Next time you are in Gangtok, consider booking a room at Rachna Books. We spent an afternoon here recently, and just did not want to come away from this place. So imagine our delight when we were told that the quaint bookstore also has a lovely BnB attached to it, and that the bustling MG Road is just a 10-minute walk away. Right there is your perfect stay in Gangtok!
The store has won Publishing Next’s Bookstore of the Year award in 2015 -16 in the South East Asia category. The brains behind it is bookstore owner Raman Shresta who 'inherited' it from his father and has made it a name on the indie bookstore landscape in Southeast Asia. He carefully curates the collection spread across the shelves and tables. Do check out their section on Southeast Asia, and the extensive collection of books by women writers, the many graphic novels and literary magazines (some from the Himalayan region), and the classics collection. The shelf on books by writers from the Northeast has excellent works ranging from history, culture, folklore and arts.
A speaker at the Jaipur Literature Festival, Shresta is known for hosting interesting events with writers, illustrators, publishers from India and abroad. You may be able to catch a film screening or a poetry slam, music gigs or a shadow puppetry session while you are in Gangtok. Check their Insta page and the softboard at the store for upcoming events.
They also publish their own books - we picked up Opening the Hidden Land: State Formation and Construction of Sikkimese History by Dr. Saul Mullard.
Apart from the treasure trove of books, Shresta has collected many interesting ephemera that are displayed across the store - old black-and-white photos of the hills, figurines, posters, and postcards. Of special interest is his collection of retro cameras.
The best part? The store has a cosy cafe downstairs aptly called Cafe Fiction. You can make your purchase, and go down to the cafe to fuel up and read. The coffee here is locally sourced from small farm holdings, and roasted in house. We loved the decor which included a lovely retro pop-colour television set. The menu is not fixed but changes every week – so you can get anything from momos and steaming bowls of noodles, to pasta and pies, or sandwiches, freshly-baked cakes, brownies, waffles, and cheesecakes.
If you are looking for the perfect souvenirs and gifts, Rachna also sells some interesting local products. If you have a tea or coffee addict in your fam or friends circle, be sure to pick some packets here. Or try their handmade diaries, notepads, coasters, and stickers - perfect gifts for stationery addicts. We loved the quirky local-themed tees, mugs and diaries by Gangtok-based design brand, Sikkimis.
Where: Jeewan Theeng Marg, Development Area, Gangtok, Sikkim
Contact: Email - [email protected]. Phone: +91 3592 204 336
Timings: 9am to 7pm.