One of the best places to delve into the world of Darjeeling tea, the champagne of all teas, is Cochrane Place. The renovated stately home that once belonged to Percy John Cochrane is located on the outskirts of Kurseong town. Both Bagdogra airport and Darjeeling town are less than two hours’ drive away. At their Chai Country (café and restaurant), enjoy pure Darjeeling tea and other varieties from across India, seasonal fruit and flower blends, herbal tea, etc. You can also get a special green tea facial at their in-house spa. They also have select rooms for the differently-abled. Go on walks in the countryside, visit some of the attractions strewn around Kurseong town, or take a ride in the heritage Darjeeling toy train.
Tucked inside Dooars (as the foothills of the Darjeeling Himalayas are known), the Fagu bungalow is an ideal retreat for those looking for a pocket-friendly stay in a tea estate. The century-old bungalow is 75km from New Jalpaiguri via Gorubathan. Apart from guided tours of the tea estates, you can also visit Gorumara National Park, Suntaleykhola, Kalimpong, etc. Or go on walks in the vicinity. Fafar Kheti, downhill from the bungalow, has a beautiful waterfall.
Want to stay at a typical plush colonial planters’ bungalow? Rooms with a view of the mountains? Or want to head to a retreat by the river? Try the super luxurious Glenburn Tea Estate and Boutique Hotel. Tucked beneath the snow peaks of the Kanchenjunga and overlooking the Rungeet River, the Glenburn Tea Estate is a little over an hour’s drive from Darjeeling. The tea plantation was started by a Scottish company in 1859. Later, it was acquired by an Indian family who has been in the tea business for almost a century. Take a tour of the garden and factory followed by a spot of tea tasting. Go hiking or for a picnic. They offer a wide range of activities for those fond of the outdoors.
Located mid-way between Siliguri and Darjeeling—on the Hill Cart Road—the Goomtee tea estate has several waterfalls within it. The over 100-year old bungalow is pleasantly set in the middle of a well-maintained garden. They serve vegetarian food.
Do be warned. The maintenance of Selim Hill’s 150-year old bungalow leaves much to be desired according to most reviews. But the tranquillity and the scenic beauty of the surroundings get full marks. Apparently, many visitors overlook the missing comforts because the room rates are quite pocket-friendly. It is less than two hours’ drive from New Jalpaiguri Railway station and 2km from the Gayabari Railway Station on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway route.
The Sourenee tea estate lies in the Mirik valley of Darjeeling district. It is a certified producer of organic tea. Perched at 4,500 feet, the three-storied bungalow has lift access to every floor. An hour’s drive from the Bagdogra airport, a visit to Sourenee can be combined with visits to Mirik and Darjeeling. They can also arrange for angling apart from the usual hikes, picnics and sightseeing tours.
A half hour drive from Darjeeling and you will be at Stenthal Bungalow, a 150-year old property. Surrounded by tea gardens, you can catch a panoramic view of the Himalayas. They serve only vegetarian food. They can also arrange for a guided tea factory tour and riverside picnics.
If you are looking for a secluded place or a devoted nature lover, then Zurrantee is just for you. The 124-year old bungalow is about two hours’ drive from Siliguri. Apart from its scenic surroundings, the resort is also known for its sumptuous meals. Being located in the Dooars, you can make short trips to some of the popular destinations, such as Neora Valley Reserve Forest, the Gorumara National Park, Suntaleykhola, etc.
Information: The nearest airport is Bagdogra. The nearest railway stations are New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri. Check with the resorts to know about the latest road conditions. It is usually very cold in winter, so carry adequate warm clothing. Sturdy shoes are a must if you want to go on a walk or hikes.