Nestled in the lap of the Eastern Himalayas, the picturesque village of Mangan serves as a gateway to North Sikkim while introducing you to the Lepchas and their unique culture. Primarily used as a halting place to Dzongu, Lachen and Lachung, the town was established in 1903 by Rinzing Namgyal, a local landlord. Mangan gets its name from the Lepcha word Maangan, meaning hidden place. The Nepalese inhabitants of the region changed its pronunciation to Mangan over the years.
Located at an elevation of 4000ft above sea level, in the geographic south of the district, Mangan offers spectacular views of the majestic Mt Khangchendzonga, the world’s third-highest mountain peak. Pakshak View Point, around 3km north of Mangan provides a view of the eastern face of Khangchendzonga. The legendary Satyajit Ray had called it the best view of the mountain when he had shot a movie here.READ: What to Not Miss Eating on Your Next Trip to Sikkim
Mangan is also home to one of the highest bailey suspension bridges in Asia, with the 45-year-old Rangrang Bridge straddling over the torrents of the Rangrang gorge. While lower Mangan houses the bustling and clean Mangan Bazaar with shops, hotels and cafes, the upper part of the village is where you will find absolute peace. Curvy roads lined with utis, cherry, pine and walnut trees follow you all along the little hamlet while colourful prayer flags flutter all around. Rhododendrons and orchids are also found here in abundance.
The tranquility of this hill resort will take away your travel fatigue in a jiffy. Views of the magnificent Eastern Himalayas, shining water streams, chirping of beautiful little birds, the enchanting sound of Buddhist mantras all add up to provide the perfect setting to sit back and relax before you start your adventures in North Sikkim.
The best part about Mangan is however, the unmatched hospitality of the Lepchas. Staying with them in their homestays can be an absolutely enriching experience as you not only get introduced to the history and rich culture of the Lepchas but also realise why Sikkim is called the organic land. Dining with the homestay owners is an amazing experience as you introduce your palate to the bitter taste of pherfeek Dong while also tasting thentuk bhee and khemseel bhee. They might even have myriad tales to share about the Lepchas, the autocthons of Sikkim.
They have lived in perfect harmony with nature for ages and have developed an innate relationship with their environment. For the Lepchas, everything from the blooming of orchids to the twittering of birds, has a meaning. Your amazing hosts would also be too happy to wake you up early morning so that you don’t miss the amazing view of Mt Khangchendzonga and its adjacent peaks at sunrise.
Things to do
Village Walks and Bird-Watching trips
Village Walks are a great way to explore Mangan. The village-cum jungle walk conducted by most homestay owners here, takes you to the Rikzing Choling Monastery and the villages of Ringhim, Malling and Kalaw. Mangan is also a paradise for bird watchers and butterfly lovers.
An early morning bird-watching trip with a local guide can be a great idea to get you charged for your next destination. Birding with the Lepchas is a delightful experience. They are best friends with nature and any Lepcha would easily distinguish species of each genus of plants, every beast, bird and insect.Commonly found birds in Mangan include orange-billed leafbird, red-billed leiothrix, green-backed tit, red-billed chough, red-vented bulbul, asian barred owlet, rufous sibia, common hoopoe, fire-tailed sunbird, blue-fronted redstart and blackface laughing thrush.
Around 2km ahead of Mangan is the Singhik viewpoint, offering spectacular views of river Teesta and Mt Khangchendzonga. It is from here that celebrated Botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker viewed the magnificent peak when he was not allowed to enter the protected zone of the Lepchas during his trip to North Sikkim in the 1840s. You can stop at the viewpoint for a quick photo-op on your way from Mangan to Lachen.
The viewpoint is a simple cemented platform guarded by green iron railings. While the Khangchendzonga range can be clearly seen from here, getting to see Mt Khangchendzonga entirely depends on the cloud cover and your luck! Some travelers also prefer to take a night halt at Singhik on their way to Chungthang or Lachen. There are just a handful of staying options in Singhik, the Lazomla Homestay, being the most-preferred.
A little ahead of Singhik, you can also stop at the stunning Menchu waterfalls at Menchu. Falling from a great height, the water gushes down a stepped wall, with the sunshine forming rainbows on its crystal white water. Tourists headed to Lachen make sure to stop here for a quick break and some selfies, of course!
Just 4km ahead of Menchu is a small village called Naga, known for its splendid waterfall. One of the largest in the region, the Naga Falls are a tourist magnet and during peak seasons, one can expect a traffic jam here for a minimum of 45 minutes. Located right next to the Relkhola Bridge, the waterfalls can be viewed from a raised cemented platform.
Being a major town of north Sikkim and also the administrative headquarters of the district, Mangan can be easily reached by hiring a reserved or share taxi from Siliguri’s SNT Bus Stand. While driving from Siliguri, you first cross Rangpo village — the entry point of Sikkim.
After you cross Rangpo, you will reach Singtam in East Sikkim. Two roads diverge from Singtam. One leads to Gangtok and East Sikkim while the other leads to Mangan. On your way from Singtam to Mangan, some of the major landmarks you will cross are Dikchu village and Rangrang village.
Mangan can also be reached by road from Gangtok, located at a distance of 67km. Expect a bumpy ride.
Tip: The Mangan Bazaar Petrol Pump is the only pump around Mangan and after this, one would find a petrol pump only at Chungthang, 32km from Mangan.
When to go: While summers are pleasant with the maximum temperature around 26-28°C, winters are typically cold with the minimum temperature being 2 to 5°C. In monsoons, the place experiences moderate to heavy rainfall during the months of July and August. The best time to visit Mangan is the winter season as the views of Mt Khangchendzonga are the clearest during this time.
Tourist Office: Sikkim Tourist Information Centre Mangan, North Sikkim
Cell: 09434257588, Important Contacts: Mangan Police Station: 03592- 234284/ 234252/234271 STD Code: 03592
Where to eat
There are not very many options for eating out but you could try the offerings at Malling Villa Restaurant, Hotel Khimsa Malling Bar and Restaurant and Hotel Moxim’s Bar and Restaurant which appear to be Mangan’s finest.
Where to stay
Even though there's no dearth of good hotels in Mangan, it's best to stay in a homestay. You will not only be learning about the rich cultural heritge and incredible biodiversity of Sikkim, you will also be helping the locals, for whom tourism is a great support system. Malawlee Homestay (Cell: 89720-19585) is one of the most preferred.