Gangtok, capital of the Indian state of Sikkim, is largely neglected by most tourists. It’s not on the mainstream tourist circuit. Yes, a lot of people visit this small Himalayan state and its capital city, but most of them are from Kolkata and elsewhere in West Bengal. Sikkim and Gangtok is usually not in the radar for most tourists from north, west or south India.
That’s sad, because the state and its capital is an awesome place to visit. There is Mt. Khangchendzonga, which is the third highest peak in the world. There is the Gurudongmar Lake and Yumthang Valley in the north, both of which are show-stoppers. There is Yuksom, the Dzongri Trail, and Varsey for trekkers and rhododendron lovers, there is the Teesta if you are all for adventure, the absolutely stunning Silk Route and the zig-zag beauty of Zuluk that will haunt your dreams for years. In fact, Sikkim was named by Lonely Planet as the “best region to visit in 2014”.
Go to Sikkim this winter and see how Christmas in India feels like! And of course you should start with Gangtok. Christmas is among the best times of the year to visit the state.
Christmas Celebration in Gangtok
Christmas is among the biggest religious event here, unlike most places in India. That is very interesting because most people in Sikkim are Hindus and Buddhists. In fact, 60.9% of the residents are Hindus. Only about 6.6% are Christians, but Christmas is still one of the most important festivals here. Actually, Christmas is celebrated almost by everybody in the state, but it is more so in Gangtok.
MG Road is the most happening place. It is wonderfully decorated with lights, candles and Christmas trees. You can see the arrangements till New Year and even beyond. Rajasthanis, Punjabis, Sikkimese, Bengalis and Nepalis are all in a jovial mood this time of the year. The center of attraction is of course the churches. St.Thomas the Apostle Church, Bethlehem Fellowship Church, and the House of Grace Church are the most popular ones. Hundreds of people come here to prey and hope for a better year. Shops and individual homes are decorated too for Christmas.
Why go to Gangtok for Christmas Vacation
Christmas and the winter vacation is the official off-season in Gangtok and Sikkim. And so, most travel companies are offering special discount packages. This will save you a lot of money. In fact, you could get your room at as much as half the price. Do you find that a good reason for visiting Gangtok in the winter? If not, then there are other compelling reasons as well.
It’s lovely in the winter. The Tsongmo Lake and Nathu La is all frozen. The weather is clear, and so, you will have a wonderful view of the mighty Khangchendzonga. There are far fewer tourists, and so you will have nature all for yourself. Plus, there is never going to be any jostling for space at MG Road.
Things to do in Gangtok during Christmas
- Look at Mt. Khangchendzonga and be awestruck by it.
- Sit and relax in MG Road and do people watching.
- Visit ‘Gangtok at night’! Yes it is the tourist spot about one and a half kilometers away from MG Marg. Get get a spectacular view of Gangtok after sunset.
- Go trekking! Most of the trekking routes, however, start from Yuksom (145 km from Gangtok) in West Sikkim.
- Visit Tsongmo Lake and Nathu La.
- Go to Khangchendzonga National Park, at an elevation of 1,829 metres (6,001 ft) to over 8,550 metres (28,050 ft). Feel an altogether new adventure in this high altitude National park.
- See about 26 km long Zemu Glacier at the base of the Khangchendzonga, inside the National park.
See the many monasteries.
- Visit either North or West Sikkim. It would be very difficult to do both on a single trip.
- Go to a church and attend the mass.
- Sing carols.
And get mesmerized with the stunning beauty of this North-Eastern state of India! It can be in fact the best Christmas vacation destination in India for you, just due to its raw beauty and the Christmas feel all over here!