THE ODYSSEY BEGINS
My love for nature is so immortal that our family decided to venture out to experience the enthralling cool climate of North Bengal and beat the heat of the plains. I am going to explain & share my experience in my blog post. Do take out time and visit Ramdhura & Lamahata in your next outing.
Our overnight journey started at Sealdah railway station which is located in Kolkata and we reached New Jalpaiguri station the next day around 11 am. We hired a car from the prepaid taxi booth and headed towards the Kalimpong district.
The very next day our first destination was the picturesque Ramdhura, a village tucked in the heart of the monsoon forest in the district of Kalimpong and a new found gem of North Bengal which is far away from the urban life. Ramdhura is 86 Km from NJP, about 15 Km from Kalimpong and just 7kms from Deolo. Roughly about 100 families stay here and survive on the plantations started during the British times.
It gave us the perfect opportunity to be one with nature while taking the leisurely stroll to the sounds of the chirping birds. The view of the iconic Himalayas was indeed spectacular as it provided a gateway far from the city’s pollution and monotony. If you are in mind to enjoy the exotic surrounding, spectacular hilly terrains, lush greeneries, rubber plantations, clean air and the serene sunrise then probably you are in the right place
THE JALSA BUNGALOW
While sipping a cup of the famous Darjeeling tea from a local tea shop we thoroughly enjoyed the panorama of Ramdhura, which truly commands the fabulous postcard views of the Eastern Himalayas. It was a breathtaking the experience to watch Mt. Kanchenjunga stands amidst the expansive green slopes and bird’s eye view of the mighty snaking Teesta river meandering through the gorges below.
Guests also can take part in rock- climbing and river-bed hiking in Relli. We had a couple of senior citizens, and we were advised to keep Ramdhura in our itinerary as it was well connected by motorable roads. While trekking through the slopes of pine forest and Cinchona plantations we came across another celebrated spot, the Jalsa bungalow built by the British in the 1930s. This site offers one of the widest views of Teesta river and the gorgeous view of Mt. Kanchenjunga.
ICCHEY GAON: A NEARBY HAMLET
While at Ramdhura, we visited the pristine Ichhey gaon or “Wishing village” termed as an Eco-friendly organic village, located at an altitude of 5800 feet to witness the mundane activities of the villagers. Icchey gaon is a heaven of peace and the only sound is clamoring for numerous colorful birds. Sillery Gaon is another well-known village, just 2.5 Kms, which can be covered by light trekking. Sparing some time with the innocent villages and watching their lifestyle is worth.
The lush green forest of the valley is studded with woodlands of Pine, Birch, Juniper trees and other tropical trees. The trek through the dense forest is one of the favorite treks for bird watchers and perfect for nursing the soul of a nature lover. Rare orchids and the beautiful canopy of Rhododendron was a spectacular sight which was unforgettable.
The small hamlet is slightly above Ramdhura, having fresh green village houses of approximately 30 families. The tweets of unknown birds made us all in overwhelming harmony. There are numerous nature trails and truncated treks starting off from Ichhey gaon like Tinchuley and Ramitey Dara is one of the best- kept secrets of this region.
The entire Himalayan range and the Teesta river can be viewed from Ramitey Dara and offers a spellbound view of its adjoining snow-clad peaks and hurdling Teesta river with its 14 curves. In fact, the Tinchuley viewpoint too offers glimpses of the majestic Kanchenjunga and the eastern Himalayas. On a clear day, Nathu-la pass and Jelep-la pass are clearly visible from here.
While on our way back in evening, the twinkling lights of Darjeeling, Sikkim, and Ravangla all along the slopes of the mighty Himalayas made us spellbound with the healing motion of nature while silent valley and grassy woodland offered ultimate tranquility.
HOW TO REACH RAMDHURA
Ramdhura is around 15 km from Kalimpong. You can take any bus or hire a car from NJP, Bagdogra or Siliguri to Kalimpong and from Kalimpong, you need to avail the pick-up service of Ramdhura home-stay. The homestay arranges pick-up services from NJP, Bagdogra, Siliguri, and Rangpo.
