Lungchu – a small yet unexplored secluded hamlet in North Bengal from where the snow-capped Himalayan range can be witnessed in its full glory. Lungchu gives you a chance to perceive the untouched mother nature without the interference of the mobbing crowd. This tiny charming destination is located in the Kalimpong district 16 KMs ahead of Lava and just 3 KMs ahead of the highest waterfall in West Bengal, Changey Falls at an altitude of 5250ft. The spectacular hamlet of Lungchu is encompassed by the mighty Himalayan mountains and various green vegetation of the same. The 180-degree sight of the snow-covered Kanchendzonga range adds to the allure of the place.
The main USP of Lungchu is its untouched pristine beauty that attracts the off-stream tourists. Lungchu is located within the range of Neora Valley National Park mainly consisting the vegetation of pine, deodar and oak trees. Being situated within the range of a national park and being less visited, Lungchu offers enormous scope for bird watchers and bird photographers. Walking amidst the green nature, relaxing in the bright sunlight, capturing the pristine landscape, watching the clear sky with glittering stars at the night are some of the ways through which you can relish your stay at the quaint village of Lungchu.
On a fine evening, we stumbled upon Lungchu while surfing social media, relishing our memories from our last trip to Dawaipani and Bagora. It’s been a whole year that Covid19 has set back travel buffs like us at home. We locked ourselves up since the beginning of March and since then we kept ourselves away from the maddening crowd. And now when the situation seemed to be turning better, we were ready to take a risk! It was a dicey situation for us and took us several days to make a decision.
However, with a flock of tourists plying into various parts of North Bengal and Sikkim during Durga Puja gave us hope! Finally, we were going out after 8 long months, we would have never settled for a short tour. Without wasting further moments, I coupled up most of the wishlist of mine and chalked out a plan. It turned out to be a 12 long days tour with a plan of spending the new year in Darjeeling. No matter how touristy it becomes, you just can’t keep yourself away from the charm of Darjeeling!
With a plan now in place, we took no time to book our flights back and forth from Kolkata and our accommodations accordingly. Even though we are budget travellers, however, we didn’t want to risk travelling via train during this pandemic and the flight costs were similar to that of 2AC. With that being done, we reached out to Babai Da. Babai Da is always our trusted partner in Dooars and North Bengal. We just can’t think of a trip to Dooars / North Bengal without Babai Da being with us.
Day 1 – 24th Dec 2020: CCU – IXB. IXB – Lungchu
Day 2 – 25th Dec 2020: Lungchu
Day 3 – 26th Dec 2020: Lungchu – Tabakoshi
Day 4 – 27th Dec 2020: Tabakoshi – Bungkulung
Day 5 – 28th Dec 2020: Bungkulung – Baasbari (Bijanbari)
Day 6 – 29th Dec 2020: Baasbari (Bijanbari)
Day 7 – 30th Dec 2020: Baasbari (Bijanbari) – Lamagaon
Day 8 – 31st Dec 2020: Lamagaon – Darjeeling
Day 9 – 1st Jan 2021: Darjeeling
Day 10 – 2nd Jan 2021: Darjeeling
Day 11 – 3rd Jan 2021: Darjeeling – IXB. IXB – CCU
NOTE: Lungchu is in Kalimpong district while remaining destinations of our tour are in Darjeeling district. Generally, this should not be a route plan of yours, however, as we wanted to explore Lungchu we planned it anyway.
How To Reach
Lungchu being located in the Kalimpong district 16 KMs ahead of Lava and just 3 KMs ahead of Changey Falls makes it easily reachable from Kalimpong / Lava. Thus you can either hire a private vehicle from NJP / IXB or wherever you are planning from if you are looking for convenience. Else, if you are on a budget and planning to reach via shared vehicle, then you’d have to take a shared vehicle from NJP / Siliguri to Kalimpong (Rs. 150/- – Rs. 200/-) first and then you’d have to hop into a shared vehicle to Lava (Rs. 100/- – Rs. 150/-). From Lava onwards, you can either hire a private vehicle to Lungchu which would set you back by around Rs. 2000/- to Rs. 2500/- or else you can opt for shared vehicles plying to Lingsey (Rs. 200/- – Rs. 300/-) and get down at Lungchu.
What To See / What To Do
Lungchu being an offbeat destination your best bet is to embrace the nature and magnificent vista of snow-peaked Kanchendzonga (on a clear day!). If you are into birding or a bird watcher, you’d find numerous colourful Himalayan species here. Other than the above, you can go for experiencing the vivacious Changey Falls, the highest waterfall in West Bengal. If this is the first time you are plying on this route, then you can go ahead and explore Lava, Loleygaon, Rishyap and Kolakham which are now famous destinations along this route.
