Sitong, a quaint destination which lies in the Darjeeling Himalayan foothills is still an unexplored treasure trove. This small scenic Lepcha village lies in a valley intersected by a rivulet (Khola) and emboldened by the lush green hills. There is a garden with orange trees in every house of Sitong. The whole village turns orange during the winter. The main attractions of Sitong are a bamboo bridge, a church, some winding village paths skirting through orange orchards and few streams and a rivulet, which the inhabitants lovingly call Riyang River.
Places to see at Sitong: You can visit the local church. Previously, there used to be a 100-year old Bamboo church here but now a new building has come up. There is a Bamboo Bridge, which you would love to see jiggles when someone crosses. When you are in Sitong, there is one thing you cannot miss doing – “Enjoying Oranges.” When the oranges bloom, the whole village is covered in a hue of orange. You can also spend time walking all around the village along the farms or sit idle on the banks of Riyang river and watch the Lepcha kids returning home. In Sitong, you would love doing “nothing.”
Nearby attractions of Sitong: The house of Rabindranath Tagore at Mongpo is just 20 kms away and Latpanchar – the highest point in Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is 13 kms from Sitong. Latpanchar is also known for being the home to the Himalayan Salamander and numerous species of birds and butterflies. Other tourist destinations like Kurseong, Dilaram, Bagora are all within 20 kms of Sitong. Chatakpur, the picture-perfect village within the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary is also within 30 kms of Sitong.
Things to do at Sitong: Enjoy long nature walks along the villages and peep into the traditional lifestyle of the Lepchas, eat as many oranges as possible and visit the church to find some solace. You can enjoy a dip in the Riyang River and do some bird watching and butterfly watching too. You can also avail some light treks to the nearby Labda village and few nearby spots with a local guide.
Best time to visit Sitong: November, December and January is the best time to see oranges is Sitong. The orange harvest takes place during late December and early January. As Sitong is located around 4000 feet above sea level so it is also a nice place to beat the heat during the according summers. The rivers and streams get filled after the rains and the lush greenery is something not to be missed during the monsoons in Sitong.
How to go ?
There are three routes to reach Sitong. The shortest route (55 kms) is through Siliguri – Sevoke – Kalijhora and Latpanchar. The second route (78 kms) passes through Siliguri – Rambhi and Mongpoo. The third route (75 kms) is through Kurseong – Dilaram – Bagora and Ghareytar. The last leg of the journey to Sitong (last 15 kms) is quite steep.
Where to stay ?
The newly built three-storey guesthouse of Sitong church located on a hilltop has been modified with all modern facilities for the guests. There are nine double bedded rooms with attached western bathrooms, solar power and 24 hrs warm water. The lobby has a fireplace where you can get along with your family enjoying a cozy evening. Organic vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is served in the Guest house’s Dining hall.