By Chaitali Das
With the festive season just round the corner, most of you must be in search for an ideal holiday destination. One that allows you to recharge your batteries and spend some time just doing nothing. Well, if that is your desire than we have the perfect places listed for you. If you love the hills then you have got to love North Bengal! But the problem with the usual Dooars or Darjeeling trips is that they remain crowded with tourists during the festive season. Yes, these two places are the jewel in the crown of Darjeeling tourism, but their popularity takes away the hill side charm that you anticipate with an ideal vacation. So, you must be wondering we would be telling you about the next big thing in terms of North Bengal tourism, aka Kalimpong. No, we are not talking about Kalimpong as well. Let us present two remote beauties of North Bengal tourism – Lamahatta and Lepchajaghat. Never heard of them? Well, that is exactly the point. They are unheard and supremely beautiful. What more do you need. Let us explore these two Darjeeling tourism alternatives.
Situated at an altitude of 5, 700 feet, this beautiful hamlet is only 23 KM away from Darjeeling. Lamhatta was developed by West Bengal Tourism Department to promote eco-tourism and is slowly becoming a favourite holiday destination for those who want a quiet and calm holiday experience. The road journey from your base town of Siliguri to Lamahatta is in itself very beautiful. You move through spiralling roads, uphill amidst the green tea gardens. As you reach Lamahatta, the first place to halt would be the Lamahatta Roadside Garden. Situated on a hill slope, this beautiful garden is set amidst a nature reserve. Apart from the floral beauty of the garden, it also has a beautiful lake. And if you wait patiently on the shores of this lake, you might catch a glimpse of some deer too! Lamahatta is also blessed with the backdrop of mountains and that makes it an ideal trekking destination. The jungle trek to Takdah is very popular. This 8 KM trekking trail takes the travellers through a maze of pine forests. After reaching Takdah, trekkers can visit the beautiful Orchid Center. Another trekking trail takes the travellers to Gari Danda, which is an ancient fort on a remote hill top.
If you want to journey a bit further, then do care to visit the Peshoke View Point. You can enjoy the bird’s eye view of the confluence between Teesta and Rangit Rivers from up there. You can also spend some time touring beautiful tea gardens of the area. During your stay in Lamahatta you would pick up the habit of waking early to enjoy the molten gold views of mountain peaks. The tangy orange sunset views of the mountains would also relax your senses. But all in all, Lamahatta tour is all about enjoying some days in solitude and enjoying the overwhelming beauty of nature. Allow the time to roll by at a slow pace and reflect on your life while viewing the snow clad peaks at distance.
- Must visit: Tinchuley village, Mahakal Temple, Everest Museum, Japanese Peace Pagoda
- Must taste: Do care to taste some of the Nepalese delicacies such as Momo, Thupka and Set Roti while in Lamahatta.
Lepchajagat, local dialect, means “World of Lepchas”. This sleepy hamlet has undergone massive uplift under the West Bengal tourism’s eco-tourism initiative. The town is mostly dwelled by the Lepcha community, which justifies its naming. This beautiful village is decorated with pine, oak and rhododendron forests. Lepchajagat is famous for its magnificent Kanchenjunga views, teeming birdlife and overall tranquillity. Guess where the modern day Bengalis visit for their honeymoon? Of course they come to Lepchajagat! It is also a great travel destination for busy citizens wanting to spend some time far from the maddening crowd!
Now, the question remains – what to do in this sleepy little hamlet? Well, the best thing to do here is – Nothing! Stay at a picturesque cottage (homestays are the only options here), sip away at a cup of warm Darjeeling tea and watch the amazing sunrise and sunset views of the Kanchenjunga. But if doing nothing seems too boring, then there are of course a lot of great sights in the near vicinity. You could start the Lepchajagat sightseeing trip with a visit to the beautiful Jorpekhari Lake. Next, visit the beautiful town of Sukhiapokhari. Sukhiapokhari is covered with maple, pine, oak and chestnut forests. The town is also an entry way to Nepal. So, automatically your next stop would be in the Nepal’s Pashupati Market. The market will definitely turn you into a shopaholic with its rich assortment of imported goods. You may also visit the peaceful Ghum monastery during your sightseeing trip.
- Tip: To visit the Pashupati Market you have to carry a valid Indian ID proof. You would have to leave the vehicle behind as only people on foot are allowed to cross the border.
- Shopping tips: Electronic items, woollen garments and fashion wear are the popular items at Pashupati Market. But judge the authenticity of branded products before buying.
When your heart calls out for tranquillity and quietude, Lamahatta and Lepchajagat are your ideal trip destinations.