NOTE: Lava – Loleygaon – Rishyap – Kolakham is heavily influenced by the local syndicate. If you are hiring your own vehicle, you won’t be able to use the same for doing sightseeing at Lava – Loleygaon – Rishyap. You must hire a local vehicle from the syndicate for any kind of local sightseeing. Visiting Kolkakham and Changey Falls won’t be an issue though. However, if you are just staying for 1N or if you are planning to do sightseeing at Lava – Loleygaon – Rishyap after checking out, it won’t be much of an issue.
Sikkim border is nearby to Lungchu and thus you may go for a short day trip to Rhenock Bazaar, Reshikhola, Aritar and Mankhim. However, this is not a proper route to enter Sikkim and thus it’s completely based on your luck to negotiate with the border police to let you cross the border to Sikkim through this route with a WB registered vehicle.
Day 1 – 24th Dec 2020 – CCU – IXB. IXB – Lungchu :
With all the bookings being taken care of 2 months back, only travel buffs can realize how it feels to wait for the D day to arrive and that too after 8 long months! During these 2 months, we kept on discussing the precautionary measures we should take and the sanitization factors to be taken into account. Well, we might sound crazy, however, we carried around 24 bottles of disinfectant spray to sanitize the rooms, our luggage and clothes daily! In addition to that, we carried over 5 bottles of hand sanitiser and decided to avoid taking food en-route to keep ourselves safe. Moreover, we carried our own cups to avoid having tea on the cups provided by hotels and homestays! With all these decisions being in place, we felt pretty much confident that we’d make through it! Things went south when Dilip Da decided to ask Babai Da for a Covid test! Well, that’s a story for another day!
Finally, the D day arrived and we took a Uber to Kolkata International Airport for our flight to Bagdogra via GoAir G8 528. Things at the airport felt kinda safe. Our luggage was sanitized at the entry gate and the touchpoints for documentation procedures were minimized as possible. Security officials and Crew members were seated inside the protected kiosks and insisted on us holding up the documents instead of handing them over for verification. However, we found 70% of the passengers waiting at Airport lobbies to be without wearing a mask. Well, we kept a safe distance as much as possible. Considering the norms by AAI we were provided covid safety packages consisting of PPE Kit (only for passengers on the middle seat), face shield, face mask and a few pouches of hand sanitiser before boarding the aircraft.
Finally, we onboarded to our long-awaited journey to Bagdogra. It took us around an hour to fly to Bagdogra. Babai Da along with Boudi and Dilip Da was already waiting for us out there. Well, it might have slipped my mind, however, Boudi’s maternal home being at Siliguri, they chose to fly a week ago to spend some time with the family before embarking on the tour. Thus, instead of having our lunch en-route (which we planned to avoid anyway), Boudi chose to cook and pack something for us.
Our flight being an afternoon one, it was already around 3 PM when we embarked on our journey. We knew today would be a dull one considering we have a long way to go to reach Lungchu. In between, we stopped en-route beside a highway to have our lunch. The next part of the journey was exciting, as we all met after 8 long months.
Gradually as we left the Siliguri town behind and started moving up the hills, we finally decided to leave out our masks behind. Babai Da had a hard time convincing us that there’s hardly any effect / ongoing cases of Covid19 here in Doors and the hills. Even in Siliguri, people around will treat you like an alien if you are spotted wearing a mask! Dilip Da and Boudi were already freaked out with their experiences over last week!
En-route we stopped at Mongpong by a roadside Dhaba for Tea and Snacks. The cups that we brought were packed in the luggage and thus, left with no other option, Dilip Da decided to sanitise the cups! It was a hilarious scene out there! Things went south when myself and Boudi decided to have a plate of Momo and he gave it a thought to sanitise the plates!
Although in the beginning we were hesitating a bit, but then again Babai Da came to rescue! He explained to us that, we should not be thinking in terms of Kolkata as the situation out here is completely different. Even though there can be a few cases in Siliguri town, there are hardly any cases here in the hilly region. Yes, we should take basic precautionary measures from other tourists and in crowded towns like Darjeeling and Kalimpong, however with local people in offbeat regions, we should be quite safe.
