Himalayan Hideouts : Jorpokhri, Darjeeling
The hills of West Bengal have something special to offer each rider who comes its way . I have been riding through this densely forested region to halt at some of the unexplored corners of the region in this part of the Himalayan Hideouts series.
Cross over into magic land
Jorpokhri, a tiny hamlet perched on a hilltop just 19kms outside the town of Darjeeling is located at an altitude of 7400 feet. The main feature of Jorpokhi is its twin lakes after which the place has been named. In native language, ‘jor’ means two and ‘pokhri’ stands for a lake or water tank. Sweeping views of the Himalayan snow peaks and the beautiful Darjeeling landscape makes for one of the best offerings of Jorpokhri.
The beautiful Jorpokhri landscape
Riders’ Joy: Riding for about one hour from Mirik takes you to the small and less visited hamlet of Jorpokhri via the Pashupati Market located on the Indo-Nepal border. From Siliguri, distance to Jorpokhri is 85kms. As you cross these few kilometres, you might want to pinch yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming! Serene hillside, lush green meadows, dense forests, clouds and fog – the making of an awesome ride! The roads here are not always in the best of shape yet make for a good day ride.
The road cuts through the forest
What you can do there
Jorpokhri is marked by two natural water tanks and a beautiful view of the third highest mountain in the world, Mt. Khanchenjunga –with its image mirrored in the tanks. The water tanks have a concretised boundary with seating arrangements from where riders may want to enjoy the beautiful view around. There is a fountain and a huge model of a snake in the middle of the tank.
The lake and its surroundings
These water tanks are breeding areas for the locally known ‘Gora’ or the Himalayan Salamander which is an endangered species. Once considered totally extinct and wiped off from the face of the earth, these salamanders were found to be living here in Jorpokhri in 1964. Another place in this region where you could spot these creatures is the Namthing Lake of Latpanchar-Shittong area. A better chance of spotting these creatures is during the rainy season. Also, you can often see a large number of white swans swimming in these waters or strolling around in the area nearby and feeding them is one of my favourite activities which you too, shall find enjoyable.
Jorpokhri, however is not only about the lakes. It is a wonderfully landscaped hilltop with the view of Darjeeling and Kurseong on one side and the entire Kanchendzonga range on the other. Those riding up here between October and March are assured of the view at its best and you might land up spending hours watching these splendours. Sunrise especially, is a heavenly experience from here.
Spectacular view of the Mt. Kanchanjunga
Jorpokhri is a nature reserve which actually falls within the Senchal Forest area and is surrounded with a lovely forest full of dhupi and pines. A leisurely walk in this forested area gives you a feel of the lovely Himalayan serenity and is nothing less than an experience of a lifetime.
Go for a stroll in the woods
You can also pay a visit to the Pashupati Nath market which lies on the other side of the Indo-Nepal border. The market is a shopper’s paradise where you will lose track of time.
For the traveller
The entire area is maintained by Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) which also maintains a nice DGHC tourist lodge here. Those who plan to stay here overnight (which can be a great idea), can make their reservations from Darjeeling itself. You could opt for suits in this exotic wooden villa offering great views of the sprawling lawns and mountain range. The villa has private terraces, lobbies and balconies offering marvellous views. The lodge also has dormitory and lodging facilities for trekker’s.
The wonderful tourist lodge
If you decide to stay at the tourist lodge, cannot afford to miss the mind blowing view of sunrise from here and the staff will be happy to serve you breakfast in the adjoining garden. They also serve tasty meals in their restaurants where riders can share and discuss their riding tales and travel plans.
You could also find a couple of private accommodations at Sukhipokhri which is a few of kilometres away or stay at the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation bungalow at Lepchajagat, which is not very far. The town of Darjeeling is visible from here and when illuminated, it makes for a beautiful view from the bungalow at night.