Tour of Rishyap or Rishop
Rishyap is a tranquil, small rural settlement of the Lepcha community in the mountainous landscape at an altitude of 8,500ft. It is only about 28kms to the east of Kalimpong in Darjeeling district. If you are visiting Lava, there is a motorable road of 11kms and also a trekking trail of 4kms from Lava to reach Rishyap.
Rishyap actually forms an integral part of the well known Neora Valley at the foothills of Tiffindara. Although it's a relatively new tourist destination compared to several others in the vicinity, it is still a virgin spot clothed in forests of pine, birch, fir, colorful rhododendrons and orchids with a wonderful view of the vast range of Kanchenjunga and many other Himalayan snow peaks. And this is exactly what the name 'Rishyap' stands for - 'Mountain Peaks and Forests'. And at night look below, an you get amazing sights of the sparkling lights of Gangtok and the small town of Pedong.
And that is all what you can expect to get there. You won't get any city or town life. Which means no restaurants, drinks, food stores or shopping. It's only the nature.
So if nature is all what you get in Rishyap, let's try to take an account of that. As I had mentioned earlier, from most places in Rishyap you get wonderful views of the Himalayan mountains, and there are some spots that offer you sweeping views of the snow peaks over a vast stretch of snow. And from one such spot like Tiffindara if you look around, you will get to see (from left to right) Mt. Kharg, Kokthang, Rathung, Kabru, Talung, Pandim, Kanchenjunga, Simvo, Narsingh and Mt. Siniolchu.
You will also be able to see some parts of the famous Nathula and Jelepla passes. And you will be among the dense concentration of pines, birch, fir and orchids. So if you are a nature lover, then Rishyap is one place which you should keep in your agenda.
Attractions and Activities in and around Rishyap
Note that most of Rishyap doesn't have motorable roads. So your only option is to walk and trek around to visit the nearby attractions.
Tiffindara is a view point for watching sunrise & sunset and about 1.5 kms of uphill trek from the base of Rishyap. You walk through the forests of birch, fir, pine and rhododendrons as you hear the chirping of the birds. It's a narrow forested trail and should be avoided during the monsoon. There are few places along the way where bamboo made benches are provided (now in bad conditions though) where you can take rest before you start your climb again.
Likely there will be some stray mountain dogs accompanying you and showing you the way. It takes about 40 to 45 minutes trek to the top. And the top is like a flat rocky platform created as a view point. And here on a clear day your hard work will be rewarded with a panoramic view of all the Himalayan peaks I mentioned earlier including that of Kanchenjunga. During sunset you can see the gold capped peaks with a play of rainbow colors. Try to carry trekking stick.
At Rishyap you can also walk down to Shiva Buddha Temple. As you climb up the red staircase you will see idols of Lord Shiva and Buddha mounted side by side.
Trek along the Neora Valley forest and reach Jorepokhri (a twin lake).
Other than Rishyap itself, another popular settlement in Neora Valley is the small sleepy village called Kolakham which is about 20kms away. Near to that is the wonderful Changey waterfall which gushes down from high above. Vehicles can't reach all the way up to the fall. You will need to walk down a narrow pathway for about 1.5kms to get to the waterfall. But once there, it's a heavenly feel amongst nature and roaring sound of the gushing water.
The small Lepcha villages of Lava and Lolegaon
can be reached from Rishyap by car. Lava is only 11kms away (a boulder & bumpy road and requires a Jeep type vehicle, and takes about 35 minutes). You can also trek (downhill) to Lava through forests of birch, pines and rhododendrons.
The trekking distance is 4kms and takes about 2.5 hours. Lolegaon is another 1 hour drive from Lava. Both these tourist spots are known for their unique forest settings where you can be amidst mountainous flora and fauna. In Lava the main attraction is the Lava Monastery while in Lolegaon you can't miss out on the forest Canopy Walk. It's a great day trip from Rishyap.
is another small village at a 1-hour driving distance away. The main attraction being the nearby Damsang Fort. This fort was built in 1690 and is in ruins now. This was once the site of war between the Lepchas and Bhutias. The importance of Pedong is that it is the gateway to Tibet from India through Jelepla Pass.
Rishyap weather and best time to visit
Summer time is between mid-April to mid-July when the temperature varies between minimum of 10°C to a maximum of 20°C. This is a great time to visit Rishyap as the temperature is mild, rhododendrons & orchids are in full bloom, sky remains generally clear and you get marvelous views of the mountain peaks. Winter time (December to end February) is very cold and the temperature varies between 0°C to 6°C. The autumn which is October to November is also another great time to visit Rishyap. Although you won't see flowers during this time, the views of snow peaks are awesome. It's better to avoid the rainy season during July-August as landslides are common and there are chances that you may get stranded if that happens.
How to reach Rishyap
From NJP railway station, Rishyap is about 110kms via Kalimpong and 120kms via Garubathan. Distance from Bagdogra airport would be additional 10kms. It takes about 4 hours to reach Rishyap from NJP. From Kalimpong the distance is about 28kms via Algarah. As you take the main highway from Kalimpong, after Algarah a steep gravel road goes up towards Rishyap. And you should ideally take a vehicle like a Jeep to negotiate this highly bumpy gravel road.
