A quaint little hamlet between Maneybhanjan and Sandakphu, Tonglu derives its name from Tonglu peak 3036 meters belonging to the Singalila Ridge in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. Tonglu is a small settlement within the Singalila National Park located close to the Indo-Nepal border. It is basically a halt for the trekkers traveling to Sandakphu through Manebhanjan. Tonglu’s ethereal atmosphere mixed with its solitude is a boon to the trekkers and also to individuals who love to spend some time in isolation far from the daily busy lives. It is an ideal retreat to relax and unwind.

How to reach Trekkers’ Hut


As it is mentioned above, Tonglu is a trekkers’ halt therefore it must be reached on foot from Dhotre. You can reach Dhotre from Siliguri in 4 hours. Once you reach Dhotre, you have to trek around 4 hours that is 5 kilometers to reach Tonglu. There is the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Trekkers’ Hut and D. I. Bungalow where trekkers stay overnight on their way to famous Sandakphu. Carry photo ID proof along with you for identification and the huts can be reserved from DGHC Kolkata, New Delhi, Darjeeling and Siliguri. Note that the route from Dhotre remains closed from June to September. Trekkers generally carry their food, however, you can have lunch at the roadside eateries. They serve delicious dishes prepared from the fresh produce.

Best time to trek to Tonglu


The best time to trek to Tonglu is between middle of September and December or between March and early April when the route is filled with the fragrance and blossoms of magnolias, spruce and rhododendrons. Capture the beauty of the colorful flowers in your heart and they will serve as a memory for lifetime bringing a smile on your face every time you think about them. If you are not traveling with a team, then it is recommended to hire a guide for the tour.

Attractions in Tonglu


The Singalila Park is a major attraction apart from Kanchenjunga, Makalu, and Pandim peaks. Various species of exotic birds like parrobills, fire-tailed myzornis, satyr tragopan, blood pheasant and kalij pheasant and scarlet minivet can be spotted. There are several animals also that can be noticed in the park which include red panda, barking deer, yellow-throated marten, wild boar, pika and pangolin. The variety of orchids in the forest is fascinating. The officials point out that there are 600 different species.

Once you reach Tonglu you will be rewarded with the out of this world view of the sunrise over the mighty Kanchenjunga. Similarly, the night sky gives you the pleasure of lazing around under the starry canopy. Do not forget to carry Tongba with you which is a local drink to match with the environment.

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Kalpokhri is a scared lake located at an elevation of 3170 meters. It is found enroute to the famous Sandakphu peak of Singalila Range from Gairibas. The local people believe it to be the home of the formidable Kalnaag or the huge slithering black snake. Pokhri in the local language means lake and Kaal is derived from Kaalnaag and hence Kalpokhri. The Kalpokhri contains black water and is a rare presence at such an elevation. During spring the region surrounding the black lake is full of the magnificent rhododendron and orchids. The lake doesn’t freeze even during winter because the water is muddy.

Journey through Kalpokai


Since Kalpokhri is considered as a halt for the trekkers moving up towards Sandakphu, it can be reached on the 3rd or 4th day of the trek depending on the itinerary. The distance of Kalpokhri from Tonglu/Tumling is 16 kilometers and the route is covered in 5-6 hours because it is steep climb. From Kalpokhri the distance of Sandakphu is only 8 kilometers. Tourists can also reach Kalpokhri on jeep. It is especially for the non-trekkers who wish to undertake the journey on a vehicle.

Accommodation in Kalpokhri


Staying at Kalpokhri is hassle free because there are private lodges and trekkers’ huts. If you are with a trekking group, then tea, snacks and packed lunch will be provided or else if you are traveling without any affiliation you can eat at the small food joints.

From Kalpokhri start next day towards Sandakphu. The road from here descends to Bikhaybhanjyang or the Valley of Poison. Aconites and other medicinal plants grow in abundance here. From this valley Sandakphu is 4 kilometers but the route is extremely steep and the journey arduous. Buddhist flags surround Kalpokhri Lake and you will have an awe-inspiring view of the Sandakphu from this place. Once you reach Sandakphu, you will be mesmerized by the fascinating view of some of world’s highest peaks.

