Lava & Loleygaon Tours
Lava and Loleygaon are two quaint mountain hamlets in Darjeeling district under Kalimpong block and surrounded by forests. Altitude of Lava is 7,700ft while Loleygaon (also known as Kaffer village) is at a lower altitude of 5,500ft. Since they are close to each other (about one hour driving distance between the two), most tourists make a combined visits to these two places.
You can reach via Kalimpong or Gorubathan. If you are visiting Kalimpong, you can make a great day trip to Lava and Loleygaon from there.
From New Jalpaiguri (NJP), the distance to Lava is about 105kms via Kalimpong and 119kms via Gorubathan. It takes about 3.5 hours by car from NJP. From Kalimpong, both Lava and Loleygaon are close and ideal for day trips. Lava is about 34kms along Rishi Road and Loleygaon is further 22kms away (i.e. 56kms from Kalimpong).
Some tips about the day trip from Kalimpong
From Kalimpong Lava takes about 1.5 hours drive and Loleygaon about 2.5 hours. Since Loleygaon is further away, on a day trip from Kalimpong you can visit Loleygaon first, then visit Lava and return via Algarah along Rishi road.
In order to take a short cut, the driver will invariably take the Relli road from Kalimpong towards Loleygaon. And the moment he does that, you should be prepared for an ever increasing bumpy ride along roads that haven't been repaired for ages. And that route should not be traversed by a small car other than a Jeep. After a while Relli road leads to some unnamed village roads which are even worse.
So if you want to avoid a continuous backbreaking road journey, ask the driver to stick to Rishi road, although the route might be a bit longer but actually takes less time.
However there is one advantage of taking the Relli road though. It crosses the Relli river (on which the road is named) and you can see the beautiful meandering river from the bridge. The river side is a popular picnic spot for the locals.
Finally a narrow road branches off the main road towards Loleygaon, which is also not well maintained. You can not avoid this last stretch (of about 12kms or so) which is full of potholes and passes through dense Dhupi forest. While returning from Loleygaon and heading towards Lava, the driver will again try to take a short cut (which is probably the bumpiest ride I have ever experienced). Like before, ask him to take the main road instead and then the diversion to Lava.
LOLEYGAON - A QUAINT VILLAGE
Loleygaon is a quiet and peaceful hamlet located at an altitude of 5,520ft and surrounded by towering dhupi and cypress forests. Several locations in the village offer sweeping views of Kanchenjunga range. You can also see a range of orchids and other flowering plantations here. It's also a great place for bird watchers.
From NJP railway station Loleygaon is about 125kms and can be reached in about 4 hours by car via Kalimpong. The route via Gorubathan takes a bit lesser time.
At the center of the village there is a flat land opposite to the Eco-Park, where there are few small tea stalls and shops. This is the only bazaar area where you can buy small stuffs or eat. On a day trip, you may carry your packed lunch.
Eco Park - Loleygaon
At a short distance from here is the most popular attraction - The Canopy Walk. There is a 180-meters long hanging wooden tree-top bridge that goes through the dense jungle. The bridge slowly rises in height and you will find yourself walking through the tree tops amidst dense forest. At the start, there are few stairs to climb to the bridge and then you start the fairly long walk at a height and through the jungle.
Canopy Walk (Hanging Bridge) - Loleygaon
The bridge swings at times and you need to catch the wired fence on both sides. Look around in the forest and you can see many different kinds of birds here. It's an amazing experience.
This is only a one way walk and lasts for few minutes. There is also restrictions to the maximum number of persons who can walk simultaneously on the bridge. You get down from the other side and walk back below the bridge.
Canopy Walk (Hanging Bridge) - Loleygaon
There is a ticket counter at the entrance. Once you buy the entry ticket (Rs. 25 per person), you will need to walk through the forest for few minutes before you reach the hanging bridge to take the Canopy Walk. If you want, you can explore the forest even beyond the bridge after getting down at the other end.
After Canopy walk, you can visit the Jhandi Dara Viewpoint. It's actually a sunrise point where you get wonderful view of sunrise amongst the Himalayan range.
While cars can go up to a point (very bad road though), it's essentially a pathway that leads through the dense jungle, then to a stairway and then to the elevated view point. If you plan to stay at Loleygaon, trek up to this view point early in the morning to see sunrise.
