Kolakham: A Piece of Haven in the Lap of the Himalayas
Nestled in the lap of the lush green evergreen forests of the Eastern Himalayas, is our next find- Kolakham. Kolakham is a small village located at an altitude of 6500mts overlooking the panoramic beauty of the snow-clad mountain peaks of the Himalayas. Let us walk you through and help you plan your next getaway destination.
What Makes Kolakham So Famous?
Kolakham is a small village 38kms from Kalimpong. Cradled in the lap of the Neora Valley Reserve Forest, facing the Great Eastern Himalayas. For nature-lovers, this village is an ideal place to be. The pure and fresh oxygen of this mountain village will enrich you by throwing out all your stress of routine mundane life from your mind and soul. Girdled with large coniferous pine trees and the exotic rhododendron flowers, Kolakham and its surrounding areas will leave you breathless. Bird-watching, star-gazing or trekking all can be done here to satiate your adventurous soul.
The Neora Valley Forest area is still unexplored by travellers and hence if you are looking to explore some pristine mountain wilderness, then this should be on the top of your destination list. Waking up to the melodious songs of various species of birds and gazing at the majestic view of the Kanchenjunga while sipping down a hot cup of Darjeeling tea, this is exactly the refreshment your heart is craving for. And if you are the adventurous kind then short treks in and around Kolakham, through the forest will rejuvenate you.
How to Reach Kolakham:
Air: If you choose to travel by air, then the nearest airport is Bagdogra. From Bagdogra, you have to go uphill of 113 km which takes a travel time of 3 hours and 40 minutes via Rishi Road.
Rail: Nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri Station. Long-distance trains are easily available from all major cities of WestBengal. From New Jalpaiguri Station you will need to travel for 3hours and 30 minutes covering a distance of approximately 103kms.
Road: If you are travelling by road from Kolkata, the journey will take up to 16 hours and a distance of 660kms via NH12.
What to See in Kolakham:
Neora Valley Forest
The Neora Valley Forest is one of the last standing and richest biological zones of The Eastern Himalayas and has worldwide popularity as the Oldest Reserve Forest in India. Located at the junction of Bhutan, Sikkim and West Bengal, this Forest makes itself rich in biodiversity because of the watershed of the Neora River along with its tributaries. A safari trip through the deep forest trails will make your stay at Kolakham more memorable and turn your vacation into a “once in a lifetime” experience. You can even choose to trek instead of taking a safari trip through the jungle.
This forest is the abode to a large number of rare and endangered flora and fauna. The faunal diversity of this forest extends largely from mammals like the Red Panda, Clouded Leopard, Black Bear, and The Royal Bengal Tiger to wildlife species like the Malayan Giant Squirrel, the Sambar and the Barking deer to name just a few. The floral abundance of this ecosystem is of great importance too.
The Neora Valley is blessed with rare species of Wild Orchids. The virgin wilderness of this ecosystem consists of tropical, sub-tropical, temperate and sub-temperate forms of vegetation. The floral variety ranges from rhododendron, bamboo, oak to ferns and sal. This Reserve Forest has infested with106 species of rare birds too. Hence, for bird-lovers and bird-watchers it is nothing less than a paradise. This bio-diversified ecosystem provides harmonious co-existence of the flora, fauna and the avian fauna!
The Neora Valley Forest is the home to The Red Panda also known as the Red Cat Bear. The unexplored rugged hilly terrains of the Valley provide them with natural habitat for the peaceful existence. The presence of the Red Panda provides this Sub-Himalayan region with a significant mention in the Red Data Book of the IUCN and in the appendices of CITES.
Kolakham will be left unexplored by you if you do not visit the Changi Falls otherwise known as the Changey Falls. It is known for being the only fall which is accessible by tourists. The Changey falls is just a 3kms jeep ride and 1.5kms walk down deep into the Hills of Darjeeling with comfortable rest huts and well-built staircases on the way.