If you are going via Lava, there is an 11km road between Lava and Rishyap. This road also requires a Jeep type vehicle. It's a boulder and a bumpy road. However one incentive is you will get a glimpses of step-farming along the way where potato, maize and cabbage are cultivated. Locals depend mostly on these for their livelihood.
And if you like to trek, there is also a quiet 4km uphill trekking trail from Lava to Rishyap passing through forests of pine and birch with many orchid plants all around. It takes about 3 hours of leisure trekking between Lava and Rishyap.
From NJP and Bagdogra, you will get ample reserved taxis (pre-paid or otherwise). You can also alternatively take a shared Jeep from NJP or Siliguri and come up to Kalimpong and then take another vehicle for Rishyap.
Indicative Fare Information (Updated January 2016)
NJP or Bagdogra to Rishyap: Rs. 3,500
Rishyap to Lava: Rs. 700
Rishyap to Changey Waterfall by Jeep: Rs. 1,200
Rishyap to Lava and Loleyaon round trip: Rs. 2,000
Rishyap to Kalimpong – Rs. 2,200
Accommodations in Rishyap (Rates updated January 2015)
You won't find star rated resorts or hotels in Rishyap because the profile of people who come here are not typical luxury travelers, they are mostly nature lovers. And to them luxury is not a priority when nature is in abundance. If you too are one of them, here are some of the best options for accommodations in Rishyap.
Hotel Sonar Tari (Category: Budget)
All seven rooms in the hotel are view rooms with wonderful view of Kanchnejunga. The 3 rooms in the uppermost floor (i.e. 2nd floor) are the best. There is also a 3-bedded room in the ground floor. Rooms are wood paneled, carpeted, have LCD TV with cable channels, attached toilet with geysers and intercom facility. Cars can reach all the way up to the hotel. There is a dining room which offers nice Indian and Chinese food. Room service, generator backup, car parking space and 24hours security are also available. You can book the hotel online through the website of West Bengal Forest Development Corporation (WBFDC).
Golden Sojourn (Category: Budget)
A resort type accommodation located on a hill top with several categories of rooms including double bedded, triple bedded and even duplex rooms. All rooms are wood paneled, have color TVs, carpeted and with attached bathrooms. All rooms have wonderful view of the mountain range. Although there are no geysers, hot water is supplied. The in-house restaurant prepares Indian and Chinese food. Car parking and front desk are available. Campfire can be organized on request. You can book the hotel online through the website of West Bengal Forest Development Corporation (WBFDC).
Lovely Resort (Category: Budget)
Here you get cottages - two and four bedded. Great views of the mountain ranges from all the cottages. The ones at the backside have excellent view of Neora Valley forest as well. Cottages have attached bath and color TVs. The in-house dining offers Indian and Chinese dishes. Room service and car parking are available. You can book the hotel online through the website of West Bengal Forest Development Corporation.
Soumik Banerjee (November 2016)
Hi Raj, Please let me know whether I will get any shared Jeep or Car from NJP or Siliguri to Rishyap? I am reaching NJP on 11th of November this month.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2016
No you won't usually get any shared vehicle from NJP/Siliguri to Rishyap.
Krishnayan (March 2016)
Hi Raj, Planning to visit Kalimpong-Darjeeling during first week of June this year. I have heard and read so much about Lava-Lolegaon and Rishyap . Just wondering whether it would be a good idea to make that uphill trip to Rishyap with my 4 year old daughter .I am not sure whether there is any specific age related restriction circulated by WB Forest Department or local authorities. Your suggestion would be of much help.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2016
Rishyap is not a place for day trip. Tourists visit the place for nature and views, and it requires walks to get around. There is no restrictions for kids as long as you manage on your own.
Anurag (November 2015)
Sir, I have benefited extremely from your lovely site, especially due to the fact that it always remains so updated. And first of all I want to thank you for that.
We are a group of around 7 to 8 friends. We wish to reach Rishyap from Darjeeling and our biggest constraint is Budget. I am informed about reaching Kalimgpong from darjeeling, and then taking another shared jeep to lava, from where we will have our pleasure walk to Rishyap. But i was hoping that if there are share jeeps availability from ghum to Kalimgpong, we would have a chance to enjoy the toy train(diesel) ride to Ghum and then Ghum to kalimgpong. Can you suggest me the feasibility and the cost of the journey per person. Extremely grateful.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2015
All shared jeeps leaving Darjeeling for Kalimpong pass through Ghum. But there may not be that many seats available at Ghum. Shared jeeps also leave from Ghum to Kalimpong occasionally (no fixed timings). Fare would be about 150 per person. If you don't get a jeep from Ghum, take a shared jeep back to Darjeeling motor stand at Chowk Bazaar (20-25 minutes) and then take a shared jeep for Kalimpong. You will waste about an hour going back and fro, but that's okay.