Rural Destinations : Latpanchar
Latpanchar is located at an altitude of 5000 ft above sea level on the hilly region of the Mahananda Wild Life Sanctuary.
The beautiful hamlet is just a couple of hours drive from the NJP railhead or the Bagdogra airport. The national highway connecting Sikkim to the rest of the country runs through the hills on the side of river Tista. At Kalijhora, about 28 km from Siliguri, you will have to take the left turn and drive uphill for about 15 km to reach Latpanchar. On your way you will come across beautiful village of Karmat.
The village is known for its proximity to the core area of the Mahananda WLS. It is also famous for the medicinal plants it produces, there is large plantation of cinchona around here. Snow capped peaks of Kanchenjunga range can also be seen from here.
The major attraction of Latpanchar is the 360 degree view it offers. From the “Ahal” hill top, one can have a view of Kurseong, Tiger Hill, Sikkim, and Siliguri. You can also see the Tista River, Kalimpong hill area, Algara, Lava, Lolegaon, Bagora, Tinchule, Takdah and the plains of Dooars. The best part of visit to Latpanchar is that you can enjoy the beauty of the hill without having to jostle among tourist crowd as the destination is new and it is mostly unknown to tourists.
If you continue to travel beyond Latpanchar for about 20 kms more, you will reach Bagora, an upcoming tourist destination on the old cart road. Darjeeling is just 28 km from here, other offbeat tourist destinations such as Chimney and Chatakpur is less than half an hour’s drive.
Places to see at Latpanchar:
Among the many villages covered with lush and lavish greenery Latkothi, Namthing Pokhri, Mana Hills, Ahal View Point deserve to be visited. Latkothi that was once a British residence is now a Forest Department bungalow. The house is surrounded by the vast stretch of Cinchona plantation that the British set up in 1920. The old bungalow is no more and it has been replaced by a new bungalow. The way to the cinchona field is lined with a long array of sal, pine and teak trees. The way is suitable for a gentle morning walk. The surrounding remains resonant with the chirp of birds at daybreak. Namthing Pokhri, which is a small lake is one of the last natural habitats of the famous Himalayan Salamanders and if you are lucky enough you can catch a glimpse of this endangered animal. There is a 150-year old Buddhist monastery near this Pokhri and a view point which has excellent views of Mt. Kanchenjunga.
There is a Lord Shiva temple at the peak of Raja Rani Hill. Locals visit the temple to offer flowers at the obedience of the Lord. Ahal View Point that is locally called Sansaridara View Point is an obsession of Latpanchar with tourists. On a sunny day, from Ahal you can drink to the gripping glimpse of Mt. Kanchenjunga, Dooars, Terai plains and the Teesta River.
Nearby Attractions of Latpanchar:
At Mongpoo, you would find the famous house of Rabindranath Tagore just 35 kms via Sitong and 45 kms via Rambhi. Sitong is another nearby village of Latpanchar, which is famous for its orange orchards and natural extravaganza. You can continue further to Chatakpur near Sonada and further to Kurseong. After coming down to Sevoke, you can visit another nice destination called Mungpoo.
Things to do at Latpanchar:
A track through pine forests and Cinchona Plantation leads to a lake, Namthing Pokhri, which is the natural abode of Himalayan Salamanders. Guests can take an early morning car ride to this lake just 3 kms away and visit the view point to catch a mesmerizing sunrise and Mt. Kanchenjungha. Bird watching and jungle trekking is the most favourite activity at Latpanchar and nearby Mana Hills is a favorite haunt with bird lovers. The entire region teems with swallow, swift, thrush, sunbird and babbler. Mahaldiram Tea Estate is a fascination with adventure-loving tourists. As Latpanchar is within the Mahananda WLS, so wildlife is also abundant – squirrels, deer and even elephants can be viewed occasionally around Latpanchar.
How to reach Latpanchar:
Latpanchar is 41 kilometers from the heart of Siliguri. It is located at the height of 4,500 ft from sea level. It is at a distance of 13 kilometers from Kalijhora. There is no bus service on the route to Latpanchar. However, car service to the place is available in Siliguri. The nearest railhead of Latpanchar is New Jalpaiguri. You have to take NH 31A and reach Sevoke just 22 km away. From Sevoke, you have to rach Kalijhora 5 km away and then take left turn by leaving NH 31A. After driving for next 13 km and you would reach Latpanchar.
Lodging & Dining facilities at Latpanchar:
The accommodation facility at Latpanchar is in wood cottage home stay. There are three triple bedrooms in the cottage. The rooms come with wall to wall carpet, electricity, hot water and western attached toilet facilities. Home cooked vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food is served here in traditional way. However, guests with specific food requirements need to inform the Homestay authorities in advance.
For travel related assistance click here.