Road Trips in West Bengal – 10 Offbeat Himalayan Getaways

When we think about traveling to the Himalayan regions in West Bengal, all that appears first is the glittery town of Darjeeling. Well, that’s not all that the mountains of West Bengal hold for you. From snow covered villages on a hilltop to secluded locations perched within tea gardens, there is a plethora of destinations that is not yet explored in the Himalayan regions of West Bengal.

Apart from the conventional places, a trip to these lesser known destinations would unfold a bundle of surprises for you. You could club together a few of these destinations on a week long trip. So gear up with your hiking shoes, binoculars and a travel playlist and read further to know what awaits you.

 

Hidden Himalayan Getaways in West Bengal

Takdah

Located 28 kms away from Darjeeling, Takdah used to be a cantonment area during the British era. While some travelers choose to visit Takdah on a day tour from Darjeeling, it is highly recommended that you spend a night or two here to experience the grandeur of the heritage bunglows that it is known for. Misty meandering roads, luscious pine and cedar trees and vast stretches of tea gardens make Takdah a destination in itself.

There are a few more places of interest like the 100 year old Barbatey suspension bridge, Dechen Pema Tsholing Monastery and Mata Durga Sacred Caves that you could visit during your stay in Takdah.

How to Reach Takdah

      • Land at Bagdogra Airport or reach New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.
      • To reach Takdah directly, book a private vehicle from the airport or railway station that will cost you between INR 2500-3500 depending on the season.
      • An alternative is to travel to Darjeeling first, which is the nearest big town from Takdah. 
      • To reach Darjeeling, book a private vehicle for INR 2500-3500 or take a shared vehicle for INR 150-200 from Siliguri Junction (the taxi stand beside Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus).
      • From Darjeeling, ample number of private vehicles are available to reach Takdah, standard cost being INR 1800.

Estimated Travel Time

      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Takdah : 3 hours
      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Darjeeling : 3 hours
      • Darjeeling to Takdah : 1 hour 30 minutes
      • Add a minimum buffer time of 1 hour considering traffic situations.

Where to Stay in Takdah

 

Tinchuley

The name of the place Tinchuley has developed from the word ‘tin chulha’ meaning ‘three ovens,’ the reason being the three mountain peaks that encompass the village making it look like the center of three ovens. Tinchuley is situated at a distance of 26 kms from Darjeeling, close to the border of West Bengal and Sikkim. 

The villagers run several self sustainable projects for which Tinchuley is now an urban eco village. The village, covered in thick alpine forests offer breathtaking views of the Himalayas and gorgeous sunrises. The confluence of Teesta and Rangeet rivers, known as Triveni, a popular camping spot is located nearby that deserves a peek. Teesta valley, parts of Kalimpong, East and West Sikkim are well visible from this village on a day with clear skies.

How to Reach Tinchuley

      • Land at Bagdogra Airport or reach New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.
      • To reach Tinchuley directly, book a private vehicle from the airport or railway station that will cost you between INR 2500-3500 depending on the season.
      • Second option is to travel to Darjeeling first, which is the nearest big town from Tinchuley. 
      • To reach Darjeeling, book a private vehicle for INR 2500-3500 or take a shared vehicle for INR 150-200 from Siliguri Junction (the taxi stand beside Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus).
      • From Darjeeling, you could reach Tinchuley by a private vehicle that would cost around INR 1500.

Estimated Travel Time

      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Tinchuley : 3 hours
      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Darjeeling : 3 hours
      • Darjeeling to Tinchuley : 1 hour 30 minutes
      • Add a minimum buffer time of 1 hour.

Where to Stay in Tinchuley

 

Chatakpur

Chatakpur is a quaint village located within the Senchal Wildlife sanctuary, about 26 kms away from Darjeeling. With conscious efforts of eco-tourism by the Forest Department to provide an alternative means of livelihood to the villagers, Chatakpur has now come into limelight.

The unobstructed views of Kanchendzonga that can be witnessed from Chatakpur is even better than the view from the more popular spot of Tiger Hill. The forests in Chatakpur is home to many species like the Red Panda, Barking Deer, Great Himalayan Black Beer, Leopard, and Antelopes. Between the woods, there is a natural pond that adds to the beauty of this little hamlet. Sandakphu, the popular trekking destination can also be spotted from a watch tower in Chatakpur.

