Latpanchar – Mahananda Wildlife bird sanctuary
A Bird Watcher’s Paradise
To be very honest I haven’t visited or heard about this place ever, but I do have a storyteller who narrated his visit to Latpanchar and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Excited much ??
Andrew Samuel – Sr. Project Manager in charge of a very large campus development for a giant software IT company, in Pune.
“For a very long time ever since I was in Pune. It was my ultimate wish you can say dream to visit this bird’s paradise in India. I am sure there are many more but this one is untouched, and my dream suddenly got materialized when I was invited to attend a wedding at Siliguri in March 2017 and I converted this visit into my birding visit.”
“I was lucky and blessed to find Mr. Debapratim Saha who had arranged all my itinerary right from Siliguri to Latpanchar accommodation, food and sight visits locations and bird shoots and photo walk shoots it was an amazing unforgettable experience.”
“I met a few people along the way who I wouldn’t hesitate to call wizards in birding and they had immense bird knowledge, though they are just as young as only 18 years of age. I was surprised to see such a matured knowledge manner and respect towards the forest. I was completely impressed.”
“we had an entire birding period which extended to 4 days without a break. Might sound tiring but totally worth it.”
I am sure not many have heard about this place because for some strange reason Latpanchar hasn’t had much tourism development. This is despite the fact that it’s a beautiful mountain hamlet offering stunning views including the site of Kanchenjunga. Not only restricting itself to the wide range of birds and animals the place and people are just mesmerizing.
Wondering how to visit this Place?
If you have heard off New Jalpaiguri (NJP), Latpanchar is at a distance of about 44 kms and you can take a car it takes about one and half hours. You need to take the Sevoke road when you reach a place Kalijhora the time depends on the condition of the road. There is a narrow road that goes uphill on the left, from that point Latpanchar is about 13 kms. The last stretch of Latpanchar is quite steep. There is hardly any traffic on this road, it is narrow and not well maintained so you have to be careful of potholes particularly during monsoon.
Latpanchar is the highest part of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary because it’s part of the sanctuary, you get a good chance to come across some wildlife like deer, barking deer, wild boars, and sometimes even leopards and elephants while exploring the jungles, so you have to be careful as well.
Latpanchar – pronounced as Lat panchar by the locals who reside there.However since it has not yet been developed as a tourist place, there are limited facilities, accommodations for the tourists.Most there are private lodges, you can call homestay. This homestay offers simple rooms with basic amenities, but extremely touching hospitality with care. You actually experience the true meaning of a homestay.
There is also a Forest Rest House at the jungle (about 4kms below) apparently these bungalows were used by the British officers in the early 1900s. They stayed there to look after the expansive Cinchona plantations around. I am not sure if you will be able to get a room in there.
Animals & BirdLife in Latpanchar
As mentioned earlier, Latpanchar is part of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary which is well known for its wide range of animals and birds.
There are more than 36 types of animals and over 240 species of birds and counting according to the statistics. These can be spotted here easily.
Most common animals include Himalayan black bear, mountain goats, monkeys, leopards, deer, wild boars, and even elephants which often drift to this side. In order to see exotic animals, you will need to go to the core area of the sanctuary which is about 6 km walk from the village. You should always take an armed guide with you, it belongs to the forest department. Permission is a must, the lodge might be able to arrange for the guide and permission. Most tourists only visit the stretch of forest area between the Forest Rest House and Raja Rani Hill.
Among the plethora of birds, the commonly seen ones include woodpeckers, black bulbuls, magpie, minivets, ashy backed shrike, yuhina, scaly thrush, spotted eagles, drongo, King Fishers, Robins and if you are lucky you might get to see Himalayan Pied hornbills.
Best Time to visit Latpanchar is between the month of October – April. However, winter can be quite cold out here, so make sure you are well packed.
Where did you stay at Latpanchar Andrew?
“The best option for me was the homestay run by Padam Gurung and two of his partners. It’s known as Hornbill Nest which has about three triple bedded rooms with attached bathrooms, a nice common balcony with lovely views, and a kitchen dining space serving homemade food. Lat panchar also have several other homestays and cottage accommodations nearby you can visit Latpanchar Lodging website for details about the lodging services, food and contact information for booking and inquiry.”
I would like to add that Latpanchar is a very small & sleepy mountain village, but you will be surprised to find three English medium schools here for children. While the villagers here mostly, live on Cinchona plantation and others are part of daily farming activities. Simple lifestyle and a peaceful place to live in.
India is truly Incredible.