After 5 years it’s been a long-awaited anticipated family trip. This time off to Kolakham, Rishop and Charkhol. Kolakham is located by the Neora Valley National Park just 100 km from NJP via Gorubathan amidst natural forest surroundings and facing the mighty Kanchenjunga. Here, one can enjoy the beautiful snow-capped ranges, the evergreen forests and the mesmerizing wildlife.
Our car ran over Tista crossing the Coronation Bridge, exceeding Gorubathan. The road was lined by the long pine trees leading us through a zigzag trail to Lava. The silent, dusky road and peek a boo with the sun rays made the nature mysterious. My 4-year niece suddenly spoke from her mind in excitement “We are between clouds; I feel like a bird”. Within 4 hours we reached our destination, the Silent Valley Resort.
The road from Lava to Kolakham was really bumpy and still quite unknown to mainstream tourists. That’s why there are just a handful resorts/hotels available. Silent Valley Resort is situated in a very lonely place and there were no other resorts nearby. The resort is well maintained by the owner Dipak Rai, who leased out the rooms to different travel agencies. The entire resort was beautifully decorated with various types of flowers and surrounded by pine forest and ravine.
The main two fineries of this place are the colorful Himalayan birds and utter silence amidst the alluring and hypnotizing snow-capped mountain ranges as a bonus. But, to view the mountain peaks of Kanchenjunga etc. a clear sky is a must, and in the month of May, a miracle was truly needed for the same. But, the deficiency was fulfilled by the nonstop fuss of different types of birds. We reached the resort around 2 pm, freshen up and after the lunch, I went on a walk on to explore the place more closely.
The place is like a fairy tale, with lush green slopes ending at the horizon, colorful birds chirping everywhere and the silence of serenity will make you feel enormously lazy. This place is ideal for spending one or two days in complete isolation.
The evening came down slowly and gradually the whole place turned whimsical dark. After a while, I started getting bored as there was nothing to do and it was a family trip so alcohol was forbidden, and hence spent the whole evening watching Vikings in my mobile.
After dinner, I was wishing for a rainy night as I really enjoy the sound of the raindrops falling on the tin roof. As soon as I lie down on the bed, my wish got fulfilled and it started raining. In that tacit night, the sound of the rain sounded like a sharp waterfall falling from great heights. Though I had a boring evening, at last, I ended up the day on a happier note.
As I guessed that I would not be fortunate enough to witness Kanchenjunga, so I didn’t bother to wake up early. I wanted to consume all of the laziness around that place. Though I had to wake up at 8:30 by the fear of cold tea. As I woke up, I noticed the place was looking more vivid and more green after an overnight rain. I was able to see the green gulch from my bed.
With a wholesome breakfast, we started our tour with Chengey falls, it was just 3 km from our resort and 14 km from Lava town. To see the mighty waterfall, you have to walk downhill for about a kilometer to reach here. The extreme calmness with huge waterfall sound makes a wonderful contrast.
The long quavering of the Himalayan birds makes the atmosphere transform the surrounding into a heaven. The motorable road going straight to Rehnock and the name of the river is Rishi (one must familiar with Rishi Khola).
Next stop was Lava. Lava is basically a township and it’s much smaller than Darjeeling or Kalimpong but, after spending an isolated night at Kolakham, this place looks an exquisite city. At the entrance of the town, you will find the Lava monastery on the mountain lap. At the time of town’s genesis, there was a shrine of Nepalese people. From that, the town gets its name Lava.
70-80 years ago a handful of people came from Nepal and created the settlement on this mountain lap. ‘La’ means a scared place for worshipping God and ‘Va’ means going to worship. According to them ‘La-Va’ means: going to that religious place for worshiping God. The monastery was placed there later but it still holds its glorious heritage even today. There is also a religious college for lamas just beside that monastery.
After the monastery visit, we had our hot served lunch, from there it was just a 40 mins drive to Rishop. But, as soon as we left lava, the rain started pouring down. The road visibility came down near to zero. A few km later we spotted another car was waiting for help. Our driver went out to help them and I too wasted no time to get out of the vehicle and soak myself in that wild rain. Soon we reached Rishop and it was still raining heavily and the temperature went down drastically. It was too windy and cold.
