Kolakham — on a Honeymoon Jaunt
We were traveling on a narrow stone paved road that plunges 1100 feet from Lava through a dense jungle – Neora Valley National Park. The jungle just allowed us to pass through without any turning point; this is a one way track. I was told no ordinary car can tackle this road and was advised to take a four wheel drive jeep. I did; even then our Scorpio is slipping, and the driver trying hard to keep it on the dirt track. We are plunging headlong towards a village called Kolakham (6100ft) of which I know nothing except that Help Tourism has set up a resort there – Neora Valley Jungle Camp.
Our journey from Darjeeling via Teestabazar, Kalimpong up to Lava (7200 ft), the popular tourist destination, was smooth as silk and then came the thrill and the rude realization of plunging towards the unknown.
Only 8 kms away from Lava Kolakham is a village of 60 Nepali families belonging to the ‘Rai’ community. They are vegan and far removed from brouhaha of bustling tourist towns of Lava and Lolegaon. In Kolakham, lovely children play in the courtyard amidst marigold, dahlia, chrysanthemum and zinnia. The village does not even “boast” of electricity. Here the old lantern lights their rooms at night and the idyllic life go on with little activity excepting some farming and cattle breeding mainly for their own consumption. The main cash crop is cardamom.
At the foot of the Neora Valley National Park, the village is spread in the different level of the green mountain and on the top level stands Neora Valley Jungle Camp with a breathtaking view of the whole valley lying at your feet where river chel flows down and scattered hamlets with shining tin roof stand like dolls’ houses. As far as the eyes can see, the green valley and the rolling green hills simply goes on and on towards the north and then took a westerly turn to end at the foot of mighty Kangchenjunga. The snow peaks of Kabru, Kabrudome, Kangchenjunga and Pandim stand out against the turquoise blue sky. Amidst this grand show of nature stand the chateau styled cottage, our abode. Well appointed bed rooms with attached clean modern bathrooms and a drawing room surrounded by big glass windows, adorn with cane sofas brings in the view into your room.
Though construction of the cottages was stared in 1991 but it took two years and two lacs rupees to construct the connecting road alone (a 200 meter stone paved road though jungle). There were lots of logistic problems to overcome. Ultimately the resort started function from 2006 and we were the sixth guest.
There are two types of rooms the resort – attic cottage and honeymoon cottage. A family of four can stay in the attic cottage – two in the main bedroom and two in the attic with a grand view of the skyline from the bed. The honeymoon cottage is constructed bang on the edge of the hill; a sheer plunge of 1000 ft will take you and your fiancé on the valley bed and the only obstruction to the 180o panoramic landscape from your bed is the resplendent Kangchenjunga range. The cottages made of wood, bamboo and cane with attached modern bathrooms are well appointed and has all they tapestry of a four star hotel. The cutlery is not of stainless steel or of bone china but of pur shining brass. Piping hot food served on brass plate with matching brass cutlery certainly bring back the memory of those old days.
If you’re not that laze boy type and want some thrill you can go on short jungle trail where chances of seeing wild life are very high. You also can go for a short trek of 5 kilometer to see the beautiful Chhenge falls or may also hire a vehicle. One days outing to Lava and Lolegaon will keep you in touch with the reality that is called madness and at the end of the day come to your abode of peace, your dream destination.
As the sun sets on the Neora Valley, darkness knocks on the glass window of your drawing room, the night sky lights up with thousands twinkle stars, lights in the valley hamlets blink as if thousands diamond have wrapped up the whole mountain. Fragrant zephyr wafted towards you and you can hear the gurgling flow of the Chel.
You became aware of the incessant calling of a ‘night-bird’ who was calling her mate for the last half an hour.
Getting there: Lava is well connected by Bus/Jeep from NJP, Siliguri, Bagdogra and Kalimpong. Take a Jeep from Lava for Kolakham (8 kms/Rs500/). You can take full Jeep from NJP or Bagdogra; Rs 2500/
Stay: In Neora Valley Jungle camp of Help Tourism.
Four bedded attic cottage: Rs 6600/family/day (AP)
Honeymoon Cottage: Rs 4400/couple/day (AP). Please check latest rate.
For more info and booking:
143, Hillcart Road Silguri
Fax: 0353-: 2532313
Kolkata office: 67-A, Kali temple Road, Sadanandakuthi, Kalighat,
Kolkata: 700 026. Ph: 2454 9719. Fax: 2485 4584.