Owing to the blessings of Lord Buddha and those rebellious souls who fought to enforce the basic rights of labourers, Indians, (read Bengali) got a long jaunt this year. After finding it out, without giving a second thought I mapped my trip to Fagu, Jhandi, Lava & Lolegaon, far from the madding crowd in the paradise of peace-lovers. They are oriented to offer most spectacular views on clear days that are often ensconce by mist. We reached NJP via Kamrup express as it arrives at New Jalpaiguri Station by 6:15 a.m.
From NJP station I availed the pre-booked Zoomcar, as I prefer to drive instead of handling the tantrum of the drivers. Zoomcar has relieved me from the hassles of searching cabs, burgeoning with the drivers.
Fagu- A Gateway to Romantic Vacation
Our first destination was Fagu and from Siliguri, via Garubathan it’s almost 60 km drive using Gajol Dhaba Road. We have reserved Fagu Tea Estate Bungalow beforehand and to reach there we ascended almost 3 to 4 km. While driving through this winding road we crossed Mahananda forest, Sevoke, Coronation Bridge and New Mal Station. From there 1.5 hours long journey took us to Fagu. If you choose to travel from Kalimpong then via Lava it will take nearly 28 minutes to reach Fagu Tea Estate.
Established during the British realm, the archetypal colonial bungalow consists of a one-storey building with a symmetrical layout and a spacious veranda in the front side. If the charm of historical places, old houses allure you, then you will be blown away by the aura of this place emphatically. Even after being 100 years old the bungalow is well-furnished, equipped with necessary amenities and the tea they had served reminded me the afternoon tea experience at a highly acclaimed luxury hotel.
Awakening amidst the chirping of birds with the vista of snow-capped mountain hums a dreamlike mix of fantasy and fact. Here nature celebrates its existence with a myriad of flora and fauna and rich diversity of tropical trees. The beauty and stillness of nature accompanying the rural charm create a sublime atmosphere here; the verdant carpet of grass, the view of the Tista River appeases eye and soles.
Jhandi- A New Feather on the Beauty of Bengal
On the next morning, bidding adieu to Fagu we travelled towards Jhandi that was nearly 18 km away from our bungalow. After Garubathan, the road is finely constructed and we stopped by Fagu Monastery for a quick visit, can’t approach further without penning down few lines about the sleeping village of Gorubathan.
Being an abode to serene atmosphere Gorubathan has etched its name in the heart of New Age travellers, it is nestled in the bank of Neora River. The chirping of birds and psithurism are the only evidence of animation here as the surrounding is cladded only with quietude. Amongst the alpine forests and remnants of Dalim Fort recuperate your happiness and peace of mind.
After Gorubathan, From Chel River, we took an iron bridge and it seemed like we encroached in the realm of the cloud. Jhandi Eco Huts are the remembrance of idyllic England country house, and here we were indulged with the scope to enjoy the surreal view of the 3rd highest Mt. Kanchenjunga lying in the bed and a cavern filled with bewildering forest. The amusing view of sunlight making its way perforating the mist made me spellbound. If the sky remains clear you can get a sneak of Siliguri, Lava and Kalimpong, however, if the weather is clouded you can see the only white canvas. At the twilight when it suddenly started raining the picturesque environs resting in the lap of Kanchenjunga seemed to be bequeathed with incomprehensibly magnificence and tranquility. Someone has truly said the best view of nature emerges after rain.
People who come to visit Gorumara forest often visits Jhandi that is located 6200ft above the sea level. Don’t let pass the scope of visiting Sambiyong Tea Garden, Kolekham village when you are in Jhandi.
Lava & Lolegaon-
While travelling to Lava for the first few kilometres we travelled amidst the tea gardens keeping River Chel on our left and delighting in the splendour of nature I fathomed “the clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” Owing to its high altitude of 7100 ft. Lava, the quintuplet hamlet stays beneath the cloak of cloud throughout the day but, the minute it comes out expurgating the cloak you will be dazed of the stunning vista.
We arranged our stay at the resort managed by the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation. Perceiving the growing fame of Lava several hotels are also being established. With each passing day, Lava is gaining more and more prominence amongst the wanderlust souls, as it’s a true respite from the uproar of urban life with a spectacular view of mid-clad peaks and jungles of luxuriant foliage.
The panorama of the mountain from the premises of Lava monastery is inexplicable, a 10 minutes’ walk from the resort brought us here. Beyond nature, the monastery is the most popular attraction of this place where tourists can marvel at the well-preserved architecture and intricate carvings, dedicated to the memory of a revered icon.
On the next morning we started for Changi fall that has created a little lake on the lap of the mountain before tumbling down from the mountain following a meandering path. The road leading to the cascade is quite treacherous, notoriously muddy and tiring to climb hence refrain yourself from visiting there if you have children with you.
From Lava, we trekked till Rishop to unwind our adventurous spirit & spent a night there to enjoy the view of Kanchenjunga from there during sunup. After relishing in sumptuous breakfast we started our journey towards Loleygaon, a popular retreat among the travelers. Canopy walk is amongst the prime attractions of Lolegaon, expect the accompaniment of percussion stemmed from the rustling of leaves in the crosswinds.
With the burning desire to visit kolakham, Rishikhola and Darjeeling, a land of natural beauty and hill hamlets we returned to Kolkata.