The Eco-tourism place located at an altitude of 5700 feet, was our next destination on our way back to New Jalpaiguri railway station. With support from the state government, the villagers and forest development teams worked together to create this endearing tourist place. We had to cross Jorebunglow near Ghoom and then took the road to Lamahatta. ‘Lama’ implies Buddhist monk and ‘Hatta’ stands for hut – a monk’s hermitage.
Lamahatta is located 23 Kms from Darjeeling and 76 Kms from Siliguri, surrounded with vast stretching pine and dhupi forest and is ideal to enjoy natural solitude with a natural array of rare species of colorful orchids carpeting the landscape. We visited the ‘roadside’ open manicured garden spread along the slope of the hills over a wide expanse having numerous seasonal flowers and took the glimpse of the magnificent view of Mt. Kanchenjunga and Sikkim hills from the watchtower.
There is an entry fee of Rs. 20/- per person. You will get tickets at the little ticket counter on the other side of the road. There is a pathway which goes through the park for taking a leisure stroll. Along the way, you will find wooden and bamboo made benches where you can relax and soak in the charm of the garden.
You will witness a row of bright prayer flags fluttering in one side of the garden. Villagers here say that the breeze that passes through the prayer flags purify the surroundings and minds of the people. There is also a wooden watchtower made up to get the best assertable views around Lamahatta and other places in Darjeeling district.
On a bright day, you can see the snow peaks of Kanchenjunga, Tiger Hill, Namchi of Sikkim, Darjeeling town, and its landscapes, and the Rangeet river flowing below. This place is ideal for honeymooners or twosomes who would like to spend quiet and intimate time with nature, take some nature walks through the maze of dhupi jungle, enjoy the views of other respective natural attractions nearby like Takdah orchid center.
We visited the Peshok viewpoint which is 8 Kms away, nearby tea estates including Rongli Rangliot Tea Estate, Glenburn Tea Estate and Takdah Tea Estate and blissfully completed our enchanting odyssey with an enriched soul.
The main inhabitants here are folks like Sherpas, Yalmos, Tamangs, Bhutias and Dukpas where farming and cattle rearing are the prime sources of their livelihood. They have all collaborated together to hand shake with the government workers to create an eco-tourism place with a government funding of about Rs. 1.5 crores.
HOW TO REACH LAMAHATTA
Lamahatta is about 23Kms from Darjeeling and 41 Kms from Kalimpong. From Siliguri, the distance is approximately 76 Kms. You can drive via NH31 road lopchu and Ashok Road to reach Lamahatta.
HOME-STAYS AT RAMDHURA AND LAMAHATTA
Many home-stays mushroomed on the edge of the mountains overlooking Mt. Kanchenjunga and Teesta river, equipped with all modern amenities and natural view. The home-stays in Ramdhura and Lamahatta are well armored with electricity, comfortable beds, hot water, and attached western bathrooms.
From the home-stays, you just walk across the road to the entrance of this garden. The garden is full of seasonal flowering plants including white and other colorful orchids. The breakfast table in the open-air rooftop overlooking Mt. Kanchenjungha and river Teesta is an outstanding place to relish an early morning cup of tea. There are also car parking facilities here. The cuisine is fundamentally Indian and home cooked and the ingredients are mostly locally sourced and fresh.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
You can visit these places any time of the year. The sparkling weather during winters is the best time for witnessing an unhindered, mesmerizing sunrise over Mt. Kanchenjungha. In summers, if you want to beat the heat of the plains, then you can visit this place for its pleasant cool weather.
The monsoons are best for the observance of the clouds float across your room. Blessed with a temperate climate, March to June and October to December is considered the best time of the visit here.
It is rightly said that “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Suggested Read:– I explored another less known destinations of West Bengal called Jhilimili and Mukutmanipur
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