How does wandering through idyllic tea plantations sound while tucking in steaming hot momos and sipping hot tea? We head into the foothills of the Kanchenjunga range to take you on a spectacular journey where you will be spellbound by the sheer beauty of nature and the richness of the culture. You will travel through the lush tea gardens of Darjeeling framed against the backdrop of the white himalayas, explore the mountain kingdom of Sikkim with its famed monasteries, and visit an unspoilt lake which is said to have spiritual powers. Depending upon the season of your visit, you can also sample adventure activities like white water rafting, yak safari, mountain biking, etc.
Route: Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri - Darjeeling - Gangtok - Kalimpong - Neora National Park - Bagdogra
Activities: Farm tour, tea plantation visit, village tour, toy train ride, monastery visit, lake excursion, soft trekking
Duration: 7 days
Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri: You arrive at Bagdogra and transfer by car to Tinchuley Eco Village (3 hours). Tinchuley, which means three chulas (ovens) is a model village and a community tourism initiative of Help Tourism, local villagers and WWF-India (West Bengal State Office) in the Darjeeling Hills. You will be hosted by one of the oldest and largest joint families of the Darjeeling hills (about 22 family members) in their guest house. We visit organic farms and orchards to understand the livelihood processes of the local villagers, metre-square gardening process and vermi composting. We also visit the local market in Takdah.
Darjeeling: We set out early to visit the main points of attraction around Darjeeling - Tiger Hill, Ghoom Monastery, Batasia Loop Zoological Garden, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Ropeway, Tensing - Gumbo Rock, Tibetan Refugee Self Help Canter, Lebong Race Course, Peace Pagoda & Rock Garden - Gangamaya Park. Later we embark on the Himalayan Railway, a narrow gauge train service to Darjeeling, and also visit the home of the legendary mountaineer Tenzing Norgay who ascended Mt. Everest along with Sir Edmund Hillary. Darjeeling has since 1954 housed the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute where he trained a generation of mountaineers. The earliest Everest expeditions started their journey from here.
Gangtok: We drive early by car to Gangtok (4 hours), the capital of the state of Sikkim. We visit the Rumtek Monastery, the most important and largest Buddhist monastery in India. Perched on a hilltop the monastery is home to monks of the Karma Kagyu lineage. The monastery embodies the vision and aspirations of the Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, who established his seat-in-exile to help spread the teachings of the Buddha throughout the world.
Gangtok: After breakfast we take a trip around Gangtok, to soak in its unspoilt natural beauty and its peaceful chortens/stupas are a unique experience for a traveller. We go on an excursion to Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir. The Tsomgo Lake, is thought to have spiritual value by the locals and is situated at an altitude of 12,400 ft on the Gangtok-Nathu La highway. This region is also a hub for adventure sports and you can sample some trekking, white-water rafting, hang gliding, yak safari, and mountain biking.
Kolakham - Neora Valley National Park - Kalimpong Hills: We drive early to the Neora Valley Eco Resort, nearly 35 kms from Kalimpong town and adjacent to the Neora Valley National Park. On the way, we stop at Kalimpong heritage town. Kalimpong is known for its educational institutions and also provides spectacular views of the Himalayan ranges. The popular viewpoints are Durpin Dara and Deoro Hill. One can buy souvenirs like Buddhist thankas, hand beaten silver, Bhutanese weaves, Chinese lamps, Lepcha daggers, masks and a lot more. Kalimpong also has several nurseries which mainly cultivate gladioli, an ornamental flower.
Kolakham - Neora Valley National Park - Kalimpong Hills: In the morning we trek through Neora Valley National Park that is home to a wildlife species such as the Red Panda, Barking Deer, Himalayan Black Bear, Blue Sheep, Bengal Tiger and more than 200 species of birds including many rare ones. The region is surrounded by dense rain forests, broadleaf forests, alpine meadows and lofty mountains. The view of snow range from the resort is expansive.
Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri: Depart for New Jalpaiguri (4 hours)
How your travel makes a difference to the local community & environment:
- The Sunderbans Jungle Camp on Bali island is a participatory community tourism demonstration project for the rehabilitation of the poachers-turned-conservationists, sustainable development of the local community and conservation of the wildlife and flora of this unique eco-system. Sunderbans Jungle Camp is small low-impact accommodation which is environmentally-sensitive and liked by those who have the interest to explore the infinite bio-diversity and uniqueness of the ecosystem of Sunderbans through a participatory, authentic, knowledgeable, meaningful, intimate, mutually-educative and responsible encounters with the local people, their culture and livelihood. Your visits are our support and contribute to a great extent to this small initiative to support the sustainable development of the local community and the conservation of the forest and the great cats. In order to assist the local community to have a better quality of life, a host of social development projects such as - free medical camps, a night school, tailoring training and various other initiatives are arranged on need basis. These activities are supported by our local partners, and institutional patrons and agencies such as WWF-India, WPSI, SHIS and Sunderbans Tiger Reserve. They are co-ordinated by our NGO ACT (Association for Conservation and Tourism) and Bali Nature and Wildlife Conservation Society.
- Tinchuley Village is a model village and a community tourism initiative in the Darjeeling hills. You will be hosted by one of the oldest and largest joint families in the Darjeeling hills (about 22 family members), who have put together a guest house with 04 double bedded and 04 four-bedded rooms with a private toilet cum bath in one building.
- The Neora Valley Eco Resort is run by trained local community people. They take care of all services and activities.
Glimpse of West Bengal
Gives you insights into the lifestyle of a Bengali family, villages and the contribution of Shantiniketan to the richness of Indian art and culture.
Mount Kanchenjunga, permanently snow-capped and towering at 28,156 feet, the third highest mountain in the world.
In this trip, you will witness two different shades of West Bengal.
Classic West Bengal
This heady journey takes you from the high of the Darjeeling hills to the mud flats of the Sunderban mangroves, and from the bustling hill towns to the tranquil of Shantiniketan.