Home is where heart is. And my heart belong to the land of majestic mountains, the legendary monasteries, the valleys and Dansberg. Being born and bought up in Gangtok, the urban cosmo capital of Sikkim, My heart is sold to this place known as little wonderland.
Sikkim has been one of the favourite Himalayan discoveries for the travelers known for its trekking, adventure sports and other himalayan activities.
On my visit to home this summer, I got an opportunity to interact with a few tourists and figured out and understood how the travelers are unequipped with local finds and complete their vacation with the regular, conventional tourist attractions.
Hence, I have build a mini directory for you as a local to experience the Gangtok lifestyle, that your tour operator would not mention in your itinerary. You can thank me later. I am also accepting cupcakes and candies.
Chopper service, as much it’s a relief and an excuse to avoid the 4 hour road journey from Siliguri to Gangtok, it also is an eye soothing journey that lets you capture marveling valley views through a 15 minute ride. Nevertheless, if you want to experience the hilly road journey, there are also chopper services in gangtok that offers 5 minute mountain ride flying you through the capital and takes you in between mountain thrills.The same can be booked via Tourism department located on M.G road or you can ask your hotel desk operator.
Demonstrating the ancient rituals in practice and having Buddhism influence, Sikkim has nearly 200 monasteries. It is by far impossible to cover all but one of my favourite with spiritual beliefs my heart is inclined towards “Enchey Monastery”, located in Gangtok. The monastery is away from the commercial influence and has strong holy beliefs and positive energy. Its a great place to be to enrich your soul, enchanting the mantras and rolling the prayer flags.
Gangtok although being a small town, boasts about its pubs and nightlife options. From having the karaoke nights, to live music by the eclectic northeast bands, Gangtok offers all kinds of pubs and bars in town. The town also offers a few sports clubs as you can enjoy your chilled beer over a game of snooker, foosball and X Box 360.
Cafe “Live and loud” has to be my personal favourite located at Tibet road, offering great environment, food and music. Another place that comes under “do not miss category” would be newly opened Infinity Futsal Arena that is known for its raw vibe and rooftop football arena with pub. So football lovers you know where to go and practice a kick or 2 while enjoying your glass of locally produced drink.
Coffee & Cafe
Hill side cafe’s has its own charm. Cafe’s in Gangtok does not only incline towards bakery or coffee but lets you experience the himalayan delight. The himalayan breakfast available in “The Coffee Shop” is one of the favourite amongst the locals and tourists. It offers regional Sikkimese bread known as tibetan bread which is served along with sausages, a pickle made from cheese of yalks milk and the famous aloo dum with a local twist all in one platter.
Bakers cafe on the other hand located at M.G Marg is also a niche place to spend your free time on. It offers ar array of delecious food and drinks along with majestic himalayan views.
You will be surprised and thrilled to know Sikkim is the first state in india that has live casinos on land and has 7 licenses approved. There are 3 currently that are actively performing 1. Casino Mahjong located in Mayfair spa resort, 2. The Royal Plaza casino located in Royal Plaza hotel of Sarovar group and 3. Golden Gaming (the first online betting centre).
You could try your luck or just visit to experience the game of gambling and make a part of your holiday itinerary. Small advice, do not get lured by it and have rest of the days spent in your room.
Like any other town or state in India, M.G Marg is the lifeline and commercial hub of Gangtok. Over years, the road has been transformed and is now known as urban cosmo road or open mall, famous amongst locals and tourists to laze around on the beautifully set benches. The stretch is well lined up with shops, restaurants, cafes and is a great spot to be in to experience and interact with local lifestyle, people and more. Apart than that, Gangtok hosts winter carnival in the month of December in M.G Marg that is truly a gala fiesta in its self.
Local Shopping and Organic Produce
As we are aware of the fashion aesthetics of Sikkim and is known as one of the most fashionable cities of India, there are ample number of flea markets offering high trend street wear. Most of these shops stock their collection from China and Bangkok.
Other than the clothes and accessories shopping of locally produced grocery, snacks like churpi (made from yak milk). Churpi is a snack to chew and are of multiple varieties, as seen below the brown ones are rock hard to chew and white ones are soft, both made in a special kind of three chambered wooden drum called shoptu.
