Gangtok- "Nothing is permanent Except Change"

M.G Marg Gangtok during 1973 protest Pic. courtesy

Somebody has correctly quoted the topic of today’s post. Nothing is static in this world, it keeps on changing. The present capital of Sikkim has also witnessed a lively change over the past 50 years. If we have to believe on the writings of James Claude White, the First British Political Officer of Sikkim, Gangtok during his stay was just a small town which was probably situated at present day Lall Bazaar. Gangtok made its dawdling progress after British established their upper hand in the internal politics of Sikkim. The establishment of British Residency at Gangtok saw the beginning of concrete buildings with a European design. During the exile of Maharaja Thotub Namgyal, construction of the marvelous edifice of Residency was over. But, even during the last years of Maharaja Thotub Namgyal Gangtok was merely confined between Sikkim Palace and British Residency.
Bullock Cart and a truck plying together on the road to Gangtok  Pic. Courtesy
After the Indian Independence when the charge of protection of Sikkim was handed over to her new master, the dimension of Gangtok was slightly elaborated. It was now extended up to present day M.G. Road, which has presently got a beautiful walking mall. In 1948, an Indian adventurer Mr. A.D. Moodie, while going to climb Lama Aden in North Sikkim has visited Gangtok. During a brief interview with me he has stated that it was a small market where people during Haat Day came for shopping. The means of communication at Gangtok then was bullock cart by which the Indian merchants based at Gangtok and other towns in Sikkim brought their commodities from Siliguri. But, during other days today’s M.G. Road used to remain silent. In a documentary prepared in 1966, Gangtok has been shown in an exact manner which is stated by Mr. Moodie during his interview with me. Even after the span of nearly 18 years (1948-1966) Gangtok was having its Haat at today’s M.G. Road itself crowded with the villagers from far flung places. The only difference one can find in the said documentary and Mr. Moddie’s statement is that, the bullock carts were replaced by big trucks as the core means of communication and the old tin houses were in the process of replacement by concrete buildings. It is to be mentioned here that amid to the establishment of Sikkim Nationalized Transport in 1944, bullock carts were popularly used as a cheap means of communication in Sikkim.
“The year 1955 also witnessed the first Tata Mercedes Benz Truck; Model L 312/36 being use on the road from Gangtok to Rangpo, Gangtok- Darjeeling daily Passenger service in land rovers was also introduced. An agreement for the counter signature of route permits by the West Bengal Authorities and of Sikkim State Transport vehicle was negotiated”. (
View of Gangtok in the 70s Pic. Courtesy Mr. Shital Pradhan
Gangtok began to make its rapid progress after 1960s. The earlier small township of Gangtok was in the process of a massive change. The establishment of various Government Offices in every nook and corner of Gangtok mark the beginning of modernization of the capital. It is to be noted here that during Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal’s wedding with American Hope Cooke the Capital town of the former Himalayan Kingdom was having a distinct identity as far as organization and cleanliness was concerned. It is said that Gangtok then was nicely organized as compare to the other Capitals of it neighbouring Himalayan Kingdoms.
Over all these years, Gangtok has changed a lot. The earlier years it has witnessed are going to be disappear in the pages of History. The small town which hardly had a thousand population (in its initial years) has now a Municipal Corporation. Once, a silent Gangtok has now become a busiest place crammed with locals and outsiders. Probably due to its huge traffic some one has rightly termed Gangtok as Manchester of the East
M. G Road today pic. courtesy