Latpanchar perhaps tops the list of hidden and unseen destinations in North Bengal Hills. Situated in the lower Darjeeling hills in Kurseong sub-division, Latpanchar is the highest point in Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary at 4200ft.
Known for its cinchona plantation, the place holds enormous wealth of natural forests. The beauty of Latpanchar lies mostly on its lush green virgin forests covering the undulating slopes of hills. These untouched forests are the natural home for many rare species of mountain goat (serow), wild boars, tigers, leopards, jungle cats, gaurs, and different kinds of deer, porcupines, civets, monitor lizards and snakes.
Apart from proximity to Mahananda Wild Life Sanctuary, Latpanchar is also known for Birding and enthusiasts. There is a Lake about 4 kms from the village known as Namthing Pokhri that is home to Himalayan Salamandar, a rare reptile. Places like Ahal Sunrise point is an excellent place to spend hours soaking in the beauty and peace of a mountain village.
Latpanchar is about 48 km from Siliguri town, about 55 km from Bagdogra Airport and New Jalpaiguri Rail Station, the drive time is about one and half hours.
You have to travel through the Sevok road and cross Mahananda Wild Life Sanctuary to reach Sevok. A few kilometres ahead is Kalijhora on the NH 31A connecting Sikkim and Bengal. From Kalijhora an uphill drive of 15 kms will take you to Latpanchar.
Road Map from Siliguri to Latpanchar
Apart from the main road to Latpanchar via Kalijhora, there are several alternative roads that lead to the hill station. One of the routes follow Hill cart road till a few kilometres ahead of Sukna and then takes a right turn to follow a less trodden route that passes through Nurbung tea garden, Shivkhola, Simring, Maletar and Mahaldiram to reach Latpanchar via Shittong.
There are other roads leading to Latpanchar. The road from Darjeeling to Latpanchar follows the hill cart road till Dilaram. From here the road bifurcates and the road going East passes through Bagora to reach Latpanchar. The same route can be reached also through Kurseong by following the old cart road that passes through Dowhill and Chimney village.
Latpanchar is not a place for hectic sightseeing activity. If your travel interest is in relaxing among nature, going for small walks and mingling with the locals, you would love Latpanchar.
Mahananda WLS Trek - Latpanchar is popular for the bird lovers and jungle trekkers. Several short treks originate from here leading to some treacherous terrain through the deep forest covers. The most important trekking trail goes up to Gulma peak - an unexplored hilltop in the Sanctuary and other down to Sevok following a rather difficult stream through the virgin wilderness.
Trek to Kurseong hills – The road from Latpanchar continues through a ridge and meets with old cart road at a place called Bagora. This is a good low altitude trek offering great views of the surrounding throughout the route.
Namthing Pokhri (Lake)- From Latpanchor Namthing Lake is just 3 kms away, one of the very few places left in Himalayas that houses Salamander, a rear and endemic reptile of the region.
Ahal Sunrise Point – 2.5 kms ahead of Latpanchar is a small hill top called ahal by the locals. There is a sunrise point with panoramic view of the entire Darjeeling Sikkim range including Kurseong, Kalimpong, Sikkim, Bhutan and of course the magical Kanchenjunga looming over.
Birding – The hills are ideal for birding activity. Enthusiasts from all over the country come here to see some of the rarest and most beautiful birds. The entire Latpanchar, Ahal, Shittong, Namthing pokhri, Jholebusty area is a bird watching paradise.