Guarded By The Lush Darjeeling Hills, The Hamlet Of Sitong Offers The Escape You Need 

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Sitong -The orange village of Bengal

Photo of Guarded By The Lush Darjeeling Hills, The Hamlet Of Sitong Offers The Escape You Need by Amrita

Sitong is one of the most untouched parts of the Eastern Himalayan foothills. A serene hamlet famous for its orange orchards, the place is a treasure trove for all those seeking to spend some quality time amidst the nature away from the daily humdrum of life. This Lepcha village is crisscrossed by a hilly rivulet (Khola as called by the local people) and is guarded by the lush green Darjeeling Hills. Every house in Sitong has a garden and every garden has an orange orchard. No wonder this picturesque hamlet is often called the orange village.

Photo of Sitong Forest, West Bengal, India by Amrita

Visiting Sitong is like time travelling. There is an old traditional bamboo bridge, a hundred year old church, winding roads through the village and innocent villagers. The meandering rivulet flowing through the village is lovingly called Riyang Khola by the villagers. During the winter during the orange blooming season , the whole village turns into a shade of orange.

Road to Sitong

Photo of Guarded By The Lush Darjeeling Hills, The Hamlet Of Sitong Offers The Escape You Need by Amrita

Things to do at Sitong:

Apart from the orange orchards, Sitong has much to offer to its visitors. Nature in her pristine best has bestowed all her bounty to this hamlet.

1. Enjoy long nature walk in the village

The best thing t do at Sitong is to do nothing. This is place where you simply relax and enjoy the nature. You can take long nature walks in the village. Follow the winding village paths and roam around the village. There is a traditional bamboo bridge made by the Lepchas that you can pay a visit.

2. Visit the Sitong Church

The church is hundered years old. Earlier the church was made of bamboo. But now, the old church has been replaced by brick and mortar church. Call it the vagaries of civilization. Nevertheless, the church is a serene place that is not to be missed when you are at Sitong.

The old Church at Sitong

Photo of Guarded By The Lush Darjeeling Hills, The Hamlet Of Sitong Offers The Escape You Need by Amrita

3. Visit the Riyang River

The Riyang Khola is a rivulet flowing through the village. Like any hilly river, the Riyand Khola also flows with all the mirth. You can take a dip in the river. you can also go for fishing in the river.

4. Go for birding

Birding is another option that you can do at Sitong. Rare and exotic species of Himalayan birds are found at Sitong. The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is nearby and so is the famous birding hotspot of Latpanchar. All the birds that can be seen at Latpanchar including the nesting of Rufus necked hornbill can be seen at Sitong as well.

5. Take a sneak peek into the traditional life of the Lepchas

Sitong is the home to the Lepcha community. While staying here, you can visit the traditional Lepcha households and view their lifestyle. You can also taste the traditional Lepcha cuisines here.

View of the village & the valley

Photo of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India by Amrita

6. Visit the orange orchards

Visiting the orange orchards and tasting fresh oranges is one thing that you cannot really miss when you are at Sitong. Even when you are visiting during the non-orange season, you can at least visit the orange gardens and talk to the owners about the orchards.

Photo of Guarded By The Lush Darjeeling Hills, The Hamlet Of Sitong Offers The Escape You Need by Amrita

And if you happen to visit during the orange blossoming season, then don’t forget to pluck oranges from the trees and have them fresh. But before plucking oranges from the trees, please take permission from the owners. They are really simple people and will happily let you enter their orchards and pluck oranges.

Photo of Guarded By The Lush Darjeeling Hills, The Hamlet Of Sitong Offers The Escape You Need by Amrita

7. Take a visit to Latpanchar:

Latpanchar is a famous birding hotspot in the area. Latpanchar is the home to the Great Indian hornbills. The rare Rufus necked hornbills are found at Latpanchar. While at Sitong, you can take a visit to Latpanchar.

8. Go for short hikes:

There are a few trekking and hiking routes from Sitong. These routes are easy ones that will take you to the nearby villages. One of such short trek is to the nearby Labda village.

Photo of Guarded By The Lush Darjeeling Hills, The Hamlet Of Sitong Offers The Escape You Need by Amrita

How to Reach Sitong:

Nearest Airport: Bagdogra

Nearest Railway Station: New Jalpaiguri (NJP)

You can take a vehicle from NJP or Siliguri to reach Sitong. There are three routes to reach Sitong. The shortest route is through Siliguri – Sevoke – Kalijhora and Latpanchar. The second route passes through Siliguri – Rambhi and Mongpu. The third route is through Kurseong – Dilaram – Bagora and Ghareytar.

Best Time to visit:

November, December and January are the best time to visit Sitong to see oranges. During this time, the trees remain full of oranges. The orange harvest season is between late December and early January.

Since Sitong is located at an altitude of 4000 feet above the sea level, you can visit Sitong during the summer months to beat the heat of the plains.

Homestay at Sitong

Photo of Siliguri, West Bengal, India by Amrita

Places to stay:

There are a number of good homestays in Sitong. The amenities are basic, but they are quite clean. Sitong Heritage Homestay and Yaksaa Mountain Resort are a few good homestay options in Sitong.

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