Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is located at the Eastern Himalayan foothills in Alipurduar sub-division of Jalpaiguri district in the state of West Bengal.  It covers an extensive area of 216 square kilometers and is a maze of grasslands, perennial streams, woods, extensive belts of tall grass and sandy river banks. The beauty of the forest lies in the fact that it is home to an amazingly wide variety of flora and fauna with some endangered species. The one horned rhinoceros in particular is the most famed one inhabiting the forest. Jaldapara was declared to be a wildlife sanctuary in 1914 to preserve the diverse flora and fauna of this land. Rivers Torsha, Malangi, Kalijhora, Sissmara and Chirakhawa have created banks along which the wildlife sustains itself.

How to reach Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary


Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is easily accessible by air, road and railway. The nearest airport is Bagdogra which is 145 kilometers away from Jaldapara. You have to reach Siliguri which is only 13 kilometers from Bagdogra by arranging a car or hiring a taxi. Alternatively, you can take the train to arrive at New Jalpaiguri Junction which is the major station in North Bengal. However, you can also arrive at Madarihat, Birpara/Hasimpara to reach the sanctuary which is 7 and 20 kilometers from the respective stations. If you are traveling by car, then it’s a drive through the NH-31 and once you reach Siliguri it is only 3 hours drive from there. Madarihat is the entry point of the sanctuary public buses of North Bengal and Bhutan ply on the Alipurduar route via Madarihat to reach the sanctuary.

Accommodation in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary


Accommodation facilities are a plenty in and around Jaldapara. Aranya Bhawan is the Jaldapara holiday home located in Madarihat. It is only 1.5 kilometers from the main entrance of Jaldapara and on a clear day you can see the majestic Kanchenjunga from here. It offers 1 double bed room and 2- 4 bedrooms with modern amenities. The double bedroom costs 1200 INR while the 4 bedrooms cost 1800 INR. Food at the restaurant costs 350-400 INR. The Hollong Tourist Lodge enjoys a central location with the forest which is thrilling. There are 5 double bedrooms priced at 2500 INR. This is the most preferred accommodation for adventurous tourists. The Jaldapara Tourist Lodge is situated in front of the main gate. They offer 5 double bedrooms divided into cottages and a suite priced at 2500 INR. Food is provided inside the lodge.

Attraction and activities in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary


Lapard at jungle

Lapard at jaldapara National Park in west bengal

Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is most famous for Asiatic one horned rhinos and you will spot many while you explore the forest on elephant back. Other animals found here include barking deer, tigers, elephants, sambhar, wild boars, bisons and hog deer. This place is a bird watcher’s paradise since it offers the greatest variety of birds in Bengal. Birds like Hornbill, Racket-Tailed Drongo and Asian Paradise Fycatcher, Green Pigeons, Doves, Bee-eaters, Rollers, Hoopoe, Shrikes, Bengal Florican, Black partridge, Shaheen Falcon, Great Pied Hornbills, Forest Eagle Owl, Large Green billed Malkoha and White Rumped Vulture are spotted here.

Some other places of interest include Totapara, Chilapata, Khayerbari, Gorumara National Park, Buxa Tiger Reserve and Bhutan Ghaat.

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Chatakpur Eco Resort is located on Siliguri-Darjeeling Road and is only 7 kilometers from Sonada and 18 kilometers from Jorbanglow. Enjoying an elevation of 7887 feet, this lovely little hamlet has only 90 villagers and is being developed by the forest department as an eco resort for tourists. It is an ideal destination for people seeking peace and quiet in the Himalayan Mountains. Amidst the lush greenery, wooden cottages, forest trails and the majestic Kanchenjunga, this is a paradise on earth. The best place for bird watchers, Chatakpur offers that much awaited freedom and freshness from the confined city life.

How to reach Chatakpur Eco Resort


This dreamy village is easily accessible by air, road and railway. From Bagdogra tourists can arrive at Chatakpur by hiring a car covering 80 kilometers. If you are looking for an alternative, then the toy train from Ghoom will take you to the dreamy hamlet of Chatakpur in 3-4 hours covering 87 kilometers. if you are coming by road, then NH 55 will take you to the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary of which the Chatakpur Eco Resort is a part. If you are already staying in Darjeeling, then take Hill Cart Road to reach Chatakpur Eco Resort.

