Did you know that Darjeeling is the only place in the country to have an exclusive mountain biking park? If you are inclined towards physical activity, check it out next time you are in the area. Located inside one of India’s oldest protected areas, the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary, the trail was launched in 2017.
The 20km long trail is on the path that used to connect Darjeeling and Kurseong. You will move through forests of tall and silent pines as you cycle through the Himalayan foothills. If you are lucky, you may get a glimpse of Kanchenjunga, the third-highest mountain in the world.The main entry gate is at Jorbangla - you can buy entry tickets here. You can reach it in about 30 minutes on a cycle from the town centre (which is about 8kms away).
The trail ends at the guesthouse at Chatakpur which belongs to the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation. You can stay in one of the guest cottages set up by the forest division which have two double bedrooms, and bathrooms (with running hot water). You will find several stalls here selling hot chai and food. The hamlet has several homestay options as well. You can bunk here for the night, or return to Darjeeling after some refreshments. You are not allowed to bring any food on the trail (and we cannot laud this enough), though water is alllowed. This keeps the trail plastic-free, which is great because this area is home to many fauna and flora species, including red panda, barking deer and clouded leopards. So please do respect their home when you cycle through here.
Labelled as moderate, the cycling trail has gentle slopes which most riders should be able to handle. However, the gravel path can become tough to handle sometimes due to large rocks. The path is open through the year from 6am to 6pm, except during the monsoon, from June to September.