If you are searching for an offbeat location for a weekend gateway near Darjeeling that has the beauty and glory of a hill station but is untouched by the tourists at large, Dhotrey or Dhotre can be the one. Situated within the radius of Singalila National Park, it is just 43 km from Darjeeling town. This place can be accessed easily from Bagdogra Airport or New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.
A part of the Eastern Himalayas, Dhotrey is situated at an altitude of 8500 feet above sea level. This hidden Himalayan village is a paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers. It is the place from where the full range of Kanchenjunga is visible. One can experience the majestic beauty of the sleeping Buddha, as these ranges are often referred to. The village is also the base camp for different trekking expeditions to Tonglu, Phalut, and Sandakphu.
What is the best time to visit Dhotrey?
The weather remains best from October to January, and you can expect to gain a clear view of the beautiful Kanchenjunga ranges during this time. Just before the summer from March to early April, is a good time to visit this village. During this time, the air is filled with the smell of rhododendrons and magnolias. These blossoms add to the natural beauty of the place and create a surreal atmosphere.
What to do?
This place is popular among the hikers as they begin their journey to Sandakphu or Phalut from here. The region falls under Singalila National Park and is home to many different species of birds. So, bird watchers get to see wide varieties in this area. It is an ideal place if you are trying to get away from the hustles and bustles of city life. The village with splendid natural beauty and a quiet and calm atmosphere with highly hospitable inhabitants will give you exceptional peace of mind.
Where to stay?
Homestays are the only option available in this place. Most of these accommodations provide all the basic amenities and offer comfortable stays.
Chitre, a small picturesque village in North Bengal, is where the hikers meet to begin their journey to Sandakphu. The trail from Mane Bhanjang to Chitre, which covers a distance of almost 3 km, is one of the steepest in the entire stretch of the Sandakphu trek.
How to reach Chitre?
If you prefer walking, it will take about an hour and a half to reach the place from Mane Bhanjang. However, you can also hire a four-wheeler to cover this distance. It is situated at an altitude of 8340 ft. The road to Chitre is scenic replete with lush greenery of evergreen trees. After reaching the location, it is best to rest in this beautiful Buddhist village before you travel ahead.
The vast stretch of emerald green land and clear blue sky will make you spellbound. Even though most trekkers do not stop here for the night, they start the journey after halting for a few hours. But, there are some who like to spend the night before embarking on a strenuous journey the following morning.
What to see at Chitre?
The main attraction of this place is the old Buddhist monastery and the mesmerizing view of Kanchenjunga peaks that one can have from this place. Even if you have plans to stay in this village for a few hours, make sure to explore the monastery. Along with the main monastery, there are eight small stupas. In the main building, there is the famous 15 ft high statue of Maitreya Buddha.
On a clear day, in the early morning, the travelers are gifted with a fascinating view of Kanchenjunga. At night, they can witness the sky studded with millions of stars. The town of Darjeeling looks like a crown with glittering jewels from here.
Which is the best time to visit the place and where to stay at Chitre?
The best time to visit the place is during the summer months – June to April. However, winters also promise clear skies and remarkably beautiful landscapes.
There are a few homestays and adventure camps where you can stay for the night. A local restaurant near the monastery serves fresh foods, and the travellers have breakfast there before proceeding further.