Best Kanchenjunga views in
Darjeeling and Gangtok

 
 
Despite lovely valleys, mountain streams, meadows and rolling tea gardens on the hill slopes, almost every tourist longs to get a great view of áKanchenjunga range and its snow peaks from Darjeeling and Gangtok, because that's one of the primary attractions the tourists come here for. 
 
 
 
Kanchejunga is the third highest mountain in the world with an elevation of 8,586m (28,169 ft) and is located between Nepal and the Indian state Sikkim. It has five peaks and three of them lie directly on the border including the Main peak, while the other two extend to Nepal. 
 
Kanchenjunga range from Tiger Hill 
Kanchenjunga from Tiger Hill 
 
There are vantage points or popularly known as viewpoints which offer the best views of the peaks. However, it's not just about the place, it's also about the time of the year that matters. Because the treasure peaks do not always show up and that too whenever you want them to. 
 
To see the snow peaks, you need a clear sky during the day and that's something which is not easy to get in Darjeeling or Gangtok if you land up in the wrong month. You will then end up seeing only a white blanket of cloud or mist ahead giving you virtually no visibility beyond a few meters distance, leave aside miles of distance where the towering peaks are actually located. 
 
And then you will need to satisfy yourself asking a local about the direction to look at, and imagine the peaks somewhere behind the clouds as you follow his fingers into the oblivion. 
 
But when the gigantic and magnificent peaks do show themselves, even though they are miles away, they look so close and awesome! While there is never any guarantee, but if you time your visit correctly and with little luck, you have all the chances of watching the magnificent Kanchenjunga from several places in Darjeeling as well as Gangtok. 
 

Best time for views

 
The best time to visit to get such views would be: 
 
1) during the spring time, i.e. between March and April when the sky usually remains clear, and  
2) during October to December when the weather starts getting chilly and the sky clears after the monsoon. January is also a good time for the views although fog could be a problem at times. In February it starts getting foggy. 
 

Chances of view by month

 
Here is a month-wise probability of getting a clear view of Kanchenjunga from Darjeeling and Gangtok when the sky is expected to remain clear (these figures are applicable for morning hours. In the afternoon, chances of clear sky is less). 
 
 
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Darjeeling
60%
55%
65%
60%
30%
15%
10%
10%
20%
60%
75%
75%
Gangtok
70%
65%
75%
75%
50%
40%
30%
40%
45%
65%
75%
80%
 
NOTE: You should try to get the views of snow peaks early in the morning when the chances of clear visibility is highest. Later in the day, often a small cloud and then larger ones start floating around the peaks and gradually the peaks get covered with clouds. 
 
 

How to identify Kanchenjunga

 
While most mountain lovers can easily identify Kanchenjunga by its prominent triangular East Face and its Summit Ridge, for those who haven't studied the Himalayan range at all, it could be a little confusing. This is because, depending on the location (i.e. Darjeeling or Gangtok) you could be looking at it from the south or from the east, and therefore, it will appear little different. And secondly, it's not a standalone peak, there are several other mountain peaks that lie on both sides of Kanchenjunga. 
 
The picture below is taken from Darjeeling. Kanchenjunga's triangular East Face is shown with the dotted triangle. As you can see... the Summit Ridge is extending to its left. 
 
Kanchenjunga from Darjeeling 
Kanchenjunga from Darjeeling 
 
In the next picture, when you see Kanchenjunga from Gangtok (i.e. from the east), you can see its Summit Ridge to the right of the East Face. But from both Darjeeling and Gangtok, Kanchenjunga can be easily identified by its steep triangular East Face and the short Summit Ridge. 
 
Kanchenjunga as seen from Gangtok 
Kanchenjunga from Gangtok 
Photo: Wikimedia Commons 
 

Views from Darjeeling

 
Kanchenjunga is about 64kms away from Darjeeling. For its sheer towering size and elevation, it looks so prominent and near from Darjeeling, although it's actually quite far away. From Darjeeling, you are actually watching the Himalayan range from south to north, and therefore several peaks along with Kanchenjunga are visible in a single stretch of snow... Kanchenjunga (8,586m) is in the middle, Mt. Pandim (6,691m) to its right, and Mt. Kabru (7,412m) followed by Kubhakarna (7,710m) to its left. 
 
Undoubtedly the best place in Darjeeling to get Kanchenjunga view is Tiger hill during sunrise. You should reach Tiger Hill by 4:30am and watch the magnificent specter of colors as they change in hue and dance on the snow peaks while the sun rises. The color of the snow peak changes from red to pink to yellow and then finally becomes white. On a clear day, you can also see Everest from here. 
 
