- Orchids, Yak Meat and Fermented Spinach:
- Local Whishkey and Brandy
Gambling is illegal in India, and hence Casinos are a strict no in most Indian states, barring a few exceptions like Sikkim, Goa and Daman. Gangtok has a few wonderful casinos one can experience as well as try their luck at earning some quick bucks. Upon inquiring with our driver and hotel staff, we found that Deltin Dzong and Mayfair are two most popular casinos in the town. Both however had a steep entry fee, starting at around Rs. 2500 and Rs. 3000 respectively.
The cheaper option, i.e. Deltin’s basic entry of Rs. 2500 includes basic drinks and dinner. If we shell out 3500, we would get premium drinks and gambling chips worth Rs 1500. Our budget per head per day was Rs. 2000, so this was definitely out of our budget. After deliberating a lot and recalculating our rest of the trip expense we decided to take the premium entry of Deltin.
As we entered the gambling floor, my eyes got lit up by the posh interiors and neatly organised floor. A row of slot machine, a couple of roulette tables and bunch of craftily organised card tables covered the huge floor. Dealers, all nicely groomed, manned all the tables, and a small elevated area featured dance performances. The place reminded me of all the hollywood movies of Las Vegas, particularly the Bellagio scenes from the cult classic Oceans 11. Photography is strictly prohibited though.
We spent many hours, hopping from table to table, sipping some expensive whiskey, eating great food and loosing a lot of money. But the experience was worth it. Considering Casinos are such novelty in India, one must explore one when in Gangtok, which is also a good way to spend a leisurely evening.
Orchids, Yak Meat and Fermented Spinach:
Many places of Sikkim mimic the torrid landscape of Tibet and Mongolia, and hence they eat whatever is available in those harsh winter months. This one can find some very unique foods in Gangtok.
It’s an edible orchid that has a slightly bitter taste to it. It’s usually prepared with Tomatoes, onions and simple spices. Easy to eat and even easier to digest, this Sikkimise delicacy is very limited to Sikkim, hence must be at least once.
Yaks are indigenous to high mountains and plateaus and hence a dish made from Yak meat is considered a delicacy in these regions. Since yaks are limited to these hilly areas, its meat is also limited to such regions.
Technically Yaks fall in the category of Beef, hence I personally didn’t try it, but if someone wants they can very well have it in the plethora of Tibbetan restaurants in Gangtok. Yaksha is prepared using Yak meat, some local herbs (saag) and a blend of basic spices. It can optionally come with noodles or rice as well. Literally a very unique experience of Gangtok.
Its a soup that’s prepared using fermented spinach, and has a slightly sour taste to it. It’s healthy and goes well with rice or noodles. The steaming soup in the cold winter evening of Gangtok is just a match made in heaven.
Local Whishkey and Brandy
A red fireball (made of plastic), hides inside it a fiery brandy, prepared locally in Sikkim. It is not only exotic on the taste buds but also a superb souvenir buy. Just take a look at it and tell me it’s not something you would want to keep on your closet.
Another locally famous brand is Sikkim Musk Brandy which has a blend cardamom and mace, which some people like, while some hate.
Coming to single malt whiskey, one particular brand that has captured everyone’s imagination is Old Gold which comes in a Traditional Khukri Style bottle. I am not a big fan of whiskey and the amount of bitterness is the only taste I can make out, hence all I can say is when in Gangtok, do try out the locally made spirits, it not only gives us a taste of something never tried before but also helps boost the local economy.
Although I have not boasted about the unbridled natural beauty of Gangtok in this post, but trust me it gives every other Himalayan town a run for its money. Just at look at this early morning sunrise picture taken from the balcony of our hotel, its just a glimpse of what Gangtok has on offer.
Gangtok is easily one of the best himlayan towns in India, and the natural beauty is unbridled. The unique experiences listed here however puts a cherry on the cake and makes a trip even more memorable. So when you plan on visiting the Capital of Sikkim, do plan on undertaking some of these unique experiences.