Jhandidanda, located in Rong rural municipality-6 of Ilam, is not as famous as other touristy places of Ilam–such as Ilam Bazaar and Kanyam. However, it has the potential to be one of the most attractive tourist destinations.
After the construction of a trail from Hanspokhari to the Karson station of the Mechi Highway, the popularity of Jhandidanda, also known as Ganjleythumka, increased. Now, it is likely to be more popular in the upcoming months.
Jhandidanda is 17 km north of Kakarbhitta in Jhapa and 10 km south of Harkate Bazar on the Mechi Highway. This place has great potential for tourism as it is accessible from both terai and hilly regions.
One can reach here from India too, taking the route of the Mechi river. There is a facility to reach here from both points of Hanspokhari and Beauty Border by vehicle or foot. The cycling track here is attracting young cyclists.
Hills of such height are a rarity in the Chure region. This fact has also increased the importance of the place, where tourists have begun doing campfires and night stay camps of late.
The place is also important, religiously and culturally. The place is believed to be the spot where an ancestor of Kirat Rai, Rinahang worshipped the goddess. Consequently, the Jhandi playground has recently been named the Rinahang Playground.
Attracting neighbouring tourists
For the people of Siliguri and Kolkata of India, Jhandidanda, around 600 km away from Kolkata, can be a nearby place for retreat during the hot weather.
From Kolkata, Kakadbhitta can be reached via Berhampur-Malda and Kishanganj. Likewise, one can get here from Bagdogra Airport via Kakadbhitta. It is 43 km far away from Bagdogra.
Alongside sightseeing, the place is also good for picnics. Locals used to visit this place earlier as well for picnics, especially during the spring and autumn seasons. At picnics, they used to perform traditional dance and music.
Visitors in Jhandidanda can be acclimatised with a beautiful view of the sunrise and sunset during the month of September to May.
To reach Jhandidanda, one can walk all day through Google Point, Dewangadhi, Giddebhir, Daile, and Hallane from the Karsong trail of Hanspokhri and stay around Dhaje Bhanjyang. There are homestays around Dhaje Bhanjyang.
On the northern side of Jhandidanda, we can see dozens of mountain ranges including Kanchanjunga and Kumbakarna.
Similarly, many other hills and places of Terai can be clearly observed from here. It is also a potential place for adventure sports. A Dharahara-like structure has attracted more tourists currently in Jhandidanda. The railings on the ladder to reach the tower have made it look additionally beautiful.
The next day in the morning sunrise can be viewed from Jhandidanda. Places like Kanyam, Antu Danda, Sandakpur, Meghma, Thumke, and many others can be seen in this place. These days, the number of both domestic and international tourists has increased in the place.
Opportunities for adventurous sports
Paragliding has been successfully tested around the hills of Jhandidanda in 2022. Tourism entrepreneurs aim to attract tourists from Kolkata through paragliding. If their plan is anything to go by, the paragliding will take off in Ilam and land in Jhapa. Therefore, it will connect tourists from both districts.
Likewise, if you want to experience the local culture, staying in homestays opened at Rambhang is the best experience. The locals perform traditional dance and music for the visitors. These homestays have been opened targeting the visitors of Jhandidanda. A vegetarian plate there costs Rs 150. The room charge is Rs 500.
Due to the homestay, the income of locals has increased. The visitors also buy local vegetables in Jhandidanda, which is also benefiting locals. The locals perform traditional dance and music for the visitors as well.
This story was translated from the original Nepali version and edited for clarity and length.