute of Research, which is renamed after the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the garden houses many species of orchid and as many as fifty different species of tree, including many oaks. Between the lush green stock of vegetation, rare plants and trees and certain species of Himalayan flowers and Orchids the Garden is an enthralling and peaceful and relaxing experience.

The Thakurbari Temple

The Thakurbari Temple in Gangtok Established in 1935 on a prime piece of land donated by the then Maharaja of Sikkim is one of the oldest and best known Hindu temples in the city which is situated in Gangtok, the heart of the city. Coming into view as an important centre of union for the Hindu community of Gangtok the temple houses almost all major deities. In order to include multi-purpose hall and library in 2011, the temple complex was further upgraded.

The Ganesh Tok and the Hanuman Tok

The Ganesh Tok and the Hanuman Tok  in Gangtok The Ganesh Tok and the Hanuman Tok dedicated to the Hindu gods Ganpati and Hanuman are located in the upper reaches of the city.

Goecha La

Goecha La in Gangtok The Himalayan mountain pass in Sikkim is the Goecha La or Goecha Pass. Goecha La is one of the gateways to Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world and is located at an altitude of 16,200 ft. A trek to Goecha La is quite exciting and thriling and it serves as a camp for mountaineers scaling Kanchenjunga. Entry to Goecha La is restricted so International travelers are only allowed to travel in groups and Indian travelers are required to register themselves at Yuksom. Around seven days is required to trek to Goecha La from Yuksom and then back.

Some of the important stopovers between Yuksom and Goecha La are Sachen, Bakkhim, Tshoka, Phedang, Dzongri, Kokchurong, Thansing and Lamuney. The dense forests through which the trek winds gives way to alpine meadows known as bugyals. As you reach closer towards Goecha La, the terrain changes from a rocky terrain to a wide variety of woody, evergreen and deciduous plants with vibrant colors.

Trekking in Sikkim and especially to Goecha La is unique, especially at its best in May. Just because no hotels or resorts are there and so camping is the only option except for a few tea stalls that serve basic refreshments. If you are trekking here, carry your own food as Goecha La has no eateries to speak of.

Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake  in Gangtok Gurudongmar Lake (also known as Gurudogmar lake) is located at 17,100 ft (5,210 m) above sea level, is not only a high altitude lake in Sikkim but is also one of the highest lakes in the world. It is only five km south of the Chinese border and lies to the northeast of the Kangchenjunga range. During the winters (from November to mid-May) most part of the lake is frozen.

Considered sacred by Buddhist and Sikhs it is one of the four sources of water to river Teesta (Pauhunri and Zemu glaciers and Cholamulake are the other three). Gurudongmar who was blessed by the Buddhist Guru Padmasambava also known as Guru Rinpoche, founder of Tibetan Buddhism on his way back from Tibet, noticed that since the lake was frozen through the winters,

it could not supply drinking water to the villagers. There was a myth that on seeing this he was very much disturbed and so he touched a part of the lake and to this day, that section of the lake does not freeze no matter how low the temperature gets.

There was another fiction about Sikh Guru Nanak that when he visited Sikkim he also blessed the lake. It is believed that pregnant women who pay a visit to the lake then their wishes get fulfilled by the lake. Sarva Dharma Stala, is the spiritual attraction around the lake which is a place of worship for people of all religions.

Since Lachen has a better connectivity to other destinations and there is not much to see in the village so even though the lake is located near Mangan, most travelers prefer a stay at Lachen only.

There are so many travelers who plan their trip from Lachen and Lachung to Yumthang. From Lachen it takes three hours to reach Gurudongmarlake, from Lachung four hours is needed to reach Gurudongmarlake and from Yumthang to reach Gurudongmarlake five hours is needed.

As commuting is more convenient from Lachen so opting for a stay at Lachen is the best option. Budget hotels offering pleasant stays for tourists can be easily found at Lachen. In addition to budget hotels there are few mid-range options for accommodation but no luxurious ones.

If you want to spend time and to know more about the locals then hone stays is a good option too. Locals will always be there to help and share information and stories of historic and religious importance.

Because of the location of the lake on such a high altitude above the sea level, there are close to no eateries here and so it is advisable to carry some snacks along with you.

If you wish then affordable and hygienic local food is available near Mangan. Thukpa (noodles and meat/vegetables in soup) and momos the best Tibetan snacks are a must-try.

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