Tour S/04: 04 nights Paddy Sowing and the monsoon magic

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Description

Sikkim & Darjeeling – Overview

Wedged between Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, and the North Bengal Plains of India, this region is a tangled mass of mountains drained by the Teesta, and Rangit Rivers.

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From the visitors angle, Sikkim Himalayas include the geographical area of Sikkim, Darjeeling and Kalimpong. The grain of the country rises from near sea level to 8500 meters, in a short distance, forming a giant amphitheater, hewn as it were from the great mountains. This provides an arc of the most magnificent snow clad mountains as a backdrop to your holidays. This region is connected to Delhi, , Calcutta, Guwahati by daily air services. The nearest airport is at Bagdogra. Train service from NJP railway station are avalable to all parts of India.

Darjeeling & Kalimpong

Nestling in the lush green midranges of the Eastern Himalayas, with an incredibly stunning backdrop of towering snow capped peaks; Darjeeling and Kalimpong, are twin hill stations of the “Raj”. Premium tea gardens, colonial bungalows and churches, Buddhist monasteries, exotic bazars, handicrafts, orchids, and the world heritage “toy” train, are the main attraction. The sparsely populated and least visited areas around Kalimpong are your best bet. These comprise forests, mountain streams and rivers, and the picture postcard valley of Samthar. All this and more, in a land peopled by an amazing ethnic mix, of Lepchas, Tibetans and Nepalese, forming a unique sub culture of their own.

Relax and laze, raft the white waters, explore forests and flora, hike, mountain bike, trek, or Para glide, and take in the breathtaking sunrise and sunset views. Apart from hotels and resorts, the area is rich in home stays scattered around several villages.

 

Kalimpong – More monasteries, Colonial buildings, exotic flora, lovely people, exotic bazaar, and great views

Kalimpong, is an exotic town of beautiful people, mystical and enchanting? Ruled by Bhutan for 155 years, and annexed by the British in 1865, it was developed as a center of the wool trade with Tibet. This trade flourished until the Chinese took control of Tibet, in the 1950’s The Lepchas, who were the original inhabitants, were subjected to Bhutanese, Tibetan, British, and Nepalese influences. A gentle and docile people, they have almost lost their identity, and are now called “The vanishing tribe”. However history has left behind a fascinating ethnic blend of Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepalese people. Here Buddhism rubs shoulders with Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. Gompas, churches, temples, monasteries, monks and missionaries; all coexist in a jovial and tolerant society.

Located at a comfortable altitude of 1400 meters, it is famous for its panoramic views of the snow ranges, nature walks and flower and orchid nurseries. Colonial bungalows, churches of the “Raj”, and Buddhist monasteries are there to explore. A quaint bustling bazar, is a Pandora’s box of surprises.

Kalimpong is a wanderer’s delight. Buddhist “tankhas”, hand beaten silver, Bhutanese weaves, Chinese lamps, hand crafted paper, Lepcha daggers, Nepali Khukaris and Buddhist masks, are some of the shopping attractions. The Wednesday and Saturday “Hat”, or village market, brings together people from surrounding areas, selling an amazing variety of products.

Around Kalimpong – virgin forests, exotic flora, Lepcha culture, & great views.

The picture post card countryside around Kalimpong, is framed by the panorama of snowcaps, dominated by the mighty Khangchendzonga. The wild and protected Neora Valley is a store house of Himalayan flora and wildlife. The forested ridges and Buddhist monasterty of Lava, heritage forests of Lolegaon, the serene and enchanting Samthar Plateau, with its breathtaking sunrise & sunset views, virgin forests, the deep valleys, the lush plateaus – are all nature’s gifts.

Holidays in this area are forays into the remoter countryside. They provide jeep based and walking holidays to explore the area and meet people. Walking enthusiasts have a wonderful menu of treks; ranging for day treks exploring nearby villages, hidden valleys and the remote Neora National Park, reaching upto the Rache-la – the 3152 m high pass opening into Bhutan. Also you can river raft on the Teesta, visit remote Buddhist Gompas, explore forests and flora, bird watch, ride a mountain bike, and para sail over the mountains, and and meet the people. The Samthar Farm house, and several village homestays are suitable as a base, to live in comfort and to experience the finest hospitality.