In comparison to Kolkham, Rishop is more popular. Our hotel was well maintained and decorated; I was hoping to get around the place after the rain. But, as soon as we entered in our room, everyone went under the blanket. A hot cup of tea was the most needed thing at that time. As wished we ordered the tea and after a few hot sips, I thought it would be a better idea to warm myself under the blanket too. In that shivering cold I got tired and fell asleep for an hour, but soon my mother started calling me in excitement and I was not ready to even put my head out of the blanket.
But, she literally roared like a tigress and as soon as I moved my blanket, I realized the cloud has moved away and I can see the sunlight. But, when I came out of the room, I was stunned, my eyes popped out from my eyeholes and my jaw dropped. Mother nature has smiled on us. We can see the whole Kanchenjunga range standing in front of us. With some dark black clouds underneath the snow-capped peaks, the whole view was breath-taking, awe-inspiring.
I took out my camera and started taking photos; it was a 135-degree angle view. First I got confused determining which one is actually Kanchenjunga. Then I asked a local, he said all the snow-capped peaks are Kanchenjunga. I also asked if there is any viewpoint or not, he mentioned about Tiffin-Dara but I didn’t have enough time to get there as the sun was on a verge to kiss the horizon. But, to clear that deficit I went on a walk to the main road where a small viewpoint was made for tourists.
The moment was full of contradiction, on one hand, I was standing at the edge of hills. It was a speculating and mesmerizing view of the heavenly mountains that are welcoming us to enmesh ourselves in nature’s glass of wine on the other hand.
At the evening we had another round of tea with chicken pakoras at around 7 pm. But, as the guy came to serve the pakora and tea, informed us that dinner will be served at 8.30 in the common dining hall. Dinner at 8:30? I was like who eats dinner at that time. But, no options, we had to take the dinner at the given time and call it an early day.
Next morning my plan was to get a few early morning shots of Kanchenjunga, But, I was chatting over the phone for till late night with my dearest friend, and I went to sleep around 3 am, So, I had to skip that plan. When I woke up my brother already removed all the curtains and I started my day with a glimpse of the Kanchenjunga from my bed. That day’s plan was to visit Lolegaon and to do the famous Canopy walk and then to Charkhol.
We started our journey towards Lolegaon around 9.30. It was a bright sunny day and the road was coruscating. In some places, the jungle was so thick that the light of the sun was not even reaching us. The twinkles of sunlight from the gaps of pine leaves and the noise of the birds filled my mind.
If I haven’t come to this enchanted road, I would have deprived myself of enjoying this enormous beauty. Soon, we reached Goombadara ghumba. It’s a newly built ghumba made in the style of a park. After spending a few minutes there we went to visit the famous Canopy walk.
We Bought the tickets and entered the jungle. A little moved forward, and there you have the Canopy walk. A hanging bridge tied with iron cable from one end to another end of the jungle. Usually, this kind of hanging bridge can be found over hilly rivers. But, the aim of making such bridge in the middle of the forest is to attract more people here. We had great fun on the bridge; we hopped gently to make the bridge swing.
Charkhol was not far from Lolegaon but road condition was very bad, so it took us more than 2 hours to reach Charkhol. It has nothing special to offer, just a 360-degree view from the table top hill. A resort was built by a Bengali person at the top of the hill. It has 8 cottages facing towards Kanchenjunga.
The resort has some spectacular view of the valley from the top. I took some good photos from there. I asked the caretaker to put up a bonfire for us. But, as soon as the sun went off, rain started and my plan of bonfire got canceled. 3 days well spent in repose and silent. It was time to pack our bags for the return journey to hot, humid and lurid Kolkata.
- Lunches are only available on a prior notice, don’t forget to inform.
- I booked my car on a per day basis which costs me ₹3500 for a bolero. My booking was made by indyatour. As I was with a big family, I didn’t want to take any extra burden, But separate booking of the car will cost much lesser. For that contact Lava Taxi Syndicate (contact Subrata Basu for the number).
- The cost of staying at Kolakham ₹1200-2200. I stayed at Silent Valley Resort
(Subrata Basu – 09830190503 | Dipak Rai – 09933894169).
- The cost of staying at Rishop ₹1000-3000. Sonar Bangla is the most popular one.
But, I stayed at Kanchan View Tourist Lodge (09830329591).
- The cost of staying at Charkhol Blue Pine Retreat ₹2200 per cottage.
- Foods are available at all meal plan on an average it will cost around ₹450-500 per person. Though at Charkhol the food is costlier than other places and not served as meal basis.
- Bonfire is a must to enjoy the evening. the setup will cost around ₹300-400 and chicken will cost ₹300-600 per kg.