Kolkata is one of those Indian cities that are full of life. And if you have been to Kolkata or have lived there, you will agree that the city knows no such thing as a ‘dull moment.’ But, what if you want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, and spend some alone time with your friends and family? What are your options then?
Well, the ‘city with a soul’ has a solution for that, too. Kolkata, though not a hilly terrain, is surrounded by several picturesque hill stations because of its proximity to the Himalayan ranges. These serene hill stations adorned with lush green tea gardens, beautiful monasteries, and multi-hued orchards are an ideal escapade for those wanting to take a break from the this otherwise joyful city.
So, whether you are looking for a break from your mundane work-life, or want to escape the city’s sweltering summer season, here’s a list of hill stations near Kolkata that you can head to.
Hill Stations near Kolkata within 500 km
Ajodhya Hills (around 340 km via NH19)
Ajodhya Hills is located in Purulia District of West Bengal. The region is of great significance for the Hindus because according to mythology, Rama and Sita lived here during their exile. Ajodhya Hills is accessible by two routes: Jhalda, and Sirkabhad. Its hard to scale peaks present many challenges even for the most seasoned trekkers and rock climbers.
The hills are part of the lowest step of the Chota Nagpur Plateau. The land is known for its temperate environment and pleasant weather. The land looks like a plains state which is occasionally interrupted by hills. Tourists love this place for its many forests, waterfalls, hills, and dams.
Simultala (around 360 km via NH19)
Although not as developed as most other tourist destinations, Simultala is a hamlet in Bihar, and belongs to the league of hill stations that are an ideal retreat from the hectic city life. Simultala is also an ideal destination for nature studies and night sky observations. Its all-year-round ideal climate, and the natural vistas surrounding the region is what draws tourists to this place. If you happen to visit this beautiful place, you must checkout the picturesque valleys, rivulets, brooks, and hillocks in this region.
Some of the places of tourist interest in and around Simultala are the Haldi Jharna, Lattu Pahar, Solkitla and Raja Bari. If you are a foodie who likes to try unique dishes, do not miss the Chhanna-Murki, one of the most popular sweets of Simultala.
Hill Stations near Kolkata beyond 500 km
Siliguri (around 560 km via NH12 and Badshahi Road)
Siliguri is a beautiful region located in the Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts of northeastern India. It is located on the banks of River Mahananda and the Himalayan foothills, which makes it one of the most scenic destinations of the country. Siliguri has a breathtakingly beautiful environment, and a pleasant climate – two main things that attract tourists to any destination.
Some of the major tourist attractions in this region are the ISKCON temple and the Salugara Monastery. The ISKON temple is also referred to as the Sri Sri Radha Madhav Sundar Mandir and is known for its beauty, its large and beautiful campus, and its soothing environment. The Salugara Monastery was built by Tibetan Buddhist Monks who follow the teachings of the great Dalai Lama. It is famous for its 100-foot tall stupa which was built by the Tibetan Lama, Kala Limpoche.
Netarhat (around 575 km via NH19)
Also known as the ‘Queen of Chota Nagpur,’ Netarhat is a beautiful hill station located in the Lahar district of Jharkhand. The place is famous among tourists for its beautiful views of sunrise and sunset during the summer season. If you are looking for an offbeat destination that is left untouched by commercialization, then you must visit Netarhat. We bet the natural, virgin environments of this region will not disappoint you.
Netarhat is also famous for many places of tourist interest including, Magnolia Point, Upper and Lower Ghaghri Falls, Koel View Point, Sadni Falls and the Lodh Falls. Besides these tourist destinations, the place is also a renowned spot for rock climbing.
Kurseong (around 590 km via NH12 and Badshahi Road)
Kurseong is a picturesque hill station located in Darjeeling District, West Bengal. It derives its name from the Lepcha word ‘Kharsang’ that means “The Land of White Orchards,” so expect to find white orchids in abundance in this region. Besides the orchids, Kurseong is also famous among tourists for its beautiful waterfalls, tea gardens, religious sites, and museums. The toy train that runs through the hill station is another major attraction in this region, and if you happen to stay in a hotel in Kurseong, the whistle of the steam engine will be distinctly audible from your hotel room.
If you are an adventure lover, Kurseong offers adventure sports such as rock climbing and hot air balloon. For trekking enthusiasts, the place offers treks through the lush tea gardens, the Cryptomaria Japonica forest, and more. And just in case, you are looking for extreme sports, you can go for white water rafting in River Teesta, that has rapids of varying intensity, and has been graded Level 4 on an international scale.
