The Samthar village located about 80 kilometers from Kalimpong is a peaceful destination far from the din and bustle of city life. Located in one of the remotest part of Kalimpong, the Samthar Plateau provides the best possible view of Kancehnjunga– the third highest peak in the world. The scenic beauty of Samthar can only be compared to the creation of a painter with undulating slopes, terraced agricultural lands, lush green forests covering the valley, thatched cottages, small and medium brooks enhancing the beauty of the magnificent landscape. One of the most tranquil natural resorts of India, Samthar sits at an elevation of 1400-1600 meters.
How to reach Samthar Village
Visitors can reach Samthar village from NJP railway station or Bagdogra airport through Kalijhora and Pongbu in about 2 and a half hours. If you are traveling from Kalimpong it will take the same time through Rili and Sinji valleys. If you are visiting Samthar from Lava, then your vehicle will travel around 24 kilometers enroute to Loleygaon to arrive at Samthar. The road in most parts is rough but is equally beautiful with forest views full of oaks, pines, juniper.
Attractions and Trekking at Samthar
Home stays are excellent opportunities to know the village community. The hosts will make sure to take you around the village to meet different local families and inform you their lifestyle. You can also take a look around their agricultural lands and visit the Awake & Shine School where kids and adults of the community learn to make different bamboo products and cook various local dishes. If you are staying for a long time, then you will have time to visit the following:
Trekking from Kalimpong to Samthar / Samthar to Kalimpong
One of the most popular treks from Samtahar to Kalimpong takes about 6 hours. The first phase of trek descends to virgin Relli Khola (stream) Valley and then again a steep trek route climbs to Kalimpong after crossing the Relli stream. One can also reach Samthar from Kalimpong by the same way.
Trek to Samthar Top or Upper Lish River Valley
A forested ridgeline overlooking the valley, the highest spot in Samthar. The hilltop provides good view of the Samthar village and surrounding forests and Jhoras or small stream tribute to the Lish River far below. There is no human habitation in that hill and is ideal for bird watching and trekking. Dense forest cover makes the place a good birding area. To get better collection of birds it is advisable to camp overnight or start from the village one hour before sunrise.
Trek to Pongbu
A small village on the top of a ridge overlooking the Teesta River Valley and the vast plain lands of Terai Ponbu is nice refreshing trek in the lower Kalimpong hills. On the Western slopes there are a number of Jhoras running down to the Ponbu Khola and then farther down to Tista. These streams form small isolated valleys. It is a day trek and accommodation is arranged in privet village huts or in treks.
Trek to Dong Khola Valley, Solag and Nazeok village
In the remote areas of Kalimpong hills these places are some of the new areas for exploration and becoming vastly popular for the nature trekkers.
Trekking for Samthar Culture
In the early morning with the chirping of birds and the cry of the rooster to walk to the top of the terraced nature garden. Sit atop a rock and sip your tea, whilst you take in the breathtaking view, as the sun rises, and the first rays touch the snows. Weather permitting, you see the entire panorama of snows – Khangchenganga group of peaks, Simvo, Siniolchu, Lama Anden, Chomoyomo, and Paunhari, and then in an easterly arc the passes of Chola, Natula, and Jalepla, leading into Tibet. After the breakfast, trek around the Samthar plateau for 03 hrs Return to Samther for lunch. After lunch another 02 hrs trek to nearby hamlets. Meet people in their homes and fields to get a glimpse of rural lifestyles. In the evening sample local Millet beer “Chang” served in traditional bamboo containers, in lamp lit atmosphere.
Trek to Lepcha Valley
Another chance to view the sunrise. After breakfast take a full days trek to remote Lepcha valley. See flora, birds, traditional Lepcha houses, and a 100 years old Lepcha temple. Meet people in their homes and fields. After picnic lunch return by a different route.
Trek to Teesta Valley (Sepkhola and 27 miles) through Samco Ropeway
A 5 to 6 hours downward trek through rolling hill slopes descends to the confluence of Tista and Riang River at Tista Valley. It is around 12km from Samthar. You will get Ralei Khola (Relli Khola) river beside most of the trekking rout. Take a break for a picnic lunch. After lunch cross the Teesta River over a suspension bridge or take the Samco Ropeway for 27 miles to access the Sikkim national highway. The hand pulled ropeway spans across a distance of 1.5 kms over both the Teesta and Rellia River. The ropeway is built 120 feet over both the rivers. Take busses or Jeep for Siliguri which is 38 km form 27miles or drive to next destination.
Accommodation in Samthar Village
Staying in Samtahr is fun because you receive an opportunity to experience the hospitality of the Samthar community. The community comprises of Lepchas, Nepalis and Bhutias offering home stay facility to the tourists. The community home stay facility has been developed under the Project Awake & Shine which creates awareness among tourists for responsible tourism. This sort of accommodation facility is designed to provide all sorts of comfort to the tourists in a rural atmosphere at an affordable price. They provide spacious rooms with linen and attached toilet. Room heaters in winter and hot water in summer are available. Additional beds can be arranged for children. You can also put up at the Samthar Farm House set up by General Jimmy Singh.
Dining is available at these home stays with delicious food along with high quality cutlery, crockery and table linen. You can also choose the traditional floor arrangement. Food is cooked on wood fire and you will be served with western style breakfast, local vegetarian lunch and non vegetarian dinner. You can either order for pork or chicken cooked in Lepcha/Nepali/Bhutia style depending on whose home you are staying.