With the pristine natural charm, the soulful green landscapes, and the serenity, Jhalong offers a remarkable experience no matter which season you visit. Stretched to the banks of the turbulent Jaldhaka River, this quaint province shares closeness with one of the happiest nations in the world, Bhutan. A Hydro Electricity Project is constructed on the Jaldhaka River which serves as a bridge and connects Jhalong with Bhutan. Due to its unique appeal, Jhalong is growing as one of the most favored destinations in North Bengal. It is an offbeat destination in the Himalayan Foothills.
Over the years, Jhalong has gained the attention of adventurers and those seeking to escape in the lap of nature. It is richly endowed with natural splendor and tranquility. Its trails lead to scenic viewpoints that offer jaw-dropping vistas. Roads are devoid of traffic congestion. Its tranquil landscapes offer space for adventure and leisurely activities. You can hike to the hilltops for a thrilling experience, camp under the stars, or go angling with the locals.
The rich vegetation adds to the charm of Jhalong. Thanks to the mountain-fed waters of the Jaldhaka River, which not only sources power generation but vastly nourishes the valley and the river banks of Jhalong. Owing to its position in the foothills of the Himalayas, the place offers you multiple activities to engage in throughout all seasons.
Jhalong falls under the Gorubathan CD block in the Kalimpong District in West Bengal, India. This Himalayan hamlet is located at a distance of 99 km from Siliguri, which is en route to Northeast and Bhutan. Its distant landscapes are ideal for people who want to spend time in solitude and amidst nature, unbothered by the hustle and bustle of city life. Its geographic location separates it from the fast-paced cities. The serene and distant environment of Jhalong allures peace seekers, adventurers, nature lovers to its less trodden territory.
Major Attractions & Things To Do In Jhalong, Jaldhaka
Jhalong River Camp
For nature lovers, Jhalong River Camp offers once in a lifetime experience to dwell and observe nature. You can bask in nature and engage in stargazing. Wake up with the bird’s song and the sun rays beaming over the mountains of Bhutan. The rustling waters of the Jaldhaka River will soothe your mind and soul, while the breathtaking sights of nature will be a visual treat to your eyes. In case you are interested, Jhalong River Camp is organized by the West Bengal Forest Department Corporation Ltd. (WBFDC).
A small wooden bridge over the massive boulders on the Jaldhaka River leads you to the river camp. The tents are provided with all the necessities. The entire space is shielded to protect you from weather and wildlife. A wooden tower is set up under the shade of trees and is also used as a dining space. Here you can enjoy the view of mountains and rivers while relishing your meals.
Wildlife and Birding in Jhalong Jaldhaka
Jhalong Jaldhaka is an ideal place for birding enthusiasts to spot some of the rare species of feathered beauties. The province is a birding paradise with over 100 different species of birds inhabiting the rich green forests. The river and the abundant greenery attract a wide variety of waterfowl and migratory birds. Birds spotted in Jhalong are Crested Kingfisher, Eurasian Wryneck, Brown Dipper, Slaty-backed Forktail, Hodgson’s Redstart, Little Forktail, and Rufous-necked laughingthrush. The richly forested areas around the Jaldhaka River is a habitat for a variety of animals like bison, elephants, leopard, Indian boars, wild cat, and deer.
Jaldhaka Hydel Power Station
The Jaldhaka Hydro Electricity Project is a major attraction in Jhalong. It is one of the oldest hydel projects in India with the first unit of the dam initiated in 1967 and the last in 1983. Jaldhaka Dam has a total production capacity of 36.9 MW. A wooden bridge constructed above the Dam serves as a bridge connecting Jhalong with the neighboring kingdom of Bhutan.
Trekking alongside the mighty river and the mountain routes can thrill you and give you an adrenaline rush. Jhalong has several trekking trails but trekking alongside the banks of the Jaldhaka River bestows you with a kicky feeling. But make sure not to go too close to the river, as Jaldhaka River has a history of unfavorable incidents in the past.
For a peaceful experience, you can hike through the forest trails nearby Jhalong River Camp. Hiking up the hills bordering Bhutan can help you rejuvenate. The nature trekking trails in Jhalong lead to famous Himalayan Sanctuaries like Rachela Pass. Main trekking routes lead to Todey-Tangta, which is famous for captivating views and black cardamom cultivation.
Bindu is famous for its Dam and the weekly market. It snuggles at an elevation of 2000 feet adjacent to the banks of the Jaldhaka River. The water stored at Bindu Dam is the primary source of power generation. Other than that, Bindu is scenic and tranquil. The milky white Jaldhaka River speedily flows down, decking and nurturing the scenic valleys. At Bindu, you can closely witness the mighty Jaldhaka River serving as a literal line of boundary between India and Bhutan. Vehicles go up to Bindu Bazar, which serves as a major marketplace for the locals including Bhutanese people. From Bindu Bazar, you need to walk a distance of 200 m to get to Bindu Dam.
Gairibas Viewpoint – Gairibas Viewpoint is one of the nearby attractions. You can enjoy the breathtaking view of Bhutan Hills. The sight of far-stretching plains and green valleys, streams glistening like a silver string is worth hiking. Despite the portrait-like views, you cannot ignore the quaint and tiny settlement of Jhalong and the picturesque views surrounding it.
Angling/Fishing – Apart from sightseeing and nature-bound adventure activities like trekking, you can indulge in leisurely activities like angling/fishing. You can team up with the locals and check with the authorities for a fishing permit.
Village Tours – Jhalong is the melting pot of cultures. You can find Nepalese, Adivasis, Rajbanshis, Bengalis dwelling in harmony. If culture intrigues you, you can take part in village tours to get a close look at the lifestyle and culture of the people living in the region. The most fascinating part about the Jhalong tour is the cultural shows, which are organized every day for the tourists in the evening.
Best Time To Visit Jhalong, Jaldhaka
Jhalong offers the best experience no matter which season you plan your trip. However, if you are planning to trek and camp during the monsoon, the heavy rain could impose a great problem. Also, the forests are closed during monsoon season as it is the breeding and hatching season for wildlife and birds.
If you are an adventurer, you can plan your trip in October and November. You can also be a part of the biggest festival of Nepalis, Dashain, which is celebrated in October. Post monsoon season is the best time for visiting Jhalong as the weather during this time is pleasant. The water remains crystal clear and the current is moderate, which is ideal for angling.
Car rental services are available in Siliguri so you can easily hire a car from Siliguri to Jhalong. Bus services are available daily from Siliguri Junction Bus Station.
You can also board a train from the main and the nearest railway station, NJP. Jhalong is 89 km away from NJP.
Bagdogra Airport (IXB) is the nearest airport to Jhalong. Flights from different states of India land at Bagdogra airport. Once you arrive at Bagdogra Airport, you can hire a pre-paid taxi from the taxi counter at the arrival area.