The greatest joy of travelling is the prospect of discovering new spheres of the unknown sitting side by side with the original destination waiting to greet you. Lamhatta is one such obscure mountain village in West Bengal which does not feature in the tourist map of the state. Being engrossed in the unhindered vistas of the Mahabharat range or more popularly known as Lesser Himalayas or being concerned about your driver’s ability to manoeuvre hairpin bends, it’s easy to miss this conspicuous yet beautiful village which falls midway between the two famous hill stations of Darjeeling and Kalimpong. The name is derived from the combination of two words – Lama (Buddhist Monk in Nepalese language) and Hatta (Hut). Located at an altitude of 1700 meters, it is home to a vast canopy of gigantic pine trees, sacred water bodies and a few eco lodges promoting it as the next upcoming destination for honeymoon couples.
A Puny Feeling
The pines stare at you like an army of soldiers safeguarding the age old secrets of the forests. The towering trees are so closely stacked that sunlight barely manages to seep through to the ground. Standing close to one such pine, one can’t help but wonder about the scale and dominance of nature. A reminder of the fact that how small we are and how fleeting is our time on this earth. The experience of standing beneath these gentle giants with the crisp mountain air kissing your cheeks can’t be described in phrases that aren’t clichés – breath taking, enchanting and unforgettable.
Path to Salvation
Colourful prayer flags fluttering across the resplendently green mountain slope and a neat pebbled pathway winding up the hilly terrain serve as an indication of something sacred on top of the hill. On further enquiry, it was learnt that the path led to two beautiful ponds on top of the hill locally called as “Jore Pokhari” or twin ponds. Though it seems like a small uphill trek, it can be quite daunting in the later part, when the pebbled pathway gives way to rocky outcrops. The thin mountain air and the fairly steep climb give credibility to the fact that the road to salvation is never easy.
Sacred Water Bodies
On top of the hill, under the maze of the pines lies two ponds, considered sacred by the locals. More often than not, you will be the only person there. Surrounded by glorious loneliness, the only sounds that you can hear are of the occasional dragonfly, the gentle breeze rustling the leaves or your own footsteps and breathlessness due to the small trek which would have taken a toll on your urban lungs. Designated seating areas near the ponds give an opportunity to seep in the uncanny quietness of the place, to feel the stillness of time and let the beauty and energy of the pristine surroundings rejuvenate your soul. It will seem that the pines and the ponds have found a profound symbiosis in each other’s company. There is another small hillock on top of the hill which houses a few huge boulders and a sign board which indicates to a non- existent rhododendron patch. If only rocks could talk, we would know the exact time to witness the blooming flowers!
View of Mt. Kanchenjunga
At the base of the mountain, the West Bengal Government has created a beautiful park with designated play areas for kids, sheds for families and even watchtowers which offers unhindered vista of the Himalayan range, specifically, the elusive Mt. Kanchenjunga. Every year, hordes of tourists visit Tiger Hill (a vantage point in Upper Darjeeling) to catch a glimpse of the 3rd highest mountain peak in the world. In Lamhatta, the probability of witnessing this majestic mountain is much higher and that too without the hassles of traffic snarls and swarms of shutter happy tourists. The towers also give a bird’s eye view of the Teestha river and the sprawling town of Darjeeling.
In Lamhatta, one is bound to experience the innate feeling of the natural world. Wee places like this, not much travelled, seem like the perfect place for dreamers and stoics. It helps to forget reality for a moment and imagine a better world.
Being here feels right, like this is how one is supposed to live, revelling in nature’s company where childhood dreams of fluttering butterflies, magical mountains and enchanting forests play out.
Getting There: It is located midway along the Darjeeling-Kalimpong State Highway.
Best Time to Visit: November to April (to avoid monsoons)
Transport: Private cab service is the best option to visit Lamhatta from Darjeeling or Kalimpong. Local buses too ply on this route on a regular basis.
Ideal Itinerary: Start early in the morning from Darjeeling and spend quality time in the mountain village. There are several other short treks in the vicinity. Another attraction is a 500 year old monastery which can be reached by a 20 minute trek from the village
Darjeeling Tourist Lodge (WBTDC)
P.O. : Darjeeling
Phone : (0354)2254412