Dzongu: Little did Gyatso Lepcha, the owner of ‘Mayal Lyang’ in the tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim, know that his casual confirmation of a mail for a homestay request at his place that came from abroad will make him popular overnight.
Lepcha, unaware of the antecedents of the sender of the mail, confirmed the booking for five people in December 2010. Much to his surprise, the confirmation sent the police and other officials of the district administration into a tizzy. They rushed to his modest accommodation asking him if he had inquired about the details of the sender of the mail and whether he had all the facilities to host his ‘special’ guests.
It was then that Lepcha got the shock of his lifetime. He realised that the sender of the mail was none other than the Crown Prince Haakon of Norway!
Gyatso played a sterling host to the five-member royal entourage including the crown prince, crown princess Mette Macit, and their children who went on to stay there for three days.
Today, the homestay has got the gold for the best homestay at the Indian Responsible Tourism Awards. The awards recognise and applaud champions of ethical travel across the country with the goal to inspire the local fraternity, highlight replicable models, and spread the word through various platforms.
Nestled among the trees is Mayal Lyang, a beautiful house started by Gyatso and his wife Samsay Lepcha in Passingdang Village, Dzongu.
Mayal Lyang means the ‘Hidden Land’ or ‘Land blessed by God’ in the Lepcha language, untouched by the tourist hustle bustle, this place has hidden treasures behind every other tree.
The picturesque Dzongu, 70 km from the homestay, with the Kanchenjungha range in the backdrop and the Teesta flowing through it, is a place where visitors can enjoy solitude, breathe fresh air, relish organic food and get acquainted with the Lepcha culture.
Watch this adorable ‘walkthrough’ video of Mayal Lyang shot by the owner's 8-year-old kid Adon Lepcha: