Pe in the Lepcha language means fragrant tree and Pedong means a place to rest. So, tourists on a long tour of North Bengal can seek rest in this beautiful town of Pedong in Darjeeling district. The town falls on the route to Lava from Kalimpong to the east and has an elevation of 1,240 meters. Situated on a ridge Pedong offers an awesome view of the Kanchenjunga, the primary attraction of any tourist making this trip and also other Himalayan mountains. Pedong is divided into 2 parts namely, the Upper and the Lower Pedong. Apart from being one of the most beautiful small towns of Darjeeling, it is also part of the famous Silk Route connecting India to Lhasa through Jelepia Pass. Continue reading

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Mongpu is a lovely tranquil village in the mountainous Kalimpong sub division in north Bengal. It is about 30kilometers from Darjeeling; 49 kilometers from Kalimpong town and 54 kilometers from Siliguri. Located at an elevation of 3,500-4000 feet, it is famous for cinchona plantation which has lot of medicinal value. Mongpu is also well known as the retreat for the Nobel Laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.

Attractions of Mongpu

The road taking you to Mongpu from Darjeeling is awesome. Huge tea estates, beautiful scenery punctuated with orchid and cinchona plantations will make the trip worthwhile for you. You will also pass clear streams and flower nurseries which are a common scene in north Bengal. Various species of beautifully fragrant and colorful flowers are grown in these nurseries. The first Quinine factory was established in Mongpu in the year 1864. However, the cultivation has declined in the present times with other alternatives of cinchona.

The biggest highlight of Mongpu is the summer residence of Rabindranath Tagore, the great literary personality. Although Mongpu does not offer a view of the mighty Kanchenjunga, it has its own charm and appeal. It is a peaceful and quiet location where the poet would find inspiration for his compositions. His residence has now been transformed into a museum where objects used by him are on display. Among the exhibits are Tagore’s bed, his mahogany writing desk, poems, verses and exclusive paintings. The poet visited Mongpu 4 times in his lifetime and during his last visit he fell ill and had to be shifted to Kolkata quickly.

How to reach Mongpu

Reaching Mongpu is easy from Darjeeling via Peshok Road from Ghoom taking east towards Takdah. Alternatively, it can also be reached through the National Highway 31A by taking a diversion from Rambhi Bazaar. The journey through Peshok Road takes around 1.5 hours. The nearest railway station from Mongpu is New Jalpaiguri and the airport closest to the region is Bagdogra Airport.

Accommodation in Mongpu

Accommodation in Mongpu is sparse. Since it is not a typical tourist destination, not many accommodation units are available. However, for tourists wishing to stay here can avail of the home stay facilities provided by the residents of the village. The amenities are basic. Some new accommodation units have been set up near Riangkhola River at a distance of 8 kilometers from Mongpu.

When to Visit in Mongpu

 The best time to visit Mongpu is during mid June and again in October through December when you will be able to see the cinchona plantations clearly and enjoy the dip in the temperature.

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Kalimpong sits at an altitude of 1,250-1600 meters and is seamlessly connected to other parts of Darjeeling district. Kalimpong, known for its scenic beauty, hospitable people, fantastic climate and central location is a popular destination of the tourists who love hill stations. For those who prefer oceans will also fall in love with this town which has a glorious history and an equally captivating present. The wonderfully snow capped peaks of the Himalayan mid ranges are most beautiful in this town and it perfectly connected to the railway station and airport being within a range of 80 kilometers. Tourists find Kalimpong to be an easily accessible hill station whose charm can mesmerize even the non-romantic treading this earth. Continue reading

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Rimbik falls on the southern part of Darjeeling towards the Singalila National Park. It appears to be perched on the top of the Himalayan range like a roof. Rimbik sitting at an altitude of 2,286 meters is a little village in the shadow of the Kachenjunga overlooking the River Ramman. It is close to the Skim and Nepal border area. The village is naturally endowed with scenic beauty and offers a captivating halt to the trekkers enroute to Sandakphu. Arguably the best view of the Kanchenjunga is achieved from Rimbik. Along with the mighty Kanchenjunga, other snow capped peaks can also be seen from Rimbik village. The play of colors on the top of the peaks is incredible.

Attractions in Rimbik

Rimbik is like a fresh breath of air for people who have landed in crowded Darjeeling and Kalimpong. This path is often treaded and thus you can have a peaceful sojourn in Rimbik. Nowlekh and Darjeeling can be viewed from Rimbik in the morning and during the night you will be spellbound by the sky full of stars shining like little diamonds. Standing under the vast canopy of star-studded sky is an enriching and fulfilling experience. Once you reach Rimbik, you will be one with nature. Take a stroll on the hilly trails flanked with pine, birch and oak trees and listen to the beautiful music of the birds. A steady urge to capture every scene and moment might overwhelm you.

After you have admired the natural bounty of Rimbik, it is time to start early next morning to trek to Srikhola with the morning air filled with the fragrance of rhododendron. From Srikhola trekkers generally take the trekking trail to Sandakphu and Phalut. Rimbik is normally a halt point for the trekkers during moving up and returning as well. This place is paradise for the adventurous souls. Apart from Sandakphu and Phalut other trekking trails leading to Darjeeling via Lodoma, Jhepi, Bijanbari is also popular. You will cross the lovely Rangeet River on your way marveling at its course.

The Singalila National Park is another place of interest for the tourists visiting Rimbik.

How to reach Rimbik Falls

Reaching Rimbik is easy via Kurseong through Hill Cart Road. You can also avail cabs, buses and jeeps from Ghoom station to arrive at Rimbik. Alternatively, the Mirik-Sukhia-Pokhri-Manbhanjan route can also be taken to Rimbik. The fruitful journey will take approximately 5 hours. Do stop over at Lepcha Jagat on your way and then continue the enjoyable journey.

Accommodation in Rimbik

Rimbik along with offering cool comfort to the tourists also offers a wide variety of accommodation units. From the luxurious to the basic; all are available at Rimbik. The hotels at Rimbik will charge between 800 and 200 INR per night. Some of the popular hotels are Sherpa Hotel, Shivapradhan Hotel, Green Hotel and Sherpa Tenzing Hotel. Alternatively, you can choose to stay at the forest bungalow which has an excellent ambiance and facilities. For enjoying a stay at the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Trekker’s Hut you have to make an advance reservation.

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Chimney Village of Kurseong is a lovely place amidst the mountains of Himalaya. There is an interesting anecdote regarding the queer name of the village. There is a 23 feet high chimney in the village which was constructed during the World War I under which the British soldiers and officials used to take rest. Hence, the name Chimney village. It is also sometimes spelled as Chimeni. This village is actually located in a valley overlooking the two swift rivers of the mountains- River Mahananda and River Teesta. The beautiful snow capped peak of Mt. Kanchenjunga can be seen from the pine covered valley.

Location of Chimney Village

Chimney village is at a distance of only 53 kilometers from New Jalpaiguri (NJP) from where it can be easily reached.

How to reach Chimney Village

From NJP you can hire a local cab or a private car and arrive at Kurseong from where Chimney is easily accessible as it is only 8 kilometers from Kurseong, the town. Buses are available from the Tenzing Norgay bus terminus at Siliguri to reach Kurseong.

Accommodation in Chimney Village

Accommodation in Chimney is easy. There are hotels and guest houses here which offer all the facilities for tourists. Some of the residents provide guest house facilities at Chimney where they also serve home cooked food which is delicious at reasonable rates. However, Kurseong nearby is dotted with boarding and dining facilities.

Photographer’s paradise

The pine and cedar trees cover the valley of Chimney which makes it appear like a scene from a painter’s canvas. However, the biggest attraction is the 23 feet high 100 year old Chimney built by the British. Moreover, you can have a panoramic view of the valley and also of Kalimpong and Nathu-La from here.

Not to miss tourist hotspots

Makabari, Ambotia, Goomtee, Castleton tea garden: Apart from the chimney and the breathtaking view of the Kanchenjunga and Kalimpong there is certain other tourist attractions located close by. The famous Makabari, Ambotia, Goomtee, Castleton tea gardens are located nearby.

Toy train ride and zoo: Enjoy a ride on the toy train which appeals to people of all ages and visit the satellite zoo at Dow Hill. Kurseong is a place of religious unity and thus beautiful temples like Jagdish Mandir, Ambhotia Shiva Temple, Giddapahar Durga Mata Mandir; Buddhist Compa in Montieviot; Juma Masjid in Hat Bazaar; St. Paulseak Church are all found at short distances. The Downhill Park, NSC Bose Institute of Asiatic Studies, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Museum are located on the Downhill Road. Also do not miss the Zero Point which is the highest point in Kurseong and the Eagle’s Craig viewpoint from where you can savor the fantastic view of the surrounding region.

The Bhangzang Salamander Lake: The Bhangzang Salamander Lake situated 14 kilometers away from Kurseong is home to the rarest species of salamanders. Visit this lake along with the cave housing a figure of Virgin Mary.

For adventurous tourists the trekking trail from Chimney to Mahananda waterfall will be an interesting experience. While the others can explore the forests and be busy bird watching all along. Do not forget to watch sunrise and sunset over Kanchenjunga.

Chimney can be visited any time of the year although the rainy season can be avoided.

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Kurseong, the name in Lepcha means small white orchid and the place is often referred to as the land of the white orchid which grows in abundance throughout the year. Kurseong is located at a distance of 32 kilometers to the south of Darjeeling and is often referred to as the young sister of the Queen of Hills that is Darjeeling. Kurseong stands at an elevation of 1458 meters and experiences a pleasant climate throughout the year. It is also known as the gateway to north Bengal and is surrounded by beautifully trimmed tea estates attracting tourists all the year round.

Attractions in Kurseong

Kurseong is a popular destination where lots of eminent personalities have spent a considerable time of their lives. Among them were Rabindranath Tagore, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Sister Nivedita and also Mark Twain. One of the highlights of Kurseong is the Makaibari Tea Estate. Visitors are allowed to see the organic procedure of processing tea here. Trips are free and mornings are the best time to visit.

