Lepchajagat has a charm of its own. Located very close to Darjeeling, this little hamlet is a place that we read in romantic novels. Filled with thick oak, firs and rhododendron trees, Lepchajagat, located at an altitude of 6956 feet, is the place where one can find there peace and calm. It is one such place where the stressed and tired souls of the cities seek a few days refuge in the lap of nature. Lepchajagat is one of the famous weekend destinations from Kolkata.
I would no longer call Lepchajagat offbeat, at least not for the people from Kolkata and Bengal. It is now a well-known weekend getaway from Kolkata and sees a lot of visitors all through the year. Being located only 18 km from Darjeeling town can also be a reason for its popularity. Even with the tourist footfall, Lepchajagat remains a beautiful and coveted place for the vacation loving Bengalis. And for the others visiting Darjeeling, I would suggest you visit Lepchajagat and stay there for a couple of days. I am sure you will come back with a wonderful memory.
- 1 Lepchajagat – The World of the Lepchas
- 2 What can you do and experiences at Lepchajagat?
- 3 Places to Visit near Lepchajagat
- 4 Our Experience at Lepchajagat
- 5 Lepchajagat Quick Facts
- 6 Some other Weekend Getaways from Kolkata
Lepchajagat – The World of the Lepchas
Locally, the village is also known as Lepcha Bustee. Literally, Lepchajagat means the ‘world of the Lepchas’ (Jagat means world). As the name suggests, the place was once predominantly occupied by the Lepcha tribe. Today, a major portion of the area is a reserve forest area.
The Lepchajagat village itself is quite small with a few houses. There were no local markets nearby and the main market was at Sukhiapokhri 4 km away. This is where the beauty of the place lies. Completely secluded, Lepchajagat offered a perfect place to hide from the world and delve into your own thoughts. The tall trees offer you solitude and the cold breeze across your cheeks simply makes you happy. The smell of the mist is equally enchanting. The mist comes suddenly and you are unable to see much beyond you, and it disappears equally fast. The tall pine and fir trees give a grand welcome while you wander into this world.
What can you do and experiences at Lepchajagat?
As I said earlier, Lepchajagat is all about tranquility and nature. The entire area is surrounded by forests full of pine, oak and rhododendrons. And along with the humbling nature, you will also get the majestic views of the Kanchenjunga ranges. Various Himalayan birds are found in these forests. The chirping of birds is one of the sounds that you will continuously hear in Lepchajagat. In short, Lepchajagat is the place where you can simply relax and enjoy nature.
In the morning you can simply roam around the village and forest area listening to the chirping birds. Those with a keen interest in birds can also look out for these little Himalayan birds. In the evening, you can sit beside the fireplace sipping a cup of warm Darjeeling tea and reading a book. There are so disturbing sounds like the honking of cars, no pollution. The only sound you might hear at night is the buzzing sound of the crickets. There are no shops or markets, neither any nightlife attractions here. Lepchajagat is just the place to spend time with nature and self.
The WBFDC Forest Lodge stands at a great location. You can get the view of the snow peaks from its terrace. There is also a flight of stairs from the garden of the Forest Lodge that leads to the forest.
Hawa Ghar: This is the vantage point from where you can see all the five peaks of the Kanchenjungha massif on a clear day. Hawa Ghar is located about 1 km from the Forest Lodge and can be reached through an easy walking trail.
Ghum Rock: This is another place that you can visit at Lepchajagat. Located at about 1.5 km from the Forest Lodge at an altitude of 7900 feet, you can get some great views of the snow-covered peaks and the surrounding valleys from here. This is also an ideal place for watching the sunrise.
Places to Visit near Lepchajagat
There are a few interesting places you can visit here. Ghoom and Darjeeling are both quite near and can be visited from here.
