Jhalong is a small village on the banks of Jaldhaka River. It is situated on the Indo-Bhutan border and lies under Gorubathan CD block in the Kalimpong district. The name “Jhalong” comes from Bhutan and is actually spelled Jholung or Jholong. The place is beautiful with green serene Bhutan hills around and the Jaldhaka river flowing over the rocky river bed.
The sound of the water flowing over the rocks and birds singing in the thickly covered forests create a soothing rejuvenating peaceful ambiance. You can sit on the banks for hours enjoying the scenic beauty and rusting of leaves with the breeze while breathing the fresh cool air. There are rubber plantations around the area instead of tea as the river contains washouts of dolomite from the mines in Bhutan which makes the soil unsuitable for tea plantations. The Jaldhaka marketplace, also known as Gol Bazaar, is the largest in the area with a cauldron of different cultures including Nepali, Bengali, Marwari, Adivasis, Rajbanshis, and the Bhutanese uniting for their daily needs.
The Jhalong River Camp is a major attraction here along with the Hydel Power Station. The officials also arrange for a tribal dance every evening. Waking up to a sunrise over the mountains of Bhutan, the chirping of birds and the rippling sound of the river with a hot cup of tea is one of the most peaceful, breathtaking, and memorable experiences you can have in the Dooars region.
HOW TO REACH
|Transport Type||Nearby Option||Distance|
|Railway station||Alipurduar Junction|
New Mal Junction
New Jalpaiguri (NJP)
By Road: Plenty of cars are available from both Siliguri and Alipurduar to reach Jhalong. The journey is amazing with the roads going through forests, mountains, tea gardens, villages, and elephant corridors.
There is a bus to Jhalong available from PC Mittal Bus Stand in Siliguri but the timings can be irregular at times. The bus also takes you to the Bindu Dam which is the last stop and returns from there.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
All seasons, except monsoon when the forests are closed for tourists, give you a beautiful experience and view at Jhalong. But if you are specifically interested in trekking and camping, then post monsoon, that is October and November, is the best time as the water is crystal clear and the current of the stream is moderate.
WILDLIFE AT JHALONG
Jhalong is a thrill for bird lovers and is a birding paradise with over 100 different species of birds inhabiting the dense forests. This is because the water brings in a wide range of migratory birds and waterfowls. Some of the birds spotted in Jhalong are Eurasian Wryneck, Crested Kingfisher, Brown Dipper, Hodgson’s Redstart, Salty-backed Forktail, Little Forktail and Rufous-necked laughingthrush. The dense forests surrounding the river is rich in wildlife and home to a wide range of animals including leopards, bisons, elephants, Indian boars, and deer.
THINGS TO DO AT JHALONG
CAMPING AT JHALONG:
Jhalong River Camp across the Jaldhaka river is a major attraction in this place. It is regulated and maintained by the West Bengal Forest Department Corporation Ltd. (WBFDC). A small wooden bridge over the gigantic boulders on the river takes you to the river camp which has 10 tents which are equipped with basic amenities, like hot water in attached washrooms, and well insulated to protect you from the weather outside and wildlife too. Under the shade of trees, a wooden gazebo is set up and used as the dining area with a view of the mountains and the river.
HYDEL POWER STATION:
The Jaldhaka Hydro Electricity Project is another major attraction in Jhalong. In 1967, the first unit of the dam was commissioned in 1967 and the last was in 1983. The dam has a total production capacity of 36.9 MW. For the neighboring kingdom of Bhutan, the dam acts as a bridge for the people.
There are many trails alongside the riverbank walking through which feels like a thrilling adventure. You can also trek through the forests surrounding the river camp and go up the hills bordering Bhutan. The trekking trails towards the gateway of Rochella Park, Todey and Tangta are famous for their mesmerizing panoramic view.
At an altitude of 2000 ft, the Bindu Dam (or Jaldhaka dam) is located which serves the water for the Hydel power plant in Jhalong. The vehicles will only go to a certain point after which you have to walk around 200 m to reach the dam. It is a wonderful view with the river acting as a border with Bhutan on the other bank.
It is situated at an altitude where there is a low concrete barrier which dives into a gorge. The view of Bhutan hills across the valley will leave you spellbound. On the Indian side, the tiny settlement of Jhalong can be seen along the twisted turns of Jaldhaka river.
There is a well-maintained garden with a watchtower here. The view is similar to the view from Gairibas viewpoint with the beautiful valley of Indo-Bhutan border and mountains rising along the Jaldhaka river.