A tiny little village called Echeygaon

Thursday, June 18, 2015

When we were planning our vacation during this May, we came to know that many small villages in the Himalayan hills of Darjeeling / Sikkim are opening up their homes to the tourists and travelers as home stays. They do not have much to offer else but their hospitality in their very humble abode. What the tourists are expected to get is the most amazing views out of their windows in the lap of pure and unadulterated nature, along with local food and a glimpse of the day in the life of these hard working poor souls. When we came to know about these we were very intrigued to experience all that these villages had to offer. Let me share with you about a tiny little village called Echeygaon.

Echeygaon is a small village which is about 15 kms away from Kalimpong, nestled in between pine and cinchona forests. The village comes in the Kalimpong-Ramdura-Rongpo Route. Rongpo is known for its Cinchona productions and cinchona harvesting is the livelihood of most of these villagers.  From Silliguri you can book a cab which would take around 3000 INR till Echeygaon for an approximate journey of 3 hours. 

There are hardly handful of 15-20 houses which comprises the whole village. There is a government school which consists of only 3 rooms for all the classes till 5 standard. There are just handful of children in the village and they were a charm to hangout with. Most of these children have never gone out of the village to even visit Kalimpong. Most of the villagers are very poor and it broke our heart to learn that the family we stayed with had to sell off their beloved cows to get the money to build cottages to attract tourists. I loved the pink little cottage which has just three rooms and each one had an attached bathroom. Nothing fancy, just basic amenities yet clean.

Prices per day for these home stays ranges from 600 INR to 800 INR per person depending on the season. Best time to visit would be October to March. Avoid during the monsoon.

What is so amazing about these homes, is that all of them have potted plants with exotic flowers. These people love flowers and so do I, hence I never left a chance to click away with my humble camera whenever I spotted some. I am really sad for not able to give any view from my window photo, as most of the times we were in the clouds and the visibility was next to zero.

From the village on a clear day you can see the widest range of Kanchedzonga, but we were so unlucky that the weather did not favor us. What we enjoyed is hills at the night. During the shortest of time when we were not staying in the clouds, we could see millions of twinkling lights in the surrounding hills along with zillions of twinkling stars in the sky. I so enjoyed the calm and quietness of the night in my complete solitude undisturbed. It was pure zen.

We stayed there for 2 days, and these little children kept us company all throughout. They took us to the nearby pine forests and around the village and to a small school ground where we played football with them. Its not that there is nothing to do while you are at Echeygaon, the locals arranges car for you to do sight seeing, based on the locations you choose they charge you accordingly.

Kalimpong Sight Seeing : Delo Dara, Durbin Dara, Pine View Nursery (cactus garden), Kolakhang (lava). Sikkim : Reshi river, Aritar, Namkhim(20km from Aritar), Phademchin, Zuluk, Nathan Valley, Lunthung.

On our last night at Echeygaon we had a bonfire which the family arranged. They were kind enough to let me use their kitchen, so I marinated some chicken with homemade tandoori masala and the end result were some finger licking goodness. The kids and the villagers joined us, and they sang and danced to entertain us. It was one of the best nights of the life.

If you are some one who loves nature and wants to enjoy it untouched and raw, visit these little villages and enjoy the home stays that these villagers has to offer. They are so hospitable, humble, simple and kind that they truly make one feel how city life has ruined us. I so loved the village that I want to revisit it any time. Anytime when I would have the feeling of being too stressed out with work and everything else, and just want to get away and enjoy being cut from the rest of the world, this little village would truly be my top choice.

Let me know if you know any village like this, that I must visit.

Keep travelling,

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