The Ambootia and Castleton Tea Estate also welcome visitors to their aromatic factory. There is an old graveyard of St. Andrews as a poignant reminder of the era of tea planters. Walk down to Eagle’s Craig or trek to Deer Park to enjoy your day. From Eagle’s Craig you can witness the golden rays of the sun on the Himalayan range which is a visual treat. Visit the Museum of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and also the Forestry Museum to gather knowledge. On the way there are several religious temples, churches, Buddha gompa and mosques. Do not forget to trek to the Balason River and visit Chimney village which is home to a 100 year old gigantic chimney.

You will be able to enjoy your trip to Kurseong if you visit during March through Mid June and September through December.

How to reach Kurseong

Getting in the little town of Kurseong is easy as it is nicely connected with the rest of north Bengal through railway and road. Shuttle jeeps are available from New Jalpaiguri station to Kurseong which approximately takes 2 hours by Hill Cart Road and 1 hour by Old Army Road or Pankhabari Road. The route through Hill Cart Road is often preferred by tourists because they can relish on the visual treat provided by the Himalayan range. The jeeps normally charge 40 INR for 1.5 hours from Darjeeling. Traveling by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway’s steam toy train is the best experience you can have enroute to Kurseong. Leaving at 6 in the morning it provides ample opportunity for the tourist to capture the pretty sight while moving up the winding railway track.

Where to stay in Kurseong

Accommodation in Kurseong is aplenty. Right from tourist lodges to hotels are available for the visitors. However, if you want to experience the lifestyle of the residents, then homestay facility is the best option. Many families of the Makaibari tea estate offer this facility which includes rooms, typical Kurseong meals, exploring the tea garden and also taking part in the local development programs. They usually charge 800 INR for rooms and meals.

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Phalut is a table top on the Singalila ridge of the Himalayas located on the same trekking trail as Sandakphu. Its distance from Sandakphu is 23 kilometers which takes around 7 hours to trek. Phalut means a bare table top mountain and is 3600 meters in height. The Singalila ridge is a famous spur lying at the southern end of a prolonged crest running down from the Kanchenjunga massif forming the Sikkim and Nepal border. Trekkers love to climb the various ridges of the Himalayas not only because it throws lot of challenge to them but also because of the scenic beauty of the surroundings. The route along the high ridge through small settlements is absolutely spellbinding. Continue reading

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Chamurchi is a small hill town located at the Indo-Bhutan border. It is a relatively new tourist destination and is far from the madding crowds. You can explore this hill station without much chaos and people who have already visited the town wish to come back here again and again. It is a place of natural abundance and generally has a soothing effect on the mind and body of the tourists.

The lush green sprawling tea gardens, the cascading rivers and the small market add to the charm of this small yet pristine hill station of Chamurchi. One of the major attractions of this small town is the view of Mt. Kanchenjunga which looks breathtakingly beautiful.

Top tourist attractions in Chamurchi

The Musical Stone Cave – The Musical Stone Cave is another highlight of Chamurchi. The interesting part of this cave is that when you strike one of the stones inside the cave, the sound traverses as a musical tune to the ears. It is a unique experience for the visitor and the best part is that it is located at a distance of only 3 kilometers. If you decide to trek the road to the cave you will be considerably rewarded with beautiful scenes from the natural reserves of Chamurchi. The Diana River flows through this region giving life to the flora and fauna around it. Wild animals are sometimes spotted drinking from the river.

Garuchira, Kalapani and Rohiti – Garuchira, Kalapani and Rohiti are located close by and do not miss them while you are exploring Chamurchi. They are equally rewarding in terms of tourist attractions. The forests of these regions are home to leopards, elephants and gaurs that are easily visible.

Tea Gardens – One of the primary attractions of Chamurchi is the tea garden. The quaint tea gardens at Chamurchi though not in a good condition can still attract tourists. There is a Mukti Bungalow in Chamurchi which not many people know about. Thanks to the discerning travelers to these parts of the world that this bungalow was discovered and now tourists with adventurous interests are finding it interesting.

Shopping in Chamurchi – Take a walk through the Chamurchi bazaar and explore the shops there. You might also collect a souvenir.

Best time to visit Chamurchi

Chamurchi can be visited through the year, however, try to avoid the rains because it gets dangerous at times.

How to reach Chamurchi

Tourists generally visit Chamurchi on a tour of Dooars though it is slightly off route on private cars. The easiest route to Chamurchi from Kolkata is boarding the Kanchankanya Express departing from Sealdah and arriving at New Mal Junction. You can hire a car from here to take you to Chamurchi and the fare will be 900 INR.

Accommodation in Chamurchi

Accommodation in Chamurchi is sparse. The only place for tourists is the Eco Resort which charges 800-900 INR for double bed rooms and 325 INR for food.

After you have reveled in the natural beauty of the place, it is time to visit Samtse in Bhutan. It is only a short distance away and is equally spectacular. There is a monastery in Samtse which can be visited early in the morning.

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