Kalej Valley & Rainbow Falls near Darjeeling

 
 

About Kalej Valley

 
Kalej Valley is a hidden gem in Darjeeling hills and located only 14kms away from Darjeeling town. It's well known for its sprawling tea estate that has been existing since the British era, but the real jewel in its crown is the Rainbow Falls, also known as the Indreni Waterfall (Indreni means rainbow in Nepali). 
 
Kalej Valley Darjeeling 
 
The beautiful lush green valley with a stream flowing through it, forested pathways, passing clouds and the sights of vast tea plantations are ideal for those seeking solitude among absolute nature's bliss. 
 
Kalej Valley Darjeeling 
 
The name Kalej was accorded to this lovely serene valley by the British because the birds Kalij Phesants could be found here in abundance. While their numbers have reduced, these beautiful birds can still be spotted here along with many other types of birds. Some of the other types of birds that can be seen here includes Rufous Sibia, Himalayan Bulbul, White Capped Water Redstart, Great Barbet, Drongo, etc. So, if you take interest in bird watching, then that can certainly be an added attraction to visit Kalej Valley.  
 
 
 
Kalej Valley Tea Estate was established in the year 1858 by the British. However, it was taken over by the Goodricke group after 1987 and but it later changed hands again. The tea estate is divided into 6 divisions. There is a tea factory on one side of the valley... you can visit the factory and see the tea processing. 
 

Rainbow Falls

 
Located about 2kms from the Kalej Valley Tea Estate is one of the best hidden secrets of Darjeeling hills... it's the Rainbow Falls. But, great experiences require some energy, grit and perseverance... and Rainbow Falls certainly demands that. It is not meant for the faint hearted and those who have mobility challenges. 
 
Once you reach the entry gate, you will need to walk through the iron gate and then there is a narrow and steep downhill pathway made of concrete that winds down through dense forested area. You will need to hike down for about 30-40 minutes... there are railings on the pathway so that you can walk safely. 
 
Walkway to Rainbow Falls 
Walkway to Rainbow Falls 
 
Along the way you will come across a few viewpoints that have been carved out to soak in the scenic views of the landscapes, mountains and the valley. You will also cross a mountain stream over a picturesque wooden footbridge. You will need to negotiate a few steps along the way. 
 
Viewpoint towards Rainbow Falls 
 
The pathway zigzags through the forest and finally reaches a nicely paved stairway with metal railings helping you to get down to a large open platform close to the base of the Rainbow Falls. 
 
Footbridge over a stream 
 
The waterfall gushes down from a height of about 80-feet and has formed a pool at the base. If it's a sunny day, then the sunrays passing through the numerous water droplets from the falls create a lovely rainbow around the base, and this is the reason why this waterfall is known as Rainbow Falls... it's just a mind-blowing sight. You should ideally reach the rainbow falls between 10am and 2pm on a sunny day in order to see the rainbow. On a cloudy or rainy day, it is not visible. 
 
Rainbow Falls Darjeeling 
 
If you go close to the base, the water particles will start drenching you. There are large rocks and boulders that surround the pool. You can navigate through the rocks and get to the pool and take a direct shower under the waterfall... a heavenly experience, but negotiating the slippery rocks can be tricky. So, do not try this unless you are physically fit to take care of yourself. 
 
Rainbow formation on Rainbow Falls 
Rainbow Falls Darjeeling 
 
From the stairway as well as the open platform, you also get lovely view of Kalej Valley and the lush mountains on both sides of the valley. You can also see water stream flowing through the valley. It's green all around. 
 
While getting down to the falls is easy because it's a downhill walk, going back up all the way to the entry gate can be a strenuous task for many tourists who are not physically quite fit. You should budget at least 1 hour or more for the hike back up. There are benches laid out along the way to take rests. There is also washroom facility along the way, but cleanliness is highly questionable. 
 

How to reach

 
Kalej Valley and the Rainbow Falls are best approached from Darjeeling or on the way to Darjeeling. The Rainbow Falls is located about 14kms from Darjeeling town. While coming down from Darjeeling, in between Ghum and Sonada, you will come across Rangbull Bazaar (about 9.5kms from Darjeeling town). Here from Hill Cart Road (NH-110), a narrow road (opposite to Sumit Hardware Store) branches off to the right (this narrow road will be on your left if you are coming up from NJP Station or Bagdogra Airport). 
 
