Celebrate the Bengali New Year At These Cool Summer Escapes in West Bengal
Subho Noboborsho! One of the most important festivals in West Bengal, the Poila Baisakh, or the Bengali New Year is here! For the people of West Bengal and Kolkata, it’s time for celebration, donning the traditional attire, cleaning the house, enjoying various delicacies and visiting near and dear ones. In 2021, the Bengali New Year will be celebrated in West Bengal on April 15, which is a Thursday. But April is also when the summers really kick in, and Kolkata feels like one big sauna!
Many Kolkatans yearn for an escape to cool places where they could spend a long relaxed weekend, enjoying the cool and pleasant weather. Fortunately, West Bengal is blessed with some of the most beautiful hill stations in India, from Darjeeling to Kalimpong. A long weekend here from Kolkata with your family and friends is an exercise in sheer bliss. The distance too between Kolkata & these hill stations is quite reasonable, not to mention the fact that they are all accessible via rail, road and air.
Here, we bring you the best hilly escapes in West Bengal to get away from the April heat, and for Kolkatans, to have a long and fun weekend on the occasion of Poila Baisakh!
Darjeeling is the Queen of the Hills, and possesses the beauty, splendour and grace befitting royalty. Seated at an altitude of almost 6,700 feet, it is a part of the lesser Himalayas. Alpine forests housing rich Himalayan wildlife, the Toy Train, views of Kanchenjunga and Mt. Everest, a stay in tea gardens, the Mall and a rich colonial past, there is so much in this famous hill station that endears it to tourists from Kolkata, West Bengal, India, and indeed, all over the world.
Tourists in Darjeeling can enjoy a comfortable and fun-filled stay at Summit Hermon Hotel & Spa, a Club Mahindra affiliate resort. The hotel boasts modern amenities while the rooms offer panoramic views of Mt. Kanchenjunga. At the Metta Spa of the hotel, tourists can enjoy refreshing Ayurvedic massages. The resort also lies in close proximity to famous tourist attractions like Tiger Hill, Happy Valley Tea Garden, Japanese Peace Pagoda and Rock Garden. It is also a 15-minute walk from Darjeeling Mall and Chowrasta.
-Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park
-Gorkha War Memorial
-Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
-Rock Garden & Gangamaya Park
-Observatory Hill & Mahakal Temple
-Take a ride on the Toy Train between NJP and Darjeeling (Toy Train is a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
-Enjoy views of Mt. Everest and other peaks from Tiger Hill at sunrise
-Visit the Ava Art Gallery
-Enjoy a pony ride at Chowrasta Mall
-Have a hearty breakfast and some hot chocolate at Keventers
-Take a ride on the Rangeet Valley Passenger Car/Ropeway
-Explore Lloyd Botanical Garden
-Go for a tour of the Happy Valley Tea Estate, the second oldest tea garden in Darjeeling
The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport, located almost 67 kilometers away. From there, you can hire a private taxi to reach Darjeeling.
The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Railway Station, located almost 70 kilometers away. The easiest and most comfortable way is to hire a private taxi to reach Darjeeling from the railway station. You can also reach it via the Toy Train. The Toy Train leaves for Darjeeling from NJP at 10:00 AM and arrives at 17:20 PM.
Darjeeling is connected to Siliguri via the NH 55 (also known as Hill Cart Road), which is the main route . Alternatively, go from Bagdogra to Matigara town, turn left at Simulbari and on to the Pankhabari Road. While this road is shorter, it is full of sharp bends.
Kalimpong enjoys an elevation of almost 4,100 feet, which, although lesser than Darjeeling, is still impressive. Tourists visiting Kalimpong will quickly fall in love with its lushness, forests, orchids, monasteries and spectacular views of Mt. Kanchenjunga. Adventure enthusiasts will love it too, as there are opportunities for white water rafting.
The entire experience of visiting Kalimpong will be enhanced by staying at the Summit Barsana Resort, a Club Mahindra affiliate resort. Enjoy a rejuvenating massage session at the Metta Spa, admire views of Mt. Kanchenjunga while sipping your morning tea and enjoying local dishes like Sel Roti and Fambi at Verandah: the multi-cuisine restaurant. For kids, there is a game zone too!
