At Baichung Bhutia’s Sikkim homestay, you can go hiking with the football star

Your host: the Indian football legend

Bhaichung Bhutia, the former captain of the Indian men’s football team, began thinking about the homestay because his children (three of them) were going away to a boarding school. Suddenly, the empty nest syndrome got him to think of making use of the space and what better way than a new step into the hospitality sector. The pandemic delayed the opening, but finally in November last year, he welcomed his first guests—a lively bunch from Mumbai—with khata, the Buddhist sacred scarves. Bhutia, who also dabbled in politics and other sporting ventures, is hard to catch, but when he is home, he himself takes guests biking, trekking or on nature hikes in the private jungle that he has created. This jungle is within the compound and it is a thick forest that adjoins the sprawling lawns.

What you eat

The Eagle’s Nest offers a true farm-to-table experience. Most of the food that is served here is grown on the property. It is fresh, organic, wholesome–typical of the cuisine of this north-eastern state. While the local fare consists of rice, meat and greens, the in-house cook can also whip up basic western food if a tourist so desires. But nothing beats the home-made juicy steamed momos that burst with flavours once you put them into your mouth. Bhutia’s own organic garden is testimony to how the majority of the locals grow their own vegetables. Seasonal greens all-round the year for the kitchen and guests can get into the garden to pluck their own greens and even partake in cooking. Guests experience the joy of foraging food. Meander around the jungle or the organic garden and come back with a basket full of bounty.

How to spend 48 hours in Gangtok, Sikkim

Meander along the quiet forest within the campus. Get up early and feel the clean crisp air and be back on time for breakfast out in the open. A captivating sight of the rugged foothills of the Himalayas is guaranteed, to begin with. Or perhaps, gazing at the clear blue sky from the sit-out areas while sipping home-grown tea. One could also go on a hike in the adjoin forest led by the host himself. Village and forest walk with Bhutia followed by breakfast on return. A nearby village is about two and a half kilometres from the property, the highlight is the Pangthang Nursery which is one of the prettiest places with the best view of majestic Kanchenjunga range on a clear day. Even a day trip to Enchey Monastery, established in 1909 above Gangtok, which became a religious centre with flying powers, is an option. There are daily guided excursions along the mountainous region with the opportunity to go cycling, mountain biking, hiking, trekking and on nature walks. Subject to Bhutia’s availability, visitors can have this celebrity show you the abundant flora and fauna around the property.

And if it’s organic farming that excites you,  let Eagle’s Nest give you tips on growing your own vegetables and using local recipes that are easy on oil and masala, to bring them to the table. On a completely different note, even a trip to a nearby casino on any night or all nights is always an option.

Eagle’s Nest, Pangthang, Sikkim. Doubles from Rs12,000. Book here. 

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