Known for its variety of beautiful orchids, Neora Valley National Park is situated near Darjeeling and Kalimpong (30 kms).The Northern boundary of this National Park is contiguous with the forest of Sikkim and Bhutan and harbors of endemic species of flora and fauna.
With its virgin natural forests, dense bamboo groves, meandering rivers and streams, Neora Valley, is an ideal place for viewing wildlife movements and has tremendous importance for medicinal plants.
With the highest peak at an altitude of 3,200 mtrs at Rachela Pass, the Neora Valley shares its boundary with Sikkim with Pangolakha Wild Life Sanctuary and the Toorsa Strict Reserve in Bhutan in the North East. Interestingly the place has plenty of still inaccessible or unexplored zones and that makes it quite an adventurous place for the nature lovers/trekkers who love to challenge the unknown terrains in the natural dense forests.
Nestled amidst the hills of Neora Valley are few less trodden villages that are now gaining tourists attraction as popular weekend getaways. Offering a panoramic view of lush green valleys, this region offers you stunning views of snow clad mountain ranges that include Mt.Kharg, Kokthang, Rathung, Kabroo (North, South, Dome and Fourth), Talung, Pandim, Khang-Chen-D-Zongha, Simvo, Narsingh and Siniolchu (left to right).
Surrounded by pine forests that offer a stunning play of mists and fog at all seasons, lava is a small hamlet that let’s you explore natural beauty all around. From Lava the entry point of Neora Valley is just 16 kms and the trip takes about 1 hour.
Lava, a lesser known paradise is the gateway to Neora National Park, which can also be entered via Samsing (80 Kms from Siliguri).
The beautifully enchanting Lava Monastery is located at Lava and is a must visit place in the region. The monastery is also known as the Ratnarishi Bihar Buddhust Gumpa and was established by the 3rd Kongtrul Rinpoche, Karma Lodro Chokyi Senge.
Located near the Neora Reservoir, the monastery offers lovely views of the surrounding hills and verdant green valleys.
Rishap is a pleasurable 9 kms drive from Lava and can also reached via a scenic trekking trail of 3 kms from Lava.
At an altitude of 5500 ft, Lolegaon/loleygaon is wilderness at its best. It is located on a flat hill top and is inhabited by the Lepcha villagers.
Lolegaon is one of the least visited places but offers a peaceful hamlet for those craving a peaceful enchanting getaway in the hills. During monsoon the area looks stunning with numerous waterfalls and a natural thick green canopy of forested trails. Located at the extreme end of the valley, it has one of the best pine forests in the Himalayan ranges.
Lolegaon is popular for its canopy walk which is a century old oak and cypress wooden track that offers thrilling experience to those who walk on it.
Here one can get to see the wildlife in its natural habitat and also a chance to spot some of the endangered Himalayan species too. There is also a sun-set point known as Ramitey Dara that offers a golden hued view of the Mt. Kanchenjunga.
Rishyap is still a less traveled destination and has quite a few hidden wonders located amidst its thick pir and birch tree forests. It has a small settlement of the Lepcha community that resembles like the nomads of the Nepal region who their life simply.
From Rishyap, one can clearly see the town of Gangtok and Pedong at nights gleaming with twinkling lights. And if you are lucky, on a clear day one can even spot the famous Nathula and Jelepla passes from Rishyap.
Rishyap is also famous of a wild variety of orchids that bloom during season.
Sightseeing at Rishyap:
Watch the sunset at Tiffindara that is about a 1.5 km uphill walk from Risyap. It takes you along thick forested trail and takes about 40 minutes to reach the view point. Visit the Shiva Buddha temple, which is quite a religious place at Rishyap especially for the local community. Also trek along Neora Valley National Park to reach the Jorepokhri (Twin Lakes).
Rishyap to Lava: 9 Kms
Rishyap to Kolakham: 20 Kms
Rishyap from kalimpong: 110 Kms
Rishyap from Garubathan: 120 Kms
Lava to Rishyap: 11 Kms by Road (Pls nite that the road is bumpby and full of boulders, so need an SUV or a tough terrain vehicle).
Kolakham is 20 kms from Rishyap and can be traveled easily via a motor-able route. Located on the fringe of the Neora Valley National Park, Kolakham is a nature’s paradise. Situated amidst thick deodar forests and facing the mighty Mt. Kanchenjunga, Kolakham is a perfect destination to unwind, relax and rejuvenate.
Mt. Kanchenjunga is world’s third highest peak and offers panoramic views of its beautiful snow clad ranges from the hills of Kolagham and other nearby destinations. Being here offers you a chance to totally let go and unwind.
The valley is famous for Cardamom cultivation among other crops like maize and millet.
Jungle/Forest Trails: There are numerous jungle trails to choose from, that take you across the never ending green forests and gives you an opportunity to see the wildlife up close too.
Refreshing Dip at Changey falls: From Kolakham the falls can be reached via a 5 kms trek to reach these falls that are located approx. 8 kms from Lava and are really beautiful.
In addition to the scenic views and beautiful weather all year round, Kolakham is also a popular destination for adventure activities including trekking, rock climbing etc.
Eat: Momo’s and Thukpa, a Tibetan noodle soup are the local delicacies and available at most shops.
By Road: Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri (NJP) are well connected with Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Guwahati. From NJP or Siliguri it is 123 Kms and takes about 4 hours to reach Kolakham.
By Train: from Kolkatta, at Sealdah Railway Station take the kanchan Kanya Express: Train No 13149
Sealdah Station Departure: 20:30 Hrs
NJP New Jalpaiguri Arrival: 7:30 Hrs
Siliguri Arrival: 8:00 Hrs
By Air: Bagdogra: 121 Kms from Kolakham
For Best Stay Options at Neora Valley, Lava, Rishyap and Kolakham:
Visit Spring Vale Resorts that has details as per location