Lava, Rishap, Charkhole
These are small villages in Darjeeling in and around Kolakham. These quaint hamlets provide few of the best viewpoints of the snow-clad mountain peaks of Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Kabroo, Pandim, Rathung and many more. You could also drop in at the Lava Monastery and the Neora Valley Interpretation Centre for a quick look at nature’s abundant blessings on this region.
Best Time to Visit Kolakham:
Since a mountainous region, Kolakham welcomes tourists with pleasant weather all year round. If you want to escape the tropical summers, then this is the best time to go. The temperatures during summers vary from 5 degrees Celsius and may go up to 15 degrees Celsius. Winters are chilly and the temperatures can go down to 0 degrees Celsius. Monsoons can be a little tricky and heavy rainfall may cause inconvenience in travelling.
Best Place to stay in Kolakham? Neora Valley Jungle Camp
If you are planning Neora Valley Reserve Forest, as your next getaway destination, then we are here to provide you with one of our best finds in this area.
Located on a hilltop in Kolakham Village, this stay brings to you a blend of natural environment along with the needed modern amenities. It is beautifully located on the margins of the Neora Valley National Park without trespassing into the natural environment of the jungle yet keeping you very close to nature. The accommodations here are well-maintained and well-furnished. They also provide you with local friendly staffs who are always on their toes to make you feel welcome. The rustic and ethnic construction will give you a taste of earthen village life. If you are here, looking for some solitude and privacy, then the tea room cum library is the place to be for you.
The stay serves the lodgers with farm-grown organic food. The traditional Nepali cuisine will leave an unforgettable taste in your mouth.
The panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga, the trekking trails through the Neora forest, the beauty of the lush green landscape as you rest here under this roof. It will be no less than “once in a lifetime experience”.
This place will certainly take your hearty away.
They have a provision of tastefully furnished 3 four-bedded attics, 1 honeymoon cottage accommodating two people and two cosy yet comfortable Swiss tents- as per your requirements.
Outdoor Activities near Kolakham
The Neora Valley Forest is nothing less than “Heaven on Earth” for bird-watchers. Due to the difference in altitudes, it is home to almost 200 species of birds. Rare species of birds are found here too, even during winters. Species like the bay woodpecker, the Brown Wood Owl, the Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo, Pygmy Wren-Babbler are just to name a few. Birds of prey like the majestic Golden Eagle, the Himalayan Griffon and Lammergeier are also seen here.
There are large numbers of walking trails- both long and short- across the village and also through the deep forest. The biological zone is not the only diversity that is worth mentioning in this region. Along the trekking trails, you will also notice a variety of landscapes. During the monsoons, there are formations of deep ravines and spring water streams too.
Visiting the small villages in and around Kolakham will give you an essence of the local life of this region. The community inhabiting here is known as the Rai community. The villagers always welcome tourists in a very hospitable manner. Interacting with them will help you understand the community and culture of the mountainous village life. The main crop grown by farmers here is cardamom and they walk you through the entire steps of its processing. Musical and dance performances by the local villagers will enrich you with the culture of their community.
If you are not so much of an adventure freak, then you can opt for day trips. Visit the local market, the Samybiong Tea Estate or the Lava Buddhist Monastery.
If you are here just to relax, then you can spend the whole day enjoying the spectacular view of the valley- listening to the charming melodious songs of the birds, watching the sunset, feeling the crisp mountain winds and filling your lungs with pure and fresh oxygen. Your soul will find peace!
There are so many things to do here that it will certainly keep you busy.
Double Cottages (Shama, Kalij, Monal): INR 5500 + 15% GST and Convenience Fee per day per room including all meals
Attic Cottages (Shikra, Besra): INR 6500 + 15% GST and Convenience Fee per day per room including all meals
Attic Cottage (Niltava): INR 7500 + 15% GST and Convenience Fee per day per room including all meals
*Cost of Extra Person in any room: INR 1500/-
*Cost of Extra Meal: INR 450/- per person per meal
Complimentary for children below 6 years.
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- 5 Saswati Bhattacharya
I have been to place. It is awesome. Great food and great people. If u go in a clear day kanchenjunga view will amaze you.