Road to Samsing
Samsing is an ideal stopover if one has to go to Suntalekhola. The road to Samsing from Lataguri goes through the best tea estates of Dooars like Chulsa and Chilouni. As one climbs upwards from Chulsa, the landscape changes and paves the way to hilly terrain. On the way, one can stop at Matelli. There is a famous Kali Temple at Matelli. The narrow road through the lush green tea gardens and Bhutan Hills on the backdrop is a delightful sight. The aroma of the tea leaves will surely cast its spell and you will love to get lost into the beauty of Dooars. Samsing is a small quaint settlement. There are a few shops. It’s not a bad idea to try Momos at Samsing. From Samsing View Point one can enjoy bird’s eye view of the valley and Murti River cutting across and meandering through the green foliage.
An Overview – Suntalekhola
Suntalekhola is 5 km from Samsing. It is a small hamlet of Kalimpong district. The road from Samsing to Suntalekhola goes through a canopy of Oak and Pine. Suntalekhola is coined from two Nepali words “Suntale” means Oranges and “Khola” means Stream. There is a mountain stream and an abundance of orange trees in the vicinity.
Suntlekhola is on the fringes of Neora Valley National Park and several trek routes originate from here which takes you to Neora Valley National Park. There is a wooden suspension bridge over the mountain stream of Murti River which is the cynosure of major tourists.
Walk to the Hanging Bridge
Taking my own sweet time and enjoying the greenery drenched by the night shower, I reached the picturesque village of Suntalekhola. Unless you have a reservation at any home-stay/ WBFDC Cottage, you will not be allowed to take your vehicle beyond the Suntalekhola market hub. Locals have made a syndicate and charge Rs 300 – 400/- for about 1 km stretch from the main market to the suspension bridge.
If you don’t mind walking, it is a wonderful experience to walk through the dense canopy of moist deciduous forest. Walking along the off-road leads you to stunning vistas, sudden brushes with flora that grow wild and untamed. I slowly strolled through the narrow path. Be careful if you venture out to any off-road because there are leeches at Suntalekhola especially during monsoon.
Things to Do/ Attractions – Suntalekhola
- Wooden Hanging Bridge – The suspension bridge is over River Murti. The bridge leads to the WBFDC Cottages. The bridge resonates with the footsteps as one walks across the bridge. It’s an awesome experience.
- Soak into Nature – Bestowed with the famous Neora Valley National Park on its periphery, Suntalekhola is woody and evergreen all most throughout the year. A destination of Dooars which still not crowded by madding crowd. One can sit back and relax. Fill the lungs with unadulterated oxygen. Dip your feet into the bubbling Murti stream. The beauty of Suntalekhola is endless.
- A Walk to Cardamom Plantations – Cardamom is omnipresent at Suntalekhola village. It’s like you throw a stone, and wherever is falls, you find cardamom plantations in and around. However, locals here are very careful, be cautious and take prior approval while you click photographs or walk through the plantations.
- Trek to Mouchuki – Mouchuki is the land of pristine beauty adjacent to the Neora River. The trek is adorned with mesmerizing landscape and a unique way to experience the glory of Dooars. From Mouchuki one can enjoy the breathtaking view of Eastern Himalayas and Dooars and be assured of what can only be described as bliss.
- Birding – Suntalekhola is a birder’s paradise. Spot birds like Sultan Tit, Ashy Bulbul, Greater Necklaced Laughing Thrush, Long-tailed Sibia and many more.
An Overview – Rocky Island
Rock Island is a perfect destination for a day tour from Lataguri/ Murti. If you don’t mind getting a bit wet, love exploring caves and hike through woody meadows in short if you if carve for adventure and wild at heart then this is the place for you.
Rocky Island is 3 km from Suntalekhola. River Murti meanders through boulders and there is an iron bridge over the river. There are rocks of gigantic size and at pockets, it has formed like a cave. Presence of mammoth rocks and the Murti River the place was christened as “Rocky Island”.
Things to Do/ Attractions – Rocky Island
- Murti River Trail – Go for a river trail along Murti and explore the surroundings. Soak yourself into the water of Murti River. Be careful while you indulge in such activities. Gigantic rocks can be seen and are given the names like Bhimsen, Pathar Kailas, Neel Kanta, and Hansdunga. You can also enjoy a campfire with burbling of the brook if you stay overnight.
- Go for Trekking– Numerous trek routes start from Rock Island. Some of the best trek routes include short treks to Mouchuki, Sherpagaon, Jhandidara and Bhalukope.
– Suntalekhola and Rocky Island are best explored in a day tour from Lataguri/ Murti. Best accommodation option at Suntalekhola is WBFDC Cottages on the bank of Murti River. The best option for home-stay is “Suntalekhola Home-Stay”. The home-stay is strategically located and nearest home-stay from the suspension bridge. From the balcony of the home-stay, you have a stunning view of the entire valley and the Murti river snaking across the valley.
Not much accommodation options are available at Rocky Island other than few home-stays and hotels with basic amenities.
Best Time to Visit Suntalekhola & Rocky Island
If you love adventure – Sept to May – If adventurous activities such as rock climbing, hiking and trekking are in your bucket list Sept to May is the best time to visit. In the month of December, you can have a lovely view of the orange orchards. River Murti is lean at this time of the year, and you can climb to some rocky in the middle of the river. Please be careful while you do so.
If you love the roaring sound of the river – June to August – If you are fond of roaring water then monsoon is the best time to visit. The landscape turns absolutely green and a scene to behold.
How to Reach
Suntalekhola and Rocky Island are about 30 minutes drive from nearest railhead New Mal Junction. About 40 minutes drive from Lataguri/ Murti.
Jhalong, Bindu, Paren, Gorumara, Murti, Lataguri.