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Monsong is a lovely little quaint village located in the charming eastern Himalayan region. It is quite an offbeat destination and a perfect weekend getaway. The beautiful and cool weather, the formidable mountains, the lush green forests of fir, pine, birch shaal, cinchona and cypress, innumerable birds, some endangered animals and hospitable and warm people are some of the characteristics of this charming hamlet, Monsong. It is situated at a short distance of only 8 kilometers from Pedong and 32 kilometers from Kalimpong, the major town.  Sparsely populated and far from the din and bustle of city life, this is an ideal place for rejuvenating the senses; tired body, mind and soul.

How to reach Monsong


Reaching Monsong is easy. You can hire a jeep or take any of the buses plying from Pedong towards Kalimpong/Lava. The road gets bifurcated from Algara and taking one of those split routes towards Sikkim covering 27 kilometers or Rongpo covering 17 kilometers you will reach the misty and foggy land of Monsong. During the summer months the sky is clear and you can experience the best weather. The weather remains cool and with the clear skies you will be able to see the panoramic splendor of the region.

Accommodation in Monsong


You can stay the Jalsa Bungalow also known as Wiaba Village Resort. The resort set up in Monsong is for the discerning travelers who arrive here looking for peace. The resort offers modern amenities to make the guests comfortable. The railway station is 100 kilometers and airport is 105 kilometers from the resort. The rates at the resort changes with season and rooms are mostly available throughout the year. The multi cuisine restaurant serves various delectable dishes to the guests. Other facilities include medical services, airport transportation, parking and round the clock room service. Home stays are also available if you want to experience the local lifestyle.

Attractions in Monsong


If you are craving for some activity, then fishing, trekking, sightseeing, farm activities and adventure camping are some options for you. Now, while trekking to the nearby hill you will admire the Himalayan range fully visible from here in its full glory. The Teesta valley is also clearly visible from here with the mighty river sprawling through the region. This valley was famous for cinchona plantation in the early times.

All in all Monsong is a charming village near Pedong offering ample opportunity for rest as well as activities for the tourists.

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Rikisum is a beautiful and almost isolated village in the Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling District in West Bengal. 15 kilometers to the north of Kalimpong, this quaint hamlet is only an hour’s drive from the main town. The hilltop settlement welcomes you with open arms to savor the unspoiled beauty of the village in its full glory. Since it falls on the PedongLava Road the village enjoys an elevation from which the mighty Kanchenjunga and other peaks are clearly visible. The towns of Gangtok and Pedong also present a panoramic from this village.

How to reach Rikisum


Reaching Rikisum is not difficult at all. You can either visit Rikisum on a trip from Kalimpong or arrive at the place directly by hiring a jeep from New Jalpaiguri Station. It is only 1 hour drive from Kalimpong town.

Accommodation in Rikisum


The only accommodation facility in Rikisum is the Swarnasikhar Lodge which is a cozy place with cottage like accommodation units. There are 2 cottages with 3 rooms of double beds and attached bathrooms. Basic amenities are provided in this lodge along with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Guided tours and treks will be arranged by the lodge if you ask for it. The price for lodging is 1534 INR + 3.09% service tax per person. An alternative to this lodge is the home stay available in Rikisum.

Attractions in Rikisum


Rikisum offers a soothing environment and a fantastic weather. While on a journey to reach Rikisum you will be welcomed by meandering Teesta and in the evening you will be lulled by the hypnotic starry sky. There is a point 2 kilometers from Rikisum village offering the best view of the majestic Kanchenjunga. Also the Damsang Fort can be reached within 15 minutes from the lodge. You can either trek to the fort or hire a taxi. Pedong is also nearby and you can trek to the place and explore its beauty.

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Meghma is a mystic village situated at the Singalila Ridge at an elevation of 9,514 feet. Megh means cloud and this mystic village is mostly enveloped by clouds throughout the year. The beauty of the hamlet lies in its scenery and weather. Tourists who have visited Meghma once in their lives love to come back to the land of clouds over and over again. About 9 kilometers from Manebhanjan on the way to the famous peak Sandakphu of Singalila range, Meghma is a pristine beauty. Meghma has a tranquil atmosphere which will make you feel relaxed and sleepy.

How to reach Meghma


It is located on the border area of India and Nepal. The area is quite heavily guarded by the Border Security Force posted all along the route. However, no checking is performed by the forces because it is treated as a freeway by the neighboring countries. There are points where the road intersects the regions of India and Nepal but the friendly relations between the countries have enabled this route to be neutral. As mentioned earlier, Meghma is reached by trekking the route towards Sandakphu from Manebhanjan. The road is steep and hence it will take around 3.5 hours to reach Meghma.

