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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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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Samsing is a small hamlet located on the border of Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in the foothills. Enjoying an elevation of 3,000 feet, Samsing is beautiful in its natural glory. The vast landscape, forests, hills, tea gardens add to the charm of this hamlet which is increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination. The village is divided into two sections- the tea garden area and the basti that is the settlement zone which is inhabited by around 2500 people. Samsing is 8 kilometers from Meteli, 15 kilometers from Chalsa, 19 kilometers from Malbazar, 50 kilometers from Mongpong, 80 kilometers from Siliguri and 26 kilometers from Gorumara. The land experiences mild weather throughout the year which is another reason for its popularity as a tourist destination.

How to reach Samsing


Reaching Samsing is easy because it’s accessible by road. It’s a 3 hour drive from Siliguri and the route is most rewarding. It has visually stunning and picturesque landscape which seems like the backdrop of a romantic film. On the National Highway-31 you have to cross Malbazar to reach Chalsa from where its 15 minutes drive to Meteli by taking the left turn. These 8 kilometers is the most rewarding because the road is flanked by sprawling tea gardens- the Samsing and Zurantee tea gardens making the route enchanting. However, the road leading to Samsing is quite narrow so one must drive carefully.

Accommodation facilities in Samsing


Samsing provides plenty of accommodation facilities to the tourists. Suntalekhola is the ideal place to stay and most of the tourists put up at the cottages here. Suntalekhola is about 4 kilometers uphill from Samsing and has well facilitated cottages and bungalows maintained by West Bengal Forest Department. Cross a small hanging bridge to arrive at the government resort at Suntalekhola. Alternatively, you can stay at the Rocky Island Nature Resort which is located on the banks of Murti River. You will be provided tents for overnight stay to enjoy the beautiful and mysterious atmosphere of the region. If you wish to see the lifestyle of the local people, then Faribasti homestay will be the best option for you. Experience their hospitality and also their love for nature.

Attractions in Samsing


Staying at any of these places will be a treat for your eyes because of the pristine nature and of course the meandering Murti River. The river turbulently flows from Neora Valley National Park through Samsing to reach Jaldhaka near Gorumara National Park. You can also hear the sound of the water splashing against the rocks. At Suntalekhola you will notice a beautiful orange stream flowing through the land and making it picturesque. Suntalekhola and Rocky Island also serve as picnic spots for local people along with Laliguras which is again a beautiful place with lush greenery amidst mountains.

For adventure take the trek routes originating from Suntalekhola leading to Neora Valley national Park. But you must seek permission from the forest department to enter the park. Other trekking routes lead to Tree Fern Point and Mo or Mo Chaki from where the Himalayan Mountains are visible on one side. The snow covered Jalep La pass is also visible from here.

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Rachela Pass is the trade route between India (Sikkim) and Bhutan located at an elevation of 3152 meters. This scenic beauty of a pass is an oft visited tourist attraction and experiences footfall round the year. Especially tourists loving adventure visit this pass and feel like they have achieved something. Part of the Chola Range bordering Sikkim and Bhutan the ridge is 4700 meters also happens to be the source of other passes like the Jelep La and Nathu La; both these are extremely popular and of course in use passes. Rachela Pass lies in the southern end of the ridge.

Attractions and Trekking route in Rachela Pass


Rachela Pass is a trekking route 12 kilometers from Lava through the Neora Valley Nature Reserve which is entered through Lava. So, you must reach Lava from Kalimpong to trek this beautiful but arduous route. The route however difficult and steep it is, also offers scenic beauty of magnolias, rhododendrons and bamboo trees. It takes about 3-4 hours to arrive at Rachela Pass through the steep road. The scenic beauty along the route mesmerizes the trekkers and makes them forget about their tiredness.

The total trekking trip of which Rechela Pass is a part is completed in 4 days. Rachela Pass is virtually considered as a junction between Sikkim, Bhutan and Bengal. It used to be a trade route in the past. One of the most significant trade routes in the history of India, one could witness mules carrying merchandize within countries. The tracks are still noticeable. You can also spot the 4 chief ridges dividing the valleys known as Neora, Rishi, Rangli and Jaldhaka. From Rachela Pass, other passes of Jelep La and Nathu La are visible. Also visible are the Sigalila Range with its proud peak Kanchenjunga, world’s 3rd highest and also the entire Chola Range.

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Established in 1986 Neora Valley National Park is located near Lava in Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling District. Covering an area of 89 square kilometers this park is of the richest biosphere reserve in India. Open from 8 am to 12 noon, 1pm – 4pm. It is closed on Thursdays. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations and is growing rapidly in importance due to the number of tourists and also due to the diverse flora and fauna of North Eastern Himalayas. Located at a distance of 32 kilometers from both Lava and Samsing which is the border area, Neora Valley National Park has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Entry fee to this awesome reserve is INR 20.

Covering an area of 89 square kilometers this park is of the richest biosphere reserve in India. Often referred to as the land of the endangered Red Panda, it offers a staggering variety of vegetation and also birds. The nature lovers will be overwhelmed by the abundance of rhododendrons, bamboo groves and mountain streams. The highest point of Neora Valley National park is 10,500 feet which is the Rachela Pass.

How to reach Neora Valley National Park


Both buses and cars can take you to North East India’s biggest biodiversity zone, Neora Valley National Park. Buses plying from Siliguri will take you to Kalimpong from where Lava is 32 kilometers. The entry point of Neora Valley National Park is through Lava. There is an alternative route through Samsing for which you have to reach Chalsa from Siliguri which is 65 kilometers. From Chalsa Samsing is about 18 kilometers from where you can enter the biological zone. Accommodation is obviously in Lava or Samsing depending on whichever route you are taking.

Attaractions in Neora Valley National Park


The geography of the Neora Valley National Park is unique. The heavy growth in the forest sometimes even restricts the sunlight from entering the forest. It is also known as the Virgin Forest and quite true to its name much of the forest land is yet to be discovered pushing the adventure lovers to explore those inaccessible parts. The Neora River is the primary water resource of Kalimpong.

The flora of the region is diverse and the virgin wilderness supports tropical, sub-tropical, temperate and sub-temperate vegetation inside it. Mixed species of bamboo, sal, oak, ferns, rhododendrons and various types of orchids can be found in the park. The fauna supported by the forest environment is even more diverse. Red panda, sloth bear, Himalayan Flying Squirrel, wild boar, leopard cat, goral, serow, civet are some of the mammal species living in the forest. Others include lizards, king cobra, green pit viper, moths, bugs, wasps, cicadas.

Neora Valley National Park is also known as the bird watchers’ paradise. Some of the most sought after birds can be spotted here within areas of 1600m-2700 meters. Birds like Jerdon’s Baza, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Tragopan, Golden-throated Barbet, White-browed Bush Robin, White-tailed Robin can be seen.

Trek to Neora Valley National Park


This is also a trekkers’ paradise because he/she can explore the diversity while climbing up to the highest point of the park which is the Rachela Pass. Jaributi is a particular point inside the park which is full of medicinal plants. Other interesting points include the Tiffin Dara and the Red Panda Camp.

You must obtain the permit to enter the park from forest range offices in Lava and Samsing and nobody is allowed in the park after sunset.

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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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