Well, we decided to give it a go considering we were out of our home after 8 long months and we couldn’t anymore take the pressure of maintaining all our precautionary measures! We were hungry like hell and the momo was delicious. Turns out we had 6 plates of Momo, 2 plates of Noodles and a cup of tea each! Finally, it felt relieving without worrying about further precautionary measures!
It was already 6 PM in the evening by then. The further journey towards Kolakham and further to Lungchu was completely uneventful while our host – Mr Ashok Rai was continuously in touch with us about our whereabouts. We reached Lungchu Nature Stay at around 9 PM. You’d need a steady and experienced hand over the steering to reach the parking lot from the main road due to a steep uphill curve.
Mr Ashok Rai greeted us warmly and directed to our rooms. There’s a short series of stairs you’d have to climb to reach the homestay from the parking zone. The local guys helped us with the luggage. We were allotted Room No 6 (the best room, more on this later!) on the second floor. We all fell in love with such a quaint looking cottage at first sight. We were eagerly waiting for the day tomorrow to get a proper glimpse of the place around.
Mr Ashok Rai enquired with us if we’d like to have a cup of tea, and we were overwhelmed by this behaviour of him. 9 PM is considered as very late and almost mid-night by the hilly standards and at this point, he is asking us if we’d like to have a cup of tea. Our wives took in charge to sanitize each and every corner of the room while we were enjoying a smoke outside in the balcony at such chilly weather. In the meanwhile, Mrs Rai came up with Tea and a bucket of hot water for us to freshen up. That piping hot cup of tea felt divine at that point of time.
It was already 10 PM by then however Mr Ashok Rai was puzzled handling a loud group out there. They seemed to have opted for a bonfire and barbeque for the evening with Bollywood dance numbers being played out loud completely ruining the environment. And, they were drunk as hell such that they were even unable to stand up! Considering such a situation I guess, Mr Ashok Rai enquired with us if we would be okay with having our dinner late. He’d serve the other groups first and then come back to us. Well, we were quite happy with the proposal and it bought us some time to enjoy the place (ignoring the loud music 🙁 ). We were quite amazed to learn that he’s allowing the tourists to have dinner such late. Generally, if you go by the hilly standards you are expected to take your dinner by 8 PM – 8:30 PM or you can also choose to have at in your room if you plan to take it late.
Dilip Da suggested opening up a bottle of ours to cherish the moment and cope up with the chilled temperature out there. We enjoyed a lot for next 1 hour till the point where Mrs Rai came up with our dinner at around 11 PM. Soon after having our dinner, we retired for the day.
Day 2 – 25th Dec 2020 – Lungchu :
What can be the best way to start your Christmas morning with experiencing the ray of first light over the magnificent snow-peaked Mt. Kanchendzonga! We woke up at around 5 AM and was awestruck by the view we were wishing for! We were experiencing sunrise over Kanchendzonga after almost a year, so we didn’t want to miss a single moment of it. We pulled up our chairs and sat there while the show lasted.
Remember I mentioned above that Room No 6 is the best room in Lungchu Nature Stay? The reason is that the room being on the left-most corner on the 1st Floor of the building. That leaves you secluded from other guests and you do not feel disturbed while other tourists being using the balcony or just passing through. And most importantly, the view of Kanchendzonga is on the left of the building thus (1) even though the balcony is common, however, you are the one to have unobstructed access the view, (2) Room No. 6 being the left-most one, you could have the view of Kanchendzonga from the room itself and guess what (3) you could have the view of Kanchendzonga while shitting yourself! Check out the pictures below to better relate to the above points!
Later at around 7:30 AM Mr Ashok Rai came up with tea. It took us a while to get freshen up. Although we didn’t have many plans for the day, however, after having our breakfast, we thought of going ahead for a ride. Even though I have been to Changey Falls previously on our trip to Lava – Loleygaon – Rishyap – Kolakham, however for Dilip Da and Boudi it was something new. However, they ditched the idea considering the effort for coming back up after visiting Changey Falls! Cascading down from a height of about 150ft. Changey Falls is the highest waterfall in West Bengal. However to reach Changey Falls, one needs to climb down around 1 KM from the last motorable road. Thus, reaching the falls would seem like a breeze but it would test your physical abilities to the core while coming back up!
Babai Da decided to try his luck with plying us into Rhenock Bazaar in Sikkim crossing the border at Lingsey. Well, we were very much excited about this adventure of ours, considering the steep increase in tax over liquors! Thanks to Babai Da, we piled up our stock for the tour at a 60% discounted price! A bottle of Old Monk costs Rs. 250/- there in Sikkim which costs around Rs. 640/- here in Bengal! I’d leave the rest for you to imagine!