You can walk everyday along different trails to explore nature and culture, watch birds, ride a mountain bike and enjoy the hospitality of premium village home stays.

An added attraction is the unique experimental Awake & Shine Primary School, which is bringing quality education to rural children. Visitors are welcome to visit the school and join the children in various class room and outdoor activities. The Awake & Shine guest room, and village home stays hosted by local families provides hospitality.

For details about our exciting activities in this region click on the appropriate button at the top of this page.

 

TOUR DETAILS

Paddy sowing is the focal point of Himalayan village lifestyles. It is the beginning of the cycle to provide the family requirements of rice – the staple diet of the Nepali and the Lepcha people. Preparations begin as soon as the monsoon rains start. Terraced paddy fields, hewn by generations out of steep mountain sides are manually cleaned free of weeds and mud dykes and water channels rebuilt laboriously, to get them ready for flooding.

As the rains flood the paddies, young men with pairs of oxen plough the flooded paddies, whilst the older generation of men folks level the ploughed paddies wielding hand held wooden leveling tools. This is followed by the women sowing the rice seedlings in regimented unison, singing whilst they sow.

Another group of women work in the family kitchen preparing a feast for the time when the days sowing is done. Whole families work together, mustering additional numbers from the community on a cooperative basis. It is hard work but the ambience is that of a community picnic.

This tour is set up to enable visitors to witness the entire ritual of paddy sowing and to participate to the extent desired

 

04-nights-Paddy-Sowing

ITENERIES

Day 01. Kalimpong to Samthar

Your tour starts from Kalimpong.

A Car with driver and guide will pick you up from your designated hotel at Kalimpong at 0800 hrs in the morning. Drive to Samthar . It is a scenic journey through the Himalayan foot hills with its isolated hamlets, Buddhist monasteries, river valleys and forests.

You can opt for one or two short treks enroute. Arriving at Samthar you will be met by members of the host family and walk down 15 -20 minutes to the Nepali or lepcha family home stay . Dinner and overnight.

Day 02 Explore samthar Valley

Paddy-SowingAwake to the breathtaking panorama of the snows, that Samthar offers as the sun rises – Khangchenganga group of peaks, Simvo, Siniolchu, Lama Anden, Chomoyomo, and Paunhari, and the passes of Chola, Natula, and Jalepla, leading into Tibet will be there every morning to see from your cottage ( weather permitting) .

Today you will take a walking tour of the village visting families in their homes and fields. visit the Awake & Shine primary School. In the evening a session of Nepali and Hindi songs and Bhajans ( devotional songs), as you join the family ” puja” ( prayers) invoking blessings for the paddy crop.

Overnight at the home stay.

Day 03: Paddy sowing

Walk down to the paddy terraces and watch the men working at preparing the terraces for flooding. You will see and may participate in the operation of scrapping and weeding, rebuilding dykes and water channels, as also getting the seedling ready for transplanting. Overnight at the home stay.

Day 04: Paddy Sowing

Paddy Sowing 1    Paddy-sowing-2    Paddy-sowing-3

Get up early to join the women folk as they make preparations for the sowing feast. Latter join the family and community members for the actual sowing of the paddy terraces, followed by the sowing feast in the late afternoon.

In the evening singing and dancing with the local folks. Overnight at the home stay.

Day 05 Depart Samthar Valley

Choose one of the following options:-

Option 01: Drive to Siliguri or Bagdogra in 4.30 hrs

Option 02: Trek down to Teesta Valley Dam in 03 hrs, and drive to Darjeeling ( 2.30 hrs) / Siliguri ( 02 hrs) / Kal;impong ( 01 hr)

Option 3: Drive to Kalimpong in 3.30 hrs.

TOUR ENDS.

PHOTOS

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