The Northern Window

Krishnendu Palit

Photographs: Author
Category: Featured Travel
Date of Publication: Sept 29 , 2014Vol-02 Issue-01

Summer in plains means unbearable heat that makes us gasp for our breath. Weariness devours us and our mental state starts to be seized with an asthmatic span in this forest of concrete. To escape from this heat our mind seeks a little leisure in some colder places and wants to run into lap of Himalayas for little recluse. While the average lot likes to travel to popular tourist destinations, there are a few odds among us whose adventurous spirit summons to comparatively less popular, lonely and secluded areas where life is still woven out of the threads of nature. But it is true that for travelling to any faraway places, we need long holidays, something quite impossible to manage in our present urban lifestyle.

This article is especially dedicated to these special set of travellers who can't manage long holidays but longs for some distant horizon which is still out of this concrete web. If you can manage it in your weekends or get a 3-4 days break from work, you can just go around the places mentioned below to feel the beauty of life that is yet far from the madding crowd. Choice is yours.


Lava is a mystic hamlet in lap of the virgin Himalayas that is yet completely secluded from the hustle and bustle of loud city life. 34 kms from Kalimpong, West Bengal, Lava is important as the entry point to the Neora Valley National Park from Kalimpong side. A narrow and unpaved road takes you to the heart this hamlet, which is nothing but a small settlement in the middle of the dense alpine forest. The real charm of Lava is its veil of clouds that envelops this small hamlet almost all the time of the day and after a sudden shower when the soft rays of sun perforates through the fringes of this cloudy veil the vista created is that of heaven on earth. Another bewitching beauty of Lava is its sunrise and sunset that will hold your breath momentarily as you see the divine colors of heaven playfully split and merge with each other like some 3D image. To get best view of sunrise at Lava, you can leave your hotel very early in the morning to reach Sherpa View Point, which is 3 Km uphill from Lava.


Lava, West Bengal, India

Apart from that, a rich vegetation of tropical deciduous and alpine forests of fir, pine and birch makes the landscape of Lava quite scenic and it is home to many wild animals like barking deer and Himalayan Black Boars and a large number of exotic and colorful birds- a real retreat for ornithologists. With a small settlement of Nepalese and a few hotels and shops for the tourists, life at Lava is still rustic and quiet and thus, has now become a hot romantic gateway for most honeymooners. Most of the places can be covered by foot. Worth seeing places around Lava are the Buddhist Monastery, Changey Waterfall and the Sherpa Viewpoint for sunrise (as mentioned above). Besides these conspicuous places, there are the less popular destinations like the Glass House, the Nursery of forest Department and Nature Interpretation Centre which is the reflection of Neora Valley. If you are a botanist or a horticulturist or just an ardent nature lover these are the must visit places for you. Those who are extremely energetic and adventurist can visit Neora Valley Reserve Forest which is 10 Km away.

How to Reach?
From Kolkata, you can reach Lava either from Kalimpong or Siliguri. You can hire a reserve car or travel by bus or share jeep to reach Lava. Distance from Siliguri to Lava is 101 Km and from Kalimpong, 34 kms.

Where to Stay?
To stay at Lava you can book any one of different types of government or private hotels or lodges. West Bengal Forest Development Nigam Lodge, Neora Lodge, Hotel Laboni, Sherpa Lodge etc. are mentionable.

When should Go?
One can visit Lava any time of the year except rainy season, because of the increasing disturbance of leech. During winter you can even expect snowfall.


Loleygaon (also Lolegaon) means 'a village of ecstasy'. Hidden in the lush canopy of pines and dhupi forests with the dazzling white Kanchenjunga embellishing like its crown it is a perfect place for romantic travellers and honeymoon couples. The hilly hamlets, the mountain slopes with cattle grazing, the clouds floating beside you, the golden sunrays glistening now and then out of the cloud banks, the deep pines, the orchids, the many melodious voices of Himalayan birds, all adds to create one of the most beautiful picture of Mother Nature singing a melodious hymn for her children. For this very reason, Loleygaon is popular for its 'Canopy Walk', where one can enjoy strolling on the green pastures while looking at the different Himalayan peaks that are visible at distance. Besides Kanchenjunga, mountains like Kumbhakarna, Kabru, Jopuno, Shimbho, Taloong, Koktang, Pandim, Tsinialchu etc. are also in visible from here.


