In the 1990’s Lava used to be a small village on a hilltop with about 15 to 20 houses. It was known for its proximity to the Neora Valley National park and the range office of the forest department. The village was covered with mist most of the year and was famous for its leeches that could be seen in the forest leaf and grass.
The forest official collaborated with some enthusiastic individuals, including the founders of this website, to develop eco-tourism in the village. Tents were set up in the range office campus and log houses were established. The rest as they say was history. Tourists loved Lava and over the next three decades, the entire village transformed into a tourist destination. Today there are dozens of hotels and lodges all over Lava and it is a crowded tourist destination during the high-season summer months. Piggybacked on the popularity of Lava and its twin sister loleygaon, many other tourist places have come up within a range of 15 to 20 km. These include Rishyap, Kolakham, Pedong, Sillery Gaon, Jhandi, and several others
Why Lava is so popular
Whether it is the view of the snow-capped Himalayan ranges or the beautiful forests of fir and oak, Lava offers you nature’s bounty to its fullest. Lava is also a bird lovers' paradise and is one of the few birding hotspots in North Bengal. It is also popular among tourists for its cool climate which is a major attraction for tourists from the plains who visit the hills to avoid the heat and dust of the plains.
Also since the village is surrounded by forest on all sides, there is no alternative village or accommodation in the nearby area for the tourist.
Lava is also located right on the main highway connecting Kalimpong hills with Dooars. As of 2021, the road is going through a major renovation and widening which will make lava even more easily accessible to tourists and thus increase its attractiveness.
How to Reach Lava
If you are starting your tour from New Jalpaiguri, Lava should be about 102 km via Damdin and Gorubathan in Dooars. The alternative route is to travel to Lava via Kalimpong, this distance is also a similar 100 km or so. However, you might be spending more time crossing the two major cities of Siliguri and Kalimpong on your journey.
Nearest Town: Kalimpong, Distance 32Kms. Journey Time: little over 1 hour
Nearest Rail Junction: New Jalpaiguri (NJP); 102 Km, Journey time: 3.5 hours
Nearest Airport: Bagdogra, 110 Km, Journey time: 3.5 hours
Geography of Lava
Lava is a gram panchayat in Kalimpong district, the CD block head office is located about 7 km west of Lava at a place named Algarah. The total area of the village is little less than 1000 acres and the population according to the 2011 census is 173 with just 32 households. However, the actual population is much more since most of the year a large number of people from the plains and other parts of the hills stay here to earn a living from tourism. The altitude of lava is between 2030 to 2080 meters depending on whether you are on the lower slopes of the village or the upper. The conifer forests are under the warm glow of the sun with colourful birds flying and singing everywhere, and the whole surrounding will enthral you to a new dimension.
The view of the silvery peaks of Greater Himalayan snow ranges or the smiling children of local ethnic villages, soaked in simplicity and hospitality, will give you a sense of total fulfilment.
Local Attractions in the village
Two attractions within the village are easily accessible by foot. On the upper slopes of the village is the location of the forest range office and opposite it is the Neora Valley National Park Nature Interpretation Centre. The centre offers a wealth of information about the flora and fauna of the area.
On the other side of the village towards the lower slope is the location of the beautiful Lava monastery. The official name of the monastery is Kagyu Thekchen Ling Monastery. The monastery was established recently with its first phase of work completed only in the year 1990. The monastery is a centre of higher studies for the monks and is spread over an area of 4 acres of land. The monastery is well known for its peaceful surrounding and beautiful architecture.
Both places are within a few minutes' walking distances from one another and can easily be visited by tourists without using a vehicle.
Tourist attractions near the Lava
Lava is the gateway of Neora Valley National Park, a virgin, unexplored terrain in the Himalayas. A drive to Choudaferri inside the park through the pine-clad winding road and the Sunrise spot at Tiffin Dara is simply unforgettable. Rishyap, another popular tourist destination is only 5 km from Lava on foot.
Lava used to be the quintessential salubrious and peaceful tourist destination. Most tourists would visit here for its mountain and forest views and to spend a few days on the sojourn. As tourism grew, today Lava has transformed into a tourism hub with a small village full of budget accommodations. The tranquillity of the place has now been somewhat replaced with more touristy sightseeing spots. Still walking in the serpentine Lava main road just outside the limit of the concrete buildings will take you to a conifer forest with chirping birds.
Tiffin Dara and Ghanti Dara are sunset points where an evening is well spent observing nature’s bounty. Tiffin Dara, located close to Rishyap village, is about 4 km from here.
The nearest destination is Rishyap just 5 km from here. Rishyap is a tourist destination in its own right and can be visited as part of a day tour from Lava. You can also visit Kolakham, Kolbong, and Liblong areas from here which is just about a 15 km drive. You may also visit the Choudapheri area which is the starting point for treks deep inside Neora Valley National Park.
There is no shortage of tourist accommodation in Lava, almost the entire village has been turned into a tourist village with every house turned into a homestay/lodge or a hotel. Most of the accommodation is for budget tourists although there is a couple of accommodations where tourist service standards are better. Humro Home is a sister concern of this website which has its accommodation in Lava and its surrounding area. You may either get in touch with the Humro Home team or take our support to select an accommodation suitable for you.