By Naresh KC and Radheshyam Bishwokarma
Situated in the middle of lush forests of blooming white and red rhododendron, Chiwa Bhanjyang lies at the Nepal-West Sikkim border. Not only has it served as a transit for Nepal and West Sikkim, but it carries much potentiality to attract tourists thus benefiting both Nepal and India.
At an elevation of 10,299 feet above sea level, one feels blessed and can savour spectacular view of the area upon reaching the beautiful place. The place borders Panchthar district in Nepal, and Geyzing and Soreng districts in the Indian state of Sikkim.
Being developed as an important tourist destination of west Sikkim, the place can be a potential for the development of tourism in Nepal as well, said experts.
Chiwa Bhanjyang is situated in the no man’s land at the border between Nepal and Sikkim. There are no human settlements in both Nepal and Indian sides around 30 kilometers radius.
An Armed Police Force post has been set up in the Nepali side, and in Indian side, the office of Sikkim Police and Sashastra Seema Bal, the border security force of India, has been established.
Around 2026 BS, Upendra Chandra Rijal, who is now leading a retired life from the Nepal Army, reached Uttarey and Dentam in west Sikkim through Chiwa Bhanjyang. He from Aangsarang Mehalbote of Panchthar district taught Geography and Sociology at the Tribhuvan University for four decades.
Chiwa Bhanjyang is an important transit for Nepal in terms of social and geographical aspects. “In 2026 BS, I travelled to West Sikkim through a trail, now Chiwa Bhanjyang. Then it was difficult for even horses to walk through the trail. I am happy that both Nepal and India have now opened a road to the area,” he said. Nepal could take much benefit by setting up a customs office in Chiwa Bhanjyang, he said.
There is an age-old trend of cross-border marriage between the people of Nepal and Sikkim since ancient times and this continues even now. There are geographical difficulties, but natural beauties and social traditions have facilitated matters. It can boost tourism development and increase trade by opening customs offices in Chiwa Bhajyang if both countries wish, he said.
President of the Hotel Association, Pelling, west Sikkim, Narayan Khanal said Chiwa Bhanjyang would prove to be a milestone for promoting tourism for both the countries.
Nepali speaking people are predominant in the western part of Sikkim. Nepali language is the official language of the state. So, for both Nepal and India, Chiwa Bhajyang connecting Nepal and West Sikkim hold special importance in terms of language and the love of residents of Sikkim for Nepal, he observed.
Being developed as an important tourist destination for west Sikkim, there is an increasing inflow of tourists to Nepal through Chiwa Bhanjyang, said authorities.
“There was a foot trail through Ramite Dhunga above the road. I recalled in my mind that my grandmothers and mothers walked through a heave of soil in the hills through forests. There is a Piplate hill just across the Wasim river. Much far is Chitra and Piplate. Yakling is the first village across the border. There is a Katause village. Far away is Sanga hill. Far from Sanga is a settlement of Bega Limbu caste. Far there is Betani village. Much far is Kalikhola village. There is a Chyangthapu bazaar down Sanga hill.” Said Ganesh Yangma, president of the Himalayan Foundation, pointing toward Nepal from Chiwa Bhanjyang.
He also pointed toward Pathivara Temple in Taplejung district. There is border pillar numbered 48 to demarcate the border between Nepal and India.
Chiwa Bhanjyang is the only international transit linking Yangbarak Rural Municipality of Panchthar district in Nepal and the Indian state of West Sikkim. The place has been the centre of attraction for domestic tourists for Nepal when the Mid-Hill Highway reaches here, said Nepali local people. The Highway has been expanded up to Chyangthapu-5, the origin of the Highway.
Domestic tourists in hordes throng Chiwa Bhanjyang on various festivals and when rhododendron blooms. The area is rich in natural beauty, biodiversity and wildlife of different species including deer, bear, spotted dear, kalij pheasant, Himalayan goral, and dhole and medicinal herbs like Chiraito (swertia chirayita), Pakhanbedh (bergenia ciliata), Satuwa and Panchaaule are found.
Sikkim has also expanded around 22 km road to Chiwa Bhanjyang from Uttarey, thus increasing the potentiality of making the place as a tourist destination and trade hub for both Nepal and India, said tourism entrepreneurs of West Sikkim. The road connectivity has linked Uttarey of West Sikkim with Nepal’s Taplejung, Panchthar and Changthapu.
Various publicity porgrammes have been organised in a bid to attract trekkers to Chiwa, said a tourism entrepreneur Pema Wangchuk Sherpa from Uttarey, Sikkim. “Trekking has played an important role in tourism sector. Trekkers always want to explore new trekking routes. It will be easier for trekkers when the route to the Kanchenjunga Base Camp in Nepal is easily accessible,” he said. There is a possibility to open a track to Pathibhara Temple in Nepal through Chiwa Bhanjyang, he said.
There is century-old trend of cross-border marriage between the people of Sikkim and Nepal since ages. Citizens of both Sikkim and Nepal can get easier access to health and education through this transit, he viewed.
Himal Bega of Phalaicha is running a homestay, around 50 metres away from Chiwa in the Nepali side.
“We welcome tourists and trekkers with whatever is available here. All food items here are locally produced. Endangered red panda is found in the surroundings of the forest,” he said.
Once the grazing land, Chiwa Bhanjyang has now become the centre of tourists and trekkers, said journalist KN Sharma of Soreng of West Sikkim. “Not only the international transit, it is being developed as an important tourist destination. Rich in natural beauty, tourists visit the place during winter in particular,” he said.
Affairs of Chiwa Bhanjyang are looked after within the jurisdiction of Yangbarak Rural Municipality, said Bhim Bahadur Yongwa, the rural municipality chair.
Initiatives have been taken to blacktop the Mid-Hill Highway, which would facilitate in reaching Chiwa, he said. Over 100 km away from Phidim, the district headquarters of Panchthar in Nepal, Chiwa is touched by the Highway. The dirt road has been often blocked during monsoon. Chiwa can serve as an easy transit to go to not only Sikkim, Darjeeling, and West Bengal through Uttarey, Dentam and Pelling but also various parts of India, he said.
The transit is also easier for Indian pilgrims heading to Pathibhara Temple in Taplejung, Nepal, for worship and Indian tourists heading to various tourist destinations of Nepal, he said. Pathibhara is accessible from Chiwa Bhanjyang through Chyangthapu and Yangruk.
Construction of physical infrastructures is underway up to Chiwa Bhanjyang with an investment of around 2 billion, said Basanta Nembang, member of the House of Representatives from Panchthar district in Nepal.
Bidding took place to blacktop the Highway up to Chiwa Bhanjyang. But the contractor delayed the construction work, he said.
“We are effortful to open this transit not only because residents of Panchthar and West Sikkim share relations but also it is Nepal-India border.”
Talking to media-persons who reached Chiwa Bhanjyang for news reporting, Chief Minister of Sikkim Prem Singh Tamang (Gole) said the government of Sikkim was positive about opening the transit. “There is a mobility of people of both Sikkim and Nepal across the transit. The road connecting Geyzing and Sardung of West Sikkim has been expanded up to Chiwa Bhanjyang,” he said.
The issue of opening Chiwa Bhanjyang has been time and again taken up with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, and he also took the matter positively, he said.
There is a need to open the transit as it also helps citizens of both Sikkim and Nepal to visit Sikkim and reach Kathmandu through Panchthar, Taplejung and Pathibhara Temple in Nepal, he said.