If you’ve come here looking for riches, you might not find what you were initially searching for, but abundant riches of another kind you will surely find. Let me take you deeper into my Sikkim.
The Dhungay Homestays
Somehow, I have a penchant for homestays wherever I go. This post is about one such particular home stay lodge in Sikkim, a state that is particularly close to my heart.
The Dhungay Estate of western Sikkim isn’t the most exotic of places you would come across. I doubt if you have ever heard of it at all. I doubt that even if you are an Indian. It certainly misses the charm of old Delhi’s bustling by-lanes filled with mouthwatering goodies, it doesn’t have the nostalgic feeling that is associated with every city of the erstwhile Rajputana, and it certainly isn’t as breathtaking as the turquoise blue waters of the Andaman. As a matter of fact everyone travelling to the western fringes of the state passes through this place, without stopping or enquiring about it. Some of the best trekking experiences the country has to offer all start at the western fringes of Sikkim. So, why stop at a small hamlet in the middle of nowhere? But wait, isn’t that actually why we travel? To get away from everything once in a while? In that sense, Dhungay is the ideal place to spend a few days before you carry on with your adventure holidays in my Sikkim.
There are many reasons why the Dhungay Homestays make it to this blog. What makes the Dhungay Estate special is its people and the ambience that oozes peace in every breath of air around this place.
The estate with its main living quarters, guest accommodations, kitchen and the adjoining farm, is looked after by the Chettri family that lives here. Built back in the 1970’s the estate had an extensive refit in 2004.
Today, it has three operational rooms for guests (one was under repairs when I last visited my Sikkim). The ground floor is built of concrete masonry and the top floor is made of wood and bamboo. Every room has a breathtaking view of the rolling hills, that undulate towards the border with Nepal. The accommodations are basic but the hospitality is warm.
Mornings at the Dhungay Homestays
Waking up in the wee hours of the morning in my Sikkim, you will be greeted with soft clouds that seem to rise from the valley below, gathering around the estate and the rhododendron sanctuary that’s all around the estate, before slowly making their way towards east. If you are lucky, you will even get a quick glance from the majestic Kanchenjunga from the north-western corner of the horizon.
The best thing about the mornings are definitely the long walks in the woods. When you are about a km or so into the mountain trail, you will realise how isolated my Sikkim is. You will be completely separated from the hustle and bustle of the world that’s beyond these woods. Schedules, meetings, deadlines, targets and reports everything will seem like a bad dream. Your mood will probably only be broken by a ‘namastay’ from a passing villager.
The woods around Dhungay are teeming with rhododendrons. My Sikkim has about 30 species of rhododendrons. When standing beneath one of the tall rhododendrons, which seem to create almost a canopy around you, you will feel truly one with nature. Orchids are an integral part of Sikkim flora and fauna. There are over 600 species of orchids to be found in this tiny state. In the woods around Dhungay Homestays you can spot several of those.
Best time to visit my Sikkim and the Dhungay Homestay
Monsoon and the mountains of West Sikkim don’t mix. Every Sikkim road guide will testify this. Resultantly, if you are planning to make a road trip expect the unexpected. Road conditions can turn from reasonable to horrible just in half an hour of downpour. When it starts pouring it can stay that way for days. I remember getting stuck in a torrential downpour for nearly an hour, watching helplessly as the gushing waters swept away the soil from the road in front of us. So, starting early and keeping several hours in hand as a buffer are both great ideas.
Monsoons, on the other hand can be an excellent time if you love photographing forests and forest life. The jungle walks around the estate are refreshing as long as you can keep the leeches away! Oh, yes. There are plenty of leeches around my Sikkim. I had my first brush with them here in the estate. Lucky for me, it was just a solitary rider and not a pack. It sucked and then fell off, leaving, as they say, a trail of blood. Thankfully, the local help / guide / porter, Michael used the juice of a medicine plant and the blood flow stopped within minutes.
Mid June to September – Monsoon Season, so it’s the cheapest time to go, but you take your chances with the weather.
October to Mid November – is the best time to go for clear skies and views, but is also high season so the most expensive
April to May – Is Spring so the blossoms and warmer temperature can help make up for often cloudy skies.
How to reach the Dhungay Homestay
The estate can be reached only by road. The nearest railway station is about 125 Km away. The best way to go is by hiring a 4 x 4 jeep or SUV from the nearest major town Siliguri and reach the estate in about 4 – 5 hours.
The bamboo and wooden accommodation is basic but you get home cooked traditional Nepali and Bhutia food, nearby views to die for, and a warm hospitality that’s priceless.
My Sikkim & the Dhungay Homestays – by Rajib Mukherjee
All Flickr images are licensed under CC BY 2.0
This concludes ‘My Sikkim & the Dhungay Homestays’. We hope you find this information useful. If you are looking for a specific piece of information, please do comment below as we may have just forgotten to mention it.
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