There is definitely something celestial about Sitong, a startling village in the Kurseong division of Darjeeling in West Bengal. The lush green meadows, the delightful orange groves, the babbling brooks and rivers and the exquisite bridges made of bamboo make this village, which is tucked away in the Himalayas, a heaven on earth. As this pretty-as-a-picture hamlet, which is also known as Sitong Khasmaha’l, is situated around 4,000ft above sea level, not many travellers frequent this beautiful place.
People belonging to the Lepcha tribe live in this quiet village, which has earned the sobriquet ‘Orange Valley’ as most of the houses have groves with luscious oranges. Many tourists reach this village when winter sets in to behold the ripe oranges hanging from evergreen trees. The experience of eating oranges straight from the trees can only be unforgettable.
Another attraction is the Ahal Dara view point, which has a rock that resembles the face of celebrated Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. The point is also known as ‘Rabindra Peak’ due to the presence of this unique rock. Mungpoo, a favourite destination of Rabindranath Tagore, is also near this view point.
Many traditional bamboo bridges also dot Sitong, which is sustained by Teesta River and its tributaries. The Sitong church and monastery too attract many visitors. Wildlife enthusiasts can also have a great time as the Mahananda and Latpanchar wildlife sanctuaries are near this marvellous hamlet. Both are bird watchers’ paradise as many species of birds, including hornbills, could be spotted here. Besides feathered friends, one can also enjoy the beauty of Himalayan wild pigs, Himalayan black bear, elephants, Bengal tigers, leopards and wild cats.
Travellers who are into adventure sports can hike and trek to nearby villages, like the picturesque Labda hamlet, and also get an opportunity to discover the local culture.
The best time to visit Sitong is from November to January as the Himalayan villages take an alluring hue during winter season.