Latter the British rulers brought in Christian missionaries, who converted some of them to Christianity. Hinduism arrived with the Nepalese settlers, who also taught the Lepchas to farm the land. Today the ethnic groups are fused together in harmony. They have adopted Nepali as a link language, yet maintained their diverse cultural identity. It is an ideal place to peep into lifestyles of this fascinating hill community. It also has diverse flora, well-developed mountain agriculture, forests, and river valleys, and offers breathtaking views of the Panorama of snows.
The Himalayan Home stays are designed to take visitors into the heart of this community. The Samthar Area which extends for about 12 Kms has scattered homesteads loosely grouped into hamlet communities. Two families - one each from Gaire Gaon (Nepali Hindus), and Kabi Village (mixed community of Lepcha Christian, Lepcha Buddhist and Nepali Hindus), will be hosting you . This is an opportunity to explore rural lifestyles and interact with people down to the village level. Visitors will be hosted by local families, enjoy the unique atmosphere, lovely mountain views, a chance to explore the varied cuisine, get an insight into Himalayan lifestyles, walk and explore the countryside, meet people in their homes and fields, and make friends. The home stays are in cottages especially designed to offer comfort, convenience and cleanliness in a unique ambiance.
By staying in the village communities and participating in the optional activities, you will be supporting Awake & Shine Pre School.
Details of host hamlets are given below -
Gaire Gaon Host Hamlet
Gaire Gaon- meaning village in deep valley is reached by a 10 minute steep “tumble down” trail from the Samthar Farm House located at the road head. Once there you will see a scattered cluster of 36 homes creeping down to the lower valley through a series of fairly wide and flat terraces. It is a sunny location with cool breezes during the summers, and a full view of the snow ranges.
The people are all Nepali Hindus from the Bhujel community. The main occupation is agriculture. Each homestead usually keeps poultry, oxen, cows, goats, and pigs. The main crops are Paddy, Maize, Ginger, mustard, Millet, and buckwheat. Pulses, potatoes, beans and other vegetables are grown seasonally. Ginger is the main cash crop. Some families keep bees and produce honey using traditional methods. For more details of agriculture read Samthar seasonal cycle.
Garie gaon has its skilled artisans – two stone masons, three carpenters, and a tailor. Apart from agriculture they work on daily wages. Two basket weavers are skilled at making bamboo baskets for carriage and storage. There are two cowherds; each with 12-13 cattle who make and sell curds.
The women weave mats and sitting pads out of paddy waste. They also expel mustard oil, make pickles, and thresh corn and paddy using ancient methods. Some are proficient in embroidery
A few of the youth are employed outside the hamlet – three in the Army and one as a teacher
There are no schools in the hamlets. However all children usually go to school. There are several primary schools and a high school close by. Our Awake & Shine Pre-School is located in the home stay premises and is built and operated as a model rural school
There is no piped water supply. Homesteads have to fetch water manually for drinking and cooking from springs drawn through plastic pipes. Some households have these pipes coming up to their kitchens
Electricity is available from the rural electricity scheme which provides electric lines if 25 households undertake to get paid connections. Power cuts are frequent.
Essentials are available close by in the main Samthar bazaar. Village folks have to go to Kalimpong bazaar for most consumer products. Village jeep taxis commute to Kalimpong daily.
No medical facilities are available in the hamlet. A primary health centre is located close by, with a doctor and ambulance.
There are four Hindu temples in Garie gaon. Two are dedicated to Goddess Durga where the females worship. Males worship at two temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The main Hindu festivals are Dasain ( Kali puja) and Tihar ( Laxmi Puja) in Oct. For more details read Samthar Seasonal cycle – Agriculture & festivals. The celebration goes on for a fortnight.