A quick glance over Google Maps revealed to us that Aritar and Mankhim are just a few minutes drive away from this Rhenock Bazaar. Again, although, we covered it as a part of our tour to Sikkim Silk Route, however, this was completely new for Dilip Da and Boudi. Thus, we requested Babai Da to drive us there.
We returned to our homestay by noon. We felt relieved by the warmth of the sun and took this opportunity to grab a bucket of hot water and bath ourselves up! Later after having our lunch, we took our own sweet time to adore the place around. The resort is very beautifully designed with a stone-paved path leading through a beautiful garden of various colourful floras to a 2 storied charming wooden cottage with 6 glass-front rooms having a personal balcony for each to embrace nature. Beside the garden, lies a concrete round-shaped dent that has been built purposefully for catering with bonfire and barbeque. The dining place is a glass-wooden structured hall for you to enjoy nature while having your meals. One can just spend the entire day at this place gazing at Kanchendzonga lying amongst the colourful flowers in the garden.
We spent the entire afternoon gossiping amongst ourselves in the garden and walking and exploring around the resort. Having the previous group being moving out today morning, we really could enjoy the silence of nature. Rest of the evening was mostly uneventful and spent over the drinks to cope up with the chilled temperature! The barbecue failed to meet our expectations because of its bland taste. With barbeque, the trick is to marinate it well ahead and cook it on a low fire so that it gets well cooked without the outer part getting burnt. Even though we informed about the same yesterday, we found Mr Ashok to start the preparation only after today evening. With the lack of proper marination, it turned out to be a waste.
We dozed off early after having our dinner by around 10 PM.
Lungchu Nature Stay: Lungchu is an untouched pristine hamlet located in the Kalimpong district 16kms ahead of Lava and just 3kms ahead of the Changey Falls in Kolakham. This small yet charming destination in North Bengal is a one-off from where the snow-capped Himalayan range can be witnessed in its full glory. Being situated within the range of a Neora Valley National Park and being less visited, Lungchu offers enormous scope for bird watchers and bird photographers.
The resort is very beautifully designed with a stone-paved path leading through a beautiful garden of various colourful floras to a 2 storied charming wooden cottage with 6 glass-front rooms having a personal balcony for each to embrace nature. Beside the garden, likes a cemented round-shaped dent that has been built purposefully for catering with bonfire and barbeque. The dining place is a glass-wooden structured hall for you to enjoy nature while having your meals. One can just spend the entire day at this place gazing at Kanchendzonga lying amongst the colourful flowers in the garden.
The entire property, rooms and the washrooms are very clean and well maintained. Hot waters are provided in a bucket as and when requested. Being a homestay in a secluded destination, do not expect any kind of luxury, instead, come here to embrace nature. Going by our bitter experience on Day 1, I’d request the future guests not to ruin the silence of nature by playing such loud music. I’d also request Mr Ashok and Mr Abhijeet to look after this and give it a thought in terms of a long term! Such loud music will have an adverse effect on nature and it won’t take a long time for birds to migrate away shooing away the nature lovers, bird watchers and bird photographers which will have a direct impact to the business in the long term. I understand it’s not easy to control and understand the nature of each guest, however, things like these can be easily taken care of by imposing a few rules or by giving a brief orientation.
The host Mr Ashok Rai is a very humble, helpful, co-operating and an always smiling person. He along with his family looks after guests. The food needs to be ordered separately as per the a-la-carte menu or one can also opt meal package for Rs. 550/- per person per day which includes Lunch, Evening Tea & Snacks, Dinner and Breakfast on the next day. The quality and taste of the food is kinda good but not something to die for!
Lungchu Nature Resort : Rs. 2250/- x 2N = 4500/- (Only Accommodation)
Fooding : The food needs to be ordered separately as per the a-la-carte menu or you can also opt meal package for Rs. 550/- per person per day which includes Lunch, Evening Tea & Snacks, Dinner and Breakfast on the next day.
Mr Abhijeet Dutta (Booking) : +91 98367 49949. Mr Abhijeet Dutta leased out the land and constructed this dream of his. The booking needs to be done through him only.
Mr Ashok Rai (Host – Lungchu Nature Stay) : +91 75849 40937 / +91 76022 82684.
Abhijeet Singha (Babai Da) : +91 89066 72949 / +91 99325 64080. Babai Da is always our trusted partner in Dooars and North Bengal. We just can’t think of a trip to Dooars / North Bengal without Babai Da being with us.