If you are expecting a small village surrounded by misty mountains, Kalipokhri (or Kalpokhri) in Singalila National Park won’t disappoint you. The village lies just 7 Km away on the trek route to Sandakphu. Here you can halt and take a rest for a night after a long trek of 13 Km from Tumling which can be hectic, especially for beginners.
As the name implies, the word “Kalipokhri” is formed with two separate words- “Kali” and “Pokhri”. In the Nepali language, Kali means black and Pokhri means a small pond. The village is situated based on that pond and the villagers worship it.
At first sight, it seems to be ordinary, but, looks spectacular during sunrise. You may witness the best view near the holy pond. When you take a walk through the village, the euphonic Nepali folk music may please your mood.
Kalipokhri Lake and other Attractions
Being a very small village on the lap of the Himalayas, there are not many special attractions at Kalpokhri. It is a popular place known to the trekkers and travellers en route Sandakphu or Phalut that usually ends at Srikhola in the Darjeeling district.
However, the only place for sightseeing is the holy pond/ lake and the surrounding mountain range. the view nearby the pond looks excellent, especially during early and late winter. In the winter season (late November to early March), the sky is mostly clear and you can watch the amazing starry sky.
In December and January, due to very low temperatures, the village gets covered with snow and the water of the pond freezes. The view of sunrise from Kalpokhri is amazing. Watching the sunrise nearby the lake is highly recommended.
How to reach Kalipokhri?
Kalipokhri is situated between the trek route from Gairibas to Sandakphu. From Gairibas it takes around 3 to 4 hours to reach Kalipokhri. If you plan to trek from Tumling, it takes almost 8 hours to reach there. The distance between Tumling and Kalipokhri is around 13 km.
You can also hire a land rover from Manebhanjan in case you want to avoid trekking. If you are planning to trekking, you must wear comfortable trekking shoes and pack the essentials in a lightweight rucksack that is comfortable to carry.
Being a small village there are only a few homestays available in Kalipokhri. You should not expect the facilities that a hotel can offer. But the offerings are good enough for one night stay. All of these homestays have a common toilet.
However, some of these are improving their facilities and offer an attached toilet. In the village, a commercial electricity facility is unavailable. So, prepare your power banks and charge up your phone before leaving Tumling. The best 3 homestays at Kalipokhri are as follows.
If you are planning to stay at Kalipokhri, then there is no better option available than the Chewang Lodge. The rooms are clean and the mattress is warm enough to make you comfortable on a cold night.
The wooden rooms are well-designed to withstand the chilly breeze. Option for common and attached toilets are available for different rooms. You may not get a variety of foods there. But the quality is good and healthy.
Rooms with attached washrooms can cost you Rs 1000 to Rs 1500 per night here.
It is one of the oldest lodges at Kalipokhri. Mr Sangay Sherpa and his family own this homestay. Pandim lodge is also a good option to stay here. The owner and the staffs are well-behaved and very helpful. The food quality is good.
The Himchuli lodge can a good alternative to the above 3 homestays/ lodges. Mr Chhoden Sherpa is the owner of this lodge. The food is good and the rooms are okay to spend a night here. But you may not get the attached bath/ washroom. The cost of a 2-3 bedded room may cost you Rs 700 to Rs 1000 here.
Weather at Kalipokhri
Situated at an altitude of 3186 m, the place is cold around the year. The best time to visit would be from April to May, i.e., during spring and October to November (Autumn). The rhododendrons would be in full bloom during the spring season and the pine trees would be a fresh dark green. Avoid the monsoons (July to August) because the rain can pose a threat. Because of this, Singalila National Park is usually closed from 16th June to 15th September. It is advised to avoid the winter season, especially for beginner trekkers as the temperature gets down below 0°C.
Final Words about Kalipokhri
Kalipokhri is just 7 km away from Sandakphu. Unless you are an expert trekker, we highly advise you to stay here and take a rest for the night. Being a distant and difficult place to reach, there are a few homestays that offer nice accommodations and healthy food. But you should not expect special facilities and a variety of foods at a hotel or restaurant here.
The area gets very cold below minus temperature during the winter season. I recommend getting a sleeping bag and a trekking jacket to get comfortable at night. At this time, travelling gets very difficult and risky. Therefore, it is advised to visit during the months of Apr-May and Oct-Nov. If you prefer travelling in more comfortable weather, visit Tinchuley, Takdah and Lamahatta, located 32 Km away from Darjeeling town.