Garuchira village eco tourism is a brilliant initiative of the government to assist development in the hilly region of north Bengal. The government bungalow as part of the tourism is located in Bandapani Bil, Dalgaon Range of Jalpaiguri Forest Division. Garuchira is located at a distance of 80 kilometers from Jalpaiguri and is a beautiful place surrounded by rivers. The eco tourism spot is a lovely one with elephants making rounds of the place. Its position in the foothills of Bhutan gives it a special place in the heart of the tourists. The peaceful ambiance and the vast greenery attract tourists to this heavenly place.

How to Reach Garuchira Village


Garuchira is around 80 kilometers from Alipurduar and you can reach the place by hiring a car from either Jalpaiguri or Alipurduar. Get down at the New Jalpaiguri railway station and take a taxi/car to Garuchira via Birpara. Dalgaon is another station where you can disembark from the train to arrive at Garuchira.

Accommodation in Garuchira Village


The eco spot at Garuchira has 3 cottages which have basic amenities for the guests. The cottages can accommodate 3 people at a time. Food is provided at the cottages. Plans for 2 more cottages and 5 tents are on the pipeline.

Attractions & Activities in Garuchira Village


Garuchira eco spot lies between the holy Supti and Reti Rivers making the land fertile and adding to the charm of the region. Fresh air, lot of greenery and peaceful atmosphere works wonders on the mind and soul of the visitors. The forest is full of Saal and Teak trees which you can explore with the guide. There is a watchtower at the eco spot from where you can frequently spot elephants. Garuchira serves as the gateway to the elephants from the neighboring land of Nepal. During the rainy season the rivers overflow and it looks extremely beautiful.

There is also a children’s park at Garuchira eco spot and also a man-made tank full of fish. You will find various species of colorful fish swimming inside the tank and holding your attention. For the adventure loving souls you can follow the trekking trail around 10 kilometers from the forest and reach Bhutan Hills. There is a monastery and a cement factory at Gomtu in Bhutan which is only 5 kilometers from Garuchira. Also visit the kali Temple in Makrapara close to Gomtu. Experience sheer bliss in these lands among the local village people and the wildlife free from your worries.

Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Aanup Ghosh

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The Jhalong river camp on the banks of river Jaldhaka is a natural resort in the wilderness of Himalayan foothills known as Dooars. Jhalong is a small village which has been included in the eco tourism initiative taken up by West Bengal Forest Development Corporation. Visitors seeking peace amidst nature will find this place attractive with its pristine beauty. It is actually located on the Indo-Bhutan border which adds to the thrill of the visitors. The place is full of orange orchards, small houses amidst rolling hills and lush greenery. The Jaldhaka hydel power project of phase 2 is the highlight of the region.

How to Reach Jhalong River Camp


Jhallong is around 103 kilometers from Siliguri which is considered to be the gateway of North Bengal. It takes more or less 3 hours to arrive at Jhallong from SIliguri in bus or by a car. From Chalsa Jhallong is 55 kilometers and if you are travelling by train, you have to reach at New Mal junction. The nearest airport is Bagdogra. The route leading to Bindu-Jhallong is beautiful with forests, villages, hills and elephant corridors. This zone is famous for animal viewing where you can find leopards, bison, deer and of course elephants. The first glimpse of Jhallong from a hilltop is absolutely out of the world.

Accommodation in Jhallong River Camp


The best option for accommodation is the Jhallong river camp along the banks of Jaldhaka River. You have to leave your camp at the check post before entering the charming river camp. A small wooden footbridge over the meandering Jaldhaka and massive boulders will take you to the camps developed by WBFDC. There are 10 tents in the area and all are well facilitated and insulated to provide protection from the cold outside. The bed inside the tent is huge and the bathroom is attached to the room. They also have a small dressing unit for the visitors and a camp cot outside tents. The cost for the river camps is 1200-1500 INR depending on the bedrooms.

Attractions & Activities in Jhalong River Camp


Apart from the pollution free mesmerizing weather, there is another advantage of living in the camp; the performance of the local people. In the evening you can witness a lovely song and dance performance by the local people while feasting on hot momos and barbecued chicken. For dinner the Hakka noodles and Chilli chicken is highly recommended. In the morning and also during the evening you will be served with high quality fragrant tea to calm your taste buds.

They can arrange Barbeque and Camp Fire with extra cost. Camp Fire costs around 500/- and Barbeque depends on the amount of Chicken you’d take. Chicken cost cost may vary 400/ – to 500/- per KG.

Wake up to the gushing sound of the Jaldhaka in the morning and admiring the sunrise over the mountains while sipping a cup of hot tea. Once you have finished the breakfast start the day with a village tour followed by a visit to the hydel power station. If you love the river most, then you can angel in it for sometime or go bird watching. Brown Dipper, Little Fortail, Crested Kingfisher, Slaty-backed Forktail, Eurasian Wryneck, Laughing Thrush are some the species you will notice. Since the entire region is full of trekking trails you can take one to reach Todey and Tagta points to admire the panoramic view.

