Morning alarm got me off from slumber at 5 in the morning at a hotel in Shree Antu, Illam, on January 16, 2019. My body still wanted to be wrapped up in the blanket, for the temperature outside was 5 degree Celsius. On top of that, I had gone to bed at around 1 AM. Disagreeing to my body, my mind had some other ideas. I was there to behold dawn. Some might argue about traveling to a place for sunrise because one can behold it every morning if they want to. However, Shree Antu is the first place where the dawning sun greets Nepal. This was the reason, Suman and Arpan, my two cousins, and Prashant, my school friend, decided to stay at this place on our motorbike trip.
We decided to walk to the view tower, which was a few kilometers away from the hotel. As we walked through the forest, we encountered other people of various ages. They came from different parts of Eastern Nepal, including Terai and Upper Hills. All had one intention: to behold the sunrise. The entrance fee to the view tower was Rs. 50 per person.
Getting up in the morning, walking up the steep hill, and paying the entrance fee, they were all worth it. Oh boy! That was some sight from there. The view of mountains and the neighboring town of India: Mirik and Darjeeling made it even more mesmerizing. Undoubtedly, it was the best sunrise I have ever seen in my life so far.
Other attractions of Shree Antu have to be Antu Pokhari and Tea Garden. You can even enjoy an exquisite view of Mt. Kanchanjunga from the view tower.
The hotels and cottages around Antu Pokhari are the places to spend your night in. The premises of the pond are well decorated. The reflection of moon shimmering in the pond amidst the tea garden makes your night splendid.
One can manage the trip to Antu in a decent budget. There is no regular public bus service. However, the roads are pitched and are in a good condition. Cars, vans, or motorbike, you can go in any means of vehicle you find yourself comfortable in. With the frequent stops to stretch legs and to enjoy beautiful scenes on the way, four of us were able to reach Shree Antu from Birtamode, a distance of 61 kilometers in the hilly area, in about 2.25 hours in motorbikes. When it comes to a place of staying in, you can get a good room with an attached restroom for Rs. 1000. There are more home-stays than the hotel in this place. I would recommend a home-stay for everyone. The house owners treat you with great hospitality and provide you with the food that you want. The food prices vary based on the food that you want to eat.
Shree Antu is a great destination without any shred of a doubt. I would suggest to get there by Friday evening and to visit the main junction area of Shree Antu. Enjoy the bonfire and barbecue at either the hotel or the home-stay that you stay in for that night. Hukka and Tonga, a local alcoholic drink will be icing on the cake. The next morning, the sunrise is not to be missed for sure. After breakfast, one can explore Antu Pokhari and the village. Shree Antu is a perfect weekend destination for me. It is no brainier for me to recommend this place to anyone.