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.

my Sikkim
The Dhungay Homestay

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.

my Sikkim
Scenes such as this will keep you occupied the whole day

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.

my Sikkim
The faces behind the estate

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.

my Sikkim
One the many trails around the estate

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.

my Sikkim
Hydrangea in Bloom

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.

my Sikkim
Early morning Dew

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.

Accommodation

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.

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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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More information, photos and videos on Sikkim

 

Tourism in Sikkim is important and not surprising with it’s pristine natural beauty including majestic mountains, sweeping glaciers and lush green forests. It’s nature-walks are a breath of fresh air for any who have been blessed to tread her soil.

Tourism in Sikkim has led to their tourism board promoting the state as ‘Small but beautiful’. Which is very apt, as the smallness of the geographical area (Sikkim is only 7100 sq. km) belies the fact it has such enormous diversity in terms of people, flora and fauna. A predominantly Buddhist and Hindu population, Sikkim’s culture and practices revolve around the simple teachings of two of the oldest religions of the world, adapting to survive in a region with both alpine and sub-tropical attributes and yet smiling at every step of the way.

tourism Sikkim

Prayer Wheels Rinchenpong

Friendly people, great food, an incredible amount of bio diversity that includes more than 5000 species of flowering plants, more than 500 types of orchids and several varieties of rhododendron, ferns, conifers and of course to top it all off, the majestic Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world; It has more in store than you could absorb in just a few days. No wonder it was rated as the world’s top destination to visit in 2014 by Lonely Planet magazine. With or without this rating, Sikkim has been and still is one of the best places to visit in the world and one of the top five tourist destinations in India.

tourism sikkim

Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim

Sikkim‘ by Arthur Pazo is licensed under CC BY 2.0




Political background of Sikkim

Sikkim was always a separate monarchy. The tiny Himalayan nation fought bitter battles for survival with its neighbor Nepal. It was however protected by the British India government and after India became sovereign it acceded to India. Today, it is an integral part of the nation.

Best time to go

Sikkim’s penchant to wow you at every turn is what makes it a fantastic place to visit. Tourism in Sikkim has lots to offer no matter what season you visit, though it is best to avoid the monsoons, which starts late may / early June and continues well into September. The nature of the soil which is particularly susceptible to erosion does not help its cause either and the state experiences quite a few landslides which blocks roads for days.

tourism sikkim

Travelling within Sikkim

For less than $100 a day you can book an all-wheel drive vehicle that will drive you to any place and any location you wish to and have a permit to. Foreign nationals travelling to Sikkim will require an inner line permit. For backpackers and those who want to spend less than $50 a day, local taxis are available at almost all places. Shared taxis running on fixed routes are far cheaper and will cost you less than 1/10th if you rent a car for your sole use for the same distance.

Stay in Sikkim

Having one of the smallest GDPs among Indian states, with few industries, the majority of the people live on the income that is generated through tourism in Sikkim. In recent years efforts by the ministry of tourism in Sikkim and various local bodies have helped communities in rural areas to open up their homes to tourists. Humble accommodations, home cooked food and a chance to meet and mix with the people drives tourists, mainly those who love to stay away from the hum-dim of noisy towns to stay in these village home-stays. One such lovely accommodation is the Dhungay Homestay which is situated at 15th mile Martam between the villages Hee and Bermiok on the road leading from Jorethang to Pelling.  I highly recommend this place.

Places to visit

The best places to visit in Sikkim include Barsey, Gorudongmar, Nathula (part of the ancient Silk Route), Yuksom and Yumthang.

Sikkim‘ by Sukanto Debnath is licensed under CC BY 2.0









Sikkim‘ by Sourav Das is licensed under CC BY 2.0





 

 

Tourism Sikkim – by Rajib Mukherjee