THE TRAVEL TALE
Travelling always gives me the feeling of freshness. It does not always mean a luxury treatment to me, or a break from work. Even sleeper class journey, road side food, home stay in a virgin valley can make my holiday really special. If I get a chance I would love to go for a world tour.
Even though I haven’t yet experienced an international tour. But I strongly believe there are abundant beauty all over and around the incredible India that one must explore. Even our own state West Bengal, is not so backward in this race. There are many places for weekend destinations from Kolkata but I am strongly affectionate towards the hills. Digha, Darjeeling, Gangtok and newly added Mandarmoni are the only places people can think about in their short trips. But if you are an offbeat traveler and want to explore virgin places. I am going to share with you some amazing names from West Bengal.
I have visited many hill stations like Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Tamilnadu etc. but North Bengal is my favourite. Lush Green hills, fogs, tea gardens are the signature of North Bengal. Here are the lists of some unique spots from North Bengal.
Lets start from the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, the Dooars. Dooars is a big region itself and is divided in 2 parts – Eastern Dooars and Western Dooars. I can’t cover all the popular places of Dooars but one of the picturesque and secluded place in Dooars is Mongpong. It is actually called the gateway of Dooars, situated on the bank of river Tista and just 45 mins drive from Siliguri. You can easily hire a car from new Jalpaiguri towards Mongpong. A trek through the jungle, silent walk at the morning by the side of Tista, Chirping birds will surely take you to the world of sublime dream. Mongpong cottages, run by the forest department of West Bengal is the best option for lodging here. Other popular places of Dooars are Garumara, Murti, Chalsa and these places can also be easily accessible from here.
Another beautiful village in the Dooars region is Samsing surrounded by Bhutan Ghat hills, Murti River and Neora Valley National Park. It is not exploited by commercialization yet and hence the pristine beauty is still alive here. The mesmerizing landscape, miles and miles of tea garden will give your eyes a pure bliss. This place is not for them who wants a luxury treatment or keen for shopping. You can simply enjoy here the natural beauty of surroundings with a cup of fresh Darjeeling tea sitting at your hotel lawn. If you wants to experience the Orange festival you must come here in the month of October and November. You can visit this place by 3 hours driving from New Jalpaiguri station or 1 hour journey from Mal junction. Nearby attraction here is Suntalekhola, Rocky Island, Jhalong, Bindu and Neora valley. For accommodation you can book government forest department bunglow however plenty of good home stays are also available here.
Takdah is famous for the British Colonial Bunglows and the Cantonment. During the British rule they used to live here for their many official works. So the essence of that time period still exist there. Darjeeling is only 26km away from this place and its altitude near about 5100 ft. If you want to stay away from the hustle & bustle of Darjeeling, you can stay here for 2 days. The beautiful Kanchenjunga Range can be experienced from this place but of course on a clear day. There is a lot of scope for sightseeing from this place like many heritage British bunglows, the famous Rangli Rangliot tea gardens, a hanging old bridge, Takdah monastry etc. Even you can arrange a day trip to the Darjeeling mal from here too. For accommodating in Takdah I must suggest the Saino heritage guest house which was a house of a British officers during the colonial days but currently owned by the Moktan family. If you don’t get a room here you can book Sai Hridayam which is a heritage bunglow too.
Just 3 km above from Takdah another beautiful village is Tinchuley. Reason behind such interesting name has been given is because of the three prominent hill tops that surround the place and which from far look like ovens or chullahs. Breath taking view of Kanchenjunga will surely steal your heart. In the month of November this village turned into orange color for the surrounding fresh orange trees. You can visit some view point – Tinchuley Monastery from here. Gurung guest house is the best accommodation here.
Auks farm in Soreng
Soreng is a small village in the Darjeeling district and Auks farm is the only option here for accommodation. Its actually a farm house with a wide compound. It is few kilometers from Kalimpong. You can go to Kalimpong, Durpin dara, Deolo hills for sightseeing. Lush green hills, pine, oaks and rhododendrons surrounds this place. Spending two days in Auks farm will make you feel like heaven. This is a complete peace and bliss. Best for honeymoon couples or group of friends.
At an altitude of 6800 Ft. Lamahatta is a calm and peaceful place near Darjeeling. People here wear the dress like the Budhist Monk, the Lamas in early days. Thus the name is Lamahatta. The best feel will be the walking through the Dhupi pine forest here. You can also hike to the two sacred ponds situated at the top of the hills guarded by pine forests. Trekking lovers can experience the jungle trek from Lamhatta to Takdah. This place is for the bird watcher also. You can experience Lamahatta Park, picturesque Mt. Kanchenjungha from the watch tower, tea gardens and several rare and exotic species of orchids in Lamahatta. Lepchajagat is another beautiful virgin village nearby this area. Lamahatta lodge will be the best option for lodging at Lamahatta.
Located, almost on the India-Nepal border on the road from Ghum to Mirik and it is 21 kilometers from Darjeeling. Pokhri means pond or small lake. Two adjacent lake surrounded by pine forest in this place is actually justified the name Jorepokhri. Jorepokhri is 7400 ft. above sea level so it is quite a chilly place throughout the year. You will enjoy the hide and seek of fog and sunshine. Pashupati Nath Market is a famous market you can catch out from here. From the early days this market is popular for foreign goods imported from Nepal and china. Other attractions are Sukhiapokhri (for the Sandakphu Trek), Kurseong, Simana (India-Nepal border), Senchal Forest Area and the Tea Gardens all along. Only one accommodation option is available here and that you have to have a prior booking before your journey. Salamander Tourist Lodge is government accommodation option here and maintained by GTA (Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, erstwhile DGHC). You can book your room from GTA office at Kolkata center opposite of Saltlake city center.
Kolakham is a small village in Neora valley national park. You can reach Kolakham by 4 hours driving from NJP via Lava. Kolakham is 6100 ft. high, so comparatively cold enough from Kalimpong. The full range of Mt. Kanchenjungha is visible from Kolkakham on a clear day. You can take a day trip to Lava Monastery, NeoraValley National Park, Changui Waterfalls, Charkol village, Tea gardens, Choudapheri or the Hanging Bridge at Loleygaon. Kolakham is a paradise for exotic bird lovers, adventure seekers, rock climbers and trekkers. If you trek from Kolakham to Rishyap you will have a life time achievement, I must say. If you are lucky you may come across some wild inhabitants of Neora forest. For accommodation few forest departments rest house is here, Kolakham retreat, the nest. You can book them by the government website. Apart from this few good private resorts like spring vale resort, Hammock huts etc. are also available.
Another newly invented place in the Kalimpong hills is Charkhole. This small Lepcha village is a paradise on earth in all true sense. It is situated at a distance of 15 km from from Lolegaon and 30 km from Kalimpong. Charkhole is also a bird watchers delight. Blue pine retreat is the best option here for lodging and fooding. The magnificent views of Kanchenjungha from the lawn of this hotel and the cozy cottages will drag you back again and again. Oak, pine and rhododendrons surrounded this tiny village will stay at your heart for a long time. Glen vista retreat is another good option for lodging here.
I am almost at the end of my writing. I hope I could gear up your energies for packing your bag and ready to go. All the places I mentioned above best covered in just 3 days. There are still more places in North Bengal yet to discover by me like School dara, Chota mangwa, Bara mangwa, Rishikhola, Chatakpur and many more. I will share my experience with you again my friends. I don’t know how far I can go but only thing I know is “Miles to go before I sleep”.