How about picking up fresh oranges from the orchards and having them? Sitong, a small Lepcha village near Darjeeling is about all this and much more. It is one of the unexplored parts of the Darjeeling hills and is a perfect weekend destination from Kolkata.
Our exploration of the places around Darjeeling brought us to Sitong. After our first birding experience at Latpanchar, we arrived at here. We were in fact quite lucky to visit Sitong in January, the harvesting season of the oranges. Each house in Sitong seems to have a garden and each garden is full of orange trees. The whole village took an orange hue! I was very happy to pick up oranges from the orchards and then have them right there. And believe me, the oranges tasted so good and fresh! I don’t think we can get such sweet oranges in the plains.
The best thing to do in Sitong is “nothing”! And we simply admired the beauty of nature lazily. The place still has the flavour of yesteryears. Small rivulets run through the length and breadth of the village. The Riyang River flows through the village. There is a rickety bamboo bridge in the village. It wobbled whenever we tried to cross it. There is a beautiful church in the village. Earlier it was constructed of bamboo. But a couple of years back, it was broken down and a new brick and mortar church was constructed. We saw the beautiful milky white church just as we entered the village. Sitong was also a place for cinchona plantation during the British time. So we saw a lot of red leafed cinchona trees on our way.
The villagers are also so friendly and always smiling. Spending time with them is so easy. We could listen endlessly to the village tales and also jabbered what we felt.
We spent a quiet and peaceful day at here without thinking about anything and without any stress and roamed around the meandering village roads, sat beside the banks of Riyang river listening to the chirping of the birds. The trip to the orange village was satisfying in all accounts.
But there is an alarming situation here now. Most of the orange orchards at the lower altitudes are now not giving fruits. The global warming has caused temperature changes and higher temperatures are not conducive for the orange growth.
If you are looking for going away from the city at the weekend, Sitong can be a good option. Feel free to contact us for any details.
How to reach Sitong:
You can reach Sitong in a number of ways from Siliguri. The shortest route is from Siliguri passes through Sevoke, Kalijhora and Latpanchar.
Alternatively, you can travel from Siliguri to Rambhi and Mongpoo to Sitong.
There is also a route from Kurseong via Dilaram, Bagora and Gareytar.
Best time to visit Sitong:
Winters seasons are the best time to visit if you want to see the orange orchards in full bloom. Otherwise, you can visit here in any time of the year.
Where to stay:
There are a number of homestays at here.
Things to do at Sitong:
Simply laze around at Sitong and enjoy the bounty of nature.
You can visit Mongpoo and Latpanchar, both of which are very near to this place.