Loleygaon, West Bengal, India

The distance of Loleygaon form Siliguri and Kalimpong is 128 km and 56 km respectively. In the way from Kalimpong to Lava, the road diverges in right side just 2 km ahead of Lava. One needs to travel 20 km uphill from that diversion to reach Loleygaon. The road winds up through an ancient forest and the scenic beauty of this route so charming that most often travellers are compelled to get out of the car and capture as many beautiful snaps of the green woods as possible. The sunrise point of Loleygaon is Jhandidanra, which is 4 Km away. You can visit this place either by foot or by jeep. The eye dazzling beauty of sunrise of this place can defeat the indelible beauty of Tiger Hill. A planned heritage forest has been made by the government just 1 Km away from Loleygaon. The most mentionable thing of this well decorated forest is the hanging bridge made of string. The thrilling memory of travelling on the hanging bridge, to roundabout from tree to tree and to traverse through the forest will float in mind for many days. Those who are more energetic can visit the place Gumbadanra. This green covered, quiet and virgin spot has its own peace.

How to Reach?
From Kolkata, one needs to reach Siliguri by bus or train. From there, you can travel to Loleygoan by bus or share jeep or reserve a personal car. Loleygaon is also accessible from Kalimpong (56km) and Lava (24 km) by bus, share jeep or personal car.

Where to Stay?
There are so many govt. and private hotels in Loleygaon. Dafe Munal Tourist Lodge, Loleygaon Forest Rest House, Loleygaon Nature Education and Wilderness Resort, Kaphal Guest House and Hotel Kangchenjunga are mentionable.

When should Go?
One can visit Loleygaon any time of the year except rainy season because of the increasing disturbances of leech.


Situated at the height of 8500 feet, Rishyap (also Rishop) is a small scenic Lepcha hamlet that borders with West Bengal, Sikkim and Bhutan. The syllable 'Ri' means 'top of the mountain' and 'shop' means 'ancient tree', and so the full meaning of Rishyap is 'an ancient tree situated at the top of the mountain'. The special feature of Rishyap is its physical beauty. In the north of Rishyap, is the breathtaking Singhalila mountain range and in the east stands the Kabru and Kanchenjunga ranges visible at 300 degree angular point making it as one of the most picaresque Lepcha hamlet in the heart of Himalayas. During sunrise and sunset the sky appears as an ocean of colors and you can capture one of the best moments of your lifetime. With the Kanngachenju at the backdrop, a lazy walk at the village refreshes one's mind. The walking distance from Lava to Rishyap is 4 km and by car it is 11 Km and 112 Km away from Siliguri.


Rishyap, West Bengal, India

How to Reach?
Rishyap is 4 km from Lava and you can visit Rishyap either by foot or by car.

Where to Stay?
At present a lot of new resorts and hotels are coming up at Rishyap. Rishyap Nature Tourist Centre, Neora Valley Resort, Anwesha Guest House, Hotel Himalayan Hut etc. are mentionable among them.

When should Go?
Any time of the year except rainy season one can visit Rishyap, because of the increasing disturbances of leech.


Jhalong, a hemispheroidal cup like valley in between India and Bhutan, is one among the most impeccably beautiful Himalayan villages. Surrounded by hills, river, forest, cascades, butterflies and many different types of birds the village looks like a picture out an artist canvas. The river Jaldhaka flows by the side Jhalong in a zigzag way. On the other side of the river there are mountains of Bhutan and the picture like Bhutanese houses that appears to be well decorated on the hill slope. The quarters for the workers of Jaldhaka Hydroelectric Power Plant is at Jhalong. Presently, although Jhalong is rapidly converted to a buzzing township with police station, markets and homes, the solitude of this hamlet has not been hindered.


Jhalong, West Bengal, India

The road to Jhalong is quite scenic with the green hills winding up through the Chapramari National Forest. Some fortunate travellers even come across herd of elephants crossing the road on their way to the forest. Rongpo, Ghumni forest, Kumai Tea Estate, Dragon Kholaone are some of the points which you can cover on your way to Jhalong.

