April 2019 - Everybody has heard of Darjeeling, the Queen of Hills, situated in the northern part of West Bengal, India. But it's also true that now Darjeeling is one of the most crowded and commercialized hill stations of India. So my search began for some offbeat, remote and less crowded places in the laps of nature. To get some respite from the scorching heat in Kolkata, two of my friends readily agreed to accompany me on this trip.
Located in the Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling district, 30km from Kalimpong, 75 km from New Jalpaiguri station at an altitude of 5500ft above sea level. The words "Char" is "four" and "Khole" is "open" in Bengali and hence the name means open on all four sides.
Rishop ( Rishyap)
Meaning "Mountain peaks and forests", at an altitude of 8500 ft above sea level is located 105 km from New Jalpaiguri station.
If you are taking a flight then Bagdogra airport in Siliguri is the closest and it is well connected from all the major airports of India like Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad.
If you are taking a train then you can get down at New Jalpaiguri junction(NJP) which is connected to almost all parts of the country or the New Mal Junction which has trains from Kolkata.
Charkhole or Rishop are not connected by public transport so hiring a car is the only option. Plenty of options are available from both the airport and the stations.
We boarded the Padatik Express at 11.20pm from Sealdah station, Kolkata and reached NJP station at 9.30am next morning.
We had already booked a car (Driver's Phone Number - +91 9932501262) for this trip and our driver was waiting for us at the station. Our first destination was Charkhole, just 75km away and ideally should not have taken more than 1.5 hours but due to the pathetic condition of the roads for the last 10-15 km, our driver had already warned us that it would take atleast 3 hours to reach.
Charkhole being a fairly new place does not have many options for accommodation, a handful of resorts and homestays are present.
We had booked a room in the Charkhole Resort ( http://www.charkholeresort.com/) situated on top of the Charkhole Hill.We reached around 2pm and the first look of the place took away my breath. If you don't believe me, see this.