To the ones who have been long in city pent! Taking a short soul fulfilling break is probably the only way to come out of monotony and tiredness of life. And what is a better way to de-stress than to go to the least crowded places in the lap of nature? You can have the whole place to yourself and discover new never-before-seen nooks and corners of the places. North Bengal is known for its natural beauty and quiet, sleepy towns and villages. They’re perfect for a few days of respite from the everyday hassles and chores. So keeping that in mind, here’s a list of the uncharted territories of North Bengal. These are the handpicked 10 best offbeat weekend getaways from Kolkata which no one will ever regret!
Beautiful and green, Paren is mesmerizing. It is the last point on the Bhutan-India border- only 10 km from Jaldhaka. There are small and quaint cottages there for you to stay at. The mini Hydel Power Station supplies eco-friendly power to both the Paren Nature Resort and the Paren Village. You will get the most beautiful view of the sunrise from the cottages. But the cottages in itself only offer very basic amenities. Another thing to do here is trekking. If you’re feeling energetic and adventurous, go out on a trek to Rechella. Also, since you’re already here, you can also take a walk to Garibos, Dalgaon, and Rango to feel nature up-close and personal.
How to reach: Paren is very close to New Mal Jn. (55 km). You can easily hire a car from there. Also, you can hire a car from Jaldhaka. It is only 10 km. There are daily trains connecting Kolkata to New Mal Jn.
Best time to visit: Paren can be visited at any time of the year. But, if you’re not feeling very adventurous, then you can ignore the rainy reason.
Suntalekhola is a small village in Kalimpong. The green hills and picturesque valleys, and its wide range of birds and butterflies will leave you speechless. Also, there are various green tea gardens, if you’re a tea enthusiast. Another thing that will surely interest you about this place is the trekking routes that go through or start from here. Suntalekhola resides just beside the Neora Valley National Park, so you can trek right past the beautiful forest. You can also catch up on some bird watching witnessing a vast array of birds here. The best part of this place is the beautiful tents in which you can stay. The beautiful Murti River flows in front of the cottages making one literally feel like staying in the lap of nature.
How to reach: Crossing a distance of 85 km from Siliguri via Samsing will take you to Suntalekhola. You can also opt to come from New Mal Jn. (34 km). Daily trains connect New Jalpaiguri station and New Mal Jn to Kolkata.
Best time to visit: This place is perfect for you to visit throughout the year.
Tinchuley is located in Darjeeling district and is more of a hamlet. You can find this small little hill station in between three very prominent hills. The Teesta flows right through this place. Furthermore, there are beautiful tea gardens, orange orchards, and some bird watching to do. If you were searching for the perfect place to unwind, then this is it. Also, the beautiful Kalimpong Hills would give you constant company. And if you’re bored with just sitting around, go out and visit the Tinchuley Monastery and the Tinchuley View Point, and lose yourself in the tranquillity of the beautiful place.
How to reach: If you’re traveling from Darjeeling, this a 32 km journey. Also, it is 73 km and 35 km from NJP(nearest rail head, connecting rest of India) and Kalimpong respectively.
Best time to visit: To get a clear view of the majestic Himalayas, visit during the months of October to April.
4. Sillery Gaon
Sillery Gaon is a beautiful hill station in the Kalimpong district. The locals lovingly call it New Darjeeling. The most attractive thing to see over here, probably, is the beautiful and majestic Mt. Kanchenjunga and its allied peaks. Also, if you’re feeling like taking a walk, go visit the Sangchen Dorjee Monastery. It’s quaint and very beautiful. If you’re looking for a place to laze around, and just enjoy the beautiful silver peaks of the mountains glistening in the sunlight, then this is the place you must visit!
How to reach: You can reach this place from Pedong pretty easily (8 km). You can take a variety of transport from there to drop you at Sillery Gaon.
Best time to visit: Visit during the summer months to get a clear view of the beautiful mountains.
Kolakham is another quaint and beautiful hill station situated in the Kalimpong district. It falls under the Neora Valley National Park. The Kanchenjunga hills coupled with the vast expanse of Neora Valley will surely mesmerize you. You can view the plush greens and the rolling hills as far as your eyes can take you. If the sky is clear, you can also see the snowy and glistening peaks of the Kabru, Kabrudome, Kanchanjanga, and Pandim. If you’re a thrill seeker, then you can try out trekking, rock climbing, rope traversing etc. Also, if you’re a bird lover, then this is the place you should run to.
How to reach: You can cover the distance of 117 km from Siliguri in a hired car, while going through the most beautiful tea gardens.
Best time to visit: This is an all-weather, round the year tourist spot. But it is advisable to not visit during the rainy season as Neora Valley remains closed and there are frequent landslides.
It is a small tourist spot in the Malbazar subdivision of Jalpaiguri district. The beautiful landscape with the green tea gardens, hills, and forests will surely enthral you. Fog and cool breezes will engulf you and soothe your tired soul. Murti River flows through this place. Various treks are organized from here.
How to reach: It is easiest of reach Samsing by getting down at Darjeeling and taking a car from there.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit is during the months of February-March as it gets very cold here otherwise.
Latpanchar is a part of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. It is also the highest part of the sanctuary, at a height of 4,200 ft. Since it falls under a sanctuary, there’s a high chance that you’ll come across wild animals like deer, wild boar and if you’re really lucky, then elephants and leopards too. Apart from that, you can also see the beautiful Kanchenjunga range from this quiet hamlet. It’s the perfect place to enjoy some much-needed peace and serenity.
How to reach: It is located at a distance of 45 km from New Jalpaiguri railway station. Take a car from the station which will drop you to this place.
Best time to visit: October to April.
This beautiful and quiet little village is located in the Darjeeling district. This is a hot-spot for trekkers. There are various trekking routes from Sandakphu and Phalut that pass through this place. If you’re an adventure lover and love trekking, this is the place for you. Moreover, there’s a river that flows through this place- of the same name. You can laze around beside it and also take a bath in the cold river water.
How to reach: It is very easy to just take a car from Darjeeling or NJP and reach Srikhola.
Best time to visit: April to May; October – November.
This tiny place is located on a hill top in Darjeeling district. Jorpokhri is named after the beautiful twin lakes that are situated here. Swans swim around in these lakes and are a wonderful sight. Also, the beautiful forest cannot be missed either. You’ll instantly feel a sense of calm, as soon as you walk through the forest. Plus point, it is a nature reserve as it a part of the Senchal forest. The best part, however, is the sweeping snow-covered mountain peaks of the Himalayas which will surely keep you mesmerized.
How to reach: Jorpokhri can be easily reached from Darjeeling in a car (19 km).
Best time to visit: Visit during March to May for clear skies and a pleasant weather.
10. Chota Mangwa
Chota Mangwa is a small village and an excellent location to view the beautiful Teesta river and the Kanchenjunga mountains. A ridge at the top of the Mangwa hill in Darjeeling district is where you’ll find this quaint hill station. If you’re looking for some peace and want to experience nature up close, then this is the destination you should head for. It is also relatively new, so you will not find many tourists.
How to reach: You can reach Chota Mangwa from Darjeeling (35 km) and NJP (~70 km) in a car.
Best time to visit: October to February, if you want to see the beautiful orange orchards.
So here’s a list of the (mostly!) uncharted territories of North Bengal that you must venture out and explore to free your mind, body, and soul from the stress of city life. Have a great few days! Happy traveling!
Contributor: Archi Sengupta.