A Hint of Aroma and Much More

Text by Pat Kauba / Photo: ECS Media

Illam is popular among the tourists for a variety of reasons. It has been admired for years now. What makes Illam the place it is today? Culture, nature, a combination of both and much more.

Illam has made a place inside the hearts of people as a hill station known for its tea estates. When asked about Illam, a friend of mine showed a picture that was quite different:

“Staring down at a long and steep flight of stairs, I saw a kid escalating through. His father soon followed. I asked the father why both looked so eager to reach the top. I learnt that the stairs of the Temple of Singha-Bahini would fulfil your wishes if you climbed them in a single breath. I thanked their smiling and welcoming faces. Now, when I ask myself if the dad was superstitious, I have no answer. It is just something people do in Illam, of culture that they have learnt.”

Located in eastern Nepal, Illam is known for its pristine environment, lush greenery and sloped tea gardens. It is the major production ground for export quality tea in Nepal. Kanyam and Fikkal have large tea estates which provide tea to the ever growing tea culture of Nepal. These places are known for their landscapes and are extremely popular among those who visit Illam. Tea that is sent out to different parts of Nepal and other nations from Illam is said to have the aroma of Nepal’s hospitality.

In talking about Nepalese culture and Illam together, there is one important aspect one cannot miss - tea. To some, it is just another beverage. To us, it is a part of our culture. It is something that starts conversations; something we offer to friends and to strangers alike. It is a part of practically every household in Nepal. We did not discover tea. We just learnt to enjoy it and that we do with all our hearts.

Other than tea, Illam is also famous for its culture and religious destinations. Sandakpur, Chhintapu, Siddhi Thumka and Antu Danda are some of the sight-seeing sites in elevated areas. The view they provide is quite a spectacular mix of panoramic vistas of hills and mountains in Darjeeling and Pashupati Nagar. The area surrounding Illam has dense forests and hence is enriched with a large biodiversity. Religious sites in and around the place have earned great respect from the local residents and tourists. Mai Pokhari, a lake surrounded by natural forests, is a major attraction in Illam. Similarly, Gajur Mukhi, Pathibhara, Mai Beni are other sites of religious significance.

While Illam has a lot to offer, it will always be known as one of the most popular hill stations of Nepal and for its tea estates. Large tea plantations extend on both sides of the highway covering acres of land which add to the already delightful weather of the place, and is regarded perfect for sightseeing, lazy strolls and picnics.

Illam is 700 kilometers and an 18 hour drive from the city of Kathmandu, but is thousands of miles away from the hustle of city life. To those who are visiting Nepal, the trip is incomplete without a visit to this place that so beautifully exhibits every aspect of the country we are proud of. The perfect amalgamation of Nepalese natural and cultural beauty makes Illam truly a pleasure to be in. For the Nepalese, it is a silent retrieve from the chaos of the cities. For visitors, it is an extraordinary example of what Nepal has to offer. All that has to be planned is just one visit to Illam. All your other visits that are sure to follow, will come of your own desire.