Accommodation in Chatakpur Eco Resort


Accommodation is aplenty in Chatakpur. The 2 cottages constructed by the forest department offers clean lodging along with all modern facilities to the guests. All the 4 rooms have double bed accommodation. However, advance booking is recommended for the cottages. Home stay is another lovely alternative for the tourists who love to explore the land through the eyes of the local villagers. A unique feature of this village is that they indulge in organic farming and tourists can hand pick vegetables from the farm lands to be cooked and eaten by them.

Attractions in Chatakpur Eco Resort


The major attraction in Chatakpur Eco Resort is the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary within which the small settlement is found. The sprawling sanctuary covers an area of 38.88 square kilometers at an altitude of 1500-2600 meters. Beautiful waterfalls and brooks will entertain you all the way. Bird watching is the most popular activity in Chatakpur Eco Resort. Prinia, Blue Fronted Redstart, Verditer Flycatcher and Blue Magpie are some of the beautiful and colorful birds you can spot here. Apart from the birds, you might get a glimpse of the famous Red Panda if you are fortunate enough. Other animals inhabiting the forest include Leopards, Barking Deer, Antelopes and Himalayan Black Bear.

Trekking Opportunity


There is plenty of trekking opportunity for the adventure lovers. Trek to the famous Tiger Hill and you will have the greatest moment of your life when you will watch the formidable Mt. Everest, Chumbalumba is local language. Climb at the top of the watchtower and capture the panoramic view of Sandakphu and you can also visit the Pokhri for bird watching. Take guided trekking tours to the neaby Labda, Sixeen and Rimbi Village as well. If you are directly arrived at Chatakpur, then visiting Darjeeling will be a good idea. Come back and enjoy the folk dances of the local people around the fire.

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Lava is a small beautiful hamlet in Darjeeling district located 34 kilometers east of Kalimpong. One of the popular destinations Lava means the land with the presence of God. True to the meaning of its name, Lava is paradise on earth. With an elevation of 7,016feet, it is one of those few places in West Bengal to experience snowfall which is one of the major attractions to his charming village. The heavy forests covering the land mostly consist of wet alpine trees of birch, pine and fir and the forest here is a deciduous one. However, during the rainy season the forest is infested with leeches for which tourists are advised to carry salt, stick and occasionally knives with them.

How to reach Lava


If you are traveling from Kalimpong, then you will arrive in Lava through Algara and the journey will take around 2 hours. Buses ply regularly to Lava from Kalimpong at 6:30 and 10 in the morning. While traveling from Siliguri covering a distance of 105 kilometers you will reach Lava via Gorubathan by Damdim road. Besides, jeep can always be hired both from Siliguri and from Kalimpong to reach Lava. The journey by road is wonderful with tall trees and colorfully fragrant flowers of Chanp, Chimol, Cryptomoria. During the months of April-May which is considered to the best time to visit Lava, the route is filled with different types of orchids as well.

Chunabati road on the way from Lava to Loleyaon

Chunabati road on the way from Lava to Loleyaon

Road distances from Lava (approx)

Lava to Bagdogra Airport – 112 km
Lava to New Jalpaiguri Railway Station – 105 km
Lava to Changey Waterfall – 14 km
Lava to Tiffin Dara view point – 9 km
Lava to Loleyaon (Kaffer village) – 22 km
Lava to Charkhole Loleygaon-  34 km
Lava to Neora Valley National Park – 10 km
Lava to Rishyap – 11 km
Lava to Rache La Pass – 12 km
Lava to Kalimpong – 34 km
Lava to Gumabadara Village – 12 km

