Discover offbeat Himalayan trails of India with our travel expert Reetwika Banerjee.
Tiffin Dara is a picturesque viewpoint in the lap of Kolbong forest range of Eastern Himalayas. It can be accessed via two soft trekking routes – one originating from Lava and the other from Rishop. Perched at an altitude of 8000 feet above sea level, Tiffin Dara can steal your heart on a cloudless morning.
We chose to take the shorter trekking route starting from Rishop; better to call a jungle hike. The distance was hardly 3 kilometres uphill, but the trail was really steep at this side of the forest. The one from Lava is more gradual and eventually longer.
We had boarded at one of the nearest Lepcha homestays so that we can save time for the trek. 4.45am – It was almost dark with a few shimmering lights on the opposite hills of Kalimpong. Traces of clouds covered us with a misty blanket. We could see smokes coming from our mouth as we exhaled.
Three of us embarked on this semi-nocturnal trip to Tiffin Dara. The only rationale for early start was to reach the summit before sunrise. Like on one hand it was indeed an exciting walk, but on the hind side we were extremely scared of the clouds, which might spoil our entire sunrise watching plan.
It took us more than an hour to cover the entire stretch from our homestay to the top of Tiffin Dara vantage point with intermittent photo and breath breaks. But it was worth the efforts!
The sound of our footfalls echoing through the woods, a narrow road through the Kolbong forest, cricket chirps coupled with whistling cedars added a mystic feel altogether. By the time we climbed to the highest point, it was almost 6am. Thin rays of the rising sun had just started falling on the snow peaks, making the skyline gradually visible.
By 6.30am, the entire range of Mt. Kanchendzonga was clearly visible. Touch wood, we were extremely lucky to be there on a sunny day. Apart from us, there were a handful of researchers who also had gathered to witness sunrise from Tiffin Dara. One of them said, it’s not actually Tiffin Dara, but T-Pin Dara, which eventually got misspelt as Tiffin Dara over the years.
Hours passed enjoying unspoilt natural beauty, alpine whispers and a panoramic view of Kanchendzonga peaks – Mt. Kabru, Talung, Ratong, Central summits, Kumbhakarna, Pandim and many more. However, the mercury dipped too low to fight with our light woollens. With the sun slowly scaling higher, fogs began to engulf the peaks again.
Spending some awesome moments amidst the mountains, we slowly started our retreat back the same forest trail.
How to Reach:
Located at a distance of 120 odd kilometres from New Jalpaiguri, it took us almost 6 hours by road to reach Rishop. The last stretch of 7 kilometres from Lava bazaar was a forested road full of boulders.
What else to see:
Lava, Neora Valley NP, Kolakham.
Where to stay:
WBFDC tourist lodge at Lava and innumerable homestays in Rishop.