If it’s Sikkim, can it be anything but beautiful? India’s Himalayan state today got its first airport—and it’s an absolute stunner. Built into the side of a lush green cliff at a height of 4,500 ft above sea, Pakyong Airport near Gangtok wears a boutique charm, helped by the fact that it can only accept about 50 passengers at a time who will arrive in tiny ATR aircraft. The views en route are so stunning, even Prime Minister Modi couldn’t help but tweet.
Pakyong Airport has become India’s 100th airport when it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. The airport has a 1.75km runway, which can handle small, ATR aircraft. It has a sheer drop on one side, promising spectacular views—or some heart-stopping moments, depending on how you feel about heights. The airport’s terminal building can handle 50 arrivals and as many departures simultaneously, so don’t expect too many flights every day. The new airport will be a massive relief for travellers—and locals—who’s nearest air-link was through Bagdogra, nearly five hours away. Gangtok is around 45-minute drive from Pakyong, which means you can add nearly a day to your vacation.
Here are photographs of this pretty, pretty airport (All photographs courtesy Rajiv Srivastava):
Flights to Gangtok
The first flight from Pakyong airport will arrive on 4 October. The SpiceJet flight will operate on Bombardier Q400 turboprop jet, and will depart Kolkata at 9.30am, arriving in Pakyong at 10.55am. Till 15 October, the flight will leave Pakyong at 11.15am and reach Calcutta at 12.45pm. Thereafter, it will connect onward to Guwahati. The inaugural fare for the Kolkata-Gangtok flight has been fixed at Rs2,600. Pakyong will also see international flights from January, when Druk Air will start flights to Paro, Bhutan.