How to Reach Chatakpur

      • Land at Bagdogra Airport or reach New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.
      • To reach Chatakpur directly, book a private vehicle from the airport or railway station that will cost you between INR 2500-3500 depending on the season.
      • Second alternative is to take a local shared vehicle to Sonada or Ghoom from Siliguri Junction (the taxi stand beside Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus), which is the nearest transport hub to Chatakpur. This costs INR 150-200.
      • From Sonada/Ghoom, take a private vehicle to Chatakpur. 
      • Third option is to reach Darjeeling by a private vehicle for INR 2500-3500 or a shared vehicle for INR 150-200.
      • From Darjeeling, you could reach Chatakpur by a private vehicle that would cost around INR 1500.

Estimated Travel Time

      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Chatakpur: 2 hours 30 minutes
      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Ghoom/Sonada: 2 hours
      • Sonada/Ghoom to Chatakpur: 1 hour 
      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Darjeeling: 3 hours
      • Darjeeling to Chatakpur: 1 hour 30 minutes
      • Add a minimum buffer time of 1 hour to be on the safe side.

Where to Stay in Chatakpur

 

Lepchajagat

A stopover at Lepchajagat is a must if you are visiting Darjeeling. Though it takes hardly 40 minutes to reach Lepchajagat from Darjeeling, there is a clear difference in the air between the two places.

Tucked between beds of oak trees and shades on bougainvilleas and rhododendrons, Lepchajagat is known for the picturesque views of the Himalayan ranges. Taking a walk through the forest trails while spotting beautiful birds will compel you to fall in love with nature in its unaltered form.

How to Reach Lepchajagat

      • Land at Bagdogra Airport or reach New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.
      • To reach Lepchajagat directly, book a private vehicle from the airport or railway station. The cost would be between INR 2500-3000 depending on the season.
      • An alternative is to travel to Darjeeling first, which is the nearest town from Lepchajagat. 
      • To reach Darjeeling, book a private vehicle for INR 2500-3500 or take a shared vehicle for INR 150-200 from Siliguri Junction (the taxi stand beside Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus).
      • From Darjeeling, book a private vehicle to lepchajagat for INR 1000.

Estimated Travel Time

      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Lepchajagat : 2 hours 30 minutes
      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Darjeeling : 3 hours
      • Darjeeling to Lepchajagat : 40 minutes
      • Add a minimum buffer time of 1 hour.

Where to Stay in Lepchajagat

 

Tumling

Tumling is a village that lies in the trek route of Sandakphu, about 36 kms from Darjeeling and 10 kms from Manebhanjan, the base of the trek. Vehicles are easily available till Manebhanjan and the next 10 kms could be either covered on foot or the iconic British Land Rover, famous in this route.

Located on a high altitude, Tumling is usually covered in snow between December to February. You can witness a clear panoramic view of the Kanchendzonga range, also known as the Sleeping Buddha for its shape.

Singalila National Park is just about 1 km and worth a visit if you’d want to spot Red Pandas in their natural habitat.

How to Reach Tumling

      • Land at Bagdogra Airport or reach New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.
      • Book a private vehicle to Darjeeling from the airport or railway station for INR 2500-3500 or a shared vehicle for INR 150-200 from Siliguri Junction (the taxi stand beside Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus).
      • From Darjeeling, take a private vehicle or shared vehicle to Manebhanjan, that costs about INR 1200 and INR 50-100 respectively. Keep in mind that shared cabs to Manebhanjan are not frequent and you might have to wait for a long time.
      • From Manebhanjan, a 10 km bouldered road would reach you to Tumling which is also the trek route to Sakdakphu.
      • To cover this last 10 kms, you can either trek through this road or book a Land Rover from Manebhanjan.
      • Please note that if you are booking a Land Rover for Tumling, you should book a return trip for convenience and not a one way trip.

Estimated Travel Time

      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Darjeeling: 3 hours 
      • Darjeeling to Manebhanjan: 1 hour 15 minutes
      • Manebhanjan to Tumling: 5-6 hours on foot, 1 hour by vehicle
      • Add a buffer time of 30 minutes.

Where to Stay in Tumling

(Online reservations are not available for Tumling. Make a reservation from Manebhanjan or contact in the phone numbers provided in the above links)

 

Kurseong

Kurseong is usually considered as a stopover for breakfast or lunch while traveling to Darjeeling. Not many people know of the hidden spots in this little hill town in the lap of Himalayas.

Also known as “Land of white orchids,” Kurseong is a place which you may choose for a quiet retreat. Apart from the town area, Gidda Pahar and Dow Hills are places you could visit in Kurseong. Gidda Pahar will welcome you with gorgeous landscapes and stories of the haunted forest and school in Dow Hills will surely run chills down your spine.