Visit the VIP Bungalow View Point. It's a manicured lawn area below the VIP bungalow which has nice viewing galleries. Unfortunately they are not well maintained, but you still get excellent views of Kanchenjunga snow peaks from here.
VIP Bungalow View Point - Loleygaon
LAVA - A QAINT HAMLET NESTLED IN FOREST
Lava is a small sleepy village located at an altitude of 7000ft. From Loleygaon the distance to Lava is 22kms and takes over 1 hour drive. From NJP station, Lava is about 105kms via Kalimpong and takes about 3 hours by car.
Lava is the base and the gateway for the famous Neora Valley National Park
and surrounded by dense forest of coniferous trees. However, you should stay overnight at Lava or Neora Valley for a visit to the national park which is full of exotic flora and fauna. Entrance to the park is about 10kms from Lava.
Lava also attracts many trekkers. Trekking to Samthar Plateau starts from a place called Gompa Dara which is located close to Lava. The forested areas around Lava is also a paradise for bird watchers. You can see many different birds like Blue Robins, Fulvetta, Finch, Wren Babblers and lot more.
Close to the local market (bazaar) is Lava Monastery (the original name is Lava Jamgyong Kongtrul Monastery). This should be covered as part of your day visit. The ambience in the monastery with typical Tibetan architecture is serene and wonderful.
Lava Monastery (with a monk)
Go towards the backside of the monastery and you get lovely view of the surrounding and a playing field below along with that of Lava village itself with mountains in the backdrop. Outside and below the car park there are toilet facilities.
Backside view of Lava Monastery
On your way back, visit the Nature Interpretation Center of Neora Valley National Park which is located in Lava itself. As you walk down the pathway and through the lovely plantations all around, the center is at the end. Here you will understand the nature and the flora and fauna that you can expect in the Neora Valley National Park.
Neora Valley Nature Interpretation Center at Lava
The Nature Interpretation Center is open from 8am - 12noon, 1pm - 4pm. It remains closed on Thursdays.
Changey Waterfall is about 12kms from Lava. You should take a jeep type vehicle as the narrow winding road is full of boulders and can hardly be negotiated by a small car. It'll take about an hour to reach the Changey base and then walk down for about 20 minutes to see the wonderful waterfall gushing down from high above and disappearing into the lush foliage below. It's a quiet lovely place with nobody around.
Hotels in Lava & Loleygaon
You won't find luxury accommodations in Lava and Loleygaon. In Lava the most popular stay is at the forest lodge of WBFDC, while Loleygaon has several private hotels and small resorts. Visit Hotels in Lava & Loleygaon
Transports to Lava & Loleygaon
(Fare updated January 2018)
From Siliguri stands (at Darjeeling more and near the main bus stand at Hill Cart Road) you will get shared jeeps to Lava. Shared jeeps also ply between Lava and Loleygaon. There is also a bus to Lava from PC Mittal bus stand at Siliguri. From Kalimpong, buses leave for Lava in the morning at 6:30am and 10am. Reserved or private taxis are also available in plenty at Kalimpong, NJP and Siliguri.
From NJP/Siliguri the fare for Lava in a small reserved car via Gajoldoba-Gorubathan is Rs. 2,500/- and via Kalimpong is Rs. 3,000/-. It takes about 3 hours via Gorubathan and 3.5 hours via Kalimpong.
For a day trip from Kalimpong, you should ideally take a reserved car. A round day trip from Kalimpong covering Lava & Loleygaon will cost about Rs 2,700/- in a small vehicle and Rs.3000/- in a larger vehicle.
Somenath Banerjee (February 2017)
Hats off at first. You have made my day. Finally found some Indian who throws away safe and secure for adventure and wild. I am going to visit Rishop, Lava and Lolegaon tomorrow. We actually stay in Rishop for 1 night and Lolegaon for 2 nights. We are adviced to visit Rishop via Gazoldoba-gorubathan. Then from Rishop we will come to Lolegaon & from Lolegaon back to NJP.
