Sikkim’s enthralling beauty is fabled all over India. Dramatic mountain ranges, surreal high-altitude lakes and mesmerising valleys of Sikkim, draw tourists from all over the nation. Its cultural heritage and magnificent monasteries add further to its appeal. Among the best summer holiday destinations in India, Sikkim’s capital Gangtok is loved by Indian travellers. When tourists end up escaping the summer heat and holidaying in Gangtok, they are faced with the question “What and where to go shopping in Gangtok?”
This blog will give insights on
- What to shop for in Gangtok?
- Best places to go shopping in Gangtok.
So if you are planning a trip to Gangtok and want to bring home some traditional and modern commodities that represent the essence of this charming city, then look no further. Go ahead and read this article to know the what’s and where’s of shopping in Gangtok.
What to shop for in Gangtok?
1. Tibetan Style Lanterns and Wall Hangings
The decorative and colourful Tibetan wall hangings and lanterns are a Tibetan speciality. Made from canvas, fine threads and amazing details; these artworks reflect the history and traditional background of this region. You can find these in almost every souvenir and artefact stores in Gangtok. The price of these beautiful handiwork starts from Rs.100.
2. Lord Buddha Figurines
The fascinating statues of Lord Buddha are a popular item that you can buy from almost any souvenir shop in Gangtok. According to Feng- Shui the idols should be placed in such a way that the idol faces the entrance to your home; which translates one being fearless and compassionate. You can buy these figurines from Rs 250 onwards.
3. Sikkim Tea
The Sikkim Tea is a perfect buy for the tea-lover in your family. The tea-gardens of Sikkim produce one of the finest Darjeeling Tea that’s renowned all over the world for its taste and aroma. These gardens still produce their tea in a traditional manner without using modern machinery or automation. You can even choose to buy organic tea, which is widely available, but comes with a premium.
Temi Tea Gardens, Sikkim’s lone tea-estate sells an organic green tea pack of 100 gms for around Rs 120. Golden Tips in Gangtok is another brand that sells Sikkim Tea.
4. Buddhist Prayer Flags
It’s highly unlikely that a day would pass where you don’t see a Buddhist prayer flag tied to the handlebars of a bike or to the windshield of a car. These coloured pieces of cloth with Buddhist Mantras printed on them is another unique speciality of Sikkim and it’s something that you can find in plenty in the streets of Gangtok. These flags have been used since centuries to carry blessings through the wind. You can buy these prayer flags for Rs 50 and above, depending on the size.
5. Sikkimese Cups and Teapots
One thing that’s truly unique to this locale is the Sikkimese Cups. The cups have beautiful artworks and illustrations printed on them which depict dragons, historic or traditional events.
The best place to buy the Sikkimese Cups and Teapots will be MG Road market and Lal market. You’ll be able to bargain the price in Lal Market and the price of these cups range of Rs 80 – Rs 300 per piece depending on the quality and size. Price of the Sikkimese Teapots starts at Rs 250.
6. Tibetan Carpets
The Tibetan Carpets are a testament to the art, culture and heritage of Sikkim. The carpet making is a traditional and ancient craft which involves hours and hours of work. These carpets are best for your living room and impart a contemporary yet traditional feel to the place.
Tibetan Carpets can be purchased from the stores of MG Road or from the Directorate of Handicrafts & Handlooms at Tibet Road. The price of these rugs ranges from Rs 1000 to Rs 15000 and above.
7. Black Cardamom
The Black Cardamom grown and sourced in Sikkim is immensely popular due to their rich taste and strong aroma. They have been adding flavour to countless curries and desserts since generations. Also known as Bari Alcha in Bengali, the Black Cardamom is a perfect gift to your mother, friends, relatives or anyone else who loves cooking. The prices for this exotic condiment is around Rs 300 for 100 gms.
8. Tibetan Alpine Cheese
The Tibetan Cheese is a staple food for the people in Sikkim. The Dentam village in Sikkim is popular for its cheese and cheese products. They have been critically acclaimed and are rated as the best in the country and has garnered praise on international levels. The hard and soft variants of Tibetan Cheese (called Chura Loenpa and Chura Kampo respectively in local language) can be purchased from Lal Market or a convenience store in the city.
