Trek to Buxa holds a very special place in our hearts, as it was our opening to the magical world of trekking and gradually became the elixir of our otherwise mundane life.
We started from Jayanti early in the morning with our rented car and reached Santrabari at about 7 AM. At Santrabari, we had delicious Momos from the only shop that stood there. I often wonder, how they make such wonderful momos! The veg momos are yummier than the Momos we find at Kolkata- no offence meant to anyone.
After having a sumptuous breakfast of momos and tea, we started our journey towards Buxa fort. It is 4 km uphill trek. There is a well-marked path leading to the Fort, so there is no chance of getting lost. We started our journey through the midst of the green luscious forest. Being my first trek, I never anticipated that walking uphill would be altogether a different ball game than walking in plains. Within a few minutes, I was huffing and puffing. My backpack seemed to weigh tonnes. Sweating profusely, I sat down beneath a tree and simply refused to move further!
After much cajoling by my companion and husband Agni, I started again with renewed zeal. As we went up, the forest became dense and the weather cooled down. Gradually we started to soak in the beauty of nature – evergreen forest canopy, a glimpse of rare animals, birds and rare orchids. Butterflies were also seen in abundance.
After a trek of three hours, we reached the first village on the hills, Buxa Sadar Bazar. It is a small village with no electricity and rare mobile connection. The known accommodation was that of Mr. Indra Thapa’s Guest House. We chose to stay near the Buxa Fort, a mere 10 minutes walk from the village. We stayed at a local villager, Mr. Rosomoy’s (meaning – full of juice) homestay. Mr. Rosomoy turned true to his name and within a few minutes we were abreast with all the village gossips!!
From our window, the Buxa Fort could be clearly seen. After having Maggi, we visited the Buxa Fort. The fort was dilapidated and in urgent need of maintenance. The fort was built by the British during their regime. Its claim to fame was because Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was detained here before his disappearance from India. Our next stop was the Buxa Heritage Museum.
Post lunch, we started our trek towards Lepchakha via Tashigaon. Tashigaon is a small village about 2 km from Buxa fort. We passed through the numerous orange orchards on our way to the forest route towards Lepchakha. Santrabari gets its name from the oranges grown here (Santra means orange in Hindi).
We took meandering routes through the forest. The road did not seem to end, but little did we know what awaited us. The forest suddenly ended in what seemed like a small village, and soon we were in the midst of a plateau surrounded by five hills. This is Lepchakha for you. Lepchakha is called the “Queen of Dooars” and I could now understand why. From Lepchakha, all the 12 rivers flowing through Dooars looked like glistening snakes meandering through the plains below. The view was spectacular and breathtaking. The surrounding hills made the place more romantic.
I soaked in the beauty as much as I could while Agni started capturing them in his camera. In the midst of the plateau, was a small chorten. There was 1 homestay for the people who would like to stay at Lepchakha.
We could not possibly miss the sunset from Lepchakha, so we stayed on until the sunset. After that, we started our downhill trek to Buxa Fort. It was already dark when we reached our homestay. Mr. Rosomoy was waiting for us with delicious dinner and his juicy stories. After dinner, we had ‘chaang’ (a locally made liquor brewed from rice) from the villagers. We were quite tired and slept as soon as we hit the bed.
I was woken up the next morning by the sound of chirping birds. Time for return has come. After breakfast, we started our downhill trek towards Santrabari.
The trek to Buxa and Lepchakha was a treat to our eyes and healing to our senses. The quality time we spent at nature’s lap rejuvenated us to a great extent and we were ready to face the pressures of our daily life and work.
Some facts about Buxa:
How to reach:
Train from Howrah or Sealdah to New Alipurduar Jn. From New Alipurduar, rent a cab to Santrabari. From Santrabari, start trekking towards Buxa Sadar Bazar.
Place to stay:
Buxa Sadar Bazar: Indra Thapa’s homestay
There are few other homestays near Buxa fort.
Lepchakha: one homestay available.
Time to visit:
Throughout the year.
Summers will be quite hot.
There will be heavy rains in the monsoons. Leeches will also be a major problem during this time.
Winters are the best time to visit.
Easy trek. The first half of the hike is steeper and often exasperating for a fresher. But if you take small steps and plenty of breaks eventually you will reach the fort within a maximum time of 2 to 3 hours.
Buxa Fort is at a height of 2600 ft.