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Tale of Rangbhang, Mirik
A calm and quiet Himalayan village dotted with orange orchards, near Mirik, and a beautiful Homestay with picturesque cottages, along with all modern amenities, in the lap of nature. Rangbhang Homestay– run by the Gurung Family, is located at ‘Schooldara’ village, Mirik Busty – 5 km away from the popular Mirik lake. The bungalow type cottages are surrounded by plenty of ‘Orange Orchards’, variety of flowers and various species of plants. Rangbhang Homestay could be your perfect weekend getaway to cool off and relax in the lap of mountains.
To get a sigh of relief from the scorching summer heat in the plains, we escaped to the Darjeeling hills in this May. Spending couple of days in the pleasantly cool climate at Rangbhang, located at an altitude of 4200 ft, in the warm hospitality of the Gurung family, away from hustle & bustle of city life, was quite refreshing. The stay was really close to nature. The family served us some delicious food (although pure vegetarian, because of some religious belief of the village). The owner is a hotel management diploma and his father is an educated farmer, owning acres of lands on the slope of hills, and vast knowledge on flora in this region. The Homestay is named after a local river -‘Rangbhang’. The extended family owns a number of houses and lands in the village and the members always greet tourists with gentle smile. It takes around 2.5 hours drive from NJP/ Siliguri and half an hour from Mirik to reach ‘Rangbhang Homestay’.
The name of this village ‘Schooldara’, relates to a School, located on the mountain, as ‘Dara‘ means the mountain. The village has a place of worship of Sant Kabir. The villagers are mostly followers of that sect of religion. During the stay one may often get to listen to the mild chanting & Tibetan music, played from a Buddhist Monastery, located down the valley. If you wish, you may also trek down through the stiff pathways to visit the Monastery, located in a village, deep down the valley. Main attraction of this place is in winter when Oranges are in full bloom, as almost every house in the village has some orange gardens, with a large source of earning for them. Walking in the hilly village roads and pathways, greeted by the smile of villagers, sitting at the balcony and enjoying the different shades of nature, listening to the chirping of birds, mesmerized by the chanting & Tibetan music playing from the Buddhist Monastery, will quite fascinate you at Rangbhang, in other seasons of the year too.
Our trip although had much more, as we could visit some of the world famous Tea Gardens, fabulous view points, sprawling Mirik Lake, a famous Buddhist monastery and a slice of neighboring country, Nepal, en-route and on sight seeing. Our car driver MB Chhetri drove us through some of the most fascinating tea gardens in the two days. On Siliguri-Mirik road we came across tea estates like ‘Gyabari’, ‘Tingling’, ‘Singbuli’, ‘Phuguri’ and ‘Saureni’. The view of tea gardens and the zigzag road in the lush green mountain slopes, from ‘Tingling View Point’, is quite exciting. On sight seeing tour we visited ‘Thurbo’ and ‘Gopaldhara’ Tea Estates on Mirik-Darjeeling road. These famous tea gardens produce some of the world’s best quality Tea. A 5km ride through a downward road from the ‘Thurbo’ Tea Estate will lead you to ‘Tabakoshi’ – another lovely little village in the foothill of tea estates, with many Homestays for tourists. The ‘Golpahar View Point’, located in the middle of Gopaldhara Tea Estate, is full of unique beauty, and also offers fascinating view of the sprawling tea estate. We tasted one of the finest blend of tea from the Garden at a shop at Gopaldhara Tea Estate and also purchased some.
Although our plan to visit ‘Pashupati market’, located inside Nepal, couldn’t materialize, as the international border was sealed that day due to by-election at Darjeeling, our driver MB Chhetri didn’t disappoint us. From Gopaldhara he drove us few kilometers ahead and stopped the car at one spot and indicated to an upward slope beside the road saying that the land belongs to Nepal, although the road is in India. Then he led us to a stiff road in the mountain slope and we reached a view point on hill top, where we could find signboard of Nepal Govt. This hidden view point in Nepal is unknown to many, but the view from top is just spell bounding.
Then we came back to Mirik, where we first visited ‘Swiss Cottages’ on one hill top and then ‘Bokar Monastery’ on the other hilltop. It was the day of auspicious ‘Buddha Purnima’, and we were lucky to be at the famous Buddhist Monastery at the time of prayers with chanting, musical instruments and Tibetan music.
In the last part of the tour, after lunch, we spent some time at the famous ‘Sumendu Lake’ at Mirik, surrounded by the hills. Located at 5200 ft in Darjeeling Himalaya, the 1.25 km long lake, with a garden named Savitri Pushpaudyan (after Savitri Thapa, a martyr soldier of INA) on one side and pine trees on the other, linked together by an arching footbridge called Indreni Pool (named after Indreni Thapa, a martyr soldier of INA). A 3.5-km-long road encircles the lake. From Mirik, we headed back to Siliguri in the afternoon, to board the Sealdah bound train. The tour was short but very refreshing, with lasting memories of Rangbhang village, Gurung family, Mirik lake and the fascinating sights of tea gardens.
How to go:
From NJP to Rangbhang Homestay is 58 km, can be reached by Car in 2.5 hrs. The fare is 2400 for 8 seater car, arranged by the homestay.
One can also take Share Jeep from Siliguri to Mirik at 100 per seat and then take a hired car from Mirik to Rangbhang at 500, for economy.
Sight Seeing – Mirik lake & surroundings, Thurbo Tea Estate, Golpahar & Gopaldhara, Pashupati Market and Tabakoshi. Cost for 8 seater Car – 1500 – 3000 (Depending upon the places you visit).
Driver Contact: MB Chhetri – 7001895477
Rangbhang Homestay: Double Bed Room – 1500, Fooding – 500 per day per head (Pure Vegetarian).
Contact: Dipankar Gurung – 9832913617
Rodhighar Homestay – Another homestay, run by the family of Dipankar’s uncle, located just few meters below.
Also a number of Hotels and Lodges of different ranges for tourists available at Mirik.
“Nature is the main source for tourism. Never try to play with nature”
The Travelogue and Photographs by Subhrangsu Dasgupta. An engineer by profession, a nature lover, traveler and travel blogger by passion.