In Darjeeling, another great place to see Kanchenjunga peaks is Batasia Loop where the toy train makes a 360 degree spiral loop to negotiate a steep gradient. There is a flower garden here which is an ideal place to soak in the views. 
 
As you approach the Mall Road (East) from chowrasta (Mall), there are three viewing galleries or view points on the right. While all are good for views, the best one is the last one which is closest to Governor's House and right above Hotel Retreat. If you walk down to this view point early in the morning, you get magnificent view of Kanchenjunga range on a clear day. 
 
Kanchenjunga Range, from the Viewpoint on Mall Road, Darjeeling 
Kanchenjunga from Darjeeling 
Photo: Suvobroto Ray Chowdhuri 
 
You can also get the views during the day time, but the changing colors on the snow peaks is a special sight which you can see only during sunrise. During the day time, the peaks look shiny white. 
 
As you look out towards Kanchenjunga range from the Mall road, you can see below that the mountain descends and meets a valley at the bottom with river Rangeet flowing through it, then it rises to form another east-west ridge line and goes down to a valley again... Kanchenjunga is far beyond that. Pelling is located on a ridge in-between and therefore you get a closer view of Kanchenjunga from there, but when it comes to viewing the entire range, Darjeeling offers the best views. 
 
However, there is one place in Darjeeling district which is the best of all for views... it's the highest altitude place in Darjeeling and West Bengal... Sandakphu. Not only can you see Kanchenjunga peaks from here, you can also see four of the five highest peaks of the world including Everest, Lhotse, Kanchenjunga and Makalu - all in one stretch of snow! You can't ask for more. 
 
Kanchenjunga (Sleeping Buddha) view from Sandakphu 
Kanchenjunga from Sandakphu 
 
The view of the entire Kanchenjunga range from Darjeeling and Sandakphu is known as 'Sleeping Buddha' because the contour of the icy mountains looks like as if Buddha is sleeping... his head on the west formed by Mt. Kumbhakarna, feet on the east formed by Mt. Pandim and Kanchenjunga forming the body. You get stunning view of this Sleeping Buddha also from Phalut, 21kms ahead of Sandakphu. 
 
View of Sleeping Buddha Range from Phalut 
Sleeping Buddha from Phalut 
Source: Rkb95, cc by-sa 4.0 
 

Views from Gangtok

 
In Gangtok too there are several places from where you get wonderful views. Kanchenjunga is about 62kms as the crow flies. One of the view points which is specifically designed for such view is Tashi View Point, which is 15-20 minutes drive from the town center. Although you need to climb a few stairs to reach the elevated platform, on a clear day the views are awesome. 
 
Kanchenjunga view from Gangtok 
Kanchenjunga View from Gangtok 
Photo: Wikimedia Commons 
 
And, if you go towards north Sikkim to places like Singhik, Dzongu Valley, Lachung/ Yumthang or Lachen/ Gurudongmar lake etc, the views of the mountains and scenery around get even better. 
 
 
 

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Visitors' Reviews/Comments

 
 
Aditya Chirimar (August 2021) 
Having visited Darjeeling more than 200 times, I present my findings on this topic below. Assuming the quality of the view from Darjeeling Mall Road (back side) is 100, here are the other scores of view quality on a clear day. 
 
6. Bagora : 150 
5. Tiger Hill : 200 
4. Rachela Peak : 300 
3. Tonglu : 400 
2. Sandakphu : 800 
1. Phalut : 1600 
 
6. Bagora: Easy to get to, secluded, breathtaking view (including River Teesta). Close to Darjeeling : 70 minutes away. 
 
5. Tiger Hill: Easy to get to but full of people and traffic. No view of Teesta. 45 minutes away from Darjeeling. Everest also visible on a clear day. Mountain view incredible, but the place is too touristy. 
 
4. Rachela Peak: Very difficult to reach, but breathtaking view, cannot put it in words. Fantastic view of Teesta... the best view of Teesta. 5 hours away from Darjeeling. 
 
3. Tonglu: Easy to reach. No crowd, the #1 hidden gem in Darjeeling and arguably one of India's most beautiful spots. Only 1.5 hours from Darjeeling. The view from here is surreal, unimaginable. I could probably retire here in an ideal world :) 
 
2. Sandakphu: One of the best places in India and quite famous as a result. Even though this is harder to get to, it has more people than Tonglu. The view is perhaps twice as surreal as that of Tonglu. 3 hours ahead of Tonglu (on the same road), making it 4.5 hours from Darjeeling. 
 