Accomodation in Meghma


There is a small cottage which doubles up as a tea house in the heart of Meghma run by Indra Adhikari. This hut welcomes trekkers and non trekking tourists to stay at night. The interior is made of wood and occupied by low furniture and a large central dining table. It is quite cozy considering the temperature outside the hut. Indra Adhikari serves fantastic tea to the visitors and during winters you can always get inside the kitchen to warm yourself from the earthen oven. You will be accompanied by local people from the village also. The rooms have basic amenities and the toilet is downstairs. The buckets filled with water usually freeze during the winter season. Indra prepares food for the guests himself. There is also Sailung Lodge where the tourists can put up.

Attractions in Meghma


While you halt at Meghma for a day you can visit the local Sangchen Ugagyur Hoshal Dechen Choling Monastery nearby. The villagers will tell you that there is a monk praying inside it for the past 3 years and he never comes out in the open. You can also chat with the security force officers; they are amiable. Start early the next day from Meghma either on foot on the right hand side road or on vehicle on the left hand side road. The left side road leads to Tumling village while the right one leads to Tonglu which is a resting place for the trekkers.

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Kaijlia is a wonderful forest area near Bijanbari which tourists can visit while coming back from Sandakphu. It is 8 kilometers from Bijanbari which is considered as a halt by the trekkers returning from Sandakphu and also by non-trekkers visiting Sandakphu on vehicle. Nature lovers will definitely enjoy a walk through the colorful and enchanting forest full of Mandar, Rhododendron and Chimal trees with thick blossoms. Not only will the flowers fill your senses but also the mountain summits visible through the trail. Various Eastern Himalayan peaks are visible from the trail which will take your breath away. The best part is that very few tourists actually visit this area; so you can have a perfect rendezvous with nature.

Bijanbari is 30 kilometers from Darjeeling and can be reached by buses and cars from Ghoom. After you reach Bijanbari, you can trek to Kaijlia for another 8 kilometers to relish the view. There are no places to stay at Kaijlia. You have to find accommodation in Bijanbari which is aplenty to visit the forest. The road to Kaijlia is steep and not in a good condition. Hence, it is advised to return from the spot as early as possible.

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Bijanbari is a quite a popular town lying in the eastern part of Darjeeling district in West Bengal. It is a town with rich and varied agricultural produce which is its specialty. This beautiful and scenic town is also popular due to its proximity to Sandakphu. Located at a distance of 30 kilometers from Darjeeling, Bijanbari sits at an elevation of 2,500 feet. The Chota Rangeet flows through Bijanbari making it fertile which also helps the extensive tea plantations in this sleepy town. Bijanbari happens to be the headquarters of the Darjeeling Pulbazar developmental block and is basically full of Nepalis.

How to reach Bijanbari


Bijanbari is around 30 kilometers from Ghoom, the highest railway station in the world located in Darjeeling. There are several routes to arrive at Bijanbari. Both buses and cabs are available to reach Bijanbari from Darjeeling. If you are hiring a taxi, then do it from Gandhi Road or Chowk Bazar. Shared jeep is another alternative. Bijanbari trip for a single day is offered by the GTA tourism department the office of which is in Mall Bazar. If you opt for this trip then you will be charged per person and a mini bus or jeep will be the available conveyance for you. You can either pack your lunch or grab a bite at the stalls near the riverside.

Accommodation in Bijanbari


There are plenty of accommodation facilities in Bijanbari though most of them offer basic amenities to guests. The Inspection Bungalow is available for the tourists which must be booked in advance through the State department. Other hotels have nice rooms with common toilets. Bijanbari is also a halt for the trekkers on their return trip to Darjeeling from Sandakphu. Trekkers will not find it difficult to adjust with the existing facilities.

Attractions in Bijanbari


The route through which tourists reach Bijanbari through Ghoom is full of waterfalls, swiftly flowing mountain streams and tea gardens. The Hima Falls which is a popular picnic spot is nearby. Visitors cross the bridge over the stream and enjoy themselves in the lap of nature. Tea gardens like Chontong, Rishihaat and Marybong will also fall enroute to Bijanbari as will pass a 50 ft high rock known as the Bishwanbhar Rock. The special feature of the rock is that it stands straight at a height of 50 feet. The Chota Rangeet river banks are also interesting picnic spots with some small eateries.

