Sikkim is a beautiful state. Every time we visit this small state, we keep falling in love with its picturesque landscape, grand views of Kanchenjunga and smiling faces. Just like Darjeeling, Sikkim is one of our ‘go to’ places. A long weekend often leads us to visit this charming Himalayan state. Sikkim is dotted with numerous beautiful hamlets where ecotourism is developed to help the local communities. Chalamthang in South Sikkim is one such place where you can visit for a couple of days just to unwind and relax.
Chalamthang is located in South Sikkim. If you are planning to visit Sikkim, please read our travel blog on a complete Sikkim Travel Guide.
Crispy cool air, fresh morning mist and some spectacular views of the meandering river – do all these sound a bit cheesy? Well, not when we saw it right in front of us! So, what happens if there are no views of the snow-clad mountains that Sikkim is known for? This quaint village of Chalamthang is quite a winner with its valley views, green forests and a friendly place to stay along with great food. We had visited Chalamthang for a weekend and were totally mesmerized by the place. We simply fell in love with the simplicity of the village.
Where is Chalamthang Located?
Chalamthang in South Sikkim is located only 42 km from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim and about 98 km from Siliguri. It takes about 4 to 5 hours to reach Chalamthang from Siliguri.
Chalamthang has not yet seen the tourist crowd of Sikkim. The village is a perfect place for those who want some solitude amidst nature. Hopefully, it remains the same in days to come.
Chalamthang literally means “orange farm” in the local Lepcha language. Though we did not see many orange orchards when we visited in January, I am sure there are a number of orange trees all around the village!
The homestay – known as Chalamthang Homestay is located a few metres from the main road. You have to hike a bit to reach the homestay. There is a well-defined trail that starts with a flight of steps leading to the homestay. There is a huge telephone tower after you reach almost the end of the steps. And a narrow trail leads to Chalamthang Homestay.
The homestay is located at the edge of the hilltop and it has stunning views of the Himalayan foothill, the valley and the meandering Teesta River. As we reached the homestay, we were welcomed by a quaint looking cottage. The rooms for the guests are located separately from the owners. The homestay has 4 rooms for guests.
What totally bowled me over is the Machan area. It is actually a hanging lounge area that the hosts also called as the watchtower. From the Machan, we could see the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the Teesta River Valley. On a clear day, the views would be just gorgeous. The Machan with a thatched roof of hay has a seating area with sofas, chairs and a centre table. It is a place where the guests can simply sit down and gaze at the lovely views along with a cut of tea or coffee. Having breakfast there also seem to be a great idea that we followed on both the days we stayed there.
Want to know about another offbeat destination in Sikkim? Read more about Martam in West Sikkim.
Chalamthang Homestay is the labour of Amrit Sharma. He started the homestay in 2014 under a Sikkim Government Scheme. He was a banker previously and left his job to start the homestay in his village. Chalamthang Homestay became the first ISO certified homestay in Sikkim in 2018.
Food at the Homestay
Chalamthang is a Hindu village and almost all the families are devotees of Krishna. The villagers are mostly vegetarian. Keeping with the tradition of the village, the homestay also serves only vegetarian food. Lunch and dinner is an elaborate affair at Chalamthang Homestay. The food is quite delicious and there are a number of vegetarian items on the menu. However, our favourite was the homemade ghee we had with steaming rice. The local ghee seems to have a much better taste.
All the vegetables are grown organically and sourced from the adjoining fields and gardens. Dairy products also come from home.
However, if you want to have non-vegetarian food, you can have a barbeque at the campfire. The campfire place is located a little away from the homestay inside the forest. If you want to have a campfire, non-vegetarian food can be arranged there.
What can we do at Chalamthang?
Apart from enjoying the views of the mountains and valleys and taking delight in the serenity of the place, there are a number of activities that you can do at Chalamthang. We would definitely recommend the village tour. There are a number of interesting attractions in the village itself.
You can also keep Chalamthang as your base and explore various places of South Sikkim like Namchi, Ravangla and Temi Tea Gardens. Tarey Bhir is also a beautiful place to be explored. Let me talk about the village tour first.
The village tour will take about 2 to 4 hours depending on the places that you want to visit. We were quite enthusiastic to explore the entire village and we got an equally energetic guide for our village tour. Jaideep, a young engineer from Chalamthang was our guide for the day.
First, we visited the ancient tree, also known as the mother tree of the Chalamthang village. Believed to be about 200 years old, the tree is also the recreation place for the village Goddess. There is a water source coming from the base of the tree, which serves as the water source for the entire village.
The main temple of Chalamthang village is also nearby. Every Sunday some member from every family of the village gather at the temple to offer prayers. The temple was built by collecting money from the villagers and the offerings to the deity are also given by the villagers.
After the ancient tree and the temple, we walked towards the other of the village. It was an uphill hike that took us to the Lovers Point. Oh! The woe of lovers to have a quiet place to be with each other! The hike was a bit steep, but it rewarded us with a striking view of the Teesta Valley from the hilltop. The entire valley was just before us along with the rolling green hills. If you do not want to trek all the way up to the hilltop, you will also get a good view from the base of the hill as well.
