The people of West Bengal are obsessed with mountains. Given that the state is dotted with stunning ranges, it comes as no surprise. Take your gaze away from north India and venture into the hills of Bengal. They’re sure to promise as much mystery, history, grace and beauty as the Himalayas, and a lot more warmth than you can anticipate. While these hill stations are household names for people in the state, to the rest of the country, they continue to be unexplored havens. By Shubhanjana Das
India’s gateway to Bhutan, Dooars is painfully unexplored. The scenic beauty coupled with the rustic lifestyle of the people here stirs your soul, leaving you with a lasting impact. As you drive across some of the richest wildlife reserves in the state, the sprawling tea estates here help create a sense of tranquility. While here, keep an eye out for elephants and tigers along with the innumerable bird species that live here. The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary are absolutely unmissable. The renowned Gorumara National Park, Jaldapara National Park and Buxa Tiger Reserve are some of the other places worth visiting.
The most popular hill station in West Bengal, Darjeeling is an idyllic blend of Colonial Era architecture and Mount Kanchenjunga keeping a close eye on this small town. Scattered with decades-old cafes and eateries — some of which have been around ever since the city became a popular feature in travel itineraries — Darjeeling’s energy and spirit is inimitable. Apart from the Sandakphu trek which starts from a small village in Darjeeling, Ghoom Monastery, Batasia Loop, and Tiger’s Hill are some of the must-visit sites here. A visit to the Japanese Peace Pagoda, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park and a ride on the Darjeeling toy train completes a trip to this Queen of Hills.
P.S. Darjeeling tea is world-renowned and justifiably so! Don’t miss out on a chance to sip on a cup of the freshest produce from one of the many tea estates in the district.
Located on the banks of Sumendu Lake, Mirik is extremely popular among locals for a short trip to the hills. Dotted with bountiful orange orchards and tea estates, Mirik is far less overwhelming than the more crowded Darjeeling. The best thing to do while here is to do as little as possible, and let the fresh air and the reviving energy fill you and your senses instead.
Before you set eyes on this small, humble hamlet, Kurseong extends a warm welcome with its name itself. Literally translating to ‘the land of white orchids’, this town is an hour-and-a-half drive before Darjeeling when heading from New Jalpaiguri. The Dow Hill in Kurseong is the most famous tourist attraction here. Other than that, Eagle’s Crag and Giddapahar View Point are also worth visiting. Rippling waterfalls, centuries-old temples, and a small, modest railway station are few of Kurseong’s other defining spots. Tea estates are in abundance here as well, making the hill station the ideal time and clime to enjoy a piping hot cup of Darjeeling tea!