Photo Courtesy: krishnandusarkar.com

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Rocky Island is an upcoming tourist destination in the Samsing hills of Dooars region in northern Bengal. The name Rocky Island promises lot of adventure and the place actually fulfills them. The name not only promises adventure but also evokes images of big and small rocks making an interesting trail for the tourists to follow. Well, the place has it all and once you reach there you will know that it has lived up to your expectations. You will spot massive rocks on the island named as Bhimsen, Hansdunga, Pathar Kailas, and Neel Kanta. Rocky Island is about 3 kilometers uphill from Suntalekhola and is an enchanting place away from the crowds amidst the sound of the flowing Murti River.

How to reach Rocky Island


how-to-reach-rocky-island-state-of-west-bengalRocky Island is only 3 kilometers from Suntalekhola and can be travelled on foot only. You can arrive at Suntalekhola by getting down at New Mal junction if you are traveling by train and rent a trekker to reach Samsing which is only 34 kilometers from the junction. Do not forget to bargain the charge with the driver. Suntalekhola is uphill about 3 kilometers from Samsing. The entire route is charming with lush tea gardens, mountains and small brooks. You will see and feel nature bounty in this place and breathe some fresh air. The Bagdogra airport is around 75 kilometers from Suntalekhola.

Accommodation in Rocky Island


rocky-island-state_of_west_bengal3Visitors can stay overnight at Rocky Island. The Rocky Island Adventure Camp is the perfect place for adventure enthusiasts. The best part about the eco resort is that the owners haven’t fallen prey to commercialization of the place. It still holds its natural charm which enthralls and allures tourists. Accommodation is available in the form of tents to provide the real feel of camping. The double and single bed rooms with attached baths cost between 800 and 1200 INR while the ones with unattached facility costs 800 INR. The dome rent facility is available at 400 INR and for food you have to spend 250 INR which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Attractions in Rocky Island


The camp provides a great opportunity to explore the diverse flora and fauna of the lower Neora Valley Valley Park. There are caves adjacent to the massive rocks which can be explored by the adventure lovers. Since a number of trekking trails originate from this zone, you can take them to reach different points like Bhalukope, Mouchuki, Jhandidara and Sherpagaon. You can also indulge in rappelling in Rocky Island which is generally not facilitated on hills in India. If you are visiting during summer season, enjoy a bath in the river.

Photo Courtesy: northbengaltourism.com, virtualtourist.com and indiamike.com

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Suntalekhola is a small hamlet located at an altitude of around 750 meters in the Dooars Himalayan foothills of West Bengal. Suntalekhola when translated in English means ‘orange stream’ and is quite a beautiful and peaceful tourist destination. It lies about 4 kilometers from Samsing and is also the south eastern entry point of Neora Valley National Park. The WBFDC cottages or river camp is the best place to stay in Suntalekhola because it offers unhindered view of the beautiful green landscape and the high mountains. A number of trekking routes originate from Suntalekhola most of which lead to the National Valley National Park. This is an added attraction for the adventurous souls.

How to reach Suntalekhola River Camp


Disembark at New Mal junction if you are traveling by train and hire a car to arrive at Samsing which is only 34 kilometers from the junction. Do not forget to negotiate the fare with the driver. Suntalekhola is uphill about 4 kilometers from Samsing. The entire route is charming with lush tea gardens, mountains and small streams. You can feel the nature here and breathe some fresh air. The Bagdogra airport is around 75 kilometers from Suntalekhola.

Accommodation in Suntalekhola River Camp


You will find the deluxe cottages as soon as you cross the check post. There are 4 tents which are names Cruiser, Popinjay, Windmill and Swiss Spangle. The tents are well facilitated for camping. There are attached bathrooms with geysers and also mini steel wardrobe along with dressing units. They also provide fan and light inside the tents. They serve to the guests as well and you can have chicken at dinner. A plastic table and chairs are furnished inside the tent for the guests to use. The Swiss Luxury tent comes at 1200-1400 INR and the Nature Education and Wilderness Resort with 2 bedrooms come at 1100 INR and the suite at 1500 INR. The reservation can be done at the forest department office.

Attractions in Suntalekhola River Camp


You will have a close contact with nature and explore it at your freewill. There is a suspended footbridge in front of the camp area which leads to the Suntalekhola Nature Resort. Here, you can spend time amidst beautiful and colorful flowers and enjoy the sight. Coming so close to nature also provides an opportunity to bird watching. This place is famous for that and you will find Golden-spectacled and Chestnut-crowned Warblers, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Grey Nightjar, White-naped and Black-chinned Yuhinas, Long-tailed Sibia and many more. Apart from bird watching you can trek to the entry point of Neora Valley National Park known as Mouchuki which is 6 kilometers trek from Suntalekhola.

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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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