OFFBEAT NORTH BENGAL

OFFBEAT NORTH BENGAL

A 3 hour scenic drive along the Teesta river from Siliguri in North Bengal takes us to some picturesque Eco friendly villages in this part of the Himalayas.We decided to visit Chota and Bara Mangwa in the spring to imbibe some offbeat culture of Eco tourism in North Bengal.Apart from the strenous uneven 2km diversion from the main village ,the entire journey to the only resort in Chota Mangwa is an alluring journey.Situated on a cliff, the government with the help of locals has built this marvelous resort which entirely runs on solar power.


The complex is decorated with numerous flowers and the resort is situated amidst sparkling greenery.Darjeeling Eco Tourism complex provides a panoramic view of the Teesta valley and the numerous villages settled on the Himalayas.Even on clear sunny mornings the resort boasts of a wide angle view of Mt. Kanchenjunga.The mornings here are covered with the clouds, lingering over the garden and alleys inside the resort.The resort has six cottages in total including two double bedded cottages which are situated at the farthest end to maximise the romantic feelings for a couple.Every cottages have been build with local wood by the natives.The farthest end of the resort has a view point on a cliff from where the distant mountains are easily visible.


View from the Resort.



 

A half an hour jungle trek from the resort leads us to a monastery..The monastery has huge orange garden in it’s backyard which blooms with numerous oranges in the month of the November. The jungle trek to the monastery is precarious along the muddy terrain of the mountains, but we need to accept that some difficult roads leads us to beautiful destinations.The monastery is covered with numerous rhododendrons and himalayan flowers that adds to the charming nature of the foggy ambience. It is obvious that the serene atmosphere of this resort in this tiny hamlet will be a peaceful and soothing memory in a traveller’s mind.


Orange Orchards on the backyard of the monastery.

Next day we started our journey from Chota Mangwa towards Tinchuley. On the way we decided to take some photos of the terrace farming in Bara Mangwa. Bara Mangwa is a quiet hamlet in the North Bengal where people can spend in an Eco friendly atmosphere with a perfect ambience of a traditional farmhouse culture.The village is famous for its orange gardens which attracts numerous Himalayan birds in the winters.While coming down towards Lamahatta from Chota Mangwa we have to pass through this picturesque village.

People here strictly follow a sustainable Eco friendly culture.They grow their own crops and fruits and use solar power as the source of electricity.The village is rich in Bamboo forests on both sides of the highway that adds to the greenery.The locals here work hard everyday ,the results of which can be imbibed from the terrace farming and flower plants inside the village.Rhododendron and dahlia flowers are common in this part of the Himalayas that makes this road trip even more exotic and colourful.


Both Chota Mangwa lies on the same highway so it is easy to visit these alluring villages in a single trip to the enigmatic Himalayas in North Bengal.

Meandering Highway from Chota Mangwa to Lamahatta.

It was our first trip together to the mighty himalayas,so we chose a lesser known hamlet called Tinchuley,which can fetch us fresh colours of the spring and which is devoid of any chaotic crowd.It lies in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, at an altitude of 5800ft above sea level.As we proceeded towards Lamahatta,which is another famous destination before Tinchuley,we encountered various types of flowers on our way including the Rhododendron,Dahlia,Hibiscus,Rajnigandha and several others local flowers which further adds to our delight.Before that first we visited the Lover’s point from where the confluence of Teesta and the Rangit river can be viewed.Tourists can capture a bird eye view of the the river valleys below.Then after few minutes of driving we visited the famous Peshok Tea Garden which is also a famous tea producing factory in kalimpong district.The Peshok tea garden is a famous tourist spot that offers a visit to tea plantations with a panoramic view of the kalimpong and darjeeling mountains.We proceeded towards Lamahatta park which amazed us with its splendid view of the diverse types of seasonal flowers.The Lamahatta park was intersected horizontally with a series of colourful prayer flags that fluttered when the wind blew across the exotic garden.


Bird eye view from Lover’s point.Note the road leading to Sikkim.


View of the landscape from Peshok Tea garden

 

Lamahatta park.

