Chatakpur is a pristine eco-friendly village which came into limelight very recently. And since then, the popularity of Chatakpur is going high like hot cake, because of it’s obvious reasons behind it. Chaktakpur is one such village where people would love to settle down to embrace the nature. Chatakpur being a hilltop situated just at the opposite of Tiger Hill offers an unobstructed view of the whole range of Kanchenjungha that too right from your window which even Tiger Hill fails to offer. Rumours are that the views of Kanchenjungha from Chatakpur are much better than that of Tiger Hill. And yes that’s true. As I said already, Chatakpur offers an unobstructed view of the whole range of Kanchenjungha right from your window! I had no idea till I was right there experiencing the nature’s wonder.
So here’s our Itinerary which we are following…
26th Dec – Day 1 : NJP – Lepchajagat
27th Dec – Day 2 : Lepchajagat
28th Dec – Day 3 : Lepchajagat – Chatakpur
29th Dec – Day 4 : Chatakpur
30th Dec – Day 5 : Chatakpur – Darjeeling
31st Dec – Day 6 : Darjeeling Sightseeing
1st Jan – Day 7 : Day Trip To Simana, Mirik, Pashupati Market
2nd Jan – Day 8 : Joy Ride. Darjeeling – NJP
28th Dec – Day 3 : Lepchajagat – Chatakpur :
I woke up at around 4:00 AM and unfortunately it was another cloudy morning with no views. But today being our last day at Lepchajagat, I thought of paying a visit to the sunrise point, although I was sure there’d be no glimpse of Kanchenjunga.
A bit lazily I got ready, asked my wife if she’d like to accompany me, but as expected, she’s a sloth bear anyway! So I went ahead of myself. There were few other tourists too who came up at such wee hours of the morning with a hope same as mine. There was an old woman from the village too, selling Tea’s at such chilled weather, trying to make some money. Yes, it feels very sad to see such old ladies taking up so much pain to earn a few bucks to make their living in these villages.
I light up a cigarette to keep myself warm, although I was very doubtful, as Tea and Ciggerate can be a deadly combination for me considering I’m not yet done with my morning chores! However, things seemed to be fine!
Saw few people fell like being the first time in the skating rink! Unfortunately, the ground was completely slippery because of the dews from last night being completely frost. As time passed by, gradually, it became a hell of a skating ground.
Meanwhile, a bunch of tourists started shouting mistaken by the clouds with that of Kanchenjungha. However, their excitement broke soon as people around them quickly corrected them out!
Finally, after spending around more than an hour or so, I came back. Soon we were served Bed Tea. Later after packing our belongings, we got ready. Went ahead to the shop for having momo for one last time! Soon we were served breakfast as well.
Finally, after bidding everyone goodbye, we started for our next destination – Chatakpur. Mr Tamang arranged a vehicle for the journey. We already had a word with Barsha Ji – Owner of our shelter today – Akriti Homestay. She asked me to make her speak with the driver when we start for Chatakpur and she’ll guide him about the route.
One can reach Chatakpur through 3 ways – viz. (1) Via Sonada, (2) via 3rd Mile – Through Senchal Forest, (3) via Dilaram. Unfortunately, the route through Dilaram is not recommended considering the worst condition of the road. The route through Sonada is the easiest and shortest way to reach Chatakpur, but one is expected to go through a steep walk to reach the village. Considering the condition of my mother, Barsha Ji recommended to take the route via 3rd Mile – which is a little bit longer but easier. Although you are expected to walk for 10-15 mins from the point where vehicle drops you (as the road further is still work in progress) however it’s not much steep and is easier. Also the route through 3rd Mile goes through Senchal Forest, which is an exciting journey altogether itself. The village – Chatakpur itself comes under Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary in Darjeeling district.
It took us around one and a half hour to reach Chatakpur. Barsha Ji already informed us to call her up while at 3rd Mile, as she’d be waiting for us there at the drop point accordingly, because she informed us that once we enter Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary, we’d be going off the network. When we reached there, she and her husband was already waiting for us.
Noticing us, they both came forward, and after a brief introduction, they welcomed us to their village. Her Husband – Bikas Ji, took up all the heavy luggage and went ahead, while Barsha Ji held up my mother, providing her support to walk through the rest of the route.
We were still mid-way to her homestay when we noticed the sky turning it to be grey and cloudy followed by a loud rumbling after a lightning flash. Barsha Ji exclaimed, “Shayad barish ane wali hai, jaldi chaliye” (It might start raining soon, please hurry). Soon we noticed a few hailstones on our jackets. We were so excited to experience it. If I remember correctly, I last experienced hailstorm when I was a kid.
Without wasting much time, we hurried up, as Barsha Ji was tensed with my mother if it starts raining badly. Well, fortunately, nothing like that happened and we reached her homestay safely.
