Next time you are in Sikkim, you must take time out to visit the small handmade paper unit in Borong village. About 17km from Ravangla town, it is housed on the premises of the Wildflower Retreat. Established in 2003, the Borong-Polok Handmade Paper Unit is a successful venture by the Sikkim Development Foundation with equity capital and local participation from local households.
This village cooperative produces handcrafted paper products. The paper produced is of different grades and gets exported to places like Singapore, Bangkok, Thailand.
You can ask for a guided tour of the unit. The women working here use the ancient technique of paper making using the bark of the papyrus tree which is scaled off, pulped down to make a paste with water, then put through a sieve. The resulting paper is textured and superfine.
They use the papyracea plant - the inner bark is used to make paper. The paper is durable and resistant to insects. Its longevity makes it ideal for preserving important written words and it is still used for sacred texts by monasteries in the state. Paper has been made from this tree species for more than 1,000 years.
You can pick up sheets in different colours at the shop here, as well as diaries, envelopes, lampshades and paper figures. These make for excellent gifts.