From this point at Rangbull on Hill Cart Road, Rainbow Waterfall is 4.5km away. While initially this narrow road is okay and passes through the Rangbull village, you will come across a junction where you will see a board showing the sign 'Kalej Valley Mandir Gaon'. You will now need to turn left and get into that road. Rainbow Falls is about 2.5 kms from here and this section of the road is very rough, bumpy and even narrower. It is advisable not to try getting to Kalej Valley and Rainbow Falls on a small car, instead take a Bolero/Sumo type of vehicle. 
 
Bumpy road towards Kalej Valley 
Road towards Kalej Valley 
 
You will pass through Mandir Gaon... a serene hamlet along the way. You will then get to Kalej Valley Tea Estate area and then further down you will reach the entry gate to the pathway leading down to the Rainbow Falls. There is an open space in front of the entry gate where the car can be parked. 
 
There is still some construction work going on at the Rainbow Falls. Although there is a counter next to the entry gate, there is no entry fee yet, perhaps because the construction work is still underway or may be there is not enough tourist footfall that demands posting a person here permanently. 
 

Best time to visit

 
While you can visit Kalej Valley round the year, if you want to see the rainbow formation at the Rainbow Falls, then it is best to visit on a sunny day between 10am to 2pm. For this, the best months of the year are October - November (usually a sunny dry spell soon after the monsoons when the waterfall remains in full flow). You can also visit during the spring &ásummers (March to May), although the water gush may not be as much as during the post-monsoon time. 
 
Try to avoid the monsoon season (Mid-June to Mid-September) when it rains almost incessantly and mostly remains cloudy. Although the water gush of the falls is the most intense around this time and the nature turns into its greenest form, this is not the time when you can see the rainbow at the falls. Plus, approaching the waterfall through the narrow downhill pathway can be quite difficult when it rains. 
 

Where to stay in Kalej Valley

 
The best place to stay in Kalej Valley is the Rainbow Valley Resort... it's a budget/mid-range type of resort comprising of several cottages (with single and duplex types) that are spread across a fairly large landscaped area overlooking the lovely Kalej Valley Tea Gardens. 
 
Rainbow Valley Resort 
 
The colorful cottages are at different levels on a slope and there are nice walkways that go through manicured flowering plantations reaching out to the cottages and other points in the resort. 
 
There are different types of cottages including ones with private balconies. All rooms have attached bathrooms with western style toilets and geysers. The rooms also have LCD TVs with local cable channels among other standard amenities. All rooms have wood paneling and have floor carpets.  
 
Most rooms have wonderful view of the tea plantations. You can even go down and walk through the tea bushes. There is also a swimming pool in the resort premises... but it is hardly usable and mostly remains dry. This probably is the only eyesore in the property. 
 
Rainbow Valley Resort has been a venue of a Tollywood Movie. The dining area is separate and centrally located. The roof covered dining room has bamboo finish on all sides and looks attractive. You can even see framed photographs of the Tollywood stars who stayed in the resort... these are hung up on the wall. 
 
Rainbow Valley Resort Dining 
 
You can order ala carte from the menu which has Indian and Chinese dishes, or you can take their meal package on a per-person per-day rate which includes breakfast (usually toast omelet), lunch (usually egg curry meal), snacks (like pakoras or sausages) and dinner (usually chicken curry meal). The food is nice and tasty. They also arrange barbecue in the evenings at extra cost. 
 
The resort offers transfer services including pickup and drop. They also arrange for local tours as well as birding guides on requests. They can also arrange for guided hiking through the forests. The Rainbow Falls is only about 2kms from the Resort and will take about 35-40 minutes hike. 
 
Simon, a local, is the owner of the resort... he is quite friendly and often gets into conversation with the guests and offers suggestions on places to visit nearby. For booking, you can check out the following link: 
 
Rates provided by booking.com 
 
Address: 
Rainbow Valley Resort 
DB Road, Kalej Valley Tea Garden, PO- Rangbull, Darjeeling 
 

Nearby Attractions

 
  • Only 15 minutes walk from the Rainbow Valley Resort is the quaint Mandir Gaon village which has quite a few natural picnic spots. It's a great place to chat up with the local villagers and get to know their culture. 
  • Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary is nearby that spans across an area of 39 square kilometers. It has many exotic flora and fauna. It was opened in 1915. The sanctuary, however, remains closed during the monsoon. 
  • Darjeeling town and all its tourist sites are within comfortable driving distance. 
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