Also, the second image you see below is a type of Churpi (cheese made from whey of yaks milk) and is used as an ingredient to many local recipes.
You should also know Sikkim is India’s only official organic state. Hence, a variety of produce is available in market. Get a handful of fresh organic produce and ask your homestay kitchen to make it for you.
What puchka is to kolkata, aloo chura is to gangtok. A hidden treasure and delight that most of the people – local and tourist give a miss. Aloochura is nothing but potatoes cooked so uniquely that every home in gangtok has accepted their failure to mimic the recipe. It is topped with fried flattened rice, a few fried whole grams and lentils spiced up with indian herbs, oil and red chilli whole. A few of us also like to top the potato gravy with Mi Mi / WaiWai and plenty of chopped onions and green chilli. A small hut like place located in tibet road serves the best aloo chura and this snack of Rs. 5 a plate is definitely a must try.
Sikkimese food, that is staple for many, the shaphaley (tibetan dish of bread stuffed with minced meat and cabbage), thukpa, momo could be the best part of your Sikkim expedition. Literally.
The best place that can serve you all of tibetan delicacies and my favourite is “House of Tibet” located on M.G. Marg.
Its truly said the best kind of sight seeing happens while you are on your foot. Creativity and art is something that northeast residence has inherited from their ancestors and is in their blood. Gangtok is blessed with artists of great horizon and skills, painting the city with their stroke of brushes in the air. The town is filled with demographic street art of lord Buddha, Sikkim culture and more that is not only appealing to eyes but leaves with an impactful message and great background for a picture session.
Amidst all the art and street creativity there is one particular wall art, sketched by Oviya Art Circle – Sikkim, that showcases the unity and diversity of the state.
Do look out for such wall arts spread across the city and capture it well for your Insta feed.
Sikkim is truly a wonderland. Orchid as the state flower of Sikkim and during summer every year, International flower festival is held in Sikkim that displays over 600 types of orchids along with other varieties and types of flowers.
As much we are aware that Sikkim has one third of the total angio sperm found in India, there is a flower exhibition centre located above gangtok that displays a wide variety of fauna. If you are a flower lover, this place is for you.
While you are travelling for your sight seeing, do keep an eye for over the steep edges. It might show you marveling himalayan views that are breath taking. The view captured below is shot, while on the way to Hanumantok (famous hanuman temple).
Sikkimis : Contemporary, fun and youthful. Sikkimis is a quirky lifestyle label of Sikkim that makes t-shirts. T-shirts that captures the state’s famous illustrations, events, character and its famous worlds like “La” and “Aambo”. We have all heard that once in school or college from our Nepali friends.
Sikkimis is a unique souvenir and gifting option to take back from your trip to Sikkim. One because the t-shirt will give you all the faded memories back, teaching you a word from the Sikkimese land and its packaging that will definitely want you to go back to Himalayan land again.
You could order your Sikkimis story through their facebook page : SIKKIMIS.
Fidgety Fingers : The label is known for its game of yarn loops.
Revamping the line of products from knitting, tatting and crocheting, the label “Fidgety Fingers” have quirked up the needle technique by offering wearable fashion in various forms of accessories, kids garments and molding the way of expressing via greeting cards. Trip to Sikkim is definitely incomplete without knitted goodies.
You can also read the whole article on Fidgety Fingers : HERE.
Beautiful Earth : The creator of state’s artisian handmade soaps. Sikkim being the organic state of India, these soaps are made from certified organic products in various flavors such as temi tea leaves, jasmine, apricot, charcol etc. I have got a whole supply of them and I love it. You could connect with them through their facebook page : BEAUTIFUL EARTH.
Traditional dresses of each culture, unique and different as they are in their own way, speaks about its history / heritage. Sikkimese dress “Kho” also known as bakhu is commonly seen worn by the women to office, weddings and while running day to day errands. The dress comprises of “honju” the full sleeves blouse made of silk with symbolic prints and a loose gown type garment over honju, called “Kho”.
People travelling to Sikkim, do not forget to get your hands on some of these fabrics (easily available at local stores) and make yourself a gorgeous cape / shirt and have your Sikkim chapter close to your heart and wardrobe forever.
I hope the article was of some help and shared informative topics that could help you plan your trip to Gangtok better.
Do share your feedback and ask questions if any.
XoXo until the next Getaway zone.