Make sure you do not miss out on Margaret’s Deck, an exotic tea lounge near Kurseong, known for its unique methods of brewing tea and old world charm.

How to Reach Kurseong

      • Land at Bagdogra Airport or reach New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.
      • Book a private vehicle to Kurseong from the airport or railway station for INR 2000 or take a shared vehicle for INR 150 from Siliguri Junction (the taxi stand beside Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus).
      • Or stop over at Kurseong while returning from Darjeeling.

Estimated Travel Time

      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Kurseong: 1 hour 30 minutes 
      • Darjeeling to Kurseong: 2 hours
      • Keep a buffer time of 30 minutes.

Where to Stay in Kurseong

 

Mirik

Mirik is a quiet town in the hills of West Bengal, located at a distance of 45 kms from Siliguri and 40 kms from Darjeeling.

The road to Mirik would make you feel as if you’re a part of a travel movie. Beautiful vistas of tea gardens and pine trees on mountain slopes make it a scenic treat. Sumendu Lake, popularly known as Mirik Lake is the main place of interest in Mirik. You can walk through the stoney pathway around the lake and spend some quiet time while watching the boats and swans float by.

A drive of 30 minutes from Mirik would reach you to Pashupatinagar market which falls in Nepal, where you could spend half a day and grab some souvenirs for friends and family. 

How to Reach Mirik

      • Land at Bagdogra Airport or reach New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.
      • Book a private vehicle to Mirik from the airport or railway station for INR 2000. Shared cabs are not frequent and not recommended in this route.
      • Or stop over at Mirik while returning from Darjeeling.

Estimated Travel Time

      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Mirik: 2 hours 
      • Darjeeling to Mirik: 1 hour 30 minutes
      • Keep a buffer time of 30 minutes.

Where to Stay in Mirik

 

Chisang

Chisang is a little picturesque village in Kalimpong district located at a distance less than 4 kms from Bhutan. The nearest railway station is New Mal Junction, the other alternative being New Jalpaiguri railway station. From Siliguri, the distance to Chisang is roughly 105kms.

The beautiful houses built in Goan style which are now open to host travelers, cardamom plantations, wild orchids, majestic views of the Eastern Himalayas and Tenda Plateau make the village special.

For people who love to indulge in outdoor activities like bonfires, barbecues, village hikes, mountain biking, Chisang is a perfect place to spend a couple of days. Neora Valley National Park is located at a close proximity and local guides are available who could lead a trek for you through the forests.

How to Reach Chisang

      • Land at Bagdogra Airport or reach New Jalpaiguri Railway Station or New Mal Railway Station.
      • Book a private vehicle to Chisang from the airport or either of the railway stations mentioned. Shared cabs are not recommended in this route.

Estimated Travel Time

      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Chisang: 3 hours
      • New Mal to Mirik: 2 hours
      • Add a buffer time of 30 minutes.

Where to Stay in Chisang

 

Lava

Gateway to Neora Valley National Park, Lava is nestled between vast stretches of fir and cedar trees. The beautiful settlement in Kalimpong district is well known for its viewpoints from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the Greater Himalayas.

Lava is situated 30 kms and 110 away kms from Kalimpong and Siliguri respectively. The mystic ambience of this place can be best experienced if you make a halt here and explore its twin hamlet, Lolegaon.

Lava receives snowfall almost every year during winters. Kagyu Thekchen Ling Monastery or the Lava Monastery is one of the major places of interest. Changey Waterfall, Tiffin Dara Viewpoint, Nature Interpretation Center, Neora Valley National Park can be explored on a day long tour. Lava is paradise for bird watchers and wildlife photographers. The forests of Neora Valley National Park, spread over 88 sq. kms is home to many endangered species including the Red Panda. Birds like Rusty Bellied Short Wing, Blue Robin, Wren Babbler, Golden Headed Black Finch can be easily spotted. It is a paradise for bird watchers and wildlife photographers.

Villages such as Rishop and Kolakham could be added to the list along with Lava if you have an extra day and the urge to walk the untrodden path.

How to Reach Lava

      • Land at Bagdogra Airport or reach New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.
      • Book a private vehicle to Lava to reach directly from the airport or the railway station that would cost between INR 2500-3000.
      • As an alternative, first reach Kalimpong by a private or shared vehicle.
      • From Kalimpong, book a private vehicle for the twin hamlets Lava and Lolegaon at once. A 2 day tour would cost between INR 4000-6000, depending on the season.

