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10 Truly Offbeat Places near Kalimpong, West Bengal

Last Updated on May 9, 2024

In my previous post I introduced you to one of my favorite hill stations, Kalimpong. The highlights of Kalimpong were what enticed me to plan a trip there. But it is the offbeat places near Kalimpong that made me deeply fall in love with the city.

All of the places in this post are within 60 km from Kalimpong that you can visit on a day trip.

From the serene embrace of Rikisum to the uncharted trails of Pedong, this list comprises of some magical places that will enrich your vacation in Kalimpong. You can even choose to spend a few nights in these places and explore this sublime region of North Bengal.

Don't forget to check out the important travel tips for this region at the end of the list.

1.  Teesta River Rafting

Rafting through the rapids at Teesta
We paid for these blurry photos, but we loved the adventure

The Teesta River Rafting Center, located near the confluence of the Teesta and Rangeet Rivers, offers a thrilling adventure for those visiting the Sikkim and Darjeeling areas. It combines adventure with the beauty of the Sikkim Himalayas.

The river flows from high glaciers, making for thrilling rapids. The most popular rafting route starts at Melli and ends at Geilkhola. It's a favorite for both beginners and seasoned rafters.

Safety measures are top-notch, ensuring a thrilling yet secure adventure. The activity is available most of the year, except during monsoons.

Costs start at ₹3,500 per boat for 1.5 hours. Depending on the route, time and additional services like videography, the cost can increase. I did agree on the video they kept insisting us to pay for, however, I wasn't satisfied by the quality.

The digital camera they used was not suitable such an activity that required them to zoom from far away in their jeep while we were in the river.

Quite surprisingly, winter is the ideal season for Teesta river rafting. The water is clean, and the current is perfect. Yes, the water is cold, but even in February it isn't unbearable as I expected.

I embarked on this adventure on my way back home from Pelling. In fact, the temperature is much higher here than in Kalimpong town since it is in the foothills. 

Related: Check out the best places to visit in Sikkim.

2. Lolegaon

Wide roads of Lolegaon flanked by Pine forests on under the clear blue sky

Lolegaon, located about 55 kilometers from Kalimpong town is a small Lepcha village (a village of the Lepcha tribe).  In the serene landscapes of the ridge at an altitude of 1,675 meters, it offers a peaceful retreat from the cacophony of the city.

Also called Kaffer village its unique setting amidst pine, cypress, and oak forests is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and those seeking tranquility in nature's lap.

One of Lolegaon's must-visit attractions is the Heritage Forest, a mere 10-minute walk from the village center. For those who appreciate breathtaking vistas, the Jhandi Dara Viewpoint offers unparalleled sunrise views over Mt. Kanchenjunga and even Mt. Everest on clear days​​.

Another highlight is the Eco Park, which provides a picturesque setting against the backdrop of hills, making it a perfect spot for relaxation and picnicking. The new statue of Gautam Buddha near the park has become a landmark now.

The famous canopy walk of Lolegaon – a natural bridge of tree trunk, is no longer open for tourists. Not far from Lolegaon, the Nokdara Boating Complex offers paddle boating on a serene lake, adding to the list of leisure activities available to visitors​​.

Staying for a couple of nights in Lolegaon, is less about hopping from one spot to another, and more about enjoying the tranquility of village life in the lap of nature. You can get unobstructed views of Kanchenjunga not just from the viewpoints but also from some of the homestays there.

Accommodations range from homestays to eco-friendly resorts, catering to various preferences. Be sure to carry your medicines and personal care items when you are staying in Lolegaon. It is a small village, and shops are few and far apart.

3. Charkhole

A beautiful three-story house in the hills of Charkhole used as homestay for tourists.

Charkhole, a serene and picturesque valley nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, is a haven for nature lovers and bird watchers. This tranquil destination offers a unique blend of breathtaking views and a peaceful retreat away from the bustling city life.

The village is surrounded by dense forests of Pine, Oak, and Cypress, home to a variety of birds such as the Blue Fronted Redstart, Indian Robin, and the Verditer Flycatcher, making it a birding paradise​​​​.

Situated at an altitude of approximately 5,500 feet, Charkhole provides a panoramic view of the snow-clad Himalayan range, including the majestic Mt. Kanchenjunga, on clear days.

However, what truly sets Charkhole apart is its ethereal tranquility and the opportunity to walk among clouds, creating an unforgettable experience of being in a floating world​​.

Charkhole is located about 28 km away from Kalimpong town and takes 1.5 hours to drive one-way. This is thanks to the well-maintained roads which came as a surprise when we visited last year. However, if you want to stay in Charkhole, it's a fantastic idea too.

Accommodation options in Charkhole range from homestays and resorts that offer a cozy and comfortable stay, ensuring visitors can fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty and tranquility of the area.

These accommodations provide amenities such as in-house restaurants, homemade foods, and rooms with stunning views of the mountains, making your stay both enjoyable and memorable​​.