The fluttering flags captured the limelight of every tourist entering the marvelous park as it exhibited like a garland with a spectrum of colours along the length of the park.There is a pine forest at the rear side of the garden as we climb up the stairs towards the fluttering flags.The tall pine trees carves out the scenic park into a more picturesque painting to the eyes of a tourist.The park provides numerous oppurtunities to capture spectographic memories for a traveller.


As the winding road climbs steeply from Lamahatta, it meanders along the green carpet of wild bubble flowers and tea gardens.Just at the start of this hill station we arrive at Gumba Dara view point which offers some breathtaking views of the valley.The valley looks best when it rains in the afternoon.During our 3 day stay in this hamlet, what was common everyday was the slight drizzle that starts in the afternoon.It is the best time to visit this view point as the dark clouds linger above the windward side of the Himalayas and the tea plantation turns into a blanket of rejuvenated green colours of the rain.

Gumba Dara View Point.

The white bubble flowers with the lemon grass add to the colours and fragrance of the entire valley.The white small flowers assist the green colour of the tea garden in featuring like dust of snow scattered on a green carpet.The lemon grass dissipates the lemon flavour into the valley as strong winds blow during the drizzle.Undoubtedly the Gumba Dara view point is a hidden paradise in the Himalayas of North Bengal.


Few options are available for accommodation in this peaceful hill station but all have excellent views of the misty mountains and the scattered towns on them.The word Tinchuley means three “chullas” which refers to the fact that this village is nestled between the three hills.The hospitality which the village provides is remarkable and one gets the feeling of staying in their own home.Passing through the rocky mountainous road,the surreal view of the lush green mountains surrounded by the clouds was immensely pleasing to the eyes.

The three hills like “Chullahs” in Tinchuley.

Gurung guest house offers every adjectives to enhance a calm and soothing stay in this quiet hamlet of the Himalayas .As we enter Tinchuley the first guest house is Abhiraj Homestay, then comes the Gurung homestay,after which we arrive in this pleasant wooden guest house decorated with numerous flowers.There are plenty of flowers in the vicinity of the guest house which adds to the delight of a traveller. The flower plants with the enigmatic colourful prayer flags greets a traveller into the cozy wooden rooms of the guest house.


Each rooms are provided with a balcony that looks onto the the Sikkim and Kalimpong valleys.Every morning and specially when it rains the clouds do enter through the windows of the balcony and creates a charming ambience for the travellers in Tinchuley.

Birds coming in the guest house garden.

There is also a monastery situated at a 5 min walking distance which further leads to a view point.Though due to clouds and fog, most of the time it is difficult to get the proper views of the Sikkim and Kalimpong valley,but the trek to the monastery and the view point through the pine forests garlanded with the prayer flags make the location of this guest house even more enchanting.

Trek to the View Point.

One can also enjoy a calm and serene walk through the pine forests nearby.When it is raining the drizzles create the cloud which hovers over  the pine forests and makes the vicinity of the guest house even more magnificent.The villages on the opposite hill to the guest house have plenty of Rhododendron and Dahlia garden which one can visit by trekking through the pine forests. Tinchuley Gurung guest house serves excellent homely food for Rs.650 per head which includes breakfast ,lunch ,evening tea and dinner.The manager of the guest house will even enchant you with a lovely collection of music in the dining room.The hospitality and homely ambience of Gurung guest house simply acts as a catalyst to make a traveller’s stay in this picturesque hill station even more comfortable.

Clouds hovering near the Guest House.

Main Entrance of Gurung Guest House.

Pine forests are a visual treat to the eyes if we are staying in any of the cozy accomodations in Tinchuley. Tinchuley accomodations for the tourists are few in number,but each one of them have a marvelous view of the Sikkim and Kalimpong mountains from their balcony.Just a couple of kms before entering this hill station,the pine forests starts and continues along the entire length of the main road in this town.

The forests are thick and rich in various wildflowers that grow on the foot of the pine trees in the form of shrubs.Locals showed us lemon grass in these forests the smell of which remains for few days,which are used in brand Liril soaps.Every morning in the months of spring the entire stretch of the pine avenue gets covered with clouds which makes the walk even more romantic.

