The 20km-long cycling stretch near Darjeeling in Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary was inaugurated by local authorities earlier this month. India's growing population of young adventure junkies has their eyes set on this spot that has been declared a car- and motorcycle-free zone.
The cycling trail
Starting point: Main gate of Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary at Jorbangla.
End point: Chatakpur Village
About the route: The 20km-long newly opened cycling trail was once an old route connecting Darjeeling and Kurseong. Cycling on this trail with gentle slopes is perfect for fit beginners. The highest point of elevation is about 2,600 metres. At the end of this route, bikers can enjoy tea and snacks at the state tourism guest house at Chatakpur. But note that the route will be closed during the monsoon season in August and will reopen only after September 15.
Permission: Bikers can get permits for ₹50 at the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary entrance. Bikes for the excursion can be rented at local shops in Darjeeling, which is 30 minutes away from the main gate of the sanctuary.
How to reach: You can take a flight to Bagdogra Airport, which is 95km from Darjeeling. Taxis are easily available from here to the sanctuary. Or you can take a direct flight to Darjeeling from Kolkata and New Delhi. The nearest railhead to Darjeeling is New Jalpaiguri. Cabs can be hired from the railway station to reach Darjeeling. From there, the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary is at a distance of 11km.
More About the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary
The Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary is a 39 sq km forested expanse around the Senchal Lake, which is a short distance away from the town of Darjeeling. This forest is home to much forest cover, including oak, pine and birch trees, and approximately 350 different types of flowering plants.
The sanctuary was first opened to visitors almost a hundred years ago in 1915, and since then it has been a chosen spot for Himalayan Black Bears, Barking Deers, leopards, flying squirrels etc. The forest is also a paradise for birdwatchers who come here every year to spot Hornbills, Golden Back Woodpecker, Emerald Cuckoos, Black-backed Pheasant, Red Jungle Fowl and several local species of birds.
Suggested place to stay
Bikers and other travellers visiting Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary can stay at the Rambi Forest Rest House, which is located inside the forest. For enquiries and bookings call the Wildlife Division of Darjeeling at (0354) 2257314.
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