4. Icchey Gaon

Kanchenjunga views from Icche Gaon

Only 17 km away from Kalimpong is a “village of wishes” – Icchey Gaon. It is an idyllic retreat for those seeking solitude away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

With an elevation of about 5800 feet, this quaint village is enveloped by lush pine forests, offering breathtaking views of the mighty Kanchenjunga range.

The serene ambiance of Icche Gaon is particularly mesmerizing in the evenings when the setting sun paints the Himalayas in shades of orange, and the night sky comes alive with the twinkling lights of nearby towns like Darjeeling, Ravangla, and Namchi.

Icchegaon offers numerous activities for visitors. From peaceful village walks amidst natural surroundings to trekking through the Silk Route to spot diverse Himalayan birds, the village caters to every nature lover's desires.

Notable nearby attractions include the Sangchen Dorjee Monastery with its ancient art, and the trekking trails leading to panoramic viewpoints and historical sites like Damsung Fort​​.

The village doesn't feature luxury hotels but compensates with beautifully decorated homestays offering cozy accommodations and homemade meals, ensuring a memorable stay amidst nature. 

5. Pedong

Pedong, situated 21 km from Kalimpong and at an altitude of 4100 ft, is an emerging destination rich in history and natural beauty. Known for its panoramic views of Mt. Kanchenjunga and dense pine forests, Pedong sits on the ancient Silk Route.

Its natural and historical attractions include the Sangchen Dorjee Monastery, Damsang Fort, and picturesque views from Rikkisum.

Bird watchers and adventure enthusiasts will find Pedong particularly appealing. For more detailed insights and travel information on Pedong, you can visit North Bengal Tourism's guide​​.

6. Lava

Perched at an elevation of 2100 meters, offering breathtaking views of the eastern Himalayas, Lava is a quaint town rich in history and natural beauty. Located 35 kilometers from Kalimpong town, it is most famous for the Lava monastery, one of the largest Buddhist monuments in India.

The Lava Monastery, also known as Lava Kagyu Thekchen Ling Monastery, is a significant spiritual and cultural landmark. Founded in 1987, it is a center for the study of Buddhist philosophy, meditation, and the practice of Kagyu tradition.

Its serene setting and the traditional Bhutanese architecture make it one of the must-visit places in North Bengal.

Beyond this, Lava serves as the gateway to the Neora Valley National Park, a haven for nature lovers and adventurers alike.

As you drive towards Kalimpong from here, you will come across a sign “I Love Lava” at one of the U-turns. I'm tired of seeing these signs all over Kolkata and rest of West Bengal right now, but this location is quite charming.

Accommodations in Lava range from cozy homestays to guesthouses, catering to the preferences of every traveler looking for a serene escape amidst nature. 

Avoid eating at the restaurant right outside the Lava monastery. It's not too bad, but it's the first place where I found bones in the chicken momos. 

7. Rishop

Driving through the Alpine forests of Rishop

Rishop, a serene hamlet nestled in the lap of the Eastern Himalayas, offers a pristine escape from the clamor of city life. Just a short drive from Kalimpong, this hidden gem is perched at an elevation where the air is fresher, and the views are nothing short of spectacular.

Unlike the more frequented hill stations, Rishop provides a tranquil setting for those looking to immerse themselves in nature’s undisturbed beauty.

A journey to Rishop is a journey through winding roads flanked by lush forests and panoramic vistas of the snow-clad Himalayan peaks.

The village itself is a quaint collection of traditional homes, small eateries, and homestays that offer a warm, hospitable retreat to travelers. Among the most captivating attractions in Rishop is the breathtaking view of the Himalayas.

On clear days, the sunrise over these peaks paints the sky in hues of orange and pink, a spectacle that attracts photographers and nature lovers alike.

For those inclined to explore, Rishop acts as a gateway to numerous trekking trails that meander through dense forests and alpine meadows.

These trails often lead to vantage points that offer unobstructed views of surrounding peaks and valleys, making every step of the journey an experience in itself.

Accommodations in Rishop lean towards the cozy and comfortable, with many homestays providing an intimate glimpse into the local lifestyle. The food is another highlight, with local dishes prepared using fresh, organic ingredients that are a delight to the palate.

8. Rishikhola

River jetting throughthe boulders in the foothills of Rishikhola

Nestled along the serene banks of the Reshi river, Rishikhola is a picturesque village that stands as a testament to the unspoiled beauty of nature.

Located just 37 km away from Kalimpong, this offbeat destination serves as a tranquil retreat for those seeking solace away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Rishikhola is located in the foothills, offering a pleasant climate throughout the year, with the best times to visit being from December to February.

Rishikhola is renowned for its lush green surroundings, adorned with a vast array of flora and fauna, including numerous Himalayan and sub-Himalayan bird species. Birdwatching enthusiasts will find themselves in paradise, with the chance to spot the Crimson Sunbird, Himalayan Bulbul, Scarlet Minivet, and many more in their natural habitat. The village's proximity to both West Bengal and Sikkim enhances its charm, offering visitors a unique blend of cultures and landscapes.

Accommodations in Rishikhola mainly consist of homestays and resorts situated along the riverbank, providing guests with a peaceful environment to relax and unwind. These stays offer basic amenities, including delicious local cuisine, making for a comfortable and authentic experience.

