What do you do when the mountains call …?
You respond to the call … !!
If you are one among many who find the Scottish-American naturalist and explorer John Muir’s words inspiring, the mountains is a destination you would never say no to.
If you have been following my other posts you would know how much of a mountain lover we as a family are ..BUT.. last year we headed there for a special occasion. My loving grandparents had completed fifty years of togetherness, so celebrate we must !! Located in the highest mountain range of the world, Darjeeling lies in the Lesser Himalayas at a significant height of 6700 ft above sea level. Formed by merging two Tibetan words ‘Dorje’ (thunderbolt) and ‘Ling’ (place), Darjeeling means ‘a place of thunderbolt’. I can’t agree less, you so need an umbrella there at all times of the day because of intermittent downpours.
“Geography is the stage on which drama of History is enacted” – Sheikh Ali.
It is believed that King Chogyal of Sikkim was compelled to ‘gift’ Darjeeling to the Britishers in 1835. The climate of Darjeeling lured the British to turn it into a sanatorium for their soldiers in poor health. The chief among them being Lieutenant General A Lloyd, the person who was credited with laying the foundation of Darjeeling. Darjeeling now is home to immigrants from Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim and locals there are known for their honesty and simple hearts.
If you also get into hotel booking fits like my parents, you need not get into one this time. If your sole purpose of heading to mountains is to enjoy nature to its fullest, then you have laid your hands on the right post. Ging Tea House is one of the most popular and aromatic tea gardens in Darjeeling, West Bengal. This 600 hectare tea estate offers sweeping views of Kanchenjunga, the highest mountain peak of India.
A Victorian style guest house made in the year 1866 for the British elite, Ging Tea House is located in the lower town area of Lebong which is about 10 km away from the main town of Darjeeling. However, that doesn’t make the stay here any less worthy. Their chauffeur driven cars can conveniently take you on day trips to Darjeeling and Mirik. They also arrange drop and pick up to and from Bagdogra Airport, New Jalpaiguri railway station in Siliguri (both 3 hr drive) or Kalimpong (2 and a half hr drive). The drivers are friendly and learned.
Leisure is the sixth sense that plunders the rest five of them. Being leisure lovers we totally spoilt ourselves at Ging. It has everything – from nature walks through their vast expanse of tea gardens to scrumptious breakfast in the lawn or gazebo with a view of Kanchenjunga, from an inside fireplace to an outside bonfire (on request), from engaging indoor games to an antique piano, from prompt service to amazing hospitality, right in nature’s lap.
Their soft eiderdown quilts and vibrant bedcovers in 6 differently coloured and draped royal suites with spacious restrooms give a homelike feel.
When in mountains do you prefer going out on hikes or chilling in a hotel room?
If you prefer relaxing than moving around in hill stations, refresh yourself by sitting on a hearth rug by the fire or bonfire (if weather permits), drink a mug of hot chocolate and play their board games. When it’s raining outside watch your favourite movie or sink in the sofa and enjoy their handy collection of books. Since we had booked the entire guest house, we had a few cozy corners where we sat all day doing nothing.
If you prefer outdoor activities you may hike through marked tea trails, enjoy a tea tour through the gardens or visit the factory to learn the process of tea making, a one of a kind opportunity.
Did you know that out of all kinds of tea that India exports, the most popular is Darjeeling tea? Also called the ‘Champagne of teas’ for its rich aromatic flavour, it is the most exotic, expensive and exclusively flavoured tea. The tea making procedure involved plucking, withering, rolling and fermenting of tea leaves which is then processed and packed as white, black, green and oolong tea and sold under the brand name ‘Chamong’ at Ging. I truly had a great time watching, smelling and burying my hands in heaps of tea, a true pleasure for all senses.
You might also visit the touristy spots in Darjeeling. Watch sunrise/sunset at TigerHill, enjoy a ride on the Rangit Valley ropeway which is the largest ropeway in Asia, take a 2-hour-round toy train trip from Darjeeling up to Ghum and back via Batasia Loop. If you didn’t know, Ghoom is India’s highest altitude railway station.
If sightseeing is not your thing, take a leisurely walk in Mall Rd. or visit the Glenary’s, one of the finest bakeries, which is at a stone throw distance from there. If you are a snowfall lover like me, know that it hardly ever snows in Darjeeling. I have been to Darjeeling twice and locals suggest that snowfall is rare there (might in peak winters). I am nearing twelve and the only time I have experienced snow was in Norway. Read about my Norway adventures here.
This is not a promotional post but my personal soulful experience at Ging Tea House. Never before have I felt this connection with a hotel to write a post on it. I am sure it won’t disappoint you either !