Jorpokhri is a small hamlet located over a hilltop at an altitude of 7400 feet, It is only 5 km from Lepchajagat. The place has been named after the most famous attraction of the village, the twin lakes. ‘Jor’ means two and ‘Pokhri’ means lake. The area surrounding the twin lakes is quite beautiful. The area falls under Senchal Forest Reserve and is full of trees like fir, birch and oak. Jorpokhri is another amazing nature’s retreat that can be visited from Lepchajagat. At Jorpokhri Lakes, you can also see the rare Himalayan Salamanders, especially during the monsoons.
Ghoom is only 10 km from Lepchajagat. Known as the Yiga Choeling Monastery, it is one of the oldest monasteries in the Darjeeling area. This monastery is also known as the Old Ghoom Monastery. The monastery is said to have the oldest Buddha statues in the area. The statue is believed to have been built by clay brought from Tibet! From the monastery, you will see the best views of the Kanchenjunga ranges. On a clear day, the sweeping views of the snow peaks can clearly take your breath away.
There is another monastery, Samten Choling Monastery nearby. You can take a visit to these two monasteries. Ghoom Railway Station is also an interesting place to visit.
Pashupati Market is the famous border market located 15 km from Lepchajagat at the India-Nepal border. The market is quite famous among the locals and is known for the sale of trekking and hiking gears, winter wears, shoes, bags and backpacks and many other things. However, if you wish to buy anything from the Pashupati Market, be sure to check the goods properly, especially the branded ones, lest you are given a fake product. Only Indians are allowed to enter the market with valid ID proof.
Maneybhanjan is a quaint Himalayan hamlet and also the base camp for Sandakphu trek. The place is around 11 km from Sandakphu.
Mirik is about 30 km from Lepchajagat after crossing Pashupati Market. Mirik is another beautiful destination famous for the Mirik lake surrounded by the pine forests.
Our Experience at Lepchajagat
As we took the road towards Sukhiapokhri from Ghoom, a 7 km drive took us to the misty dreamland of Lepchajagat. Lepchajagat had been in our bucket list for long. So when we got a couple of days leave, we packed our bags to Lepchajagat.
Lepchajagat has a few homestays and a Bungalow of West Bengal Forest Department. We had booked our rooms at the Forest Bungalow and our car took us right there. The Bungalow stood imposingly and the gate made a screeching noise as we tried to open it. We had visited during the monsoon. The weather was cloudy and the bungalow was shrouded by a veil of mist. From a distance, it just looked like a Bhoot Bungalow! I was almost ready for an old caretaker coming out with a lantern in his hand!
However, nothing of that sort happened and a sturdy young man came out from the bungalow. We checked into one of the rooms. Quite surprisingly, the bungalow was not hosting many guests at that time. We came to know that there were only 2 families in the bungalow apart from us.
The Forest Bungalow was a two-storied building and was supposedly built during the British era. The rooms are quite spacious with wooden floor and a fireplace in each room. We thought it would be a grand stay here. But the maintenance of the Bungalow was quite poor. There was a single caretaker who looked after the building. There is a path from the forest Bungalow that led to the forest. But the caretaker does not really encourage the people to go there, the reason is unknown. We, however, went a little inside the forest and did not find anything dangerous there.
The view of Kanchenjungha was fabulous from the terrace of the Bungalow and 2 of the suites. Maybe that is why people prefer staying in these Bungalows. Government properties always get the best places!
The next day, we roamed around the area in the morning. We walked around the village and the forest and later walked down the main road with the aim to reach Jorpokhri on foot. We did not go all the way and returned as it started raining. However, the entire day was spent beautifully in each other’s company. To us, Lepchajagat was just the place to relax and rejuvenate. We did not want to rush and visit places. We simply wanted to soak in the wonders of nature and that we did to our fullest.
A place becomes more beautiful because of the people inhabiting there. This can be truly said about Lepchajagat. The people are so friendly and helpful. They will help you in any way they can. We had tea from a homestay, but they refused to take any money from us! “You are our guest”, that was all they said with a smile on their face.
Lepchajagat can be an ideal weekend retreat for all those who want to spend a couple of days in the lap of nature away from the anxiety of daily life. So next week you could also be at Lepchahagat.
