Located at the foothills of Mount Kanchenjunga, Ilam is a small hilly town with pristine landscapes of sloped tea gardens, thick natural forests, holy sites and unique culture. Ilam offers an excellent getaway from city life for romantic sunrise and sunset, a brisk walk in the tea garden, tranquil picnic and sightseeing spots, short treks along gentle slopes or a trudge into the nearby woods. If spiritual instinct calls there are several holy sites one can visit in and around the area. Here are some of its noteworthy attractions:
From 2,328 meters, Antu overlooks Terai flatlands, terraced hills of cash crops, tea gardens and thick forests of pine trees offering spectacular sunrise, sunset and views of Everest and Kanchenjunga. On a clear day one can see views as far as Mirik, Kurseong and Darjeeling in the adjoining Indian part.
A pristine lake amid natural forest, Mai Pokhari is surrounded by thick forest of fir, juniper, birch, pine and is home to a variety of flora and fauna. Altogether there are nine ponds in the vicinity some of which are large enough for boats. Various species of orchids, rhododendron, herbs; rare animals like musk deer, leopard, porcupine, jackal; numerous migratory birds and rare insects, are found in the region. The lake is also considered holy as the abode of Goddess Bhagabati.
At 3,636 meters on the international Nepal-India borderline, Sandakpur provides majestic view of the Himalayas, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Kumbhakarna, Mt. Makalu, and Mt Everest. Rare wildlife like red panda, musk deer, and wild bird Danphe can be seen in the forest of this area.
Kanyam and Fikkal
Kanyam and Fikkal have large estates for which Ilam has been famous for the last 140 years. These tea plantation areas are popular among tourists for picnicking, sightseeing, and taking photographs. Fikkal is a business center in the area. It falls on the Mechi highway on the way to Ilam.
It offers good views of sunrise and sunset from its elevation of 1800 meters. One can also see the Terai flatlands, the Mahabharat range and the Churia mountain range from this area. Siddhi Thumka is 3 hour trek away from Ilam Bazaar.
Chhintapu at 3,400 meters is the second highest peak in Ilam district. The area has natural rich forests of rhododendron, herbal plants and various species of birds. About 11 varieties of rhododendron are found in the area. In addition are rare herb Yarcha Gumba, and wild animals like musk deer and the rare red panda. Good views of the mountains can be seen from different points of the trek.