“So I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference ”The Road not Taken by Robert Frost
Darjeeling – the queen of hills is a famous tourist destination in India. Towered over by Mount Khangchendzonga, Darjeeling has grown to be a vibrant hill-station and a major holiday spot in India.
While Darjeeling in itself is a beauty to explore, behind every road bend lies a surprise. There are many offbeat places near Darjeeling that are waiting to be explored and discovered. Here are 7 such offbeat places near Darjeeling you can visit and enjoy.
Known as the paradise for honeymooners, Lamahatta is situated 20 km from Darjeeling at an altitude of 6800ft. Lamahatta is a peaceful and calm village surrounded by tall pine trees, blossoming orchids, and trek trails. Take a walk down the roads, explore the enchanting eco-park, or walk among the alluring pine trees to get a view of Mount Khangchendzonga – Lamahatta will not disappoint you. You can visit this village throughout the year to escape the chaos of urban life.
35 km away from the bustling Darjeeling town, lies the hidden gem Bara Mangwa. This small quaint hamlet is located overlooking the confluence of River Rangeet and River Teesta and is quickly gaining popularity among the tourist community of India. However, it is still free from the holiday rush and is considered an ideal offbeat place near Darjeeling to visit.
The main attraction of Bara Mangwa is the rolling orange orchards that adorn the hill slopes in this eco-friendly village. It is also an ideal place for bird watchers to visit. During the harvesting season, many Himalayan birds visit these orchards in an attempt to taste the ripe juicy oranges. Apart from the stunning view of the confluence of the two rivers surround by the lofty mountains of Kalimpong, there are many destinations near Bara Mangwa that is worth a visit.
Places like the Takling Phunchok Choling Monastery build in 1915 is an architectural marvel located near Bara Mangwa. Also, the Tinchuley sunrise point is just 9 km from this hamlet, where you can easily witness the first rays of the sun touching the hill slopes in the morning.
If you are visiting Lamahatta, then Tinchuley lays at an hours distance from the place. Situated at 5800ft, Tinchuley one of the most beautiful offbeat places near Darjeeling. What was once just another hamlet tucked in the hills has now emerged as a model eco-urban village in the Darjeeling area, all thanks to the help from the World Wildlife Federation.
Tinchuley is now a self-sufficient eco-friendly village and runs several projects like forest nurseries, vermin-compost manure projects, by-compost projects, and floriculture projects. The name ‘Tinchuley’ is derived from the local language where ‘Tin’ means three and ‘chuley’ means oven. The village has been given such a name as three of the most prominent hilltops that surround the village looks like an oven or chullah from far.
Tinchuley is surrounded by lush green alpine forests and if you want to do something more other than relaxing in the lap of nature, there are many places worth visiting in and around the village. The Tinchuley monastery, Tinchuley sunrise point is located close by and can be covered in a days visit. If you want to see the snowcapped Himalayan mountain ranges, the best time to visit Tinchuley is from mid-September to March, when the sky stays clear of rain clouds.
A well-known place in the trekking community, Sandakphu is known as the trekkers’ wonderland. Perched on the edge of Singalila National Park, Sandakphu is the highest point of West Bengal and offers an astounding view of Mt.Khangchendzonga, Mt. Makalu, Mt. Pandim, Mt Lhotse, and Mt. Everest.
If you are a trekking enthusiast or an amateur trekker, the Sandakphu trekking trail has been handcrafted by God for you. To reach Sandakphu, you have to start trekking from Manebhanjan and cross several small villages to reach your destination. Sandukphu is best explored either from April to May or from October to early December. It is best to avoid this region during the monsoons as the area is prone to landslides.
How would you like to spend your days and nights relaxing among lush forests of rhododendron and oaks trees, exploring trek trails winding between the alpine Himalayan forests, and soaking the breathtaking beauty of snow-capped mountains?
Lepchajagat, located 19 km from Darjeeling is one such village where you can do all of the above in considerable peace away from the cacophony of tourists. At a height of 6959ft, Lepchajagat was once inhabited only by the Lepchas and that’s where it gets the name from. The name of this hamlet literally means the ‘the world of Lepchas’. It now falls under the jurisdiction of the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation and has been declared a reserved forest area.
The serene ambience of this village tucked inside the rhododendron forests has lured many tourists away from the Darjeeling to spend some days in here. Away from the maddening crowd, Lepchajagat is a calm haven for tourists looking for a quiet time away from the hassles of daily life.
The lush green tea gardens rolling down the slopes, the vibrant orchids, and the breathtaking scenic beauty of Takdah will surely win your heart once you visit there. One of the most beautiful offbeat places near Darjeeling, Takdah was a former Cantonment area during the British era. As a matter of fact, many relics from that period can be still found in this quaint hamlet. Situated 28 km from Darjeeling at an altitude of 4000ft, Takdah will evoke a sense of mystery with its foggy roads and trails. The name of this place is derived from the Lepcha word ‘Tukdah’ meaning fog or mist. You will also find some of the finest tea gardens of Darjeeling here including the Rungli Rungliot tea garden and the Namring, Pubang, and Gielle tea gardens.
Tucked in the dense pine forests of Kalimpong, Chibo is a hidden jewel known only to few. One of the most offbeat places near Darjeeling to visit, Chibo lies serenely in the folds of the Himalayan mountains away from the ups and downs of the world. Chibo has long hidden away from the prying eyes of tourist until it caught the attention of travellers thanks to the mesmerizing view it offers of Mt. Khangchendzonga.
Located at an altitude of 1250ft, Chibo is adorned by rich flora and fauna with the majestic Mt. Khangchendzonga in the backdrop. Thanks to its proximity to Kalimpong, you can also visit the Pedong Monastery, Deolo Hill, and the cactus nursery located close by. If not you can just take walks down the winding roads of this little hamlet, breath in the pure mountain air, and soak in the beauty of nature at its most pure form.
Darjeeling in itself is not a place for you to see lush tea gardens and experience the rich flora and fauna of the Himalayan mountains. It is a well-developed hill station bustling with malls, restaurants, and hotels. If you wish to get away from this bustling tourist centre and visit some offbeat places near Darjeeling, the above-mentioned list is for you. If you know of some more places, do let us know in the comments.