Gangtok trek

If you are fond of a little walking, it is suggested that you see Gangtok on foot: the city itself is a trekking trail waiting to be explored. And the distances are not much that calls for an artificial mode of transport.  It will enable you to feel the contemporary life of the town. Most of the important places of interest in Gangtok can be seen on foot at a leisurely pace within six hours. You can start after having an early breakfast and be back in time for lunch. The unpredictable showers may be a hindrance but what is a visit to Gangtok without getting a little drenched?

From Gangtok Bazar, a walk of about fifteen minutes through the Tibet Road takes you to the Nehru Point just above White Hall which is at four crossroads. Before reaching the White Hall the claustrophobic assemblage of buildings – urban canyons – start breaking apart and are replaced by tall trees and gardens. You take the road that passes below the Chief Minister’s Official residence also called Mintogang and reach the Tashi Namgyal Academy Upper Gate. A walk up the steep road on the right takes you to the Siniolchu Tourist Lodge. Catch your breath and enjoy the panoramic view of Gangtok far down below you. The walk from White hall till here has taken about half an hour. In another ten minutes, you are ready to move again.

A walk of another five minutes takes you to the Enchey Monastery.  Spend about fifteen minutes seeing the Monastery which is situated in a thick forest. From the Enchey Monastery, you take the track uphill just below the TV Tower, through the Pinetum under the shadow of beautiful pine trees, and reach the Bye-Pass Road. A walk of a few more minutes and you are at Ganesh Tok. The walk between the Monastery and Ganesh Tok takes about twenty minutes. At the Ganesh Tok, it is like floating high up in the air. The TV tower and the Enchey Monastery lie just below your foot and the town of Gangtok is further down.

The whole Kanchendzonga range in front presents a heavenly sight and serenely gazes back at you. Enjoy the scenery for about ten minutes and you are ready to walk down. Spend about forty-five minutes watching wild animals in the Himalayan Zoological Park just opposite Ganesh Tok. Follow the same route back to the White Hall and take fifteen minutes to watch the Flower show. If you feel, rest a while at the traditionally designed resting shed on the Ridge and enjoy the fragrance of the flowers around.

Another walk of about twenty minutes on the Ridge and around the Palace area takes you to the Main Secretariat Complex and the Rustomji Park through the Pagoda gate. Walking the ridge and around the palace, you are reminded that this area used to be once the seat of power of the Chogyals – bubbling with activity and visited by many dignitaries. The palace now stands forlorn and desolate – a far cry from the good old days. Spend 10 minutes strolling around the Main Secretariat which is now the seat of power and the Rustomji Park which has a statue of Buddha. 

Far below,  the glistening white Chorten with its yellow crown seems to peep out from the forest and beckon you. From the Main Secretariat, you move further down and take the well-paved footpath connecting the Government Press and the Legislative Assembly  Building. From this footpath the view of the river Roro-chu, which flows almost a thousand meters below,  is breathtaking.

On reaching the imposing Sikkim Legislative Assembly Building you move downwards to Nam Nam. The steep road down from Nam Nam reaches you to Deorali and further down to Tibetology and the Chorten. The walk down from the Main Secretariat to the Chorten takes just over half an hour at a leisurely pace. Alternatively, you can take the ropeway from the Assembly Building to the Chorten.

Walk around the Chorten and spin the prayer wheels on which are in­scribed the mantra “Om Mane Padme Hum” and also visit the monastery with the towering statue of Guru Padmasambhava in it. Spend about twenty minutes at the Tibetology and walk back to Gangtok Bazar in about forty-five minutes.

This trek has taken you only about six hours and has given you a real feel of the town and its way of life. The afternoon can be kept for a visit to the Government Institute of Cottage Industries for souvenir purchasing and the evening for going around the market. A route map of the trek is also shown elsewhere in the book.

If you have a few more hours to spare then a trek through the countryside to the river is an interesting addition. From close to the lower terminus at Deorali walk ten minutes down to the Syari Cooperative Store past the Hotel Royal Plaza. Take the Concrete Footpath down to Kopibari village a further fifteen minutes away.

Kopibari has all the ingredients of a pastoral way of life. Cowsheds, small maize and rice fields, and huts made of wood and tin sheets. And there is even a small village school. It is difficult to comprehend that 15 minutes away from town and you are in a different world. Take the steep footpath down to the riverside through a thick forest punctuated here and there by huts with thatched roots.

Within half an hour you are at the river Roro Chu. Explore the river and its surroundings and walk across the suspension bridge across it. Partake to the packed lunch that you surely will be carrying with you. The walk back to the Main road would take about an hour and fifteen minutes.