Latpanchar is a small and wonderful hamlet near Kalijhora which is also a part of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. Only 13 kilometers from Kalijhora, you should not miss this beautiful and unspoiled forest village with an average elevation of 4,200 feet. The best part of Latpanchar visit is that you will be able to see many wild animals, birds and enjoy dense vegetation as it is a section of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. It is an ideal place for forest lovers. However, in spite of such natural splendor Latpanchar has yet to become a primary tourist destination in the Eastern Himalayas.
How to reach Latpanchar
Latpanchar can be easily reached from New Jalpaiguri Station within 1.5 hours by car/taxi. It is only 44 kilometers away from this railway station and taxi fare is around 1600 INR. The car will take Sevoke Road to reach Kalijhora and from there a narrow winding road uphill will take you to Latpanchar covering 13 kilometers in around 1 hr drive. The condition of the road is not good and hence you must keep some precautions like medicines for nausea. Jeeps are easily available on this route.
Accommodation in Latpanchar
The forest rest house known as the Latkuthi Bungalow is the best place to stay in Latpanchar. It has 2 lovely rooms with basic facilities. However, this place must be booked in advance from West Bengal Forest Development Corporation. Alternative option is the Cinchonest Home Stay offered by Padam Gurung. It has 3 rooms with attached bathroom and hot water. The rooms have balcony and the view of the Himalayan range is awesome. Delicious vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is served to the guests thrice and tea with snack is also provided. The rent is 925 INR. The best part of home stay is that you get to know the locals from close quarters.
Attractions in Latpanchar
Latpanchar is famous for its diverse flora and fauna and also the cinchona plantations covering 1400 acres of land. Walking through the forest and the plantation is a memorable experience especially if you are bored of the city life. Just taking a stroll on the winding forest road is refreshing especially early in the morning. The Ahal Dara view point is close by from where the sunrise appears stunning. Look below to see the wide spread forest and Teesta River flowing in its own course. On clear days the view of the Silk Route, Kalimpong and Gangtok cities is striking. At a little distance is Namthing Pokhri, the lake which is flanked by cinchona plantation. Himalayan Salamander and different types of birds often visit this place.
Sarsari Dara is another view point which offers a breathtaking view of the scintillating Kanchenjunga during sunrise and sunset. Other peaks and the small hamlets at foothills look like a painting on a large canvas. This view point is about 1.5 kilometers from Latpanchar. The biodiversity of Latpanchar is staggering with over 240 species of birds and 36 kinds of animals. Elephants, Himalayan Black Bear, mountain goats and even leopards can be found here. Scaly Thrush, Yuhina, Minla, Drongo, Magpie, Spotted Eagles and many more birds flock here throughout the season. The best time to visit Latpanchar in its full glory is during October through April.