1. Phalut: Top 3 most beautiful places in India, and quite easily accessible by car (you need a 4x4 car, so an Innova or Hexa won't do, but a commander-type jeep will do). This place is another 2 hours from Sandakphu. The view is the absolute, undisputed, #1 view of the Kanchenjunga and Everest range from Darjeeling district. If you come here, you will forget all of her views as this is BY FAR the best. This place is 6.5 hours from Darjeeling. 
 
Keeping convenience vis-a-vis view in mind, Tonglu is the #1 spot. 
 
Abhirup (October 2020) 
We are planning to visit hills during full moon in this month to have a glimpse of Kanchenjunga during the night. We have shortlisted three places 1. Lepchajagat, 2. Takdah and 3. Dawaipani. Can you please help to suggest which one would be the best place to visit. During our stay we may also go to Darjeeling and stay for a night. 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) October 2020 
Lepchajagat would be a good choice out of the three for Kanchenjunga views. You don't get much views of Kanchenjunga from Takdah... Tinchuley is great for that. Dawaipani is at a low altitude with surrounding forest areas and views are limited... you need to cross Darjeeling to get to Dawaipani. 
 
Pratik Dutta (June 2018) 
In my opinion, another point for getting the spectacular view of the Kanchenjunga massif is from the Nightingale/Shrubbery Park. It is a small walk from Raj Bhaban along the road leading to HMI/Zoo (Hooker Road). A climb up leads to the open park on the top. The park itself is nicely maintained and the view from there is mesmerizing. 
 
Rajesh (January 2017) 
I have already visited your website many times and must admire the contents. Need your help. 
 
1) Where to get the closest views of Kanchenjunga Range (without trekking or at the most 1 day trekking), including Sikkim? 2) What are the chances of getting clear skies and good mountain views in 1st week of May'17 in Darjeeling / Sikkim area (tickets booked)? 3) If we choose Sandakphu (and by jonga) and trek only from Sandakphu to Phalut, would that cover the best mountain view points of the area? 
 
Your guidance would clear help me decide many things. As you may have understood, my long lasting dream is to get heart full of the Kanchenjunga Range with family and we have not done any trekking before. :-) Thanks a lot in advance. 
 
I am from Kolkata and a Goethals (Kurseong) pass out of 1979 batch. 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) January 2017 
Considering typical tourist hill stations, Pelling would offer a close view of Kanchenjunga although Darjeeling too offers a nice view. Sandakphu to Phalut stretch is great for viewing both Kanchenjunga and Everest range. From Phalut, you can get the closest view of Kanchenjunga. May first week is a good time to go for the views, but you also need some luck to get the best possible views even on a clear sunny day. 
 
While the peak may be visible, a small stray cloud can keep the peak partially covered, and as your frustration grows, so does the cloud in size. It happened to me many times, and I had to go back to Sandakphu for the third time to get my best shot. So be patient. 
 
Debopriya Banerjee (November 2015) 
Dear Raj, I do not own the card, but we will order one in a day or two. I am reading your site for the past few days and found it extremely helpful. We are planning a trip in the first week of Jan, 2016. You had mentioned that sometimes it can get foggy in Jan. I know that weather is very erratic there. Just wanted to know what are the chances of viewing in the first week of jan. I know u cannot give a definitive answer, but still wanted your inputs. I regularly visit the north east Himalayas, usually in November and had enjoyed amazing view earlier. This is my first time in Jan. 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2015 
About 60% of the morning hours during January remain clear on an average. So there is good chances of views, but not as much as November or even December. 
 
Boris (November 2015) 
Dear Raj, I am planning to travel to Darjeeling/Sikkim for three days/four nights during January 24th-27th of 2016. I've heard that the winters there are very cold, but if I bring warm clothes and come prepared I won't be concerned. My dream throughout my life has always been to see the majestic himalayas in person, so I would like to know what the weather forecast might be like at the Tiger Hill and Jhandi Dara viewpoints, because I would love, let it be cold, to see Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga when the skies are clear is a mesmerizing feeling I am sure. Please let me know if the month of January in general is a dry season and a good time to see the Himalayas, thanks! 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2015 
Hi. it can get foggy at times in January blocking the views. February is worse, while December is usually good. No safety issue as such in traveling alone.... just avoid getting friendly with strangers and book your car through an operator or hotel.