Take out some time to see the vast stretches of farm lands in Bijanbari. They cultivate rice, millets, peas, maize, cabbages, tomatoes, cauliflowers and beans. The fruit orchards are also close by where you will find oranges, plums, pineapples and squash in large quantities. Along with the lands you can also visit Jhepi, Thapagaon, Sumbuck villages. Traveling down 2 kilometers from Bijanbari will bring you to Pulbazar where the famous sericulture farmhouse is located. Other places of interest include Shiv Temple in Pulbazar, Pulbazar Haat (market), hydroelectric power plant in Lodhoma, Som Tea Estate, Relling including points Home Dara and School Dara and Gok and Kainjalia picnic spots.

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Srikhola is a beautiful scenic hamlet in Darjeeling District which falls in the trekking route from Phalut and Sandakphu towards Darjeeling and Siliguri. The small river following its meandering course bears the name of Sri and Khola in the Lepcha language means small river and hence the name Srikhola. This village is an admirable halt for trekkers coming down from Sandakphu or Phalut. It offers lovely natural beauty and peace and quiet for the tired travelers. Stay here overnight and start for Rimbik the next day to catch a conveyance to Darjeeling or Siliguri.

How to reach Srikhola


For trekkers Srikhola can be reached via Gurdum at a distance of a little over 16 kilometers from Sandakphu. If you are coming from Phalut, then follow the route through the forests of chestnuts, magnolia, rhododendrons and oaks of Gorkey and Ramman to arrive at Srikhola covering a distance of 26 kilometers. For non trekkers hiring a jeep or traveling in a shared jeep is the best option. The jeeps departing between 6-7am and 11-12pm will take you through Srikhola to reach Rimbik. Srikhola from Manebhanjan takes 3.5 hours on vehicle. The road is not in good condition so it is advised to hire a jeep or Tavera or trekker.

Accommodation in Srikhola


Accommodation in Srikhola is a plenty but there is a Gorkhaland Territorial Administration hut situated close to the river. Advance reservation is required to stay in the hut. Book the rooms or a dormitory from the GTA offices. The other lodging facilities include Goparma Lodge run by Tshering Sherpa and Hotel Shovraj. The Goparma Lodge is a budget accommodation with 7 bedrooms with attached bath and hot water provided in buckets. Hotel Shovraj offers a number of rooms for guests. Whether you are traveling alone, in a group or with your spouse only, this hotel provides clean accommodation facilities. The toilets are common however; there is a restaurant inside the hotel offering delicious food for the guests.

Attractions in Srikhola


Enjoy the scenic beauty of Srikhola while you are staying there on your way to return from Sandakphu or Phalut. You can laze around the bank of the meandering Srikhola River or take a stroll on the hanging wooden bridge. Sit outside the cottages savoring the view and fragrance of the flowers in the garden or visit the Singalila National Park to see Red Panda, Barking Deer, and Himalayan Black Bear. Take a walk through the rhododendron, magnolia and orchid forests or fish in the river. The hotel provides angling gears with which you can capture trout which is the most common variety in the river.

Once you are done with fishing, you can concentrate on bird watching. The hills are the best place to watch rare species of birds which are never found on the plains. Blue magpie is very common in this region. Ask the hotel manager for the route to the corn, pea and cardamom plantation. It is a visual treat. You can also trek to nearby villages of Timburey and Gurdum and Jareo Pokhri, the sacred lake.

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Kolakham, a beautiful land in the clouds facing the mighty Mt. Kanchenjunga is home to 62 Nepali families from the Rai community. Bird watchers and adventurous souls regard Kolakham as paradise on earth because the land is replete with natural abundance. Perched at an altitude of 6200 feet, the hamlet lies on the fringes of the famous Neora Valley National Park in the Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling district. The mountainous village of Lava is located just 8 kilometers from Kolakham. Mt. Kanchenjunga can be viewed from here in its full glory along with other peaks of Eastern Himalaya which include Pandim, Kabru, Siniolchu. Kolakham is 108 kilometers from Siliguri, the gateway to North Bengal.

How to reach Kolakham


Board New Jalpaiguri bound train and get off at the NJP junction then hire car from there to arrive at Kolakham which will take 123 kilometers around 5 hours to reach. The car can also follow the Gorubathan route which takes 117 kilometers marginally less than that of Siliguri. Bagdogra is the closest airport from which you can rent cars.

