Dooars has always been the reticent younger sibling of West Bengal Tourism which the Queen of the Hills almost always overshadowed. I stand to endorse this exclusion because there are some things you can’t find in the advertised locations of tourist destinations; tranquility. Some of the big names may have missed a blessing because these are places if you visit once. They would often become a getaway from your life. Here is a list of amazing offbeat destinations in Dooars that you must explore.
A quaint and alluring village in Dooars; atop the Buxa hill called Lepchakha, inhabited by indigenous Bhutanese people called the Drukpas, is where the Lepchakha trekking trail will lead you to. The impetus of the Lepchakha trek is the view from the high-altitude “tabletop” hill, which is of the Tiger reserve, the rivers, and the mountains of Bhutan.
The village seems something out of a Legend of Zelda game, picturesque to a point where you would want to give up everything in life to move to this minimalist lifestyle. The village’s reputation is preceded by the peaceful Drukpas, one of the most amiable people in the world. Giving up everything and moving to this place might be a bit of a stretch, but you could experience it by renting a homestay and enjoying the outdoors by going to the picnic spot.
Alright, I will keep this one short and to the point: – Food: Momo. No negotiations! You have to try the authentic Bhutia momos they make in Lepchakha, the juiciest, most filling meal you will ever eat. Drink: Chaang – A locally brewed rice wine. The pairing of the two is such that you can’t just taste one. You could take a vehicle from Santalabari up to Zero Point, but then you will have to trek your way up. I mean, what is the point of being hitchhiked to a place which is known for its trekking trails?
Rongo – beautiful mountain village – Dooars – Cinchona Plantation. Here’s the problem with that summary: it does not do justice to Rongo as a place to unwind all the stresses you may have built up, which is a powerful thing to have in this fast-paced 21st-century lifestyle.
When you feel overwhelmed by life, a small, modest mountain village and some fresh air are all you will need to realize that happiness comes from within and is not navigated by your environment. It is famous for its medicinal plantation and Cinchona plants, but what makes Rongo a must-visit is the dichotomy of lifestyles it presents.
It is a small village with a small post office, market, and sparse housing with people content with what they have. It is genuinely refreshing to see something like that. There are perks; the waterfall, the forests, the Monastery and the Jaldhaka River. To reach Rongo, you will need to make a prominent left turn at Khunia More from Chalsa, about 95km from Bagdogra. You could rent out Rongo River Valley homestay or Dooars Homestay in Rongo Town and then maybe take a chill pill for the next couple of days at this offbeat destinations in Dooars.
Inside the Neora Valley National Park in Kalimpong Dist lies a small village – Kolakham, about 9-10 kilometres North-East of Lava. Rishop, Lava and Kolakham are like the holy trinity of tourist destinations that entail mountain views and nature. Kolakham is about 6500ft above sea level at a location that overlooks the Himalayan Range. Because of its prime location on the fringes of the Neora Valley National Park, where the Himalayan peaks are visible in all their glory, this village is quite popular among tourists.
The valleys and the cloud caps are the things that make it worth your time and effort. Trekking is one of the best ways to explore this area where you can take time at places you feel the most connected to, but other vehicles do take you up and around, so there is no need to fret if you are like me, who loves his couch more than his life. Rishop offers a great view of the mountain range, and Changi falls 3km away. Charkole and the Lava monastery must also be a part of your “places to go” list.
Apart from that, Kolakham sightseeing is connecting with nature and breathing in the clean mountain air. The distances of the three locations are pretty close; Kolakham to Lava – 9km, Rishop to Kolakham – 13km and Lava to Rishop – 5km. It is almost like a scalene triangle (remember those?)
Another offbeat destinations in Dooars is Paren. Paren tucked away inside lush green forests, hills and rivers engendered a village that is as beautiful as it is idyllic. Located about 10km from Jaldhaka on the Indo-Bhutan border, the road up to Paren is a joyride for the avid Nature aficionado. Obscure to many tourists, the serenity of this village is one heck of a getaway for the people who are tired of all the hustle and bustle of city life.
If your ideal “I need to take a break” scenario includes chill forests, chirping birds and walking trails, I believe Paren will not disappoint you. The Rachella Pass trek takes you through multiple meandering lush green forests and natural lakes into Neora Valley. Rongo Dalgaon and Gairibas are also another euphoria spike for the avid nature lover and botany enthusiast because of all the medicinal plantations in the area. You could take yourself to Paren and perhaps enjoy the Paren homestay in the village to experience the authentic village lifestyle.