Chuikhim, a tiny hamlet in the Darjeeling District of West Bengal, is situated at 3,500 ft above sea level. You will probably not find this mountain village on either Google maps or in geography textbooks because it’s overshadowed by the popularity of Darjeeling. Trust us, it’s a wonderland where you can revel in the simple joys of life, a far cry from the hustle and noise we have all got accustomed to.
Life in Chuikhim is as organic as it gets. The call of crickets is all pervasive here, the air is crisp, vegetables unmarred by the taste of fertilizers, and no ugly concrete structures dotting the skyline. Only vast stretches of terraced fields and sun-stunned valleys as far as the eyes can see. Homestays are the best way to enhance your experience of Chuikhim. The villagers here will welcome you with open arms into their humble abodes and offer you freshly cooked meals. Eat up to your heart’s content and follow it up with a lazy afternoon siesta while listening to the excited chirping of birds and lowing of cattle. Wake up in time to catch the sun setting behind the mountain, lighting up the western sky in blood red.
If you’re travelling in November, you might be in time for the Indradhanush Chuikhim Earth Festival, that starts with the wail of the naumatti (a curved horn-like instrument), the clash of cymbals and devotional songs addressed to Ma Durga. Sit mesmerised as you watch the locals indulge in dance performances wearing stunning costumes.
Chuikhim is around 700 kms away from Kolkata. Nearest airport is Bagdogra (IXB) and nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP), from there you can easily hire a jeep to Chuikhim village. It generally takes 3-4 hours to reach Chuikhim and one-way fare from NJP to Chuikhim is Rs 1,500.