Kurseong is located around 47 km from Siliguri and is connected to the city both via road and rail. The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri, and the nearest airport is Bagdogra.
Mirik (around 590 km via NH12 and Badshahi Road)
Nestled deep in the hills of Darjeeling District in West Bengal, lies the beautiful hill station Mirik. It derives its name from an ancient local language, Lepcha, and is pronounced as Mir-Yok, which means, “a place burnt by fire.” Tourists love Mirik because of its natural beauty, its pleasant climate, and ease of access. What attracts tourists the most to this hill station is Sumendu lake that is surrounded by a garden named Savitri Pushpaudyan. The lake also has two natural borders on either side: one being a forest of pine trees, and the other being a footbridge which locals refer to as Indreni Pool. Rameetay Dara is another popular tourist destination in this region. You can get a complete view of the surrounding mountains from this place.
Besides the Sumendu Lake and Rameetay Dara, some other popular tourist destinations in the region are the Bokar Monastery – a Buddhist meditation center, Debisthan – an ancient temple of a Hindu goddess, Tingling View Point, and Manjushree Park. If you are planning a trip with children, go for horse riding, a children’s favorite, alongside the arched footbridge near Sumendu Lake.
Samsing (around 610 km via NH12 and Badshahi Road)
Situated at an elevation of around 3000 feet above sea level, Samsing is a small hill station that lies on the foothills between Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri. Samsing, a fusion of rivers, hills, forests, plains, and tea-gardens, is a beautifully landscaped hill town that attracts several tourists from all parts of the country. The view of the snow-clad mountains of Bhutan is one of the most scenic views you would have ever seen.
With cool breeze flowing and a dense layer of fog covering the town, Samsing enjoys beautiful weather for most parts of the year. Those visiting Samsing must also visit the Neora Valley Park, a tourist hotspot located around 18 km from the hill town. Some other tourist spots and places of interest near Samsing are the Rocky Island, Lali Guras and Samsing Tea Estate.
Darjeeling (around 615 km via NH12 and Badshahi Road)
Located at an elevation of 6,700 feet, Darjeeling is one of the most beautiful hill stations near Kolkata. No wonder it is called the ‘Queen of the hills.’ Besides being popular for its lush green tea gardens and the picturesque views of world’s third highest mountain, the Kanchenjunga, Darjeeling is also popular for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway that was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
Every year, several domestic and international tourists visit Darjeeling. No wonder Darjeeling is one of the most Googled travel destinations in India. (Ranked third most Googled tourist destination in India, according to a survey conducted by India Today in 2015).
Kalimpong (around 620 km via NH12 and Badshahi Road)
Kalimpong, situated around 4101 feet above sea level is one of the most popular hill stations near Kolkata. The beautiful hill station will awe you with its serene views and pleasant weather conditions all throughout the year. Watching the Teesta River flow with the magnificent Kanchenjunga and lush greenery in the backdrop is a sight to behold. And as horticulture is one of the main occupations of the people in this region, you will find a wide variety of flowers in this region.
Besides the several flowering gardens, the other tourist attractions that Kalimpong boasts include the British style housing architectures, and the schools known for their high education standards. The Kalimpong Science Center that sits atop the Deolo Hill and was established in 2008 is the latest addition to the list of tourist attractions in this region. It is advisable to avoid visiting the hill station during severe monsoons as the place is prone to major landslides during that period.
Sandakphu (around 630 km via NH12 and Badshahi Road)
Located at the border of the Singalila National Park, Sandakphu is the highest peak in Ilam District of West Bengal. It is located at a massive elevation of around 12000 feet above sea level which also makes it a major trekking and skiing hotspot. The best part about the trekking route is that it offers a scenic view of the world’s four highest peaks – the Everest, the Kangchenjunga, the Lhoste, and the Makale, on its way. But, before you decide to take the arduous trek, make sure you have enough trekking experience and are in good health.
Tourists can also see a wide variety of biospheres in this region – ranging from the temperate areas to jungle regions. The valley besides being dotted with more than 600 varieties of orchids, is home to a wide range of wild flowers. In fact, Sandakphu is also popular by the name of “mountain of poisonous plants” because of the Himalayan Cobra Lilies that are found here in abundance.
Dooars Valley (around 640 km via NH12 and Badshahi Road)
Situated south of the outermost foothills of the Himalayas, and north of the great Brahmaputra basin lies the Dooars Valley. The word Dooars means, “doors” in the local languages, and is rightly called so as it is the gateway to our neighboring country – Bhutan.