How to Reach?
The distance from Siliguri to Jhalong is 96 Km. There are two buses that leaves daily for Jhalong. Apart from that you can also take share taxi or reserve a private car.

Where to Stay?
There are many hotels and lodges at Jhalong that gives comfortable stay. The Forest Bungalow of West Bengal Forest Department Organization, Paruhang Tourist Lodge etc. are mentionable. For advance booking in Forest Bungalow you can contact with: West Bengal Forest Development Nigam, 6A, Subodh Mullick Square, 7th Floor, Kolkata, Ph - 033 22370060/61

When should Go?
Any time of the year except rainy season you can visit Jhalong.


Sitting in the lap of Himalaya like a precious diamond, the popularity of Bindu among the tourist spots of Dooars as well as North Bengal is undisputable. The natural and geographical importance of this place is also undeniable. Bindu, the last village of India, is situated by the side of the river Jaldhaka. It is in the lap of the Tendu mountain of Bhutan. In 1967, the first hydroelectric center of India, Jaldhaka Hydral Project was set up in this place. Bindu is surrounded by mountains from all its sides. It has a picture like place with well decorated houses, village market, orchids and flowers. Throughout the year Bindu remains unprecedented in its beauty.


Bindu, West Bengal, India

Bindu is also the meeting points of the tributaries - Nichu, Dhicu and Bindu Chu with Jaldhaka river. Bindu Chu that originates at the high mountains of Bhutan meets its stem river Jaldhaka in this village. The Jaldhaka Hydroelectric Project is established at the confluence point. On the other side of the lockgate bridge is the Royal State of Bhutan. There is no restriction on ferrying the bridge. If you have enough time you can travel to Tendu village of Bhutan which is 6 Km away from Bindu. A leisurely walk is welcoming. Apart from this, Bindu is also famous for its market which sells heaps of articles and items from both sides of the borders at unbelievably cheap price, local handmade craft by the tribal, orchids, mountain flowers and herbs, colourful Himalayan birds, cardamoms, oranges etc.

How to Reach?
To reach Bindu you have to board a bus or share jeep or reserve car from Siliguri Mittal Bus Stand and have to go via Chalsa. There are two buses that are scheduled for Bindu daily.

Where to Stay?
Bindu Market area has end number of hotels that provide comfortable stay. Sivaji Tourist Inn, Bindu Tourist Inn, Gahunbari Drakiul Retreat etc. are mentionable.

When should Go?
Any time of the year one can go to Bindu.


Dooars is the symphony of high mountains, rivers and deep forest. Seasonal flowers, warbling of birds, mind blowing natural beauty and untiring calmness are the characteristic of this less popular Himalayan destination, Samsing. Situated near the boundary line of Bengal and Bhutan it is 81 Km away from Siliguri. Journey to this lonely spot is quite exotic with the tea gardens of Chalsa running for miles and miles as you wind up the road. Samsing is also famous for its cultivation of oranges and tea. It is also home to many colourful and exotic species of Himalayan birds and butterflies. River Murti flows down the Samsing village to stir up the eternal silence of this small hamlet.


Samsing, West Bengal, India

Samsing Rocky Island is set up one and a half kilometer away from this village on the bed of river Murti. The place is famous for its cultivation of oranges. Recently an organization, named NOMADIC, has arranged adventure camp and nature education camp here. Tents, cottages and dormitories are available for any enthusiastic traveller. Those who are bird lovers can visit to this place only for birds and those who love to trek can travel to Mouchaki from this place.

How to Reach?
Two buses are scheduled per day from Siliguri Mittal Bus Stand. Besides this, after reaching Chalsa by any bus you can avail yourself by share jeep or any reserved car. The distance from Chalsa to Samsing is only 18 Km.

