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Chitre – the tonic for your tired soul

28 February, 2020 05:45:49
Chitre – the tonic for your tired soul

Sometimes, life becomes so convoluted and meaningless, that you feel the need to blow off some steam, or else you’ll implode. When that happens, a strong, sturdy hat, and a thirst for adventure is all you need to get back into the game. If a change of scenery is what the doctor prescribed, then Chitre, a small mountain village of North Bengal, might just be the tonic for you. Chitre is the spot where usually hikers gather to begin the Sandakphu trek. It is a secluded, homely place of refuge, where you can rejuvenate the tired spirit, and the beauty of the mountains will act as a balm to your soul.


Located at an altitude of 8,340ft, and 3 km from Mane Bhanjan, a boulder road connects Chitre all the way up to Sandakphu. However now the road up to Chitre has been pitched and vehicles can easily come up to this place. But from Chitre onwards, it is still a bumpy boulder road ahead. It takes about 1.5 hours of trek from Mane Bhanjan and about 20 minutes by 4-wheel-drive vehicle to reach Chitre. The route up to Chitre passes quite steeply uphill on a good stoned path through lush greenery of evergreen coniferous pine, fir, birch forests, bamboo glades and wonderful rock vegetation. Surrounded by pastel pastures, emerald forests and turquoise skies, this Buddhist settlement answers to the atavistic call of nature. The path to Chitre is quite steep, but the exertion is worth the pain -- you will be greeted by a pre-Lapsarian view of Eden.


Once you are there, quite a few things will soothe your nerves. The famous Old Ghoom Monastery is the popular name of Yiga Choling. The monastery belongs to the Gelukpa or the Yellow Hat sect and is known for its 15 feet high statue of the Maitreya Buddha. The external structure of the building was established in 1850 by the Mongolian astrologer and monk Sokpo Sherab Gyatso, who was head of the monastery until 1905. The Samten Choling monastery lies below the road - built in 1875 by Lama Sherab Gyatso, the monastery follows the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Amongst the Buddhist texts available are the Kangyur, the Tibetan Buddhist canon, running into 108 volumes. The monks fly prayer flags in the Tibetan tradition often. This small hamlet in the Singalila National Park of Darjeeling is a hidden gem of Bengal offering you peace and serenity in abundance. The mornings greet you with an enchanting view of the Kanchanjunga, while millions of stars light up your night sky. Darjeeling looks like a glittering crown of jewels from here.


What to see around:
Since one has to pass through Darjeeling enroute to Chitre, you can try out the following

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (also called the Darjeeling Zoo) is a 67.56-acre zoo. Opened in 1958, at an average elevation of 7,000 feet, it is the largest high-altitude zoo in India. The rock garden, observatory hill, Coronation Bridge, and the Peace Pagoda are beautiful places to visit in Darjeeling. 

Best time to visit: 
While summer months from June to April are the ideal time to visit, winters will provide a remarkably fresh landscape. 

Where to stay:
Homestays and adventure camps

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