The image that pops up in the minds of every Indian when the name of ‘North-Bengal‘ is taken is of unadulterated and uncontaminated natural splendour. Some of the major districts which fall in the region of North Bengal in the Indian side (within the state of West Bengal) are Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar etc. Today, we will discuss the Himalayan part of North Bengal and explore 5 Himalayan villages here, which have taken the tourists by the proverbial storm in the 21st century, by their extraordinary
The easiest way to get to this Himalayan splendour is through the hustling and bustling city of Siliguri and its famous Bagdogra Airport. After landing there, once the car leaves the humdrums of an urban life behind to reach its aforementioned destinations, the true human spirit comes alive in all its vigour on those winding streets passing through the verdant tea gardens with its natural aroma reminding people of their long bygone scenes of a cherubic childhood or the flicker of an image from a certain Ray novel, transporting the soul to a peaceful mental cocoon. All these 5 Himalayan villages roughly take around 3 to 4 hours maximum, to reach depending on the climatic conditions outside. They are enumerated as
The small hamlet of Chatakpur is an eco-village set atop an elevation of almost close to eight thousand feet above sea level amidst the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary of Darjeeling district, making it a bio-diversity hot spot of enviable nature. This village is so lush green that sometimes it seems that this place is the very embodiment of Mother Nature who has bestowed all her precious pearls to this small settlement. There are various jungle trails from this village, one of it is to a small sacred water body called the Pokhri and the other important one is hiking through the Senchal Forest to reach the Tiger Hill of Darjeeling. Chatakpur also offers glorious views of the Eastern Himalayas (especially the Kanchenjunga peak). The forests around have numerous wildlife, hence it is necessary to take a proper guide while traversing them.
This is another small Himalayan hamlet primarily known for its roadside tourism park which is a beautiful forest area laid out on the hill steps organised in a way so that the tourists can hike up easily to reach its pinnacle. The name Lamahatta probably means a hermitage for a Lama (i.e., a monk’s hermitage). This tourism park of Lamahatta is beautiful to say the least and on top of it is a water body considered sacred by the local people there. Lamahatta has peace, silence and serenity for its tourists.
Suntaleykhola is another small Himalayan village which may not have the same high elevation as other mountain villages of this region, but the atmosphere in this place is nothing short of what one experiences in the Eastern Himalayas – eerily quiet, serene, shivering cold with various routes of trekking to the Neora Valley National Park from this place. The name of this village has come from Nepali words and the name Suntaleykhola probably means ‘orange stream’. Another beautiful spot near to this village is ‘Samsing’ which is known for its beautiful tea plantations.
Lava and Rishyap:
These twin Himalayan hamlets are situated close to each other and can be trekked from one to the other in a short time. Both these places have elevations of well over seven to eight thousand feet above sea level and are covered in lush green vegetation. Both Lava and Rishyap are hot favourites with tourists nowadays, as they offer a serene ambience together with many hiking opportunities. Tiffindara is a view point which can be reached from both these places through dense forest. A guide is a must in this trek as the area is infested with wildlife and may pose a risk to the uninitiated. There is also a lovely monastery in Lava.
This village is known for its rolling tea gardens and one of its unique features is that one can get a complete view of the Darjeeling city and the Kanchenjunga in the same direction from this place on a cloudless day. Some of the places to visit in this village are ‘Mata Singha Shrine‘, an old colonial bungalow and several hiking routes to its tea estates. The place is serene and there are several homestays here which give travellers a very cosy atmosphere of warmth and camaraderie. Our Himalayan villages are indeed part of our rich heritage.
Source from HT media