Attractions in lava


The biggest highlight of Lava is the Neora Valley National Park (Open from 8am to 12noon, 1pm – 4pm. It is closed on Thursdays) which is a wildlife reserve located around 10 kilometers from the center of the village. This area is popularly known as the Virgin Forest area and is a visual treat with mountains, dense green forest, a rivulet and a wide species of animals and birds. Entry fee to this awesome reserve is INR 20 and the area is divided into Upper Neora Valley which is in Lava and Lower Neora Valley near Samsin. For wildlife lovers, the concerned authorities are beginning a project on eco camps where they can stay and enjoy the wild atmosphere. Some of the and animals spotted here include Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, tiger, leopard, deer. There is ample scope of bird watching in these forests and you can spot birds like Scarlet Finch, Rusty-bellied Shortwing, Blue-fronted Robin, Broad-billed Warbler, Yellow-throated Fulvetta and many more.

Trekking at lava


Trekking can be done through the forest trail but with permission from the forest authority. You can also trek to Lava peak once you have reached Rache La pass located at an elevation of 3152 meters. Jalep La is also nearby. The Chhangey falls is another specialty of this region located at a distance of only 14 kilometers. Other attractions include Buddhist Monastery Kaju Thekcheling Institute, plant nursery, glass house.

Accommodation in Lava


Lava has plenty of accommodation units. You can either put up at the forest Bungalow in Gorubathan or at the hotels in the village. The hotels are actually partial homes of the locals with basic amenities and reasonably priced rooms. However, you will not suffer from any kind of problem there. In fact, it will provide the opportunity to know the local people from the village.

Lava Nature Resort by WBFDC
Authorized Agent by WBFDC
43 Sarat Bose Road , Hakimpara Siliguri – 734 001, Dist.-Darjeeling,WB, India

Orchid Hotel, Lava
Tariff Rs. 1,000/1,200

Yankee Resorts, Lava Bazaar
Tariff Rs. 1,000/2,000

Himalaya Inn, Lava Bazar
Tariff Rs. 859

Hotel Choice, Lava
Tariff Rs. 550/600

Safari Hotel, Lava
Tariff Rs. 700/1,600

The Sana Homestay, Lava Road
Tariff Rs. 1855

Hotel Paradise, Lava

Parker Hotel, Lava Bazaar
Tariff Rs. 700/1,200

Neora Velley Eco Huts, Lava
Tariff Rs. 1,200/2,200

Hotel Devika, Lava
Tariff Rs. 1,200/2,200

The Lava Escape, Lava
Tariff Rs. 1,200/2,000

P P Resort, Lava
Tariff Rs. 600/900

Hotel Himalaya, Lava

The Pinewood Resort, Lava

Hotel Lava View Point, Lava

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The Samthar village located about 80 kilometers from Kalimpong is a peaceful destination far from the din and bustle of city life. Located in one of the remotest part of Kalimpong, the Samthar Plateau provides the best possible view of Kancehnjunga– the third highest peak in the world. The scenic beauty of Samthar can only be compared to the creation of a painter with undulating slopes, terraced agricultural lands, lush green forests covering the valley, thatched cottages, small and medium brooks enhancing the beauty of the magnificent landscape. One of the most tranquil natural resorts of India, Samthar sits at an elevation of 1400-1600 meters.

How to reach  Samthar Village


Visitors can reach Samthar village from NJP railway station or Bagdogra airport through Kalijhora and Pongbu in about 2 and a half hours. If you are traveling from Kalimpong it will take the same time through Rili and Sinji valleys. If you are visiting Samthar from Lava, then your vehicle will travel around 24 kilometers enroute to Loleygaon to arrive at Samthar. The road in most parts is rough but is equally beautiful with forest views full of oaks, pines, juniper.

Attractions and Trekking at Samthar


Home stays are excellent opportunities to know the village community. The hosts will make sure to take you around the village to meet different local families and inform you their lifestyle. You can also take a look around their agricultural lands and visit the Awake & Shine School where kids and adults of the community learn to make different bamboo products and cook various local dishes. If you are staying for a long time, then you will have time to visit the following:

Trekking Routes

Trekking from Kalimpong to Samthar / Samthar to Kalimpong

One of the most popular treks from Samtahar to Kalimpong takes about 6 hours. The first phase of trek descends to virgin Relli Khola (stream) Valley and then again a steep trek route climbs to Kalimpong after crossing the Relli stream. One can also reach Samthar from Kalimpong by the same way.

