With Durgo Pujo (Durga Puja) just a few months away, people have started planning their visit to one of the most culturally-rich states of India, West Bengal. The destination is renowned for several reasons— home to the famous poet Shri Rabindranath Tagore, Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Victoria Memorial, Sundarbans and, of course, the Bengal tigers. But then, how many of us have travelled on paths that open their doors to immaculate regions of Dooars, how many have tried to uncover the mystery that surrounds Kurseong, and how many have heard of naturally-blessed Sikkim in India? Yes, we are talking about the offbeat attractions and experiences in West Bengal & Sikkim.
These are just a few lesser-heard of names. There’s so much more than the obviously famous to West Bengal & Sikkim for a traveller to explore and experience. Here, we have a list of a few best offbeat destinations in West Bengal & Sikkim, very much off the grid and the regular travel circuit. Go discover these if you have a quest to know more about the destinations less travelled!
West Bengal is a glorious state, full of myriad mysteries and beautiful surprises and Dooars is one of them! The destination lives by its name with its literal meaning being ‘doors’ and, our word, these doors open to heaven. With its lush green tea gardens, towering Himalayan mountain ranges and several national parks, the destination is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. Dooars is also the gateway to the gorgeous hill town of Darjeeling, Bhutan and several destinations in Northeast. When you are in the region, you must pay a visit to the Gorumara National Park and Buxa Tiger Reserve, which are home to number of animals.
You’ll simply fall in love with roads leading to this amazing region, which is extremely rich in flora and fauna. Reaching here is not an issue as there are several buses available from Siliguri and Jalpaiguri for Dooars.
What happens when gorgeous mountains, stunning tea gardens, deep green jungles and tiny little streams coming out of nowhere meet? It becomes Samsing! Yes, Samsing is a beautiful, hill village in the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. Safely hidden and offering mind-blowing views of unspoilt and colourful landscapes, it is an amazing destination where one can sit, relax and forget all their worries! Just 18 km away from the renowned Neora Valley National Park, the region enjoys extremely pleasant climate. When cool breeze brushes your hair, all you want to do is lie down and let the nature consume all your tiredness. The 80 km drive from Siliguri to Samsing is enormously stunning! You’ll forget Darjeeling, Shimla, and Mussoorie after visiting Samsing.
Sikkim, the least populated state in India, located amidst the Himalayas, bordered by Bhutan to the east, Nepal to the West, West bengal to the south and Tibet to the North is perhaps one amongst the most beautiful and richly cultured states of our nation. With 11 official languages and a wide range of rituals, the state has managed to preserve its heritage and simplicity till the very date.
The Tsomgo Lake also known as the Changu Lake is a glacial lake located in east Sikkim usually frozen during the winter season. It is one amongst the most famous tourist spots but little do people know that apart from its beauty the lake has a mysterious story to it as well. It is said that the place where the lake exists was previously a shed where yaks lived and the area around the lake was a village that belonged to the tribal people. One night, the oldest women of the tribe had a dream that soon the village would drown in water leaving no sign of life, she warned all the villagers but nobody gave an ear to her, eventually, failed in her attempt to convince the others to leave, she left the village with her yak and soon after the village was submerged in water. The water entirely washed away the existence of any human soul or animal and today the natives of Sikkim visit the lake to pray to the spirits of the dead.
The Gurudongmar lake in North Sikkim is considered to be one of the most beautiful and sacred lakes in India. It sources water to the river Teesta. The water of this lake is said to have curative properties. This lake is majestic emerald blue in colour and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and a glacier with the same name. A trip to Gurudongmar is certainly an experience of a lifetime.
The best time to visit Gurudongmar Lake is from November to June. A visit to Gurudongmar Lake requires a permit as it is located close to the Indo-Tibetan border. There is a paucity of oxygen at such a height, and thus, staying there for more than an hour is not recommended for most tourists.
Kurseong is a hill-station with a pleasant climate all year round with tea gardens and a toy train for sightseeing. But a web search of this place will mostly give you results of its haunted tales rather than talk about its natural beauty. If you dare to go here, you can visit sights such as the Kettle Valley, the Kholas Waterfalls and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Museum. Darjeeling is a popular hill station in West Bengal but about 30 km away from it lies Kurseong which has Dow Hill, an area that is supposedly haunted by many spirits.
Just like the Sanjay Van in Delhi, this region is popular for its eeriness that is quite evident in the forest and the surrounding area. According to locals, the forest has several spirits that roam around freely and you can feel their presence if you take a walk here in the evening. People have also spotted a headless boy who runs and disappears into the woods, and they claim that whoever spots him cannot forget him.
There are also tales about a lady whose spirit roams here. But just like Goa’s Janki Badh Bridge, spirits of many children haunt the Victoria Boys High School. This school is over a century old and even during vacations, locals can hear footsteps and shrieks of children coming from within the empty premises. Now doesn’t that send a chill down your spine?