Sikkim has a variety of tourists attraction sites such as glaciers, lakes, monasteries and over the last few decades, it has become extremely popular as a holiday destination. But it was the only state in India without any operational airport. The nearest Airport to it was that of Bagdogra, about 124 km away from Gangtok. This year Sikkim got its first airport, which is believed to be of great benefit in terms of communication with other states and also a much-needed boon for tourists. Earlier if one needed to reach Gangtok, the state capital of Sikkim, he had to travel from New Jalpaiguri or Siliguri, Darjeeling or Kalimpong via roadways, which were often a tiresome trip of about 5 to 6 hours driving through narrow circular mountain bends. Not all people can endure the journey and often feel sick or lethargic. The Pakyong airport is the answer to those tourists as well as it will save a lot of time and land you in Sikkim in a jiffy.
Airports are most of the times just a strip of land where flights take off and land. But the Pakyong airport presents a breathtaking landscape which will make you fall in love with the place at first sight. Not only that, but it will also make you realize, yes! Here starts the vacation! Surrounded by the Himalayas, it lies at an altitude of 4500 feet and is one of the highest airports of India. Just about 35 kilometers from Gangtok, it is located in the Pakyong town and spreads over an area of 400 hectares. The runway has a width of 30 m and is 1.75 km long.
The Pakyong airport is nothing short of an engineering marvel. It is a standing example of the hard work of men involved in building it. Although the foundation stone was laid in 2009, various aspects resulted in the delay of its construction and thus completion. So many obstacles other than the technical aspect of building an airport needed to be conquered. The geographical conditions posed quite a challenge. Mountains were cleared, the land was leveled and ditches were filled. Heavy rains and harsh winters, all aspects of climatic conditions were concerned to make this airport. The airport is built from scratch from an undeveloped land.
About 605 crores were spent in building the airport owing to its slope stabilization and soil reinforcements. Maccaferi, the Italian company who was in charge of the project also received an International award for its excellent work. It has a terminus equipped with ATC tower along with fire station and a capacity of 100 passengers. Parking area can support 50 cars. The interiors of this 3000 square meter are beautifully decorated and a seated statue of Lord Buddha in Golden color is placed inside.
The entrance is designed in lines of the monastery gates and gives a nice vibe to the place.
The Pakong Airport was inaugurated on 24th September 2018 by our Prime Minister Honorable Narendra Modi. In March trial landing was done in the airfield and the first commercial flight flew from Kolkata to Pakyong on 4th of October this year. As of now, Spicejet runs in two routes every day; one from Kolkata and one from Guwahati. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach from Kolkata and a slightly more than an hour from Guwahati to Pakyong.