Trek to Samthar Top or Upper Lish River Valley

A forested ridgeline overlooking the valley, the highest spot in Samthar. The hilltop provides good view of the Samthar village and surrounding forests and Jhoras or small stream tribute to the Lish River far below. There is no human habitation in that hill and is ideal for bird watching and trekking. Dense forest cover makes the place a good birding area. To get better collection of birds it is advisable to camp overnight or start from the village one hour before sunrise.

Trek to Pongbu

A small village on the top of a ridge overlooking the Teesta River Valley and the vast plain lands of Terai Ponbu is nice refreshing trek in the lower Kalimpong hills. On the Western slopes there are a number of Jhoras running down to the Ponbu Khola and then farther down to Tista. These streams form small isolated valleys. It is a day trek and accommodation is arranged in privet village huts or in treks.

Trek to Dong Khola Valley, Solag and Nazeok village

In the remote areas of Kalimpong hills these places are some of the new areas for exploration and becoming vastly popular for the nature trekkers.

Trekking for Samthar Culture 

In the  early morning with the chirping of birds and the cry of the rooster to walk to the top of the terraced nature garden. Sit atop a rock and sip your tea, whilst you take in the breathtaking view, as the sun rises, and the first rays touch the snows. Weather permitting, you see the entire panorama of snows – Khangchenganga group of peaks, Simvo, Siniolchu, Lama Anden, Chomoyomo, and Paunhari, and then in an easterly arc the passes of Chola, Natula, and Jalepla, leading into Tibet. After the breakfast, trek around the Samthar plateau for 03 hrs Return to Samther for lunch. After lunch another 02 hrs trek to nearby hamlets. Meet people in their homes and fields to get a glimpse of rural lifestyles.  In the evening sample local Millet beer “Chang” served in traditional bamboo containers, in lamp lit atmosphere.

Trek to  Lepcha Valley

Another chance to view the sunrise. After breakfast take a full days trek to remote Lepcha valley. See flora, birds, traditional Lepcha houses, and a 100 years old Lepcha temple. Meet people in their homes and fields. After picnic lunch return by a different route.

Trek to Teesta Valley (Sepkhola and 27 miles) through Samco Ropeway

A 5 to 6 hours downward trek through rolling hill slopes descends to the confluence of Tista and Riang River at Tista Valley. It is around 12km from Samthar. You will get Ralei Khola (Relli Khola) river beside most of the trekking rout. Take a break for a picnic lunch. After lunch cross the  Teesta River over a  suspension bridge or take the Samco Ropeway for 27 miles to access the Sikkim national highway. The hand pulled ropeway spans across a distance of 1.5 kms over both the Teesta and Rellia River. The ropeway is built 120 feet over both the rivers. Take busses or Jeep for Siliguri which is 38 km form 27miles or drive to next destination.

Accommodation in Samthar Village


Staying in Samtahr is fun because you receive an opportunity to experience the hospitality of the Samthar community. The community comprises of Lepchas, Nepalis and Bhutias offering home stay facility to the tourists. The community home stay facility has been developed under the Project Awake & Shine which creates awareness among tourists for responsible tourism. This sort of accommodation facility is designed to provide all sorts of comfort to the tourists in a rural atmosphere at an affordable price. They provide spacious rooms with linen and attached toilet. Room heaters in winter and hot water in summer are available. Additional beds can be arranged for children. You can also put up at the Samthar Farm House set up by General Jimmy Singh.

Dining is available at these home stays with delicious food along with high quality cutlery, crockery and table linen. You can also choose the traditional floor arrangement. Food is cooked on wood fire and you will be served with western style breakfast, local vegetarian lunch and non vegetarian dinner. You can either order for pork or chicken cooked in Lepcha/Nepali/Bhutia style depending on whose home you are staying.

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