Good to know more eco-tourism and village tourism locations are being developed in Kalimpong.
Kalimpong, April 30: A tiny quiet hamlet nestled between thick forests that was unknown to many even two years ago has become a popular tourist destination now.
Sillery, 4km off Pedong, is located on the ancient Silk Route that connected India with Tibet through the Jelep La pass in Sikkim.
Unlike in earlier times when there was not a single place to host a visitor, there are as many as 10 home stays which can accommodate around 70-80 tourists at a time now.
Out of the 33 families in the village, 10 have taken to operating home stays over the past two years. Sillery is 25km from Kalimpong.
Sebastian Pradhan, who runs a home stay at Rishi, 23km from Sillery, said each house in the village had kept aside two to four rooms for tourists.
“All the rooms have attached washrooms with modern fittings. The home stays have a combined room strength of about 30,” he said.
Pradhan was the first to introduce village tourism in the area after setting up his own eco tourism resort.
He added that over the past two years, more than 2,500 tourists had visited Sillery for a day or two.
Once in the picturesque hamlet, tourists can walk to Ramitey viewpoint, Damsang Gadi and Pedong. From Ramitey one can get a majestic view of the Kanchenjungha and the Sikkim hills.
“The view of the Teesta river from Ramitey is unique. One can see the river for the longest stretch from this place as it meanders through the valley below. Damsang Gadi has the ruins of a fort built by the last Lepcha king (Gyabo Achuk). Visitors can also do rock climbing at Damsang,” Pradhan said.
Ramitey and the fort are about a kilometre away from Sillery.
Most of the villagers used to earn their living by farming earlier.
“Tourism has now become the main source of income for them. Visitors, too, are happy to come here and spend a day or two. Most of them tell us that their stay has been very pleasant,” said Biru Tamang, who was among the first to start a home stay in Sillery.
A double room at the home stays is priced between Rs 500 and Rs 800 for a night.
Visitors can also opt for a combo offer of lodging and food that costs between Rs 500 and Rs 700 for a person per day.
“The home stays serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The cuisine is mostly local and visitors can opt for either vegetarian or non-vegetarian items,” said Pradhan.
For most tourists, the beauty of Sillery lies in its silence and serenity.
“It is such a quiet and peaceful place. It is far better than overcrowded Darjeeling. If I get a chance, I will definitely come again,” said Subhadip Gana, a tourist from Calcutta who spent last night at a home stay along with his family on their way back from Sikkim.