Lepchajagat is a nice place in North Bengal and very near to Darjeeling. It is a very calm and quite place, a complete relief from busy life. The best part of it is, you can have a lovely view of Kangchenjunga. And also it is very easy to reach there. Avail train for Siliguri or a flight to Bagdogra. Then you can take a bus or share jeep to reach Ghoom. From there you can book a car to Lepchajagat, only 8 km journey through a lovely road way. Also you can take running jeep going to Mirik. And of course you can hire a car from Siliguri and reach Lepchajagat straight away.
The tourist Nature Resort by WBFDC is located at a nice place. Remember this is the only accommodation you will have there. And if you can book Suit-I you will have a lovely view of the peaks from your room itself. Even if you stay in other rooms, then also you will have lovely view from the balcony / lawn. But the best view is probably from the roof. An totally unobstructed view of major peaks including Kabru, Pandim and of course Kangchenjunga is sure to move you.
Planning: We planned for Lepchajagat few many times. But some how or the other all of them got cancelled. Even this time we first planned to go there by early December ’08. But again it got cancelled. Then we re-planned for the end of December. And this time finally we were able to visit and enjoyed the place. This time, the plan was made within a very short span and we could not get any reservation in train and decided to go by bus. Luckily rooms in the Lepchajagat were still available. The beginning was smooth. On 25-Dec-08 evening we got onboard into the bus for Siliguri by ITDC. We were considering ourselves lucky that in this rush season we got tickets in a A/C coach which was looking pretty good. It started one hour late from Esplanade. But that was fine with us, as we were expecting to be at Siliguri by 10:00 A.M. in the next morning. And we reached at 2:00 P.M. next day. The main reason we found was that the tire got punctured four time. It took 17 hours to reach Siliguri which should take 12-13 hours for standard bus service. But the actual reason may be the management of the group does not even bother to take the minimum care about the service they are providing against quite a heavy charge. Who knows? Did I mention the name of the organisation? It was ITDC. This wonderful service provided by this Govt. undertaking organisation forced us to reach Ghoom at 5:45 in the evening. It was total dark, foggy and drizzling out side. Still we got to go 8 more kilometers…
Lepchajagat: We took a shared jeep from Siliguri which was plying for Darjeeling. So we had to get down at Ghoom and catch a jeep going to Mirik. But in hill area, even in the Darjeeling area, it is very unlikely to find a share jeep traveling at that time in the evening. The moment the jeep turned towards Darjeeling, we could not see any light except one small shop. With no other option we went to the shop keeper and asked how we can arrange for a car to reach Lepchajagat.
She asked another person for the details. That person called another person from the opposite side of the road. He finally said he can drop us there but the charge will be almost double. The normal charge is Rs 150/-. Finally we reached Lepchajagat at around 6:15 in the evening. The caretaker was almost about to leave the bungalow. He said that our dinner is ready and we can have that any time we wish. But it was only 6:15! We requested to keep our dinner in a hot pot and arrange for some tea. Another young guy started the TV for us. The weather was very cold, foggy and cloudy. We went to the roof and got a lovely view of Darjeeling . But also realised that we have missed almost a day due to reaching late. The only thing came into our mind was ITDC.
Next Day: The weather was not good in the next morning. It was total cloudy from early in the morning. So we did not got any chance to have a glimpse of Kangchenjunga. Remember, in this place you have nothing to do except watching the peaks in the good weather and doing some very short treks. You will hardly see any other human face except those are staying in the bungalow and this time we were the only two in the bungalow. So we decided just to walk around the nearby places without any definite plan.
After breakfast when we came to the main road we saw many jeeps were plying to Mirik. Last time we visit Mirik, when we were at our early school days! We decided to go to Mirik. We roam around the lake for around one and half hours took some snaps and then took another jeep back to Lepchajagat, While going, we passed by a place called Sukhia Pokhri. We saw a mile post saying Manebhanjhan is only 6 K.M. from there. This is the place where from you would start your Sandakphu trek. We were remembering the lovely memories of our first trek.
The weather was not so good, but sky were dramatic enough for good landscape shots. Mirik is a bit crowded place. So we came back early. Once we were back we had nothing to do other than roam around in the lawn of the bungalow and pray for a clear weather in the next morning. As that would be the last chance to enjoy the view of Kangchenjunga from Lepchajagat.
Sunrise: Next morning we wake up at 5:30 with lot of hopes. From my room Kangchenjunga should be clearly visible. But we could not notice any range outside. I opened the window, view through the glass was not that clear due to fog, and immediately felt the temperature out side must be around zero. Then we noticed the outline of the entire range is getting visible by first light of the day. Immediately I picked my cameras and tripod and went to the roof. As the time passes by the range was getting more and more visible. And of course the colours on Kangchenjunga. It can not be expressed it only can be experienced. I took number of shots both in the Digital SLR and Film SLR with slide film. Every moment it was a new colour, new shot, new composition…
We enjoyed a lovely sunrise with an absolutely clear sky. Weather in hills are always so unpredictable. We did our break fast and started for Darjeeling. Even when we reached Darjeeling the range was still visible. We did not found that much tourists as one would expect at this time of the year. May be tourists got misguided / misled about the Gorkhaland movement by some people having different interests. But we had a lovely environment and our hotel was also at a very nice location.
Queen of the hills: Though the range were no more visible but we had a lovely clear blue sky above us. The temperature was just right for roaming around. The sunrise was so beautiful we already had a feeling of a complete tour. Rest of the day we did some shopping, had our lunch in a good restaurant, took photographs of the different modes of mall. And then enjoyed the evening from our hotel. Be sure to take the rooms in the main old heritage building. You will enjoy a different mode of the queen of the hills.
Next day morning when we were doing our packing, I noticed the out side weather was very foggy. I asked my partner to carry on packing and I took my cameras and went out side for a walk. I walked along the road that leads to the Rajbhwaban and got some nice shot of misty morning. Then after having lunch we started for Siliguri. We had our bus at 7:00 P.M. This time we got our ticket in S.B.S.T.C. May be we were lucky enough or may be this is how it should happen, we reached Kolkata almost right in time.