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Saturday, 15 February 2020

Sitong Tour

Sitong, Darjeeling, W. B., India
               Sitong is the most hidden section of the Darjeeling Himalayan Foothills to be explored yet. This little village of Lepcha resides in a valley crossed by a rivulet and surrounded by lush green peaks. Due to its luxuriant orange orchard, this village is also called "Orange Village" Sitong is an offbeat destination for travelers in Darjeeling, in the middle of the alpine mountains. So if planning a weekend holiday to refresh your mind then anyone can probably go to this place to avoid the plains ' scorching summer heat and enjoy the mouth-watering oranges.
                 The entire village turns orange during winter. There's a bamboo bridge, a church, some winding village paths sliding through orange orchards, few meandering streams, and a rivulet that locals love to call the Riyang River. The church guesthouse has been refurbished with modern amenities to accommodate the guests.
Visiting Time 
Sitong is the best time to see oranges is in November, December and January. The orange harvest happens in late December and before early January. Because Sitong is situated approximately 4050 ft above sea level, it is also a pleasant place to beat the heat during the summers. After the rains, the rivers and streams become filled and the lush vegetation during the Sitong monsoons is something not to be missed.
Route 
         There is no direct route from NJP to Sitong so have to travel via Kurseong, with a distance of about 35 km, which will take 1 hour 30 minutes. You can rent a car or taxi after reaching Kurseong and get to Sitong in 1 and half-hour with a distance of about 30 km. So the distance from NJP to Sitong approx 65-70km.
Places to Visit
            Find the church nearby. A 100-year-old Bamboo church used to be here before, but now a new building has build up. There's a Bamboo Bridge that anyone loves to see wiggling when someone is walking. In Sitong, there's one thing can't skip doing-"Enjoying Oranges." At the time of oranges are blooming, the entire village is painted in an orange hue & can also spend some time moving along the farms all around the village or sit idle on the banks of the Riyang River and observe the Lepcha children return home. This is the place love to do "nothing" in Sitong.
         Latpanchar-Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary's highest point is about 15 km from Sitong.  Latpanchar is often known as the birthplace of the Himalayan Salamander and various species of birds and butterflies, Another Latpanchar attraction is the endangered Hornbill, which nests here between April and September each year.
Latpanchar
               Latpanchar literally forms Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary's highest portion with an average altitude of around 4,150 ft. Because it's part of the preserve, anyone likely to come across some animals like goats, barking deer, wild boars, and sometimes even leopards and elephants while roaming the jungles around. Latpanchar is about 45-50 km away from Siliguri/New Jalpaiguri (NJP), which takes about 1.30min by car through the Sevoke route.
Latpanchar is part of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, well known for the wide range of animals and birds it includes. There are some 40 animal types and more than 250 bird species which can be seen here.
         Himalayan black bears, mountain goats, leopards, wild boars, deer (barking deer), monkeys,  and even elephants that often migrate to this site are the most common species. You may have to go to the core area of the sanctuary, which is about a 7 km walk from the village, to see the wildest animals. You should always take along an armed guide.  Many people attend to visit the forestry stretch between Forest Rest House and Raja Rani Hill.
           Among many birds are yuhina, scaly thrush, woodpeckers, black bulbules, ashy backed shrike, spotted eagles, magpie, minivets, manila, drongo, kingfishers, Robins, and by chance may Himalayan pied hornbills.


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