Latpanchar – The Home of Hornbills


Latpanchar is nearly perfect- a place tucked in the hills and the home to some exotic and rare Himalayan birds. Latpanchar can be a perfect weekend destination from Kolkata for both the mountain lovers and bird enthusiasts alike, but the place is mainly known for the hornbills and other Himalayan birds.

Latpanchar is quite a big village. As we reached the place traversing the winding, uphill and broken hilly roads (the hill roads in this locality are all the same), we already became aware of the presence of birds. We could hear them chirp, but the sight eluded us. Our driver and guide did point us a few birds but all we could see were foliage of green! Nevertheless, we reached the homestay, the only one in the village.

The beautiful village

Someone had once told us that to photograph birds, you need 3Ps – (1) Patience (you really need to have a lot of patience to photograph the birds); (2) strength in your Pocket (Yes, the equipment and lenses are quite costly) and finally (3) Power (you need strength in your muscles to carry the equipment)! The first P we had in abundance, but we did not carry any good lens. The Tamron 70-300 lens were our companion for birding!

Ready for the shoot

So we consoled ourselves saying seeing the birds will be a great experience, even if we were not able to photograph them. And yes, it was indeed an experience to see the different types of Himalayan birds. With two other bird enthusiasts and our guides, we went out in search of birds.

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Leaf Bird

The Himalayan birds are small, beautiful and extremely quick. At one moment they are in front of you and by the time you are ready with your camera, they are simply out of your camera range! We saw some really wonderful birds – Sultan Tit seemed to be the most favourite among the birders and also the most elusive one. Though our personal favourite was the scarlet minivet and the leaf bird. But seeing the great Hornbill was our greatest satisfaction in this trip to Latpanchar. What a mighty bird the hornbill is! And you would easily know that a hornbill is near you from the sound of its flight. Before its flight, it makes a peculiar noise and you know it is ready for taking off!

The Great Hornbill
Hornbill ready for a flight

If you want to spend a quiet weekend in a beautiful village amidst nature, this can be an ideal destination. And if you are game for bird watching, then there is no other place better than Latpanchar. It is a bird watcher’s paradise.

The beautiful scarlet minivet
The majestic Sultan Tit – Melanochlora sultanea
Streaked spiderhunter -Arachnothera magna
Birds of Latpanchar
Asian owlet
“I am the lord of all I survey”
Himalayan giant squirrel – we saw this on our way.

How to reach Latpanchar:

Latpanchar is about 41 km from Siliguri. From Siliguri, take a vehicle to Kalijhora. From Kalijhora, Latpanchar is about 12 km.

Places to stay:

There is only one homestay at Latpanchar as of now.

Best time to visit Latpanchar:

Latpanchar can be visited any time of the year. But for photography of hornbills, March is the best time. It is the nesting and feeding time of the hornbills and you can take some wonderful pictures from one place.

Things to do in Latpanchar:

You can simply relax and enjoy the tranquility of the place.

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Go birding. Latpanchar is the home of many rare and beautiful Himalayan Birds. Take a guide and go to watch the birding activities. Visit the Mahananda wildlife sanctuary to see the hornbills and other birds. Even if you are not a photographer, just go and see the birds and listen to the different sounds of birds. Believe me, it is going to be a different and unique experience.

Please do let us know how you enjoyed our first experience in birding.

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