When I was young, I never dreamt of travel. Yes, I was fascinated by the movies of adventure and exploration gulped down by my imaginative mind; however, the concept of travel never crossed through my rationale thinking. But they say life changes and meanders, and the same applies to me. So in the winter of 2020, I found myself travelling to North Bengal’s mountains, the Lower Himalayan foothills from where the mountain life starts. Post titled “Offbeat West Bengal destination Lamahatta”.
The truck grunted its way ever so slowly as the road snakes through a series of twists and turns along the Sevoke Road. Spaces between space, time standing still, anonymous was the place. The window glass pulled down, in this endless series of pine trees of the Sevoke forest, I found a tiny capsule of intimacy of my soul with the soul of the forest. It was a place that called me in the sense of déjà vu as I looked outwards and forward at the same time. This is a tale of wandering through the Sevoke forest and the pine-clad hills titled Offbeat West Bengal destination Lamahatta.
Offbeat West Bengal destination Lamahatta
Where is Lamahatta
Lamahatta is near to the town of Darjeeling as well as Kalimpong. It is on the road to visit Teesta Bazaar. Originally inhabited by the local tribes as well as by Buddhist holy men , it has risen rapidly to become a sought after place for tourists who wish to experience a weekend getaway in North Bengal among the forests and mountains. It is at a height of 5000 feet while the surrounding villages will be a bit more. The natural beauty with prayer flags fluttering in the winds coming from the mountains makes one fall in love with this place.
The forests of Sevoke have a long history; they have existed for millennia and seen the way human mankind has evolved. They have seen roads built here where it was only forest trails. There are still trails that go into nowhere and then to somewhere.
I was moving towards the hills of Lamahatta, to the myriad villages nestled in these mountain ranges. To stay in the mountainside and see the tiny villages glowing like fireflies in the night with the stars and constellations making beautiful shapes in the canvas of the night sky.
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What does one do in Offbeat West Bengal destination Lamahatta
I would recommend leisurely stay in this region of the world. Forget Darjeeling; it’s there if you need it but try to move away from it. Look for places steeped in obscurity, search for places with names like Magwa, Tinchuley, Peshok, Turzam, 6th mile. Go visit Lamahatta but only visit, do not stay there for it is crowded. Venture into the forested pines of Lamahatta. Go such that every step takes you away from the crowds and human voices. I belonged now in the company of the ramrod pine trees as they swayed gently in the breeze, looking down at me as I walked through overgrown moss without any sense of direction, just drawn by the pull of mystical magic out here.
Among the various villages that dot the region, one can stay in total solitude and connected to the local ecosystem. Out there in the villages, the days can be spent discovering the various hiking trails or maybe catch a local jeep and head to the adjacent town to partake in the local celebration. On my part, I just traversed the entire region, ranging far and wide due to my own RIDE availability. Darjeeling is an hour’s drive away if one wishes to see the British’s iconic colonial haunt.
The omnipresent Kanchenjunga – The Sleeping Buddha
As the eyes follow the path of the Sun’s journey, the Mighty Kanchenjunga comes into view from wherever one sees. The Sleeping Buddha profile far in the distance, massive looms over the horizon unwaveringly reminding the visitor where he has reached in his journey. While it is visible from towns like Kurseong and Darjeeling, this vista’s effect when one is far removed from the city’s sights and sounds is entirely different.
Memoirs of my stay in the Offbeat West Bengal destination Lamahatta
I stayed at a small village known as Chota Magwa, a cluster of around 10 houses on the hillside of the mighty ranges. Narrow roads led one to the houses. There was no concept of thoroughfare; one would come here only if there was a specific reason for all was private land. The occupants grew their own vegetables.
Self-sufficiency was the mantra here. In the shadow of the mighty Kanchenjunga, they went about their lives, guided by nature and her ways. There was a homestay where I was fortunate enough to stay put for the duration of my stay here. Nights were cold, and the fire’s swirling flames formed an interesting train of thoughts to chug along as I warmed my hands, looking onto the darkness beyond the flames somewhere.
So have a look at the visuals to see what I saw, and I hope these strike a connection with the inner soul of you, my dear readers, who are the very reason I labour in maintaining this blog.
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What is my blog all about ?
My blog focuses quite a bit on nature based places and off beat destinations. India has abundance of these kind of places . Read about the forest magic of Odisha out here or in depth story on the trek to Sandakphu to see the Kanchenjunga up-close. Going westwards, I would recommend the reader to glance at the beaches of Goa. My recommendation from my stay in the state for over 2 years. I am sure a visit to them would be fascinating to just about anyone purely from an traveller point of view to know about the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway while to the North of the country we have the trek to Kashmir Great Lakes or maybe visit the high altitude lakes of Ladakh region.
Musings over Lamahatta and its charm
The Rocks and mountains are millions of years old. Over time, the earth has changed, and forests sprung up, which have been continuous in the way. The traveller and visitor can spend time visiting the local hamlets, exploring trails. There are tea gardens to explore and engage in activities over there. While watching the occasional traveler on the road or overlooking the mountain ranges , I would recommend coffee and tea.
Speaking of Lamahatta proper, visit the Lamahatta Eco-park, which has been established recently. There are holy ponds, prayer chortens and humongous pines within the large eco-park. Other than that, spend some time in Lopchu Bazaar, a few km downwards of Lamahatta. There is a different sense of vibe in visiting these ancient hillside markets. But mostly listen to nature out here and connect with you inner voice. You will remember the pines of Lamahatta for years to come if you just connect with yourself out here.
How to reach Lamahatta. Lamahatta can be reached from Darjeeling which is 23 kms away or one can take the road from Teesta Bazaar and climb upwards via Lopchu Bazaar. one can then accordingly visit all the places that i have mentioned above.
Where to Stay. There are homestays galore to suit every budget however like I said;, stay away from Lamahatta if one is going in the tourist season or during an extended weekend. One can check out Bookin.com or Makemytrip.com for suggestions. But if you like to be in crowds and get that feel of a holiday stay in Lamahatta itself.
Connectivity. Shared jeeps/cabs, self driven vehicles is the only option out here in the hills. BSNL is the preferred network out here when it comes to phone connectivity.
Clothing. It does cold here in the winters and monsoons, so carry heavy woolens. Rains are frequent, so appropriate clothing to protect against the rain is also a must.
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So in context of day trips from Kolkata or weekend trips from Kolkata. I would recommend you to browse my journey to Baranti, Purbasthali , Bishnupur , Serampore and Gongoni. There is so much to see in this state much similar to like the Northern Karnataka architectural circuit of Hampi and Badami.