Chatakpur is one of the amazing destinations nearby Darjeeling. It is a small and warm eco village in the lap of Senchal Wildlife sanctuary in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. Chatakpur is such a place where nature has bestowed her best with open arms. Be it the green farmlands, or the paths among the dense forests or the gorgeous view of Mt. Kanchenjungha, Chatakpur can boast of all these beauties.
Chatakpur is at an altitude of 7887 metres and is surrounded by the Kanchenjunga mountain ranges in the north and the Relly Khola river in the South. Consisting of around 18 houses having a total of around 90 villagers, the main occupation here is terrace farming. Once upon a time, this place was the hub of timber smuggling. But of late, the West Bengal forest department has taken steps to remodel this village into a place of eco-tourism. With the active participation of the villagers, Chatakpur has now become a dream destination for those looking for a weekend outside the chaos and crowd. Not only this helped the villagers making tourism an alternative source of livelihood, but also immensely checked the menace of timber smuggling.
Experiences of Chatakpur:
- Watch the magnificent sunrise of the Darjeeling hills. It is said that the sunrise viewed from Chatakpur is even better than that viewed from the Tiger hill, Darjeeling. In fact, if you want to view the sunrise from Tiger Hill, you have to wake up early in the morning and travel to Tiger hill from Darjeeling. But from Chatakpur, it can simply viewed from your hotel balcony!
- Go for trekking amidst the forest path to the Tiger hill. But taking a guide is necessary as the forest is the home to the Great Himalayan Black Bear family, Leopards, Barking Deer and Antelopes.
- Visit a watchtower from where you can view Sandakphu, the ultimate trekking destination.
- See the photograph the beautiful birds like Blue Magpie, Rufous Sibia, Black Redstart, Verditer Flycatcher, Himalayan Bulbul , Pipit, Long tail Shrike, Warbler, Prinia, Blue Fronted Redstart, Water Redstart. If lucky enough, one can also get a glimpse of the famous Panda.
- Enjoy traditional folk dance at the evening.
- Visit the organic farms. You can even pick a few vegetables and even milk a cow if you want. You can also buy a few organic vegetables from these farms to take back home.
- Listen to stories of yesteryears from the learned and the elders of the village and know about the history and tradition of this 150 years old village.
Places to roam about:
- Tiger Hill: you can trek through the forests to the renowned Tiger Hill.
- Rimbi Village and Labda: There are trekking routes amidst the sanctuary from Chatakpur to these small and equally beautifull villages.
- Sonada: Another small village near Darjeeling where you can visit.
- Ghoom: Visit Ghoom to see the Ghoom Monastery and the highest narrow Gauge Railway station in India.
Best Time to visit:
Chatakpur can be visited round the year, but monsoons (July to September) are to be avoided. The tourist village resort also remains closed during this time. The winters between November and February are really cold. So bring adequate warm clothes during this time.
How to reach:
Chatakpur can be reached from Siliguri. From New Jalpaiguri (NJP) station or Bagdogra airport, the easiest is to go towards Kurseongand then further up (towards Darjeeling) to a small village known as Dilaram. Here you take a right turn for Bagora. From Bagora, Chatakpur is about 30-40 minutes drive.
Another way is to first reach Sonadaor Jorebungalow. From there private jeeps are available to Chatakpur.
While coming from Darjeeling, come down to Sonada which is an hours drive and then go up to Chatakpur (7kms).
Places to stay:
Chatakpur eco-camp is currently under the West Bengal forest Department. The resort has a total of 4 double bedded rooms with all modern facilities with warm hospitability from the villagers. Homestay is available in selected houses in Chatakpur. But this facility is limited to a few houses only. There are proper water supply and electricity in the home stays including room heaters. The bathrooms are having proper amenities but they are not attached to the rooms but only a few steps away. The homestays are few minutes walk from the main road, but staying in a homestay is an excellent way to stay close to a village family and understand their culture.