Lava

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Image Courtesy - Arnab Nag/www.trekearth.com

Lava is small mountain village at an altitude of 7700 ft. (2350 mtrs.) from sea level on Himalayan range. It is located at a distance of 34 Kms. towards east from Kalimpong & 103 Kms. from Siligiuri town. The place comes under Darjeeling District of West Bengal. Lava is a nice & tranquil village amidst in “Neora Valley National Park” – the beautiful & popular mountain forest of North Bengal. Basically Lava is the gateway of the famous “Neora Valley National Park”. The place provides great opportunity for the tourist to enjoy the beauty of the mountain, serenity of the surrounding dense forest of coniferous trees, chirping of various birds, excellent natural daintiness & simple village life of the local people. Lava is also a major communication point after Kalimpong, from where tourist can avail further transport options for the other tourist destinations around Lava, such as Rishop, Lolegaon, Kolakham, Charkhole, Ichhegaon, Sillerygaon, Pedong, Gorubathan & many others.

Best Time to Visit:

Lava can be visited any time round the year. But it will be better to avoid the rainy season between June to September. The best time to visit is between March to May & October to December. You can also visit Lava during the winters in order to experience the chilled weather along with the lovely snowfall amidst the Himalayan hills.

How to Reach:

Airport: The nearest airport is “Bagdogra” (IXB) Airport at a distance of 117 Kms.

Railway Station: The nearest railway station is “New Jalpaiguri” (NJP) at a distance of 109 Kms., “Siliguri Junction” Railway Station at a distance of 103 Kms. & “New Mal Junction” Railway Station at a distance of 62 Kms.

Bus Terminus: The nearest major transport hub is “Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus” at Siliguri.

From New Jalpaiguri station & Siliguri bus terminus, you can hire a cab or can avail a share Jeep to reach Kalimpong and from Kalimpong you have to hire a cab to reach at Lava which is 34 Kms. away from Kalimpong. If the budget is not an issue, then you can personally hire a cab for the entire journey up to Lava from NJP or Siliguri & go to Lava either via Kalimpong (109 Kms. & 3.5 Hrs. time) or via Gorubathan (around 110 Kms. & 4 Hrs. time). The “Gorubathan route” is the most beautiful route as it runs through the beautiful tea gardens of Dooars & amazing mountain trail through the beautiful forest of Neora Valley. One can also hire the car from “New Mal Junction” station & go to Lava via Gorubathan route (62 Kms. & 2.5 Hrs. time).

Must Visit Attractions:

Neora Valley National Park: Lava is the entry point of the famous “Neora Valley National Park”. The evergreen dense forest is full of distinctive flora and fauna. The forest adorned with alpine & coniferous trees like pine, fir, oak, birch, rhododendron, sal, dhupi, fern, bamboo and a variety of rare orchids. The forest is also the habitat of many endangered Himalayan wild species including Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, Sambar, Musk Deer, Barking Deer, Red Fox, Mountain Goat, wild cat & Leopards. You will find various colourful exotic birds inside the forest. The entrance to the National Park is at a distance of 10 Kms. from Lava.

Neora Valley Nature Interpretation Centre: The “Neora Valley Nature Interpretation Centre” is a nice place to visit for the tourist, especially for the children. Beautiful Changey Waterfall and Lava Jamgyong Kongtrul Monastery are quite notable visiting spots in Lava.

Lava monastery: Lava Jamgyong Kongtrul Monastery” is situated on a hill top which provides a clear view of the snow peaks of the Himalayan range. It is also the school & training centre for the Lamas.

Changey Waterfall: One can visit the amazing “Changey Waterfall” at a distance of 12 Kms. from Lava. It is a beautiful waterfall surrounded by the tranquil forest. It will take about 1hour journey to reach at Changey falls by jeep through the narrow & winding road full of boulder. If you want to get yourself close to the waterfall then a further 15 min. downhill walk will be needed.

Tiffin Dara & Ghanti Dara: “Tiffin Dara” and “Ghanti Dara” are two famous sunrise as well as sunset points near Lava. Tiffin Dara is located at a distance of 4 Kms. on the way to Rishop village from Lava. It is a hilltop from where one can get a spectacular view of sunrise over Kanchenjunga range & the fascinating view of the surrounding mountains.

Apart from the above mentioned tourist points there are some other popular destinations as well nearby Lava. You can visit Rishop (4 Kms. by trekking or 10 Kms. by car), Kolakham (8 Kms.), Rache La Pass (12 Kms.), Loleygaon (24 Kms.), Charkhole (39 Kms.), Ichheygaon (24 Kms.), Sillerygaon (23 Kms.), Pedong (22 Kms.), Delo Park (26 Kms.) & Kalimpong (32 Kms.) from Lava.

What to do:

People can enjoy the sunrise & sunset from Tiffin Dara & Ghanti Dara view point, can visit the Neora forest, can go for mind refreshing nature walk, Bird watching is also a very good option for them. People who are passionate about trekking can visit “Choudapheri” area which is the starting point for the trek to deep inside the Neora Valley National Park. There are several trek routes in and around Lava, such as Tiffin Dara, Rishop, Gumba Dara, Ghanti Dara, Samabiong Tea Garden, Rache La (Pass), Chhangey Water Falls & some other local destinations as well.

Where to Stay:

There are some budget hotels and accommodations in Lava including the guest house served by WBFDC which is pretty well maintained. There are also the facilities of tents and cottages inside the forests for the tourists who love to stay amidst the wildlife and might get a chance to witness some of the rare Himalayan species.

Travel Tips:

It would take three to four days to visit all the places in and around Lava. However the time span might vary for the trekkers. Trekkers & hikers must be aware of leeches & take precautions when visiting these areas especially during the rainy season.

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