Greetings from Gangtok, India (and Some Free Celebration Snacks)

By Mark Wiens 26 Comments
Our jeep
Our jeep

Yesterday I took a jeep from Darjeeling to Gangtok, an extremely pleasant town located in the Sikkim province of India in the Himalayas (slotted in between Bhutan, Tibet, and Nepal).

It was a swerving, bumpy, and absolutely gorgeous ride.

I arrived, checked into my guest house, and was eager to head out, walk around Gangtok, and get something to eat (zigzag roads don’t make me throw up, they make me hungry!).

A small gathering - for some tasty free snacks!
A small gathering – for some tasty free snacks!

After walking around for just a few moments I noticed a small crowd gathered on the side of the street, and many surrounding people munching on snacks.

I’m always one to be curious about crowds.

So I got in to take a look at what was going on.

As you probably know, there’s nothing that attracts crowds like free food!

A group of friendly students in Gangtok!
A group of friendly students in Gangtok!

After watching for just a few minutes, a few extremely friendly students approached and exclaimed “free snacks, would you like some?”

“Sure,” I replied, excited for a sample.

Hot fresh jalebi
Hot fresh jalebi

Seconds later the kind students jumped into the line and brought back hot jalebi (one of the top foods to travel around the world just to eat).

They were freshly made, piping hot, and marvelous. Jalebi is like a crispy deep fried thin donut that’s soaked in sweet syrup.

Some really tasty pakoras
Some really tasty pakoras

Also on the free snack menu were seriously flavorful deep fried onion pakoras (deep fried salty fritter).

The combo of the sweet jalebi, the salty pakoras, and the friendliness of the locals in Gangtok was a warm and memorable introduction to the cold weather Gangtok.

Why the free food?

Well I didn’t know at the time, but after looking up the holidays in India online, I discovered that January 14th is the Thai Pongal festival in India – kind of the Indian thanksgiving – a holiday to celebrate the harvest (especially true in south India).

Also, yesterday was the beginning of theย Kumbh Mela, the world’s largest human gathering.

Reaching in for some complimentary snacks!
Reaching in for some complimentary snacks!

Current Update:

I’ve been in India for the last 3 weeks, currently in Gangtok, Sikkim.

So far I’ve had an incredible and memorable time traveling in India. Just about everything has been fascinating, and the food has been seriously delicious (and very affordable – some satisfying meals in Kolkata cost me just 20 – 40 Rupees ($0.37 – $0.73)).

I’ll be in India for the next month and a half before heading to Nepal.

I’m extremely excited to start sharing lots of food, photos, and videos with you soon.

However, my internet has been limited (and unpredictable), so it might take me some time before I start publishing food stories about India (in the meantime, I have other tasty posts scheduled to publish).

Hope you are all doing well and greetings once again from Gangtok, India!



26 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Neeraj

    5 years ago

    I’m from India and have traveled there quite extensively. If you love food, then India is for you. It’s probably low-season in Sikkim right now. See if you can do the Sandakfu trek (near Darjeeling).

  • Zubi Travel

    5 years ago

    Hmmm, seems like you’re having an awesome experience in India.
    Happy Indian thanksgiving :), those snacks seem really interesting…

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Zubi, so far I’m really enjoying it! Happy Indian Thanksgiving to you as well!

  • Arti

    5 years ago

    So you finally got your hands on Jalebi ๐Ÿ™‚ That looks good too!! And the Pakoras looks inviting too! Glad you are having a nice time Mark ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Arti, yes, finally got some, and they were excellent!

  • Amod Indap

    5 years ago

    Great stuff Mark. Try out the food I’d mailed you assuming you were in Darjeeling. Its more-or-less similar. Don’t forget the millet beer or Tongba. Happy travelling…cheers.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks a lot Amod, your suggestions have been really helpful!

  • darren

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark:

    I discovered your videos on You Tube a few days ago. I enjoy them alot.

    How great it is to be able to travel and experience different cultures of the world.

    Are you going to write a cookbook? I would definitely buy one from you!

    ๐Ÿ™‚

    Continued Happy travels to you.

    darren

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hi Darren, thanks a lot for watching my videos, I really appreciate it. A cookbook is a great idea, perhaps in the future!

  • sab

    5 years ago

    hoping to welcome you to Bangladesh .. you can drop in on the way back from Nepal.. only gonna cost you about 150 dollar for 3-4 days of crazy fun

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Sab, thanks a lot for the invitation. I’ll have to see, but I would love to visit Bangladesh sometime in the future!

      • sab

        5 years ago

        No worries.. I will be in BD from 4th march for a month or so. .let me know if you decide to come. Accom and dine on me..We will travel together.. love your blg mate.

  • [email protected]

    5 years ago

    Gotta love the outgoing and photo-friendly people of Hindustan.

  • Maria

    5 years ago

    I think hunger is a permanent state for you. *laugh* Those pakoras look delish and what a nice surprise, to be there during a holiday. You have good luck!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Maria, hah, yes hunger is pretty frequent. Yah, often times with not planning simple and fun things occur – like free food holidays!

  • paul | walkflypinoy

    5 years ago

    Way cool that you are in Northeast India and then making your way to Nepal. Waaaay cool! Will be very eager to hear more about your adventures in the Himalayas, also known as my favorite part of the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Paul, it’s really an amazing area of the world, I can see why it’s your favorite part of the world!

  • aynzan

    5 years ago

    Yum.. those pakoras look delicious.I have tried making pakoras at home but somehow never got the indian flavour.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks a lot Aynzan, these were some of the best I’ve had!

  • Paul

    5 years ago

    I’m very jealous of the awesome experience you’re having in India. It’s also very cool that you ate jalebi. I’m from Trinidad and even though it’s far from India there’s definitely a huge Indian influence there. I specifically remember getting homemade jalebi at various Hindu festivals at friends’ homes. It’s delicious but so sweet and sticky I can only eat it in small amounts.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Paul, great to hear you also have jalebi in Trinidad. I’m like you, I can only handle a small amount, but that small amount is really delicious!