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Safekeep of the Mighty Singalila

About Sepi

Tucked under the lower ridges of Singalila, Sepi is a small hamlet located next to the roaring Srikhola River. A part of the Eastern Himalayan range bordering Nepal and Sikkim, this forest village is perched at an altitude of 6900 feet above sea level near Rimbick, Darjeeling.  Sepi holds a community of ancient cultures within the fragile and biodiverse landscape of the Singalila forest range. There are two villages in the upper and lower hills of Sepi with people living in harmony with the forests and practicing traditional farming and livestock rearing for their primary livelihood.  The village remains shrouded within the bosom of ancient trees and the sky sometimes peeks into the majestic view of the Himalayas.

The People of Sepi

Sepi is home to an amalgamation of many tribal communities out of which many are from the Rai Kirati people of the Eastern Himalayas. The Bhutias, Sherpas, Limbu, Chettris, and Newars have also been living in Sepi for many generations. The people live in close harmony with the Singalila Forest and follow traditional practices not just in agriculture but also spiritually. Oral stories and folklore abound in Sepi and the elderly hold knowledge from the forests safely in their bosom. The pristine skies and streams are revered and the celebration of nature is a significant part of their culture.

Cuisine & Culture

Villages in Sepi are primarily agrarian and continue to use traditional farming practices for growing food. While in Sepi, you can enjoy the nourishment of locally grown harvested potatoes, peas, and other Himalayan produce. The Rai and Sherpa cultures have a profound influence on the food around Singalila Forests. You can enjoy hearty dairy in all its forms including rich butter and hardened churpi. A taste of Nettle Leaves, Foraged Lichen known as Yangben, and other wild edibles is a must-have experience here.



Explore Singalila National Park

Take the less explored trails in the forests of Singalila National Park. Visit mythical places, biodiversity hotspots, etc. Located in the ridges of Singalila, the national park ranging from an altitude of 2300 meters to 4000 meters is known for its rich biodiversity. Sepi is located right at the fringe of this mysterious forest and offers access to the less explored parts of the National park. Numerous trails can be opted for according to one's interests and physical capacity.

Visit Samten Monastery

Established in the year 1917, Samten Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries of Rimbick. It is situated in Maneydara of Rimbick and follows the Nyingma tradition of Buddhism. The monastery is headed by the eclectic Lama Pasang Lakpa Sherpa. Lama Pasang is a modern-day Buddhist teacher with a deep passion for permaculture. He has undertaken various projects ranging from natural building, designing, renovation, cleaning, etc for the monastery with volunteers from around the world. The monastery has a well-curated museum of items related to Buddhism and the history of the area.

Village Hikes

One can hike through one of the remotest villages in India and can get first-hand experience of the rural cultures of this area. Places like Sepi, Gorkhey, and Samanden still boast of untainted traditional lifestyles which is very rare. The moderate treks expose the visitors to the magnificent beauty of the Singalila range in the backdrop of the mighty Himalayas. 

Workshops and Educational Experiences

Silviculture with Babi Chan Rai

Bhabi Chan Rai began his forestry career in 1994, working in social forestry. He worked in plantations, seed collections, and nurseries of forest plants. Later on, he joined the territorial department and served for almost 7 years. He now runs his nursery with over 50 different species of plants. He supplies forest plants to the department and is renowned for conserving disappearing indigenous plants. Learn about the basics of silviculture with him including seed collection, nurseries, plantations, etc.

Improved cooking stove with Dilu Rai

Learn to make the very efficient smokeless chulhas with our local master trainer Dilu Rai, who has been making these chulhas for almost 9 years.

Herbal medicines

Coming from a family of healers Harka Bahadur Rai and Dilu Rai are the pioneers of herbal medicines in the area. With years of experience, they have in-depth knowledge of the area's medicinal plants. Both of them have some fascinating stories to share from their travels that they undertake to bring rare medicines from the inaccessible Himalayas.

Kirati culture with MC Rai and Dharmalachhi Gramin Pustakalaya - Cultural Immersion

Whenever you are in Sepi, you should never miss the opportunity to meet M.C Rai, an 80-year-old self-styled historian, and folklorist from Sepi who's been reviving and documenting Rai culture for decades. A living encyclopedia he can answer any questions regarding the history and culture of this area. He's a prolific writer, having authored many books on Kirati Culture, and even started the first library Dharmalachhi Gramin Pustakalaya in the region in 1977.

Churpi and milk processing with Karan Mukhia

The much-loved churpi, or hard cheese is an important element of the culture in the hills and is in a way ingrained in the identity. Just like the product, the making of the cheese is as intriguing and must not be missed when in Sepi. Visit the dairy of Karan Mukhia, a young entrepreneur from Sepi, to learn all you can about churpi and milk processing.

Stay at Haven Farms

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Daniel and Maren started Haven Farm around 10 years ago. Haven Farms is a farm stay that has been designed keeping permaculture principles in mind. "We have started slowly and built it into what it is today." 
Haven Farm is a place for people to come, relax and restore. A place to connect with our land, nature and culture. There is an opportunity to volunteer on the farms to build one's perspective on permaculture while getting engaged in hands-on farm activities or helping in designing the property. 

How to reach

The nearest proper transit point is Rimbick which is about 4 km from Upper Sepi. One has to take a 4 by-4 local vehicle from Gairi Gaon, Rimbick to Forest Gate which will take about 20 mins. Upon reaching Forest Gate, embark on a moderate trek through the picturesque forests of Singalila. This trek typically takes around half an hour to reach Upper Sepi. Multiple shared cars are available from Darjeeling More, Siliguri, till 1 p.m and takes about 5 hours to reach. Reserved cars are available on request. 
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