Yangsum Heritage Farm
Location: Rinchenpong, Sikkim
Yangsum Heritage Farm is tucked away far from the crowds in an idyllic countryside with a backdrop of the Khangchendzonga group of peaks, and the skyline of the Singelila Range. The heritage farmhouse was built in 1833 and remodeled in 1966. It is run by Thendup Tashi, Dorjee Laden, and Pema Chiki of the Tsechu Tharpa family.
The state of Sikkim is just slightly bigger than the area of Delhi, but its size belies its richness of culture, customs, heritage, flora and fauna and it is a glimpse of this rich tradition and natural wealth that the Yangsum Heritage Farm promises to reveal.
Accommodation consists of four spacious and well furnished double bedrooms, two with semi-attached bathrooms and two with en-suite bathrooms. Yangsum's cosy cottages have lovely verandas for inside-outside living. Inside they are paneled with wood for a warm, cosy atmosphere.
The beautiful wooden lodge has a spacious suite on its upper floor with a huge verandah perfect for sitting on - by day to see the view, and by night, to listen to the cicadas and watch the fireflies. Yangsum also has a spacious suite with beautiful wooden floors and paneling, and vibrant Sikkimese fabrics.
All meals are served at home and consist of traditional Sikkimese delicacies like momos and thupkas.
The 44 acre mountain farm consists of open mixed forest of pine, Himalayan alder, schima, chestnut, magnolia, rhododendrons, cherry and others. They also grow cardamom, avocados, oranges, bananas, pears, apricots, and mangoes. Cultivated agriculture yields maize, paddy, millet, potatoes, ginger, turmeric, and sweet potatoes. In addition to these, seasonal vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes and peas are also grown. The farm is fully organic.
Whether one is seeking solitude or vigorous activity, the Tsechu Tharpa family at Yangsum Heritage Farm can arrange a bespoke itinerary to suit all needs.
Yuksom - Dzongri - Gochela trek: This nine day trek starts from Yuksom. Trek highlights include scenic locations like the serene mountains near Tshoka and Phedang, the Dzongri meadows, watching the breathtaking sunrise from Dablakhang, seeing the picturesque Praig Chu valley and visiting the Pemayangtse monastery. Customization of the trek is possible.
Ravangla to Maenam, 10km: A three hour trek uphill from Ravangla through the Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary teeming with magnolia, rhododendron and small bamboo to reach the hilltop which is at an altitude of 3235 m (10612 ft). The view from Maenam summit is picturesque and breathtaking. In the west an amazing vista of the sparkling peaks of the Kanchendzonga are visible.
Hilley to Varsay, 8km return: From Hilley, the four km trek takes approximately one hour to reach Varsey which is at an altitude of 3049 m (10000 ft). At Varsay, the rhododendrons reign supreme and during the month of March they are a riot of red and white.
Pemayangtse monastery: It is about an hour and a half away from the farm. This ancient monastery belongs to the Nyingma sect of Tibet. There are 108 monks in the monastery who are usually from the leading Bhutia families in Sikkim. The Monastery shelters several religious images and other objects of worship, most of which are antique. The main festival of the monastery is on the 28th & 29th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan calender, usually corresponding to the month of February. During these two days, religious dances are performed and pilgrims come from all over Sikkim.
Rinchenpong monastery: It is a three hour trek to the Rinchenpong monastery built in 1739. A 'seda' is also attached to the monastery for boarding and study of Buddhism for young lamas. The monastery also offers one of the most spectacular views of the hills. On the way back one can stop by and visit some traditional ethnic Sikkimese houses.
White water rafting: The white waters of the Tista and the Rangit offer some good stretches of thrilling rapids and rides are organized from Melli.
Market watch: Visits to the Monday and Thursday local markets can be arranged where one can soak in the sights sounds and smells of fresh vegetables, fruits and find special local ingredients like heddle head fern that are used in Sikkimese cooking. Meetings with the expert artisans who carve furniture out of wood, watching weavers weave intricately designed carpets or requesting a basket maker to teach the art of weaving baskets from bamboo can be arranged.
Learn cooking: Learn some authentic Sikkimese food such as momos and thukpa from the Tsechu Tharpa family. A lot of the ingredients are grown on the farm itself.
Farming: The family is happy to involve guests in the daily chores of the organic farm and all the elements that go in to running a farm.
Yangsum Heritage Farm is run by Thendup Tashi, and his family members Dorjee Laden, and Pema Chiki, of the Tsechu Tharpa family. After finishing his education in Kolkata, Thendup realized that he wanted to return to his hometown, be self employed and look after his ancestral home. Earler, he would accompany travelers to the various excursions organized from the farm, but now employs young local boys, so as to provide them with an income. He enjoys meeting the travelers who come and stay with him and the Tsechu Tharpa family indulges them with cooking, classes, organic farming and gardening lessons.