Where to Stay?
Beside the forest Bungalow of West Bengal Forest Development Organisation, the are few comfortable homestays at Samsing. There are 5 tents, one cottage and a dormitory at Rocky Island. Contact: NOMADIC, 18 Saradamoni Road, Siliguri, Phone - 0352641782


Another virgin spot of Dooars is the priceless forest of Suntalekhola which is only 4 km away from Samsing. 'Khola' means river and 'Suntale' means orange, so the name of this place originates from the river that flows beside is peaceful hamlet and its cultivation of oranges. Suntalekhola will never deprive those who want to vanquish themselves in the solitary green woods for some days. A portrait like forest bungalow maintained by forest department is available for staying. The whole area is enclosed with deep forest trees like Sal, Teak, Lali and Naspati. The river flows down from beside the bungalow and a swing-bridge has been established there. The illusive proximity of ancient nature is created with flowers, birds, butterflies, the sweet note of the river and the smell of wetted earth. Besides this, the enthusiastic traveller can travel to Bakhedora which is 6 Km away or Ramtedara which is two and a half km away from this place.


Suntalekhola, West Bengal, India

How to Reach?
Two buses are scheduled to Suntalekhola from Mittal Bus Stand at Siliguri. Besides this you can go Chalsa by bus from there you can hire share jeep or any reserved car. It is 22 km only from Chalsa.

Where to Stay?
To stay at Suntalekhola, the bungalow of Forest Department Nigam is available. For advance booking you may contact: West Bengal Forest Development Nigam, 6A, Subodh Mullick Square, 7th Floor, Kolkata, phone no. - 033 22370060/61


Those who love to travel to an unsoiled place or like to get the closeness of a virgin spot; Kumlai is the newest place of Dooars for them. Kumlai is the name of a river. Like most of the places of North Bengal, the name of the village has been derived from the name of this river. The place is just 18 km drive from Malbazar. In the western outskirts of the village, the swollen Kumlai River flows down with tremendous force and in the east, the Neora River. The aromatic tea gardens of Kumlai are a recluse to the eyes. One can visit the Nepuchapur Tea Estate to know how the tea leaves are collected and the ultra-modern process of tea making. If you want to stay in a purely natural environment, you can book a room in the hotel Aranyak which is maintained by Fishery Department. There is a big pond in front of this hotel. Fishing is allowed to visitors in purchase of tickets. To entertain the tourists there is a cultural dance performance by the natives organized by the Bansbari Adibasi Sangha. To know more about the local culture and lifestyle you can visit the Machee Slum and get familiarize with the Mech culture. Their politeness and hospitality will surely enchant you. A visit to the Sursuti forest and Alapchand Forest is quite adventurers as you can see troops of elephants coming up and down the tea gardens- making the day for a passionate photographer.


Kumlai, West Bengal, India

How to Reach?
From Siliguri to Malbazar you can take a bus or share jeep and from there you have to go either by fare car or jeep to reach at Kumlai. You may also go by personal car.

Where to Stay?
The one and only hotel of this place is Aranyak which is situated on the bank of the river and maintained by West Bengal Fishery Department. Please visit the place only after advance booking. Contact - Benfish, P 161/1, VIP Road, 4th Floor, Kol-54


In the height of 1900mt, Shrikhola is hidden in the lap of Himalaya on the bank of the river Shri. 'Khola' means river in Nepali language and the place again derives its name from the river that flows beside this small hamlet. The deep dense forest of oak, barch and ootish, the sound of the river, the endless chirping of colourful and exotic Himalayan birds collectively creates a symphony that is a real treat to all our senses. A hanging bridge takes the tourist to the other side of the river where there are trekking huts for fancy travellers to stay. The trekking path is quite beautiful and scenic and the best season to trek at Srikhola is April-May when colourful rhododendron blooms all around the way. Step-farming and the hanging flower gardens in front of the small wooden houses makes the beauty of Shrikhola incomparable.

How to Reach?
You can reach this small and solitary hamlet via Rimbik via Darjeeling. The distance from Rimbhik to Shrikhola is 7 km. Many tourists prefer to trek the whole way.

Where to Stay?
There is no scarcity of dwelling place at Shrikhola. Lodge of DGHC, trekker's hut, hotel Shovraj and many other small homestays are available all throughout the year. But to stay at Trekker's Hut you have to book in advance at the office of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.

When should Go?
Any time of the year except rainy season one can visit Shrikhola.

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