-Lord Buddha Statue
-Tagore Pratima House
-Sherpa View Point
-Neora National Park
-Go shopping at Hart Bazaar, held every Wednesday and Saturday
-Spot the Red Panda, Asiatic Black Bear and other wildlife at Neora Valley National Park
-Feel the thrill of white water rafting on the Teesta and Rangeet Rivers
-Take a trip to Rishop village for its serenity and views of Himalayan peaks
-Explore the ruins of Damsang Gadi at Pedong (about 20 kilometers east of Kalimpong)
-Visit the heritage forest for views of Singalila Ridge Jhandi Dara observation point at Loleygaon (about 30 kilometers from Kalimpong)
-Explore the countryside by hiking (the hiking is easy grade)
The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport, located almost 76 kilometers away. From the airport, you will have to hire a private taxi to reach Kalimpong.
The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri Railway Station, located almost 72 kilometers away. It’s best to hire a private taxi straight, which is extremely convenient too.
Kalimpong is located almost 73 kilometers by road via Teesta Bazaar. To reach Kalimpong by road: first take the Sevoke Road followed by NH 10. Arrive at Teesta Bridge and cross the bridge over River Teesta. Continue on NH 10 till you take a right turn into Rishi Road, which leads to Kalimpong.
Mirik has an extremely relaxed vibe, cool viewpoints, fun things to do and a climate to love! The main attraction is the Mirik Lake, along whose shores the small town is situated.
Mirik is also famous for its orange orchards. To visit, take a small village road that proceeds eastwards from the Mirik Bazaar towards the Pahilo Gaon area. The blooming season for oranges is from mid November to mid January. Mirik lies about 40 kilometers from Darjeeling.
-Mirik Lake (also known as Sumendu Lake)
-Mirik Church (the oldest church in Mirik)
-Boating, horse riding and views of Mt. Kanchenjunga at Mirik Lake
-Feed the fish at the southern end of Mirik Lake
-Enjoy the fabulous views of the landscape and tea gardens from Tingling View Point
-Visit the Bokar Ngedon Chokhor Ling Monastery
-Visit one of the eight tea gardens in Mirik. (The oldest is Thurbo Tea Estate, whose factory you may visit after seeking permission from the manager)
The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport, located almost 47 kilometers away. From the airport, you will have to hire a private taxi to reach Mirik.
The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri Railway Station, located almost 57 kilometers away. Private taxis and shared jeeps are available from the railway station. It will take you about 2 hours to reach Mirik.
It will take you almost 2 hours to reach Mirik from Siliguri. Private taxis as well as shared jeeps can be hired from Siliguri taxi stands.
Clouds settled comfortably atop hills, houses tucked cosily on the slopes, lively waterfalls (called kholas), roads lined with pine trees covered in mist and the Toy Train graciously making its way through the town, these are some of the sights that await tourists in Kurseong town in the district of Darjeeling. An exciting way of reaching it is catching a ride on the Toy Train from Siliguri. Kurseong is also known as the Land of the White Orchids, which are found in abundance on the hill slopes. It is interesting to know that Kurseong has one of the oldest municipalities in India, which is over 125 years old!
-Eagle’s Crag View Point
-Dow Hill Park
-Giddhapahar Durga Mata Mandir
-Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Museum
-Explore the Dow Hill eco park area
-Plan a picnic or outing at Kettle Valley Picnic Spot
-Enjoy the awesome views from the vast meadows of Chimney (that’s the name of the place)
-Visit the Makaibari Tea Estate (one of the oldest tea gardens in Darjeeling)
-Catch a ride on the Toy Train from the Kurseong Railway Station from Kurseong to Darjeeling (The train departs from Kurseong Railway Station at 06:30 AM and arrives at Darjeeling at 09:05 AM)
-Spend some time at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Museum
-Behold the incredible views of Hussel and Whistle Kholas during the monsoon season (kholas mean waterfalls in the local language: Nepali)
-Visit the St. Paul’s Church (established in 1905, it’s one of the oldest churches in Kurseong as well as Darjeeling)
How to reach
The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport, located almost 39 kilometers away. From the airport, you will find plenty of private taxis which can be hired to reach Kurseong.
The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri Railway Station, located almost 44 kilometers away. Private taxis and shared jeeps are available from the railway station. It will take you about 1.5 hours to reach Kurseong.
Kurseong is located on NH 55, which begins from Siliguri and ends in Darjeeling. Kurseong is located midway between both. It is quite easy to reach it from Siliguri.
These are the four best hill stations in West Bengal where you can plan a weekend trip during the auspicious occasion on Poila Baisakh with your families, friends and loved ones. Those from other states who haven’t heard or visited these hill stations should definitely do so, as a plethora of experiences awaits them.
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