Estimated Travel Time

      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Lava: 3 hours via Gorubathan, 4 hours via Kalimpong.
      • Kalimpong to Lava: 1 hour 30 minutes
      • Add a buffer time of 30-40 minutes.

Where to Stay in Lava

 

Lolegaon

Lolegaon is an hour’s drive from Lava and is often considered as its twin hamlet. The roads that lead to Lolegaon are covered with coniferous forests and mist, making the journey absolutely delightful.

The Canopy Walk within the heritage forest of Lolegaon is a fascinating place to visit. It is a 180 metre long hanging tree-top bridge built within dense forests of oak, Fir and Cypress trees. As you walk along the bridge you’d realize that the height of the bridge elevates to take you to the top of the trees and you could have a look at the forest from above.

There are a number of hiking trails in this village and undertaking a hike through one of them wouldn’t be a bad idea. Make sure you do not miss out on catching the mesmerizing sunrise from Jhandi Dara view point.

How to Reach Lolegaon

      • Land at Bagdogra Airport or reach New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.
      • Book a private vehicle to Lolegaon to reach directly from the airport or the railway station that would cost between INR 2500-3000.
      • As an alternative, first reach Kalimpong by a private or shared vehicle.
      • From Kalimpong, book a private vehicle for the twin hamlets Lava and Lolegaon at once. A 2 day tour would cost between INR 4000-6000, depending on the season.
      • It is recommended that you visit Lava and Lolegaon together for a better experience.

Estimated Travel Time

      • Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Lolegaon: 4 hours via Gorubathan, 4 hours via Kalimpong.
      • Kalimpong to Lava: 1 hour 30 minutes
      • Lava To Lolegaon: 1 hour
      • Add a buffer time of 30-40 minutes.

Where to Stay in Lolegaon

 

Best Time To Visit

The months of October to December and February to April are pleasant to visit these destinations. However, if you wish to experience snowfall, you have to plan your trip between mid-December to end of January. Monsoon starts early in this region. The months of July to September should be strictly avoided because connectivity often gets lost due to heave rains and landslides.

 

Tips and Recommendations

    • Bagdogra Airport or New Jalpaiguri Railway Station is the nearest airport and railway stations where you’d need to reach to get to any of these places.(Bagdogra is from where you start your Road Trip to Bhutan – Check out this Bhutan Travel Guide for reference)
    • Darjeeling or Kalimpong are the two nearest big towns which could be your base while traveling to these villages.
    • After you’ve finalized on the locations and number of days, decide whether you want a private vehicle or would want to give local shared vehicles a shot. Wizzride and NE Taxi are two companies that provide luxury vehicles on a shared basis, the first of its kind. You could even rent motorbikes from any of the nearby towns.
    • For accommodations, choose home stays run by locals over hotels for a more authentic experience.
    • A hiking shoe with a good grip is a must if you intend to explore the area on foot.
    • Understand the fact that a visit to these places is not about ticking off checklists but to enjoy every bit that nature has to offer. Do not hurry; soak the freshness in the air and you’d have the best time.
    • Entry to the National Parks needs a permit. Always have some buffer time and necessary documents with you. (Check out the Best National Parks in India here)
    • Spotting birds and Red Pandas in the National Parks would depend on how silent you are. Possibilities are low if you are in a big group.
    • Be mindful of the trash you produce. If possible, carry your plastic waste back to the cities where there is a provision of managing the waste. If you can’t, then dispose them only at designated waste bins.
    • Be respectful towards the local communities. They are opening their homes to you.

Also read about some of these stay cation worthy places in West Bengal and Sikkim if you’re planning for a long stay.

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12 Replies to “Road Trips in West Bengal – 10 Offbeat Himalayan Getaways”

  1. Hey Michelle… I am really impressed and envy you at the same time… I haven’t even heard the names and you have been to all these places… Now I have lots to do post lockdown.

    1. Yes, there is a lot to look forward to when the situation gets better. I really hope you get to travel to all these places in future.

  2. Oh my God this is so informative and interesting. Never knew about so many destinations. Quite excited to try Lepchajagat as soon as the situation gets normal. Thanks

  3. Oh Wow! These are some amazing places. I never heard about these places. Thanks for sharing detailed information about the places.

  4. Nice one….m gonna do a trip to Northeast next year and Lepchaghat and Mirik are high on my list of places to explore

  5. Oh my God I just realised that I have never even heard these places, let alone visit them. My bucketlist grew a little more longer after this post. I especially loved that forest in Lepchajagat, looks so mystical.

    1. Yes, Lepchajagat is full of a mystical energy. It looks even more surreal when one is actually present there.

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