In Pictures: Handloom Weaving and Thangka Painting in Gangtok


One of the standard sightseeing tours (3 point, 7 point & 10 point interests) offered by local taxi drivers in Gangtok is a visit to the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom (DHH).

I know some of you probably cringe at these touristy visits but please try not to resist it because Sikkimese people take pride in their local heritage and culture. Many of their sightseeing tours are very touristy – curated by their state tourism – but with good intent. In fact, the locals recommend you to visit these places, not because of the commercialism that comes along with it but is an opportunity for outsiders to learn about their culture.

When my local taxi driver, Poorva, drove me to the DHH, it was during their lunch hour. I could still visit the small museum (Rs 10 fee) and the gift shop but the workshops were empty. It would have been a waste of time. I requested Poorva to drop me off at DHH in the afternoon once we had finished our sightseeing tour of Gangtok.

Apart from manufacturing, showcasing and selling arts and crafts, DHH is also a training centre. I came across students working hard – weaving handlooms and painting thangkas. They don’t mind visitors coming into their classrooms or workshops to observe them 🙂

Handloom Weaving

handloom weaving gangtok dhh

handloom weaving gangtok dhh workshop ground floor

handloom weaving gangtok dhh weaver at work

Just as I thanked them and was leaving their workshop, one of the girls ran towards me to take a photo with me with her phone camera 🙂

handloom weaving gangtok dhh sikkimese girl

handloom weaving gangtok dhh pink

Thangka painting

handloom weaving gangtok dhh thangka painting

handloom weaving gangtok dhh thangka painting at work

handloom weaving gangtok dhh thangka painting classroom

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in pictures handloom weaving and thangka painting in gangtok katpegimana

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21 comments

  1. Such talented students and fantastic that they have a training center to teach their heritage. The handlooms remind me of ones I saw in Peru, even in distant history distant cultures seem to have had pretty much the same tools. Hope you’re having a great weekend Kat! Gx

  2. Another lovely post on a place we’re so much in love with. We missed out on this visit. Thangka paintings are truly beautiful. Always wanted to buy one of them. Sadly, they’re really expensive. I can see why, the level of concentration and detailing is fantastic.

    1. Thanks Ankur, glad you liked it. I’m not very particular about touristy vs non-touristy as long as the sites and info are aligned with my interests. The interesting thing I find about Sikkim or rather in this case, Gangtok, is that the locals don’t like haggling. They seem to have a lot of pride in what they offer in tourism, so much so, it’s utter honesty that surprises me, and they adhere to rules and regulations. As such, they feel embarrassed by shoddy (or shady) services, that’s why I didn’t mind their touristy tours 🙂

  3. Wow, so beautiful! These pieces of art are created with such talent and detail. I love weaving, and have done it myself (obviously not on this scale) and I love learning about how different crafts are related to different cultures, so interesting!

    1. Wow, you have done weaving – I admire your patience. I do not have nimble fingers and am not very patient with sewing/weaving :-)Apparently, in Sikkim, many youngsters proactively come to centres like this to get training and certified. Not many employment opportunities in Sikkim due to geographical isolation, hence the locals are aware that to stay in the state means to be part of the tourism industry. Else, they have to leave Sikkim to study/work in other parts of India.

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