Latpanchar, Darjeeling – A birdwatcher’s paradise

The surrounding hills of Kalimpong and Sikkim from Latpanchar.

Latpanchar has been the dream destination for birders from around the nation and abroad. Birding enthusiasts from all over the world flock to this place every year. It comes under Kurseong jurisdiction in the district of Darjeeling and forms the highest part of the famous Mahananda wildlife sanctuary at an elevation of about 5000 ft. Due to its proximity to the core area of the sanctuary, there are chances of spotting different wild animals like deer, wild boars, leopards, elephants and more than 240 species of birds. 

Latpanchar Village.

Abundance of Feathered Species

The most prized possession of Latpanchar is undeniably its abundance of feathered species. The most special birds of Latpanchar which every birder would love to capture with their lenses are the Rufous necked hornbill, Red-headed Trogon, Hodgson’s Frogmouth, Sapphire flycatcher etc. The Rufous-necked hornbill has been listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as its population is decreasing rapidly due to hunting and habitat loss. This beautiful species of bird is referred to as the king of Latpanchar.

Rufous Necked Hornbill.

Serene Landscape

Latpanchar now attracts a good number of visitors every year. The hamlet offers a beautiful view of the mountains and neighbouring hills of Sikkim and Kalimpong. The mighty Teesta river can also be seen meandering along the hills in its serpentine form. Several homestays have come up in and around this area which has solved the unemployment problem to some extent. Latpanchar is now visited by hundreds of visitors every year, even more during peak tourist seasons hence, flourishing tourism in the area. The scenic landscape and tranquil environment make it a very ideal place to spend some time in the lap of mother nature away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Red Headed Trogon

Places of Interest

There are several other tourist sites in the vicinity which can be reached within an hour, namely, Ahal Dara, an orange orchard of Sittong, Namthing lake, Sarsari Dara, Lepcha falls and Nambung falls, Jogighat bridge and many more. There is also a rock climbing spot for adventurous people called Jogi Khola rock climbingspot and falls. One can even explore the village of Latpanchar and hike to a cottage named Lath Kothi, an old cottage made during the British era and visit a newly made Buddhist monastery which is equally beautiful with vibrant colors. The jungle trek can be done with the help of local guides with permission from the forest department. 

Meandering road near Lath Kothi.

How to reach

Latpanchar is accessible by motorable roads from Dilaram, Kali Jhora and Birik Dara, it takes one and half hours drive from Siliguri and more than two hours from Darjeeling. 

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the place is from October to May. 

Latpanchar.

In the past it was only known for the cultivation of medicinal plants, it is one of the important places for the cinchona plantation, which is used for producing Quinine; a medicine helpful for curing malaria and other diseases. Latpanchar was however one of the least visited places in Darjeeling in spite of its natural beauty. It was the species of birds found in this area that grabbed the attention of the crazy birders which made the place the birding hub and has been listed on the map of tourist destinations.

View of the plains from Latpanchar.

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