We have become much dependent on our environment but we have turned ignorant to them. Paul helps in bringing awareness and closeness to the nature with the concept of homestay.
Here’s a quick conversation with the Founder of Malinggo Homestay in Sikkim who is in love with nature and its beauty of Gangtok.
- Tell us something about yourself
My name is Paul Karna Rai and I live in the valley of Pastanga (East Sikkim). I used to be a Government Contractor and also worked with Voluntary Health Association of Sikkim (VHAS). Perhaps because I live in this valley, I have always felt close to nature, to the environment – the sound of the running river, the chirping of the birds, the cry of the crickets, the flowers of spring, the dew of the winter morning and mostly the first fall of sun’s rays on the mighty Mt. Kanchenjunga. Home is right here in the mountains amidst nature.
- How did you come up with an idea of a homestay?
The concept of homestay first started in our village in collaboration with Mr. PD Rai (M.P. Lok Sabha) and Dr. BB Rai and the organization was known as Khedi Eco-Tourism Eco-Development Promotion (KEEP).
It was started in the year 2004. When we first started the organisation, we had 4 Homestays, all with one view in mind – the protection of our environment. The scenic beauty of the landscape, different types of flora and fauna, different communities living together with their own unique culture is right there around you. That is the thing about Sikkim. We are so fortunate and blessed to have our natural resources intact and we practice exposure sans exploitation.
This movement was also started to bring awareness among the people in order to protect the environment. The beginning of it was simple and realistic. The members gathered in the evening, showcased different tribal dances, food, songs, indigenous musical instruments like flute, sarangi, binayo, machunga and we ended with a walk in the morning. That built the foundation of activities that were to take place in the home-stays.
- What does the word “Malinggo” mean?
Malinggo is a type of bamboo which is commonly found in Sikkim and used for making furniture, flutes etc. It grows in large scale and is a home for different animals, birds and even food for red panda, which is the State Animal. Shoots of this bamboo is famous for making pickles.
- How do you define Malinggo? What’s the specialty of this homestay?
Malinggo Homestay is a place where you can be one with nature. We want people who visit the homestay to have a feel of home away from home.
Early in the morning they can have the spectacular view of sun’s rays falling on Mt. Kanchenjunga. It is more than just a mountain to us – our sacred summit. We believe that our Gods reside in here therefore, that morning rays over the mountains is more than just a beautiful sight. It holds an important morning ritual for us. After breakfast, they can go for a walk in the village to see different types of orchids, medicinal plants, the organic farming in village and the famous Sumni Hwari Falls (Honey Falls).
This place also makes children happy as they forget their gadgets and play with the pets of the house. It rejuvenates the bond among the family members as well.
“As a guest from Equador, Oustavo Decoado writes, “A home away from home, excellent stay, felt part of the family.”
The food in the homestay is cooked in a very traditional way which is all the more tastier and healthier.
- Tell us something about the design of the homestay
As for the place, the house is fully furnished with wood, a small cottage of your own. In the evening, you can taste the traditional food and drink – millet wine (tongba), wa-chi-pa and herbal pakora.
“You can have bonfire, sit around and play your guitar. You can also go for trekking to Khedi – the place of rhododendron or can go for hiking.”
- Any message for the people who are looking to visit Sikkim?
The homestay is not only for business purpose but we also can learn from each other. These days most of us are either stuck into the phone and our laptop screens. One can forget that and come as close to nature here.
It is also an inspiring place for artists of different fields; I can say this confidently as my son is also an artist. He spends hours drawing the inspiration for the paintings from the nature around him.
“It is one of the best places where there is no disturbance, just nature and you are interconnected to bring out a masterpiece.”
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