 


The hovering clouds shouldn’t be confused as fog as surprisingly we didn’t find dew on the leaves.Though the view of the mountains become hazy,yet the soothing atmosphere and the fresh green colours of the misty surroundings adds to the beauty of any landscape picture.One can climb the stairs that lead into the pine forest to visit the quaint villages with beautiful rhododendron flowers, situated at higher altitudes in the vincity of the forests.Visit Tinchuley in spring and take a stroll along this refreshing pine trees to have a fresh breathe of paradise.

Rhododendron Plants in the villages near the guest house.

The hanging bridge and the orchid garden are the major attractions for any tourists in Takdah which is just fifteen minutes drive from Tinchuley. The hanging bridge has been constructed by the locals for connecting two villages over the Teesta river.The bridge is suspended by iron cables on both ends bolted with supporting pillars.The footbridge is made up with wooden panels bolted to the iron cables. Tourists may find it adventurous to walk over the bridge as it swings away on both sides as weight is put on it.While for tourists it may seem to be precarious but for locals it is the only way of communicating to the the main town ,as we saw school kids rushing through the bridge to schools and even motorbikes crossing into the other side.

The path to the bridge is marked with meandering brick road marked by our tricolour flag which has been hoisted at the starting of this tourist spot.

The orchid garden provides some useful informations of this unanimous unique himalayan plant with various colours of blooming flowers.The garden is maintained by the forest department and is well maintained with its scenic landscape The locals here have put down a great effort to decorate the garden that has become a major attraction in Takdah.

The entire teesta valley,which is an hour drive from Tinchuley is covered with tea estates.In the morning local women can be seen plucking the three bud tea leaves with their traditional bamboo bark baskets.The the motorable road passes in between the vast tea plantations providing a mesmerising view of the entire Kalimpong valley.The roads are extremely bumpy and in bad shape but such difficult roads can be tolerated to let us into the fresh green avenues of the tea estates.

We were fortunate enough to experience a changing weather while traversing the tea estates in the entire Teesta valley.The clouds were playing hide and seek with a slight drizzle for few kilometres. When we were near the Durbin Dara view point it was a clear sky with no shades of clouds in the sky.As we proceeded downwards and raeched the Gelle Tea Estate the hovering clouds which we saw at a distant from the Durbin Dara view point started to downpour in the form of a drizzle.

Durbin Dara View Point.

The pine trees in between the tea estates multiplied the serene view of the greenery in the valley.The smell of the lemon grass made the journey even more soothing despite the rough road conditions.

Gelle Tea estate.

On the concluding day I thought of providing a final subtle touch to the tour with a perfect glimpse of the famous destinations that we will confront on our return back to Siliguri. Whenever a traveller is going to any hill stations in North Bengal and Sikkim ,they encounter these two enigmatic destinations in the pictures below.

Sevoke Coronation Bridge.

Triveni 

The first one is that of the Sevoke Coronation bridge built in the memory of the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937.Locals even name this bridge as “Bagh Pool” owing to the face of the two lions at the entrance.Due to its historical significance and location as it connects the  districts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri and Cooch behar ,the bridge is now considered as a heritage site.The bridge is built over the Teesta river which makes a gorge below owing to the high currents of the flowing river.The prayer flags with the view of the green colour of the river makes the the location significantly scenic to a traveller.

The second picture is that of Triveni which is the confluence of the Rangit and Teesta river.The place got it’s name “Triveni” as the three mountains each belonging to Sikkim ,Bhutan and West Bengal meet at this single place.

One must take care of not to cross the the Teesta river bed and go towards the Sikkim side mountain as sometimes when the dam releases water in the upstream side ,the place gets devastatingly flooded.So enjoy the picturesque and alluring scenery by spending time on the Teesta river bed.While facing the Teesta river the mountain lying in the front takes us to Bhutan via Cooch Behar,the left mountain takes us to Sikkim and the mountain on which we stand belongs to the journey of the Himalayan hamlets in West Bengal.

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2 Replies to “OFFBEAT NORTH BENGAL”

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