Even while I was only contemplating a trip to Sikkim, I dreamed of a Sikkimese home where I could stay for a few days. I imagined a place where I could relax, sit endlessly in the midst of nature and gaze the mountains. I did my research on peaceful places to stay in Gangtok. And, to my good fortune, I stumbled upon the Shire Guest House, which is a family-run guest house in the heart of Gangtok.
|The Shire Guest House|
The first thing to like about it is its setting and exterior, which instantly promise a laid-back, unperturbed and a home-away-from-home kind of experience. The way it is structured, it looks like an old beautiful house away from the bustle of city life.
So, enter The Shire Guest House.
|More lushness ahead...|
|The guest house has a well-kept garden|
|.... with lots of plants|
|... and a variety of flowers|
|Simply surrender to the mellowness of nature|
If you are like me who loves lounging on a swing in the garden with a good book, having breakfast alfresco or taking a morning walk amidst the foliage, you are reading the right stuff. The Shire Guest House is particularly for those travellers who like to linger longer at a place, chew on experiences and just enjoy being idle.
|Guilt-free loafing around...|
|Just pick up a good book and soak up some sun|
|Seriously, there's no better business than idleness...so savor it|
My intent of staying at Shire was not just relaxation and comfort, but I also aimed at knowing the Sikkimese way of life, culture, beliefs and of course, their cuisine. I’d like to give all the credit to Aunty Norkey for unveiling some interesting tidbits on Sikkim and the Bhutia community. Norkey is the lady of the Shire Guest House - she’s a lovely woman and a warm host. She heads over the kitchen and the other staff. Although it was her son, Karma who hosted me (he handled all the managerial tasks), she was the one who welcomed me with open arms. I connected with her instantly. We had long chats on various topics – monks, Buddhist culture and faith. She even invited me in where the family lived – I was humbled to have a quick tour of a typical high-class Sikkimese Bhutia home – each and every corner of the house is well done-up with classy decors from the olden times.
|(Left) My little host who imitated her granny and got a good luck scarf for me while I was leaving, (Right) Norkey and Karma|
|A Bhutia family's worship room|
I spent five days at Shire, which was a pretty long time. I mean, I didn’t really do much in Gangtok except for MG Marg and a couple of day trips to the monasteries and the villages nearby. What I appreciate the most about my host is that he suggested and showed me exactly the kind of places I wanted to explore. Besides, staying at the Shire Guest House was an experience in itself. Thus, I didn’t feel the need to roam around all the time looking for amusement and adventures. I got to discover quite a bit right at where I was staying.
I made it a point to taste all sorts of traditional Sikkimese cuisine. At first, my hosts served me my North Indian stuff, but when I told them that I wanted to try their local food, they were quite generous with their hospitality. In the morning, they laid a sumptuous breakfast table for me. I had Buckwheat Roti with cottage cheese, Sayee-phi-porridge in butter, and local snacks like Khabzey, Zhero and Sanga Phaley. For lunches and dinners, they mostly served rice (which is loved by the eastern Himalayan folks). Since I mostly enjoy vegetarian food, I relished the soups and veggies that they served – Nettle soup, Sheep soup (non-veg), Fern, Rayo sag, Duku, and Phing (soybean).
|They blended their local food with my 'omelette-bread' kind of stuff|
|That was one of my dinner platters - they use brass thali to serve food, which is considered good for health.|
|A delightful morning|
I was particularly happy about tasting a different cuisine, because not trying new cuisines is one of the serious travel mistakes that a traveler can ever make. I'd also like to mention that pecking at Sikkimese local food was just one of the 10 authentic experiences that I had in Sikkim.
Besides the warmth of a Bhutia family, the guest house has spacious rooms along with all the desired amenities, a nice culture reflective lobby and a cosy dining place. My room had big windows that opened to the views of the mountains.
|Mountain view from my room|
|Tasteful crockery displayed in the lobby|
I believe that a traveller should choose an accommodation that’s more than a shelter. It has to be an experience. I personally feel that you can stay at a characterless place for barely a day or two. But, if you have to stick around longer, (maybe a week or so) you need a place where you can feel at home. I think I wouldn’t be wrong if I say that a quality travel begins with a great place to stay.
|One of the best places to stay in Gangtok|
The Shire Guest House turned out to be just what I needed - my private space to catch up on work along with lots of free time to just ‘do nothing’ and simply savor the Sikkimese atmosphere.
Practical Information – The Shire Guest House is located at only 10 minutes walking distance from MG Marg. To book a room here, please visit their website www.shiresikkim.com
Note: I was hosted by the Shire Guest House. However, the views and opinions are my own.
Is Shire Guest House your kind of a place to stay? What is YOUR top priority while booking an accommodation?