Accommodation in Kolakham


Kolakham offers well facilitated accommodation units to tourists. The units are Kolakham Eco Hut whose room tariff starts from INR 1600; Pinewood Retreat whose room rent starts from INR 1800; Neora Valley Jungle Camp whose room tariff starts from INR 5000; Silent Valley whose room rent is INR 1200 and Red Panda Eco Hut whose room tariff starts from INR 1800. The rooms have attached bathrooms with hot water facilities and electricity. Most of the rooms offer an enchanting view of the majestic Mt. Kanchenjunga. The rooms have clean beds and comfortable furniture. There are duplex accommodations as well with a garden area which makes for a peaceful retreat.

Attractions in Kolakham


The natural beauty of Kolakham is mesmerizing and taking a leisurely stroll will make you happy and rejuvenate your mind and body. Of course the Neora Valley Park is the major highlight of the region. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the largest biodiversity covering an area of 89 square kilometers. Full of rhododendrons and mountains streams in every nook and cranny, the park is home to the endangered Red Panda. Apart from this rare animal, you will also notice others including wild boar, leopard, sloth bear, Himalayan Flying Squirrel and many more. The King Cobra among the reptiles has also been spotted here. It is also a bird watcher’s paradise.

Nearby attractions in Kolakham


Apart from the park, you can spend time exploring Lava, the small village which also serves as the entry point to Neora Valley National Park. The park offers several trekking trails which leads to Rachela Pass, Tiffin Dara and Jhandi Dara. Another interesting spot is the Changey Waterfall which is 6 kilometers from the village. Water gushing from 400feet above is a rare sight and you can enjoy the sound and also the view after you have reached the spot by trekking 900 feet. If you still have time, then visit the nearby villages of Lolegaon, Rishop, Charcole, Pedong all on the same route.

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Manebhanjan is a tiny hamlet that is located at a distance of approximately 26 km from Darjeeling. From Siliguri it is almost 92 kms away. It is located on the border shared by India with Nepal and it is nestled at a height of 7054 feet. It is also well known as the starting point for the well-known trek to Sandakphu as well as Singalila National Park. The major source of income for people in this small and cozy village is tourism. In fact, Manebhanjan is one place where you will still get to see the Land Rovers in use. The vehicles were in use during the British period and are ideal when it comes to climbing the gravel-filled roads that dot the trail to Sandakphu. There are only a few of them remaining now. You will be amazed when you see how wonderfully the owners treat these cars – it is as if their own brother or sister.

How to reach Manebhanjan


You can go to Manebhanjan from Darjeeling. The route passes through Ghoom, which happens to be the highest railway station in India as well as Sukhiapokhri. A shared jeep can be availed from Chowk Bazaar of Darjeeling or the Club Stand at MG Road. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to reach this place. Other than this, you can avail buses to Sukhiapokhri for getting to Manebhanjan. Sukhiapokhri is about an hour from Darjeeling and once you reach this destination you can get to Manebhanjan with a new jeep or bus.

Accommodation in Manebhanjan


Since Manebhanjan is a small village it would be unrealistic to expect Darjeeling-like accommodation over here. Keshav Gurung, a very friendly and well-behaved man, is known to offer the best homestay facility over here. He lives in a double storied house that is at a nice location – in the vicinity of the jeep stand. Mrs Gurung cooks really awesome food and you shall also get fantastic hospitality and commendable cleanliness. There are some other options such as Hotel Exotica, Hotel Kanchendzonga and Hotel Chimal. Jeevan Chetri or Masterji as he is also known, runs Hotel Exotica, is known to be a helpful and knowledgeable person. So you can talk to him as well in case you need to know something or are staying at that hotel.

Attractions in Manebhanjan


The main point for which any tourist will be attracted to this hill station is its status as the starting point for the Sandakphu trek. However, the Singalila National Park and the synonymous range can also be visited from here. There is a market area that you may visit. The village also has a small playground where football tournaments are organized in case of special occasions. So, in case you are around at that time don’t miss out on the games and all the excitement. There is also a rather colorful monastery that is located slightly higher up and is located in a scenic setting – among pine trees.  When you are coming to Manebhanjan from New Jalpaiguri or Siliguri you will pass through Mirik. Be sure to get down over there and visit the wonderful lake.

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