The worst part of Sikkim is the tiring journey from Bagdogra airport to Gangtok. And while all along our way one is accompanied by the majestic River Teesta storming its way through the heavy boulders; its thunder cry noising out the traffic of NH 31 – the traffic and then the pitiable condition of the only road that connects Sikkim with the rest of the country, wears one out. It’s only when you enter Sikkim that you take a sigh of relief. There is freshness and lightness in the air, different from the dusty air that accompanied you all along. We were still to reach Gangtok but we could feel that connection with nature and the rhythm in the lives of people.
Fortunately, after that long and onerous journey, I was heading to a fairytale cottage set in the chic neighborhood of the MG Marg with the wafting fragrance of flowering trees, a crackling fire, wood-paneled roofs, and a regal past to match. I had settled in a five-star mountain retreat, the Denzong Regency. Perched on top of a hill, it’s a century-old property sprawling across ten acres. And everything that you wish to have after the onerous journey you have taken. I was so tired I headed straight to my room. Cozy and luxurious.
The old building was quintessential Sikkimese in appearance. With my eyes trying to capture the details that fill the corridors with the Sikkimese flavors, I proceeded towards the room. The room came with its little pack of beauty – a wooden floor, Sikkimise styled furniture, and a large balcony to enjoy the morning tea and get draped in the essence of the land nestled in the lap of the Himalayas. It is the view of the Kanchenjunga that the hotel flaunts. “You get this view from every room of the hotel,” the manager told. And it isn’t just the gorgeous views that make Denzong Regency a steal. The interiors are classic with contemporary accents—think local wooden flooring, chic pieces, cozy throws, rich carpets, exposed brick walls, along with other elements that offer a hat tip to local Sikkimese architecture. Surely my eyes didn’t tire of embracing the splendor of the room.
But there’s a still to every activity, especially when there’s some food waiting for you. I am no glutton, but when you are told that authentic Sikkimese and Tibetan dishes are waiting for you just steps away; you feel guilty for sinning. I went straight to the restaurant – Gyakho. The chief Chef Tamang had prepared for us a medley of sumptuous Sikkimese. Gyakho means ‘100 soups’. Gyakho is a copper vessel in which eight dishes are put inside the vessel with soup and the other ninety-two are added from outside. Thick and soul rich. The Sikkimese dishes like Doku, Sukamayo, Peng, and Shang were as tasty as their names are difficult. Denzong does try to offer you a Sikkimese experience as you desire. The bar here is well-stocked and also offers a great range of premium wines. The service is thoughtful and unobtrusive. All meals are curated from well-guarded family age-old recipes and the finest locally sourced ingredients. The Chef told me that they source everything from the local farms and since Sikkim is an organic state, that local organic touch is discernible.
As the night drew I decided to take a stroll to the MG Marg, the chic town of Gangtok, and catch some whiff of Gangtok. Good that Denzong is at a breezy distance from the MG Marg. A ten-minute walk will take you there. MG Marg gives quite an uptown feel. It has a cosmopolitan feel to it, where the north Indian-based shops rub shoulders with shops with local and authentic touch. And when they’re apart from acquainting yourself with the comfortable café and pub life of MG Marg, stray a bit to the quaint neighborhoods. Gangtok is a walker-friendly city. You can go on for hours, along with quaint neighborhoods, nodding at friendly passersby, along tree-laden walks looking at inviting houses with gorgeous flowers on the balcony, and on skywalks overlooking the frenzy of cars below, mapless and directionless, soaking it all in.
Tired, I came back to soak myself in the luxury of my room and the stillness around. Seated on the balcony with a local beer ‘hit’ to sip, I munched on my thoughts. So much to write and express. The cleanliness of Gangtok, the up-market appeal of MG Marg, the friendly neighborhoods, and the middle of the city nestled like some oasis ‘Denzong Regency’.
The next morning, I woke up to the clear views of Kanchenjunga. I had clear views of the range from my balcony as our hotel manager had stated. And as you come out for a short stroll on the lawn to embrace the chill, and the fragrance of the flowers the wind carried, you are bewitched by the reflections of Kanchenjunga on the window panes. Heavenly is the word for that. Next on the list was a sumptuous breakfast with the Chef having taken pains to make momos for me. A soul-soothing breakfast and then there was time to say goodbye to the hotel as I was to embark on another journey to the North Sikkim. But even in a few hours, which I feel weren’t enough to fully feel the hotel, the Denzong Regency gave me such splendid memories to carry along.