A bookshop is just an idea in time
Founded in 1979, Rachna Books is an independent, award winning bookshop in a quiet neighbourhood of the hill-station Gangtok in Sikkim (India).
After a closure for 13 years, Rachna Books got a fresh start when Raman Shresta’s soul-searching brought him back to his family roots and re-opened the bookshop doors in 2001.
Rachna Books has since emerged as a vibrant cultural landmark in the Himalaya. We have used our bookshop as a venue to organise and host events of diverse range, be it Sikkim’s first installation art exhibition, an in house film festival, theatre, classical, jazz and contemporary music performances, exhibitions, readings, workshops and book launches. Our constantly updated video archive of past events online has become an important documentation of the bookshop’s evolution and of the cultural landscape of contemporary Sikkim.
The First Floor
With growing audience and diversity of the events, our bookshop, located previously on the ground floor of the building was no longer sufficient to host our events. So we converted the floor above the bookstore into an event space named The First Floor.
We hosted many events and exhibitions for years until our bookshop moved into this space when we started our café on the ground floor.
Early on, Raman’s 2pm tea break gained popularity and anyone who happened to be at the present would have to take charge of the bookshop while Raman, known fondly as ‘Bookman’, went up to his kitchen to prepare tea for all. Friends started gathering at 2pm regularly for their afternoon tea.
Consequently, Café Fiction was born out of this routine in 2012. Our café gets frequently listed among the top book cafés across the subcontinent in the print media, travel websites and blogs.
To meet the ever increasing pressure of keeping the bookshop running, Raman formally opened a part of his home as a bed and breakfast, one floor above the bookshop and named it Bookman’s Bed and Breakfast.
Operational since 2014, this top-rated four room property has become a much sought after stay option for the discerning travellers looking for a rich and out of the box experience and a literary escape among books.
Rachna Books strives to continue working as a platform for discovering and sharing new ideas and expressions, free thought and speech, showcasing talent and creativity with the aim to build a thinking community in the Himalayan region.
With 20 years of experience running the bookshop, Raman – popularly known as Bookman, has spoken on challenges of fore-fronting books, curating independent bookshops and the need for the third space at Goa Arts and Literature Festival (2013), Jaipur BookMark at Jaipur Literature Fest (2016 and 2017), The Hindu Lit for Life (2018), Brahmaputra Lit Fest (2018) and Kantipur Conclave (2020).
Among the accolades to have come our way is the Publishing Next Industry Award (2015) in the “Bookstore of the Year” category and the India Reading Olympiad Bookstore of the Year Award (2020).