I heard road to lava is very bad. We have 2 60+ people with us, so I am asking you how to reach rishop from NJP? then to lolegaon and then to NJP? Which route to take while returning back to NJP. Should we choose Bagrakote-sevoke-njp route? or Kalimpong-Sevoke-NJP route? Please mention which road to take and which to avoid (Like you mentioned relli road to avoid and rishi road to take when going to lava/lolgegaon from kalimpong). Another question is bad road here means bumpy only or narrow? is there high chance of falling into deep pitt? Thanks in advance.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) February 2017
The road from Lava area to Rishyap is a very bumpy road. Only jeep type vehicle can negotiate and not a small car. You need not worry about falling into a deep pit though. Gajoldoba/ Gorubathan route to Lava would be the shortest, but Sevoke/ Bagrakote route is better for the first part (takes about 40 minutes more). Both routes however meet at Odlabari. You can choose either. You need not go via Kalimpong which is the longest route of all.
Joydeep Banerjee (February 2017)
Sir..to put it simply, I dont think a travel blog can be written and maintained more scrupulously and meticulously than yours...however, I want a piece of suggestion if you may please cater to....is it possible to travel to Loleygaon, Lava and Sillerygaon in 2 night 3 days' time...if yes, please let me be guided as to how the plan might be negotiated....
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) February 2017
Reach Lava and spend the first night. Next morning start early, visit Lava Monastery and few other spots in Lava and start for Loleygaon by 11am. Get back and spend the second night at Lava. Next day visit Sillery Gaon and even Pedong, Damsung fort etc before heading for NJP/Bagdogra.
Dibyendu Ghosh (October 2015)
I am Dibyendu Ghosh from Kolkata, planning for family tour with my wife and 2.5 year old daughter. I would like to go for Darjeeling-Kalimpong-Lava-Lolegaon in end of February for 7 to 8 days. Request for your suggestion. I could plan up to NJP - Darjeeling - Kalimpong, after that I am not getting any idea about LAVA and LOLEGAON. Please suggest whether it is possible to cover LAVA and LOLEGAON with my daughter, considering safety ? I will be grateful , if somebody send a details tour plane for this route.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) October 2015
There is no additional safety measures to be taken for your child other than what you plan for Kalimpong. But note that February will be very cold and you should take adequate woolens and full winter protection. Also, Lava & Loleygaon being a bit remote, there will be practically no medical help available there should you require some. You will need to get back to Kalimpong for that. Lava is only about 1.5 hours from Kalimpong and Loleygaon is further 1 hour from Lava. Ask the driver to stay on the main road (i.e. Rishi road) to get to both Lava and Loleygaon in order to avoid bad roads (there will still be some). From Kalimpong, you can take a taxi or bus for Lava. Stay there for 1 or 2 nights, after local sightseeing move to Loleygaon. There are shared jeeps available between the two places which are operated by the local syndicate. You can also take a private jeep/car. Spend 1 or 2 nights in Loleygaon for local sightseeing, and then directly return to NJP via local vehicle (the usual route is via Gorubathan).
Swarup (November 2014)
Hi Raj, while searching for shared car service from NJP to Lava I found your portal. I am planning to visit lava at the end of December. Can you please tell me whether any shared car is available from NJP / Siliguri to lava or I need to take a break journey at Kalimpong. Also is there any shared car available frequently from Kalimpong to lava. Waiting for your valuable message.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2014
You will usually get shared jeeps from Darjeeling More at Siliguri for Lava but not from NJP. From NJP take an auto and go down to Darjeeling More (about 20 minutes) and then take a shared Jeep to Lava.
Otherwise from NJP take a shared jeep to Kalimpong and then change to another one for Lava. However Kalimpong to Lava shared jeep service is not frequent. You will unlikely get any shared jeep after 3pm.
Arnab Patra (October 2014)
I am looking for the public transport information between NJP to LAVA and LAVA to Rishyap and also the reverse. Please help me if you have any information regarding that.I always prefer public transport because its economy and its saves at least few liters of oil :). Will wait for your reply
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) October 2014
You can get shared jeeps to Lava from Siliguri stands (Darjeeling More or on Hill Cart Road). There is also a bus from P C Mittal bus stand. From Lava, there is a 4km trek route to Rishyap. Alternatively you can get a shared jeep.