Latpanchar is a relatively new tourist destination located at an altitude of 5000 ft above sea level in the hilly region of Mahananda Wild Life Sanctuary. It is in the Kurseong division of the Darjeeling district.
The village is known for its proximity to the core area of the Mahananda WLS. It is also famous for the medicinal plants it produces; there is a large plantation of cinchona around here. Snow-capped peaks of the Kanchenjunga range can also be seen from here.
Apart from natural views, Latpanchar has also gained popularity among tourists due to its birding potential. There are about 250 species of birds available in the area including the Rufous Necked Hornbill. Bird enthusiasts from all over India and abroad, flock to Latpanchar for a glimpse of some rare avifauna.
Today tourism in the area has spread beyond Latpanchar village to the surrounding villages such as Selphu and Sitong. Together the area is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the region.
The beautiful hamlet is just a couple of hours' drive from the NJP railhead or the Bagdogra airport. National Highway 10 connecting Sikkim to the rest of the country runs through the hills on the side of river Tista. You can start for Latpanchar either at Kalijhora, about 28 km from Siliguri, or at Birik, further 5 km ahead. Through Kalijhora you will have to take the left turn and drive uphill for about 15 km to reach Latpanchar, through Birik you have to drive about 18 km to reach Latpanchar.
Latpanchar is no longer a single destination now. The whole area of Latpanchar, Shelphu, and Sitong has come up as a tourist area. From Latpanchar to Selphu is just 3 km and the Sittong area is further 5 km ahead. Though Latpanchar is more popular among birding enthusiasts, the Sittong area has much better tourist accommodations with equally good birding options.
Latpanchar-Sittong Area Map including distances - Not to scale
Birding at Latpanchar
One of the Primary attractions for tourists visiting Latpanchar is bird watching. More than 200 varieties of birds have been sighted in the area including Rufous Necked Hornbill, which nests in the surrounding area during its 4 months long nesting season. The nesting of the Hornbill is an experience that can be sighted in the entire Sitong – Selphu – Latpanchar area.
Other commonly sighted birds include Blue Whistling Thrush, Minivet, Sunbirds, Minivet, Woodpeckers, Bulbul, Drongo, Kingfisher, Falcon, Eagle etc. While travelling in the area, it is important to be accompanied by a birding guide who knows the area as well as the birds. Birds are not concentrated in Latpanchar village but are spread over the area including in other nearby villages such as Jholi Busty, 6th Mile village, Sitong, and Shelphu area. We provide local birding guides who will show you the birds of the area.
Local Sight Seeing
Ahal Dara - This is the viewpoint from where you can watch the sunrise over the Himalayas. The place is close to Namthing Lake and requires a walk of about 100 meters. Ahal Dara also has 3 cottages developed by us with local support where you may stay overnight, more details regarding the same in the accommodation area.
From the Ahal hilltop, one can have a view of Kurseong, Chatakpur, Namchi, Dooars, and Siliguri. You can also see the Tista River, Kalimpong hill area, Algara, Lava, Lolegaon, Bagora, Tinchule, Takdah, and Mangpoo from here. The best part of a visit to Latpanchar is that you can enjoy the beauty of the hill without having to jostle among the tourist crowd as the destination is new and it is mostly unknown to tourists.
The lake of Namthing - Situated at an altitude of 5000 ft above sea level, the beautiful lake is the natural habitat for a number of rare species. Namthing Lake is famous for a sighting of Himalayan Salamander in the wild, though the lake mostly remains dry at present and sighting of the Salamander has become quite rare.
Latkothi - about 4 km from Latpanchar. The mountain road through the Cinchona, Sal, Teak & Pine trees reaches here to disclose the wonder of nature. You can spend a day in this place or may further visit the Kuhi area with a special permit from the forest department. Colourful butterflies and birds will welcome you to the region.
Sitong Orange orchards – Just 20 minutes drive will take you to the Sitong area, which has gained prominence due to its Orange orchards. The area is also a lesser-known Birding paradise, almost all the birds that can be seen at Latpanchar are also available here.
If you want to explore the surrounding hills based in Latpanchar, you may consider a day trip to Bagora – Chatakpur area. This road will take you through an excellent hilly ridge covering small villages such as Mana, Pokhritar, Mahaldiram and others. Each village is beautifully located with a grand view of the Kanchenjunga massif. From Latpanchar to Chatakpur, the last village on your route as well as the highest point is about 30 km and can be reached in one and a half hours. If you have enough time, you can also drive down to the Hill cart road and visit places such as Sonada, which are quite near.
In the recent past, tourism in the area has grown tremendously with several accommodation options. We work closely with the different Homestay and lodges in the area including the following.
In Latpanchar village itself, there is 2 homestay that is more popular. However, both are basic accommodations.
Subba Home stay – Managed by Sabir Subba, this is a basic Homestay for budget tourists. The owner is helpful and forthcoming.
Gurung Home Stay – The home of Padam Gurung is another Homestay. Mr Gurung is one of the first to start tourism in the area and is well known among regular travellers. He has a couple of rooms and a basic dormitory to accommodate the guests.
Better accommodations are available in the nearby area outside Latpanchar village. Humro Home has 3 accommodations in the area that are of the deluxe category.
Humro Home Ahal – The location of this small eco-resort of three cottages makes it a unique accommodation. However, the property suffers from perennial water problems and is often booked months in advance due to its unique location.
Humro Home Ahal
Humro Home Ghalaytar – This is arguably one of the best accommodations in the area. It is about 7 km from Latpanchar in the Sittong area. There are excellent wooden cottages available for accommodation here.
Humro Home Ghalaytar Room View
Humro Home Sittong – About 13 km from Latpanchar, this is another deluxe accommodation with excellent amenities. It is also about 7 km from Mungpoo village.