Camping along the riverbank is another popular activity, allowing visitors to immerse themselves fully in the tranquility of the area.

Rishikhola's allure lies in its simplicity and the abundance of natural beauty that surrounds it. From bathing in the crystal-clear waters of the river to trekking through the verdant landscapes, the village offers a myriad of activities for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

Nearby attractions, such as Aritar and Lampokhri Lake, offer additional opportunities for exploration and enjoying the serene beauty of the Himalayas.

9. Kolakham

Dense forests of Himalayan trees in Kolakham

Located 8 km from Lava and about a 1.5-hour journey from Kalimpong, Kolakham's journey itself is a visual delight, winding through dense tropical and alpine forests​​​​.

This village, primarily inhabited by the Rai community, has embraced eco-tourism, offering various homestays for visitors.

Each homestay provides a unique opportunity to experience the local culture and cuisine, with most accommodations including food and lodging at rates ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 rupees per person per day​​.

Kolakham's proximity to Neora Valley National Park makes it a wildlife enthusiast's dream. The area is abundant in flora and fauna, and if you're fortunate, you might encounter some of the park's wild inhabitants. For the birdwatchers, over 250 bird species have been identified here, making it an avian paradise, especially from October to February​​​​.

Adventure activities abound, from trekking the challenging trails of Neora Valley and Rachela Pass to exploring nearby attractions like Changey Waterfall and Lava Monastery. Kolakham serves as an excellent base for visiting other scenic locations, including Rishop and Lolegaon, further enriching your travel experience​

10. Rikisum

Kanchenjunga views from Rikisum

Rikisum, perched at 6000 feet near Kalimpong, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Surrounded by dense forests and offering stunning views of the Himalayan peaks, it's a retreat from urban chaos.

Highlights include panoramic views of Mount Kanchenjunga, the ruins of a British bungalow from 1902, and vibrant rhododendrons.

Activities range from trekking through virgin forests to enjoying the natural phenomena of sunrise and sunset. The best time to visit is from March to April for clear views and blooming flowers.

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Map of Offbeat Places near Kalimpong

Save the map of the offbeat gems of Kalimpong district. You can use this to plan your day trips from Kalimpong.

Essential Travel Tips for Exploring Hidden Gems of Kalimpong

Now let's get into the most important information for navigating Kalimpong- the car syndicate! Kalimpong district has a car syndicate that mandates using local syndicate vehicles for sightseeing. The aim is to provide equitable income for drivers.

This can however prove to be a nuisance if you are planning to drive your own car or even hire a car from Siliguri for a trip of the entire north Bengal region. I am all for boosting local economy, but to have separate car syndicates for different districts in the same region of the same state of India, seems a bit much.

Even within Kalimpong district, there are unions in Lava-Lolegaon-Charkhole area, where only vehicles of the local syndicate are allowed.

So if you are planning to visit only Lava Lolegaon it's best to hire a car from the local syndicate. Either call them from just dial to pre-book, or hire a one-way cab from siliguri to Lava and then book a car there. The rates are always extremely reasonable.

If you are planning to take your own vehicle, you need to plan the sightseeing before checking in to your hotel. Then on the next day check out of the hotel and check in to a different hotel, maybe in another location.

Fore example, travel to the hotspots of Lava and lolegaon before checking in to your hotel or homestay in Lolegaon. Then check out from the place and travel to Charkhole and Kolakham, then check in to your homestay in Kolakham.

On our trip we hired a cab from Siliguri which took us through the whole trip of North Bengal. We had no problem traveling to Lava Lolegaon and Charkhole from Kalimpong. However, the driver was a bit worried that we may face objections from the syndicates.

Note that you cannot park a vehicle not registered in Kalimpong in the busy Kalimpong market. Unlike Mall Road of Darjeeling, the market area of Kalimpong is not strictly pedestrian-only, but it's a jampacked area, hence parking restrictions are in place.

Normally the vehicles registered at Siliguri wouldn't face much of a problem within Kalimpong. However, you cannot park in the busy Kalimpong market, unless the vehicle is registered in Kalimpong.

For details about how to reach Kalimpong from anywhere in India, where to stay and how to plan the itinerary, check out my Kalimpong travel guide.

What's Next?

So, this is a wrap to my post about offbeat places to visit near Kalimpong. I'm sure you will enjoy a trip to these pristine places to escape the summer heat. You may also like these posts for planning your summer getaway in India.

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4 Comments

  1. Amabel Buck says:

    There are few places in the world that are truly ‘unspoilt’ nowadays, but this sounds like one of them! The valley of wishes sounds magical. Really useful info regarding the car syndicate, thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Sinjana Ghosh says:

      Thanks Amabel.Good to know that you found it useful

  2. All these places look truly beautiful! The mountains reminded me of the views I saw in Nepal. Would love to visit village of wishes Icchey Gaon some day

    1. Sinjana Ghosh says:

      Thanks Tigrest. Yes, it’s the same Eastern Himalayas in Nepal, so the views will be familiar.

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