We were settled in our rooms. The rooms were really spacious, clean and well maintained. My dad was really glad that they provided us with room heaters in both the rooms. Considering their age, it really meant a lot to them at such a climate. Barsha Ji came up and asked us whether we’d like to have some tea and we were addicted to tea, we couldn’t say no!
And then, I must say the rest is history. This day of 28th of December in 2018 became the most memorable and luckiest day for us (and the other tourists who were there) at Darjeeling district.
Suddenly, thunders exploded and then the hailstorm started drumming on the roof like large marbles. The roof being made of tins, we just loved the rumbling sound of the hailstorms. We being the only guests, pulled up our chairs in the balcony. Soon Barsha Ji came up with 4 Tibetian Tea Cups! She seems to be excited too! She further informed us that, if it rains like this throughout the night, then tomorrow the glimpse of Kanchenjungha is a sure thing!
She further said, “Shayad snowfall hone wali hai aj, chance bahut jyada hai” (We might experience snowfall today, the chances are very high). She also informed us that, the people in the hills consider snowfall as a lucky charm, as they believe if it’ snows during the beginning of harvesting year, they would have very good quality crops growing up and thus it’s a very good year in terms of farming.
Later around 1:30 PM we were called up for lunch and unfortunately the hailstorm too came to halt by that time. We were served steaming hot Rice, Dal, Bhaji, Sabji and Egg Curry along with Papad. I must say, the meals was simply finger licking and felt heavenly. If you were expecting simple yet tasty home-cooked food, you’d feel right at home.
Although we planned to go for a walk around the village, however considering the weather, it seemed to be a bad idea. Instead, we pulled up chairs in the balcony. However, considering the chilled weather, we couldn’t spend much time there. So we thought of hitting the bed for a quick afternoon nap.
Later around in the afternoon, it started again – the thunders rattled the windowpane and hail pounded on the roof! We really couldn’t hold back ourselves back in the bed, so we went ahead in the balcony. It went for an hour or so and suddenly the rattling sound of hailstorm stopped, however, we could still see those particles, now in more density, in front of our eyes falling down from the sky!
Believe me, for a minute, we really couldn’t understand what was really happening. Soon Barsha Ji came up running and exclaimed “Sir, snowfall!“. Ohh my god, we couldn’t believe our eyes! It’s not like we were experiencing snowfall for the first time, I have experienced it myself at Kedarnath and at Bhutan previously. But seriously? In North Bengal? Are we that much lucky?
My mom belongs from Kurseong, so I have always heard stories of snowfall in Darjeeling, but experiencing it myself, that too now in the present era, it seemed to be far from reality. But today, it felt like nature has crossed its boundaries!
We all started exclaiming with joy! I really don’t know what to say! I’m out of my vocabulary here to express my feelings! Yes, it was the most memorable, historical and luckiest day for us! Suparna couldn’t hold back herself, and went ahead outside and asked me to click her pictures!
While in the evening, we were provided Tea and Onion Pakodas! It continued for around 8:30 PM in the evening. Later when it came to halt, the local kids went outside and started playing! While the adults, on the other hand, went ahead and started making snowman around the homestay! It felt like we were in heaven!
We took a few shots and a small video clip and WhatsApp’ed it across to our family members and friends! Soon we were bombarded with calls and messages asking where is this place! Barsha Ji in the mean-time came up with chicken clear soup and provided to us saying “Considering this situation today, it’s complimentary!”
We couldn’t realize how time passed by and finally, we were called up for dinner! The menu was same as lunch except in place of Egg Curry we were served Chicken Curry instead – the common menu across all the homestays in North Bengal and Sikkim!
After a sumptuous meal, we chit-chatted for a while with Barsha Ji and finally, we called off the day and hit the bed.
29th Dec – Day 4 : Chatakpur :
It was around 5 O’ Clock in the morning, when my dad knocked on my door and asked us to come out! The glorious Kanchenjungha was right in front of us without any obstruction disturbing our views.
We pulled up chairs in the balcony to experience the Sunrise. It started at around 5:30 AM when we first noticed the tip of Kanchenjunga turned reddish yellow!
It’s not the first time (neither the last time, I wish) that we were experiencing Sunrise over Kanchenjunga, but every time we feel the same excitement within us! It always feels special to experience the Sunrise over Kanchenjungha than anywhere else. And this time, it was very special and unique. Well, the ground is completely covered with snow and right behind the same it was the glorious Kanchenjungha!
In the meanwhile, Barsha Ji came up with Tea. And I must say the show continued over the cup of Tea!
Later Me and My Dad decided to walk up to the viewpoint. It’s hardly a 10 mins walk from the homestay, but considering everything being covered up with snow, it’s very risky and doubtful! And as the Sun would start going up, the same would start melting and it can turn out to be another adventure!
Although my mom asked us to refrain from trying that out, but considering my dad’s physical fitness even at that age, he was very confident! Somehow I managed to reach the viewpoint with Dad’s help! In between we both gathered a piece stick to help us balance through the path.