The sacred art of Thangka painting goes back to the early 6th century. Thangkas, which are mostly found in monasteries, signifies the essence Buddhist culture buying will certainly make you feel spiritual and blessed. Thangka paintings are expensive and can easily cost you upwards of Rs 2000.
10. Wooden Buddhist Masks
Due to Sikkim’s inclination towards Buddhism, the number of Buddhist related souvenir items in Sikkim are many. One such handicraft popular in the state are the masks. Zaru wood is mainly used to make these masks. The faces of Buddhist deities, animals or mythical characters are commonly made. These wooden masks can be easily brought from shops anywhere in Gangtok.
Best places to go shopping in Gangtok
Now that you know the unique and speciality items that you can buy for yourself, or your loved ones, from Gangtok, here are some of the main areas for shopping in the city for you to spend your money on.
1. MG Marg (Mahatma Gandhi Road)
This is one of the prime spots for shopping in the city for locals and tourists alike. The avenue is lined with stores of almost every kind. The shops in MG Road usually open around 8 AM in the morning and usually close soon after sunset. However, please note that this market is closed on Tuesdays.
While there is an abundance of shops that sells garments for men and women, some of the unique things you can buy here are shoes, souvenirs, Tibetan rugs and, most importantly, Sikkimese Cups. These porcelain cups are found mostly on MG Road only.
There is a section of MG Road that’s called the New Market. Shops in this area of the market for e.g. Kandoika sells books and artefacts based on Buddhism. You can also find books about Sikkim’s tourism, history, culture etc in this market.
If you are planning on buying some fine jewellery, then Babu Shakya and Sons should be on top of your considerations. You can also buy metallic dragons, pendants and event fancy craft items from this store.
2. Directorate of Handicrafts & Handlooms
The Directorate of Handicrafts & Handlooms (DHH) at Tibet Road has an emporium that features an impressive collection of crafts and items made by local and well-known artists.
One of the most important items you can purchase here is the scroll paintings called Thangkas. You can also buy impressive wooden carvings, Lepcha weaves decorative wall arts and carved wooden tables known as Choktse. These tables are amazingly detailed and can adorn your home seamlessly.
A shop named United Progressive Organisation of Sikkim, in Namnang, features myriad types of handicraft items specially made of bamboo and cane. Nayuma Women’s Cooperative Society can be found at the Denzong Cinema Road and offers traditional Sikkimese items like pot stands, carpets, embroidered handbags, sofa covers, bed sheets etc. among many things. Clothing for women and delicious homemade pickles made from cherry pepper and bamboo shoots are some of the speciality of this store.
Asta Mangala Arts, a souvenir and gift shop located next to Institute of Tibetology has an impressive collection of artworks, handcrafts and traditional dresses for women.
3. Lal Bazaar (Kachendzonga Shopping Complex)
One of the major shopping centres of Gangtok, the Lal Bazaar is a thriving market located at the end of MG Road and is a few minutes’ walks away. Opened in 1956, the open market is alive with the hustle and bustle of countless shops. The modern, multi-storeyed shopping complex was constructed in place of the old market in 2005 and accommodates a vegetable market. You can shop for diverse items here including the famed Tibetan Alpine Cheese, aromatic incense sticks and even electronic items.
To experience the truest essence of diversity and a harmonious blend of different cultures, you must visit this shopping centre on Sunday, which also happens to be the Haat day in this bazaar. If nothing else, you can just visit this place to soak in the atmosphere.
You can buy local items and local organic farm produces etc. on Sunday. The traditional Nepali Knife known as Khukri is another product that you can buy from the Lal Bazaar.
4. Book Shops
If you are one of those people who never miss out on buying books during your travels, then there are good places where you can buy them.
The stores of Jainco and Goodbooks, located on MG Road have a nice curated and a well-stocked collection of books. One of the most important bookstore to visit is the Rachna Books near MG Road. It’s a popular hub where the young and the old visit to listen to jazz songs and poetry reading. The place even hosts art exhibitions and movie screenings. You can visit this store from Monday through Saturday between 10 AM and 7 PM.