The Dooars Valley is a place of breathtaking beauty because of its many rivers and streams which course through its perfect landscape. The place is also blessed with lush green thick forests and a rich variety of flora and fauna. The dense jungles offer an opportunity for spotting wildlife such as tigers, rhinoceros, elephants, deer, bison, birds, and reptiles. Besides all these, one place that is a must-see for tourists is the tea gardens that were originally planted by the British.
The valley is accessible through a network of roads which leave the place well connected. Tourists can also reach the place by a reliable bus system, or by train. Several tourists flock to the valley during November and December to take part in Tourism Feast and Teesta Tea Festival.
Pedong (around 645 km via NH12 and Badshahi Road)
Located around 4100 feet above sea level, Pedong is a charming hill station that lies on the famous Silk Route that connects India and Lhasa. It is situated on a ridge from where it offers panoramic views of the world’s third highest mountain, Kanchenjunga, and other mountains in the region. Pedong is divided into Upper Pedong and Lower Pedong. It is a favourite among domestic travellers who frequent the place for its heritage sites known for their cultural, historical and religious significance.
Besides the heritage sites, Pedong is also home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. Those who love bird watching would adore this place as it is home to several species of beautiful Himalayan and low land birds. Nature walk, rock climbing, fishing, and trekking are some other activities that can be done in this region.
Lava (around 655 km via via NH12 and Badshahi Road)
Lava is a small town in the Kalimpong District in West Bengal, and is located around 7000 feet above sea level. It is a picturesque hill station with a pleasant climate. And although snow is rare in India, it is common in Lava, and tourists flock to the region because of this. Lava is also popular because of its scenic views of the wet alpine and tropical deciduous forests surrounding it. These forests are also home to several endangered species of wild animals and birds, including the Himalayan black bear, and the barking deer.
Those visiting this region can also take part in activities such as trekking, hiking or bird watching. Some of the bird species one can explore here include the great barbet, drongo cuckoo, wren babbler, grey tree pie and various other. The other major tourist attractions that reflect the rich history of the region include Lava Jamgyong Kongtrul Monastery – a Buddhist monastery, Changey Falls, Neora Valley National Park and Tiffindara Sunrise Point.
Gangtok (around 670 km via NH12 and Badshahi Road)
Located on a ridge, around 5400 feet above sea level, Gangtok is a must-visit hill station for all nature lovers. It’s also the capital of Sikkim and is the largest town of the state. Wreathed in clouds during most parts of the year, Gangtok is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions in north-east India. The lush green dense forests comprising of trees such as oak, poplar, wet alpine, birch add to its beauty. If you want to have a bird’s eye view of Gangtok, take a cable car that runs from Bidhan Sabha to Deorali.
Gangtok being the main base for Sikkim tourism promotes all sorts of activities that attract tourists to any tourist destination. For instance, Gangtok earns a significant part of its revenue from tourists who come here to take part in activities such as trekking, mountaineering, river rafting and more. The place enjoys a temperate climate all-year-round, thereby making it accessible for tourists during all parts of the year. If you like flowers, you must visit Gangtok during the spring season when the valley springs to life with beautiful flowers such as sunflower, marigold, primula, poinsettia iris, poppies, rhododendrons and more.
Shillong (around 1120 km via NH27)
Shillong is one of the hill stations in northeastern India which is known around the world. Incidentally, it also happens to be the capital of Meghalaya state. Its name in the local language means, “The Abode of Clouds,” and is well deserved because one can get a panoramic view of the region because of the station’s high elevation – it practically hugs the clouds. For those who love to trek, the highest point in Shillong is Shillong Peak. The pleasant weather of this hill station, and beautiful temperate environment reminded many European settlers of Scotland, and hence was referred to as the “Scotland of the East.” This feature is what presently attracts many tourists to the region.
The region is easy to get to by road only, with two national highways linking it to the rest of the northeast. Once there, tourists can marvel at the many landmarks and viewpoints that characterize the region, including: the Elephant Falls, which is an impressive mountain stream that culminates into three falls and finally cascading onto many rocks that are covered with moss and fern – tourists find the view to be breathtaking. The Lady Hydari park is also a real beauty and is a must-see for tourists because of its natural environment, and because of the fact that it has an adjacent mini zoo which kids love!
Now that you know where to head to, don’t procrastinate any further. Simply pack your bags, book a hotel in Kolkata and get going to one of the fascinating hill stations mentioned in this post.