by David Woollan

Global Mark : to come

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Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 



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Description ?
A border town on Nepal's east coast, gateway to the Darjeeling area (which is probably why you're there, right?) But this is also an interesting area to look around, Ilam is Nepal's tea growing area and just north of the town you can see the foothills of the Kachenjunga area.

What to do ? Walk along dust roads through beautiful rural scenery/Hire a bike and aim for the Kachenjunga foothills/Leave or enter Nepal at the immigration gate

What you may not like ? All the accommodation is clustered behind the bus park or along the main road.

How long ? Well, less than a few hours if you are just leaving or entering Nepal, but if you have time why not spend two or three days in this part of Nepal that travelers rarely see.

Where to stay ?
All the accommodation is clustered along the main road or behind the bus park so noise is a problem here. The buses start departing at 4 a.m. and heavy trucks ply the road 24 hours a day. Behind the bus park and towards to market area is perhaps the quietest area. Note that many "hotels" are actually long term rentals for merchants who spend many weeks here.

  • Hotel Kachanjungha (tel. 23-62023, email Behind bus park. Rooms with king size beds and TV R600, separate bath. Rooms with common bath. R200-R300. Also lousy restaurant.
  • Shere Punjab Hotel and restaurant. Just past Tourist Office on the right-hand side as you come in from India. Rooms with separate bath R300. Reasonably quiet. Restaurant is very popular and probably the best place if you want to eat traveler's fare.
  • Hotel Kanchan, behind bus park. Rooms with air conditioning and separate bath, to R800. At least the noise of the air conditioner will mean you won't hear the buses! Also non a/c rooms with separate bath R400.

Other information ? There is a bank and a money changer in town and a tourist office. Most of the hotels that double as restaurants do little food business, so expect the cook not to be in and the food selection limited. Best to eat on the street or at Shere Punjab Hotel. The River Mechi is the dividing line between India and Nepal and so, although I dare say it is fine to go for a swim, don't cross over onto the other bank !

Walking the rural roads ? I spent a very pleasant two days walking the roads north of Kakarvitta. Walk at 90 degrees to the main road past Hotel Kachanjungha. The road quickly becomes unpaved. You needn't have a destination; just walk as long as you want and give yourself time to get back before dusk. On a clear day you can see the foothills of the Kachenjunga range; from the plains where you are now walking all the way up to 2500 metres is Nepal's tea growing area. Notice the well-practiced intercropping method the local farmer's use. No vast plains of wheat here, but potatoes in with corn, spinach in with spices etc. Walking these roads you really see how modern Nepal lives alongside ancient Nepal. You'll see houses with satellite dishes and the occasional latest model Chinese built motorbike but also people tilling the field by hand and buffalo-drawn carts. If you want a destination, ask the locals which is the road for Bahundangi. It can be walked in about two hours. This village has a bazaar that operates daily and people come here for horticultural supplies and ayurvedic medicines.
Walks along other roads might take you past a brick kiln or through tea estates.