I hardly noticed any tourist up there at the viewpoint! It seems like, most people decided to experience the sunrise from the vicinity of their room! Well, I told you before, you can experience everything right from your window. Else if you want to have a 360-degree view, you can always walk up to the viewpoint!
As I already mentioned before, one of the specialities of Chatakpur is, you can have a glimpse of the entire range of Kanchenjunga not only the Mt. Kanchenjunga itself.
Finally, after spending some time there, we came back. Later we were served Breakfast. Instead of sitting at the dining hall, we decided to pull up chairs at the courtyard, enjoying our meals sitting right in front of Kanchenjungha!
The snow started melting gradually, and things started getting slippery! The kids took up this opportunity to use the same as their skating gound!
Later, Mr Saimon – Brother of Barsha Ji came up to pay her a visit. He took up his nephew and niece to play with snow. I followed along (carefully!) to get some candid shots!
Later at around 2:00 PM, we were called up for Lunch. Post lunch, we planned to go for a walk to Senchal Lake, but considering the village being turned into a skating ground, Barsha Ji advised us against the same.
I planned to have a small afternoon nap post lunch, but the rest of them went to the courtyard to enjoy the warmth of the Sun, as the rooms anyways were freezing! Well, it was a lazy afternoon! We sat there, doing nothing, discussing various things most of it having no context, to kill time! However, the warmth of Sun felt nice in this chilled temperature!
Later in the evening, we were served Tea and Pakoda. Barsha Ji too joined us for chit-chat after she was done preparing our dinners. The rest of the evening was mostly uneventful – which is common across almost all the remote/offbeat destinations!
Finally at around 9:00 PM we were called up for Dinner and post that we called off the day and hit the bed.
30th Dec – Day 5 : Chatakpur – Darjeeling :
The day started with the first ray of light over the glorious Mt. Kanchenjungha!
And the show continued for a while!
Later we were served breakfast. Today our plans were to move to Darjeeling. Barsha Ji had already arranged a vehicle for us. In this short span of time, we completely fell in love with Chatakpur and especially with our wonderful host – Barsha Rai and her family!
With promises to be in touch and come back soon again, we bidded her and her family goodbye and started for Darjeeling!
Points To Remember : If you are planning to visit Chatakpur, please remember few points
- Always have your reservation/booking. Chatakpur being a very remote village, is a destination, run by around 15 families throughout the village. So as you can guess, the accommodation is very limited here. So book well in advance and try not to land up out of the blue. As most of the time, it’s either completely booked or they do not have enough stock to serve your.
- Chatakpur is an eco-friendly village and the villagers intends to continue the same (except 1-2 people who have been lured by money). I’d request you to help Chatakpur keep up to it. Else that day is not far when it’s going to be another Darjeeling
- Do not plan during 15th June 15th – 15th September. Chatakpur is within the Senchal Forest and considering the monsoon, landslide and breeding season of various birds and animals, it’s closed during that period.
- Well as the locals informed us, Chatakpur have experienced this kind of snowfall almost after 11 Years. So in my case (along with all the tourists who were there in Darjeeling on that day), it was a matter of luck. So you really cannot plan based on snow. Even the very next day, a lot of tourists rushed into Darjeeling by the news of snowfall, they could although see snow here and there which took a day or two to melt, but nothing more than that. Experiencing Snowfall in North Bengal is really something once in a decade.
Akriti Homestay: We booked this through our old friend – philosopher – (mis) Guide, the one and only Dipankar Da from North East Tours and Travels. I believe our stay at Akriti Homestay was worth every penny. Chatakpur is a beautiful, quaint, eco-friendly village right at the opposite of Tiger Hill. Chatakpur is famous for offering unobstructed views of the whole range of Kanchenjunga right from your window. The rooms, washrooms and the whole property is very clean and well maintained. The rooms are really spacious in comparison to other homestays I have been to. And the thing that makes it special here – is the warmth of the wonderful host – Barsha Rai and her family. She along with her husband and 2 kids runs this homestay. Akriti is the name of her daughter – who is the elder one than her brother – Aryansh. Another wonderful thing here is the food, which is finger licking and heavenly. You can’t believe the simple home-cooked food can be so tasty unless you spend a night here.
Well, I can’t promise you to find the snow (as we did), but I can surely tell you that you’d definitely rediscover your soul here in the vicinity of mother nature!
Akriti Homestay, Chatakpur: Rs. 11,200/- (1400 Per Head Per Day)
Lepchajagat – Chatakpur Vehicle: Rs. 2200/-
Akriti Homestay – Barsha Rai / Bikas Rai : +91-82072-21164 / +91-70296-26697 / +91-99331-04230
Ramesh (Driver – Lepchajagat – Chatakpur Drop) : +91-62945-46886. Ramesh is a very friendly and co-operating person driving a white Bolero by registration number WB 64L 3131. However, this was a private vehicle which was arranged by Mr Passang Tamang of Lepchajagat. I’m not sure if you can directly call him up to avail his service, as he does not have commercial registration.