Lepchajagat Quick Facts
Lepchajagat is at an altitude of 2123 m or 6956 feet above sea level.
How to reach Lepchajagat?
The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP). The nearest airport is Bagdogra. Lepchajagat can be reached from NJP, Bagdogra or Siliguri by hiring a car. Alternatively, you can get a shared jeep from Siliguri or NJP to Ghoom. The sumos going towards Darjeeling will drop you at Ghoom. From Ghoom, you can take another shared jeep or hire a full car. Getting a shared jeep to Lepchajagat from Ghoom is a bit difficult.
Lepchajagat is 18 km from Darjeeling and you can hire a car from Darjeeling Chowk Bazar Taxi Stand to Lepchajagat. If you do not get any shared vehicle to Lepchajagat, you can take one to Ghoom and then another one. You can also inform your homestay owner or the caretaker of the WBFDC Lodge beforehand to arrange for private cars for pickup from a decided destination.
Tentative Taxi Fares to Lepchajagat (as on February 2020)
- Small reserved car from NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri: Rs 2200.00 – 2500.00
- Small reserved car from Darjeeling: Rs 800.00
- Small reserved car from Ghoom: Rs 500.00 (Bargaining recommended)
- Shared jeep fare from NJP/Siliguri to Ghoom: Rs 200.00
- Shared jeep from Ghum to Lepchajagat : Rs 40.00
- Shared jeep from Darjeeling to Lepchajagat: Rs 50.00
What are the Places to Stay at Lepchajagat?
The WBFDC Lodge
You can stay at the West Bengal Forest Department Corporation (WBFDC) Lodge. This is a mid-range accommodation. Earlier it was a British Bungalow built around 1800s renovated for tourists by WBFDC. A narrow lane from the main road leads to the bungalow. There are 5 rooms in the bungalow including 2 suites. While all the rooms are beautiful, the best one is the suite on the first floor. Most probably it is named Guras. It offers a great view of the Kanchenjunga ranges. The room rate is from Rs3000.00 to 3500.00
The bungalow has to be booked prior to your visit and can be booked online.
Most of the rooms have wooden panels, large cupboards and fireplaces. There is a caretaker looking after the guests. He takes your food orders as well. But the orders need to be told from before. The food is simple but quite tasty. Electricity is still a problem. You can expect power cuts in the high seasons.
Tip: You need to tell the caretaker to clean the rooms and make the beds. They usually don’t do it unless specifically told.
You can also stay at the homestays. These homestays provide basic accommodation and food and the people are quite friendly. The homestays are located just near the main road. I will list a few homestays and their contact number for your assistance.
- Pakhrin Homestay: +91 9051064510
- Salakha Homestay: +91 9547491418 / 9647744853
- Kanchankanya Homestay: +91 9593565309 (Pasang Tamang) / 6295043056
- Lepchajagat Green Valley Homestay: +91 9832834365
Best time to visit Lepchajagat
The spring and summer months between March and May are a good time to visit Lepchajagat to beat the heat of the plains. The weather remains cool and breezy in the morning and a bit cold in the nights. Be prepared for the peak season crowd during this time. You will find rhododendrons blooming in the month of March.
June to September is the rainy season. While this is not usually a recommended time for a visit as most of the trekking trails would be unsuitable due to rains. Also, rains can also hamper your plans for sightseeing. However, the monsoon has a separate charm. The clouds and mist hung over the place make Lepchajagat utterly romantic and gorgeous. It is the time when you can sit idle, relax and enjoy the rains in tranquillity. We had visited during the month of July and enjoyed the cloudy and misty ambience of Lepchajagat.
October and November is a great time to visit. Usually, the sky remains clear and you get great views of the mountain ranges. During October, the weather is also fine. The winter season between December to February is also a good time to visit Lepchajagat. Once again, the sky remains clear. But it can be quite cold in the early mornings and night in the winters. Do carry sufficient woollens with you during this time.
Let us know your thoughts about Lepchajagat. Have you visited the place yet? Let us know by commenting below.
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