Next, we trekked down through the jungle trail and finally came to Deorali Dara. This is also a good viewing point from where we could see the sweeping views of the valley. But I felt the views from the Lovers’ Point were a bit better.
Deorali Dara is also a place of the Gods. Earlier, when the villagers faced any problems, they used to come to this point and pray to the Gods for their wish fulfillment. Very interestingly, Jaideep told us that this is the place in the village where network to God is the best. You will get the best connection to the Gods from Deorali. Well, I do not know about networks and connection, but the place definitely gave a serene vibe.
Deorali Dara is so peaceful and quiet that you can easily connect with your inner self here and maybe, perhaps to God also.
Just near the viewpoint, there is a clear place under the canopy of trees. This is used as a place for campfire for the homestay guests. As I mentioned earlier, you can also have non vegetarian food here.
After Deorali Dara, we trekked downhill and reached the local vegetable farm. What is interesting here is the Sikkimese octogenarian farmer, K B Limboo. He started farming only when he was 60 years old. Before that he used to be a mason he started farming. He started with paddy farming and gradually shifted to vegetable farming, gradually shifting to non-traditional vegetables. Mr Limboo is going to be ninety soon, but till today, along with his wife, he comes to the farm to work. He has trained a number of youths in organic farming and I am sure inspiring many others to go back to farming.
Our downhill hike continued till we reached 167 years old Limboo Traditional Heritage House. The speciality of the house is that no nails have been used in the building of the house. We saw the house from outside and noticed the interlocking system used to hold the pillars, doors and windows together. We had previously seen such a traditional house at Rinchenpong.
Further hiking downhill, we came across the Bamboo House. The bamboo house is still under construction. Once completed, the bamboo house will also have the facilities to stay overnight. We had some delicious momo here.
The downhill trail continues till Rekap village and further down to the Green Beach on River Teesta. Green Beach is one of the best spots for angling in the area. You can reach up to Rekap village by car and then hike down through the forest trail to Green Beach.
We did not visit the Rekap village and Green beach. After the bamboo house, we trekked back to our homestay.
Ban Jhakri is another fascinating place at Chalamthang. Jhakris are traditional medicine practitioners of Sikkim. They are known to cure the ailments of the villagers through natural means. They are also believed to control natural elements. The Jhakris usually dwell in caves and many such caves are found across Sikkim. There is one such cave at Chalamthang that can be visited by trekking down a couple of kilometers.
Bird watching at Chalamthang
Sikkim is the home for beautiful Himalayan birds and Chalamthang is a great place for bird watching. Chalamthang is located at the foothills of the Maenam Hills and falls on the seasonal migratory route of the Himalayan birds. The common birds that can be seen here are magpies, warblers, woodpeckers, sunbirds, robins and others.
Fishing and Angling
Teesta River and Kaleej Khola are two rivers near Chalamthang. The homestay has basic fishing equipment that you can hire and enjoy fishing.
Places to visit near Chalamthang
You can stay at Chalamthang and visit different places of South Sikkim. Visit Namchi, Tarey Bhir, Ravangla and Temi Tea Garden from Chalamthang.
Tarey Bhir is a 10000 feet long cliff edge with almost 3500 feet abrupt drop. A small pathway will take you to the middle of the cliff from where you can get a panoramic view of the Teesta and Rangeet Rivers. The hilltop is covered by pine forest. It is a beautiful place.
How many days are required for Chalamthang? An Ideal Itinerary
Ideally 2-3 nights are good enough for Chalamthang but you can stay for more days as well. Let me share an ideal itinerary for Chalamthang here.
Day 1: Siliguri/ NJP/ Gangtok to Chalamthang
Day 2: Go for bird watching early in the morning. After breakfast go for village tour.
Day 3: Go for Sightseeing at Namchi, Temi and Ravangla
Day 4: Return to Siliguri/ Gangtok or travel further towards your next destination.
How to reach Chalamthang?
Chalamthang is about 98 km from Siliguri. The nearest railway head is New Jalpaiguri. From NJP or Siliguri, you can hire a car to reach Chalamthang. You can contact the homestay for a car.
You can also take a shared car from NJP/ Siliguri to Singtam on the way to Gangtok. From Singtam, it is better to reserve a car to Chalamthang. The road from Singtam to Chalamthang is a bit bumpy and takes about 45 minutes to reach.
The nearest airport is at Pakyong near Gangtok, Sikkim. You can fly into Pakyong or even Bagdogra and then reserve a car to reach Chalamthang.
Where to stay at Chalamthang?
When we visited, there was one homestay running, the Chalamthang Homestay. However, a few more homestays are coming up.
So what do you think of Chalamthang? This place is undoubtedly a wonderful weekend getaway from Kolkata. Do let us know in the comments below what you think about this place.
Also if you want to know about such places, just visit our post on Weekend Getaways from Kolkata. We have 52 weekends collated there and we keep updating the post at intervals.
A few more Pictures of Chalamthang
Did you like the blog? Will you visit Chalamthang? If you like the post, please share this blog with your family, friends and neighbours.
Pin it for a later read!