Teesta - A main river in Darjeeling & Sikkim
The 309kms long Teesta river (also known as Tista) originates at an altitude of 5,330m from Tso Lhamo lake of North Sikkim Himalayas. The lake is 118kms north east of Darjeeling. Some believe that source of Teesta are both Tso Lhamo lake as well as Teesta Khangse glacier located at an altitude of 7,068 meters. Teesta then runs downhill through Sikkim and Darjeeling hills for 172kms, then meanders along the plains of West Bengal for about 98kms and eventually enters Bangladesh where it flows into river Brahmaputra at Fulchori.
The Teesta is joined by the river Rangpo Chu at Rangpo settlement (which is the entrance to East-Sikkim) and then it forms a boundary between Sikkim and West Bengal. The River then flows through Darjeeling district. The main tributary of river Teesta, the Rangit river meets it just before the Teesta bridge. The river leaves Darjeeling district at Sevoke.
The confluence of the Teesta and Rangit known as Triveni is a splendor to look at, the mixing of the muddy emerald green waters of Teesta and the crystal clear deep green waters of Rangit. The River derived its name from the word 'Trisrota', meaning 'possessed of three streams'.
Teesta is the shortened form of the word 'Trisrota'. It derived its name from the fact that it flowed in three channels, the Karatoya in the east, the punarbhaba in the west and the Atrai in the center. A devastating flood in 1787 had changed the course of the river.
River Teesta - From Sevoke Road
The river has a meandering course. In Darjeeling district the river banks are covered mostly with forest but at places it has cultivated lands. One can also see tea bushes, cardamom plants, orange trees.
At higher altitude the river bed has cushion plants, mosses, lichens and grasses, the so called Alpine vegetation. At certain places in Darjeeling, particularly at the confluence of Teesta and Rangit
the river bank has white sand which is utilized in the construction industry.
This juncture provides a major base for White Water Rafting in Teesta
. The large boulders around the river make it an ideal place for this sport. The Teesta in Sikkim also has a hub for this amazing sport.
The river has two concrete bridges - the Teesta bridge and the Coronation bridge.
The Teesta bridge is located at a point where the roads from Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sikkim meet. It is meant for the heavy traffic and serves as a gateway to the main towns of Darjeeling district (like Darjeeling, Kalimpong) and Sikkim (like Gangtok).
But originally there was a concrete bridge which crossed Teesta river at Teesta Bazaar. But it was destroyed by the 1968 devastating flood. Then a military suspension bridge was built there as a temporary measure whose suspension cables and the supporting towers can still be seen. Later the present new bridge came up about 500 meters down stream from where the original bridge used to be.
On Teesta Bridge
The Coronation bridge on River Teesta is at Sevoke, the site where the river leaves Darjeeling district. This bridge completed in the year of India's independence 1947 is made of steel and connects Darjeeling district with Jalpaiguri.
Another bridge the Teesta Suspension Bridge was built in Sikkim in 1894 by the British. This bridge could ferry only animals and pedestrians.
On the right bank of the river at the intersection of the Siliguri-Gangtok National Highway is a small town the Teesta Bazaar. This market area is famous for beautifully hand crafted local items like thankas (which are religious hand paintings on scrolls), lanterns, silver jewelry, crockery and local food items.
The Teesta River is a lifeline to many fishermen, farmers, boatmen although the river water has dried up to a great extent due to excessive use of groundwater. This river has an estimated total hydroelectric power potential of 84GW for generation of electricity. Several hydropower damns have already been built in the Teesta river basin in Sikkim-Darjeeling catchment area. This is soon likely to produce over 6,000MW of power. In 2007 the Teesta -V-dam was built across the river to control flood.
The Teesta River with its beautiful trail is natures splendor. To get a glimpse of it during a visit to Darjeeling district is like a dream come true. One of the best places to see Teesta meeting Rangit and surrounded by lush forest is the Peshoke View Point.
Confluence of rivers Teesta & Rangit.
View from Lover's Meet View Point on Peshok Road
The depth and strong current not only supported life in the hilly district but also made the hilly area very vibrant with its touch of 'green'.
Prosenjit Banerjee (June 2020)
Hi Raj, Hope you are doing well. It's been a great and very informative website. Keep up the great work. Just want to know if there is a walking route, kind of hiking, near Darjeeling or surrounding places, to go to Teesta river bed. Please help.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) June 2020
Hi, there is no marked hiking trail as such down the mountains to Teesta river bank. One option is to start from Lamahatta (about 1 hour by car from Darjeeling), walk down Peshok Road to Teesta Bazaar and get to the bank of Teesta river (there is a place here where rafting takes place). This downhill walk would take around 3 hours (13kms). Along the way (about 10kms from Lamahatta), you get a marvelous view of Teesta flowing through the mountains from Lover's Meet View Point (see my page on Triveni