Ilam, the Queen of Hills, is a beautiful hilly district in eastern part of Nepal. Situated 600 km east from Kathmandu, the land of rising sun in Nepal is best known for its tea gardens all over the world. llam is also home to different species of bird and animals, including the endangered Red Panda. Basically, if you are a tea garden enthusiast in Nepal make a Tea Garden Tour and capture beauty of people of different cultures and nature living together peacefully on the foothills of Mount Kanchenjunga. Ilam’s top 10 striking facts for tourists are shown here.
- Ilam has always been synonymous with tea as it is covered in lush green tea bushes. It also produces excellent cheese and has great views of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. It is close to the famous Indian hill station “Darjeeling” and shares a common topography of rolling hills and misty weather with its neighbor.
- Ilam is an area rich in its own unique blend of cultures, the people in Ilam live in harmony and welcome visitors. A wide range of ethnic groups call Ilam home, including Lepchas – tribes which are viewed as proper natives of Ilam – Rais, Limbus, Gurungs and Sherpas. As in the rest of Nepal, the majority of religious celebrations in the region of Ilam are Hindu festivals.
- llam is one of the richest districts in Nepal in terms of its bio-cultural diversity, natural landscape and flourishing professionalism in agricultural especially in cash crops sector. Ilam is the most famous District of Nepal for the production of tea. It is widely famous for 6 major cash crops all – initiating from the same vowel sound in Nepali, so it is also known as the district of ‘6’ as Potato, Cardamom, Ginger, Red Round Chilly, Milk and broom grass.
- The scenic Himalaya and views of the sunrise over the snow peaks are the top visitors’ attractions in Ilam. Ilam’s more than a dozen hilltops have been gaining popularity as tourist destinations.
- Apart from beautiful tea gardens, Antu Danda is another attraction in the district. Antu Danda, also known as shree Antu, is a great place to view sunrise. Antu Danda situated at an altitude of 1,677m, is one of the virgin destinations for holiday makers in Ilam. Apart from the sunrise and sunset, Antu Hill gives an opportunity for spectators to have a look at a number of Himalayan peaks and places situated in Nepal and India. It offers unique views of Everest and Kanchenjunga as well. Situated at a distance of 3 hrs drive from Ilam Bazaar, this spectacular spot offers sloped tea gardens, mountain streams, dense forests and unique ethnic culture. The Nageshwori Temple and Gufapatal are other attractions for tourists in the periphery of Antu Danda.
- One of the main attractions of Ilam is the Mai Pokhari Lake which is believed to be the dwelling place of goddesses. Mai Pokhari (2,121m) is a pristine little lake surrounded by dense forest a fir, juniper, birch, pine and a variety of flora and fauna. The lake is a religious and historical spot with a 9-cornered lake as the main attraction. The lake is considered the sacred abode of Goddess Bhagawati. Different species of medicinal plants, herds and orchids, mostly for research and experimental purpose, are cultivated in the area. Rare animals like the musk deer, leopard, porcupine, jackal as well as numerous migratory birds and rare insects are also found in the area. People from different parts of Nepal visit Mai Pokhari for annual festivals on Kartik Ekadasi which falls in October or November. This spot is about one and half hour drive from Ilam Bazaar.
- On the way to Ilam Bazaar, there comes two hot spots for tourist and they are Kanyam and Fikkal. Kanyam has large tea estates that have made Ilam famous for more than a hundred years. These tea gardens are popular among tourists for picnicking, sightseeing, and photography. Likewise, Fikkal is a business center in eastern Ilam and on the Mechi Highway leading to Ilam. It is also the junction from where one can go to the eastern border city Pashupati nagar adjacent to Darjeeling of India.
- Chhintapu, the second snow land of Ilam 3400 m above the sea level, offers the scenic forests of rhododendron, herbal plants and various species of birds. You can find about 11 types of Rhododendron in this area. Yarcha gumba and rare animals like red panda and musk deer is also can be seen in this area. Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world, and most parts of Ilam can be seen from here. The peak cab can be reached by trekking for 4 hours from Illam Bazaar.
- Shankatapur, a snow land 3636 m above sea level on the international India-Nepal border line, provides the majestic view of Himalayas. Rare wildlife like Red panda, Musk deer and wild bird Danphe can be seen in the forests of this area. Likewise, Sandakpur lies at the northern edge of Ilam District, and is Illam’s highest point at 3636 meters. The peak provides a fantastic view of the eastern Himalayas from Bhutan to Everest. But the main view of Kanchenjunga makes you breathless.
- Maipokhari, another landmark of Ilam, is situated at the top of Maipokhari and Sulubung. The pond is 188 sq. hec. in area with a radius of 750m and it has nine corners. This pond, situated in the middle of forest with rhododendron and magnolia campbelli (chhap) is important from the point of view of natural scenery, religious importance and pilgrimage to goddess.
Ilam, overall, has been developing as a model of rural tourism mainly due to the active participation of locals for the promotion of the sector. Therefore, Ilam is really a worthy place to visit once in a lifetime.