If you are searching for an offbeat location for a weekend gateway near Darjeeling that has the beauty and glory of a hill station but is untouched by the tourists at large, Dhotrey or Dhotre can be the one. Situated within the radius of Singalila National Park, it is just 43 km from Darjeeling town. This place can be accessed easily from Bagdogra Airport or New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.
A part of the Eastern Himalayas, Dhotrey is situated at an altitude of 8500 feet above sea level. This hidden Himalayan village is a paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers. It is the place from where the full range of Kanchenjunga is visible. One can experience the majestic beauty of the sleeping Buddha, as these ranges are often referred to. The village is also the base camp for different trekking expeditions to Tonglu, Phalut, and Sandakphu.
What is the best time to visit Dhotrey?
The weather remains best from October to January, and you can expect to gain a clear view of the beautiful Kanchenjunga ranges during this time. Just before the summer from March to early April, is a good time to visit this village. During this time, the air is filled with the smell of rhododendrons and magnolias. These blossoms add to the natural beauty of the place and create a surreal atmosphere.
What to do?
This place is popular among the hikers as they begin their journey to Sandakphu or Phalut from here. The region falls under Singalila National Park and is home to many different species of birds. So, bird watchers get to see wide varieties in this area. It is an ideal place if you are trying to get away from the hustles and bustles of city life. The village with splendid natural beauty and a quiet and calm atmosphere with highly hospitable inhabitants will give you exceptional peace of mind.
Where to stay?
Homestays are the only option available in this place. Most of these accommodations provide all the basic amenities and offer comfortable stays.
Chitre, a small picturesque village in North Bengal, is where the hikers meet to begin their journey to Sandakphu. The trail from Mane Bhanjang to Chitre, which covers a distance of almost 3 km, is one of the steepest in the entire stretch of the Sandakphu trek.
How to reach Chitre?
If you prefer walking, it will take about an hour and a half to reach the place from Mane Bhanjang. However, you can also hire a four-wheeler to cover this distance. It is situated at an altitude of 8340 ft. The road to Chitre is scenic replete with lush greenery of evergreen trees. After reaching the location, it is best to rest in this beautiful Buddhist village before you travel ahead.
The vast stretch of emerald green land and clear blue sky will make you spellbound. Even though most trekkers do not stop here for the night, they start the journey after halting for a few hours. But, there are some who like to spend the night before embarking on a strenuous journey the following morning.
What to see at Chitre?
The main attraction of this place is the old Buddhist monastery and the mesmerizing view of Kanchenjunga peaks that one can have from this place. Even if you have plans to stay in this village for a few hours, make sure to explore the monastery. Along with the main monastery, there are eight small stupas. In the main building, there is the famous 15 ft high statue of Maitreya Buddha.
On a clear day, in the early morning, the travelers are gifted with a fascinating view of Kanchenjunga. At night, they can witness the sky studded with millions of stars. The town of Darjeeling looks like a crown with glittering jewels from here.
Which is the best time to visit the place and where to stay at Chitre?
The best time to visit the place is during the summer months – June to April. However, winters also promise clear skies and remarkably beautiful landscapes.
There are a few homestays and adventure camps where you can stay for the night. A local restaurant near the monastery serves fresh foods, and the travellers have breakfast there before proceeding further.
Kalpokhri is a scared lake located at an elevation of 3170 meters. It is found enroute to the famous Sandakphu peak of Singalila Range from Gairibas. The local people believe it to be the home of the formidable Kalnaag or the huge slithering black snake. Pokhri in the local language means lake and Kaal is derived from Kaalnaag and hence Kalpokhri. The Kalpokhri contains black water and is a rare presence at such an elevation. During spring the region surrounding the black lake is full of the magnificent rhododendron and orchids. The lake doesn’t freeze even during winter because the water is muddy.
Ayodhya Hills in the district of Purulia, West Bengal is an amazing tourist destination known for its natural beauty. Ayodhya hills are an extension of the Dalma range in Jharkhand. Each year hundreds of tourists visit the hills to witness the scenic beauty of the forests in and around Ayodhya hills. The hills are covered with dense forests with a variety of flora and fauna. The dense forests are a home to different species of wild animals. Gorshabru is the highest peak in Ayodhya and stands tall at an altitude of 610 meters. The presence of numerous waterfalls amidst the forests makes them even more beautiful.
Also known as Sandakfu, Sandakphu is located at a height of 12,400 feet. It is the tallest peak in West Bengal and is located in the Darjeeling district. It is situated right next to the Singalila National Park, which is located on the border shared by neighboring states West Bengal and Sikkim. It also happens to be the tallest peak of the Singalila range. The specialty of Sandakphu lies in the fact that the peaks of Everest, Lhotse, Kangchenjunga, and Makalu – which happen to be among four of the five highest mountain peaks of the world – can be seen from its topmost point. It is said that it offers the finest view of Kangchenjunga.
Fly within the Himalayas is an unforgettable experience. Paragliding in Kalimpong provides one well trained and experienced pilot flying with a passenger that doesn’t need to have any previous training or experience.
Paragliding in Kalimpongstarts from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm depending on wind conditions. Take off point is Dello hill. There are two types of flights, Medium and Cross Country. The medium flight’s lands on Homes Ground near Dr. Grahams Homes School and the Cross Country flight’s lands on Relli River ground near Relli resort distance about 10 km. They provide transportation to way back from landing location to starting point.
Teesta River at Kalimpong has become one of the most popular hotspots of River Rafting in eastern India. It starts from Beni, the confluence of rivers Teesta and Rangeet provides the major base of rafting.
Teesta Rivers being the main river rafting routes are virtually inaccessible during the winters. The Teesta is one of the few rivers where river rafting is confined to the winter months, between October and April.
Buxa Tiger Reserve is located in the foothills of Bhutan covering an area of 790 square kilometers and is of course famous for tigers, civet and red jungle fowl. The forest was declared as a tiger reserve in 1983 and received the title of National Park in 1992. Buxa Tiger Reserve forest is the largest in North Bengal and is home to second largest tiger population in entire West Bengal after Sunderbans. There are many species of mammals, reptiles, birds and an amazing collection of medicinal plants and orchids. It is only 24 kilometers from Alipurduar and about 180 kilometers from Siliguri, reckoned as the gateway of Bengal. Certain parts of the forest have still remained unexplored due to inaccessible terrain.
A quaint little hamlet between Maneybhanjan and Sandakphu, Tonglu derives its name from Tonglu peak 3036 meters belonging to the Singalila Ridge in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. Tonglu is a small settlement within the Singalila National Park located close to the Indo-Nepal border. It is basically a halt for the trekkers traveling to Sandakphu through Manebhanjan. Tonglu’s ethereal atmosphere mixed with its solitude is a boon to the trekkers and also to individuals who love to spend some time in isolation far from the daily busy lives. It is an ideal retreat to relax and unwind.
Monsong is a lovely little quaint village located in the charming eastern Himalayan region. It is quite an offbeat destination and a perfect weekend getaway. The beautiful and cool weather, the formidable mountains, the lush green forests of fir, pine, birch shaal, cinchona and cypress, innumerable birds, some endangered animals and hospitable and warm people are some of the characteristics of this charming hamlet, Monsong. It is situated at a short distance of only 8 kilometers from Pedong and 32 kilometers from Kalimpong, the major town. Sparsely populated and far from the din and bustle of city life, this is an ideal place for rejuvenating the senses; tired body, mind and soul.