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Illam: All you need to know

  • Location: Mahabharata hilly range of Province No. 1
  • Major inhabitants: Rai, Limbu, Gurung, Sherpa, and Magar.
  • Altitude: 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) to 3,636 meters (11,929 feet)
  • Best time to visit: (March to May) and (September to November).

Ilam, a hill district covering 1,703 km², was an independent Limbu kingdom until 1813 CE/1869 BS. It is famous for the production of tea, cardamom, milk, ginger, potato, orlon, and broom on a large scale. Ilam Tea is exported to many parts of Europe. The district has a population of 290,254 and is located about 600 km (370 mi) from Kathmandu. The lush green tea gardens make Ilam a popular tourist destination for those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. The district is also known as the district of ‘6’ due to its six major cash crops. Green tea, a popular beverage, is recommended for its high content of catechins and polyphenols that have powerful antioxidant properties.


  • Ilam was one of the ten self-ruling states of Limbuwan before Nepal’s reunification, ruled by King Hangshu Phuba Kingdom of the Kingdom dynasty.
  • Tea cultivation was initiated in Nepal with the establishment of the Illam Tea Estate in 1863.
  • In 1982, the government declared five districts (Jhapa, Ilam, Panchthar, Dhankuta, and
  • Terhathum) as tea zones of Nepal.
  • It flourished during UR Dynasty (3800 BC to 500 BC) and Indus Valley Civilization (3300 BC to 1100 BC).

Tea Estates and Tea Tourism

Illam is renowned for its tea industry, and it offers a fascinating experience for tea enthusiasts. The tea estates in Illam produce some of the finest teas in Nepal, known for their distinct flavor and aroma.

A visit to Illam provides an opportunity to witness the entire process of tea cultivation and production. From the careful plucking of tea leaves to the delicate art of tea processing, visitors can learn about the intricate techniques that go into creating the perfect cup of tea. Many tea estates offer guided tours, allowing visitors to witness the different stages of tea production and gain a deeper understanding of the tea-making process.

Tea-tasting sessions are a highlight of the tea tourism experience in Illam. Visitors can taste a variety of teas. It also provides the setting for relaxation and contemplation, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the serenity of the surroundings.

Mai Pokhari
Mai Pokhari
source: Facebook

ALSO READ: Top 6 Places To Visit While You’re In Jhapa

Sightseeing and Attractions

Illam offers a range of attractions that cater to different interests. You can explore the mystical Mai Pokhari Lake, surrounded by lush forests and considered sacred by locals. To delve into the religious and cultural heritage of Illam you can visit sites like Gajur Mukhi and Antu Danda. Gajur Mukhi is a sacred temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Bhagwati, attracting devotees from near and far. Antu Danda, on the other hand, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the sunrise and sunset, providing a perfect vantage point to soak in the natural beauty of Illam.

How to Get to Illam

  1. By Air: The nearest airport to Illam is Bhadrapur Airport, which is approximately 92 kilometers away. From Bhadrapur, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Illam.
  2. By Road: Illam is well-connected by roadways. Regular bus services operate from Kathmandu, Biratnagar, and other major cities to Illam. You can also hire a taxi or a private vehicle for a more comfortable journey.


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