Sure, we’ve all heard of Darjeeling, the queen of hill stations in north Bengal. Mirik, a lesser known but equally beautiful town is just about a couple of hours away from Darjeeling and well worth a weekend. The views of the tea plantation and the hills surrounding the region are perhaps better from Mirik. The air is fresher and the experience is one that shall stay with you for a lifetime. Mirik is a quaint little town and the views of Mount Kanchenjunga from this beautiful little settlement are breathtaking. The best part of your Mirik trip, shall however, be the journey from Darjeeling to Mirik.
How to Get To Mirik
Mirik is located at a very convenient distance between two very famous tourist destinations – Darjeeling (49 kilometres) and Siliguri (52 kilometres). Most visitors prefer to take a bus or rent a car at either of these places and drive down to Mirik. The mountain roads are motorable, except during the monsoon months when you would be advised to abstain from undertaking the drive. The best option is to hire a local chauffeur – someone who knows the roads well.
The nearest airport is at Bagdogra is at a distance of 55 kilometres. There are buses and coaches plying from Bagdogra to Mirik. The rail-head nearest to Mirik is New Jalpaiguri, well connected to most parts of east India and at distance of 60 kilometres from our beautiful destination. New Jalpaiguri is also the railway station that connects most hill stations in North Bengal and Sikkim.
A Journey to Remember
They say that the journey is often more beautiful than the destination. This is true, at least of the journey from Darjeeling to Mirik. The three hour long car drive is likely to take you past some of the best known tea estates of the region including the Gopaldhara Tea Estate and the Goodricke (Thurbo) Tea estate. The stretch from Ghoom to Sukhiapokhri (en route) is blessed with some of the best views of the region.
The road is lined by Dhupi trees and Kanchenjunga seems to play hide-and-seek as it pops up unexpectedly. Simana is the border region between India and Nepal and is the best place to pick up trinkets from India’s culturally rich neighbour. It is also a great place to get steaming hot tea and some wonderful momos.
Places To See
- Sumendu Lake – The Sumendu Lake is the greatest attraction of Mirik. The calm blue waters of this lake make for a great boating experience.
- Bokar Monastery – The Bokar Ngedon Chokhor Ling Monastery founded in 1986 is a serene and peaceful Buddhist monastery in Mirik. A great place to explore Buddhist architecture in the region and to meditate.
- Rameetay Dara – Rameetay Dara is the place with the best views of Mirik and the surrounding hills and valleys. The best time to visit this spot is at sunrise.
- Debisthan – Debisthan, as the name suggests is a Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Singha Devi. It is a beautiful and peaceful place of worship on the banks of the lake.
- Deosi Dara – Similar to the Rameetay Dara, the Deosi Dara is another popular view point in Mirik. It offers spectacular views of the snowcapped hills surrounding this quaint town.
- Tingling View Point – The Tingling View Point is another great spot to get those wonderful pictures of the snowcapped hills that are the sentinels of Darjeeling and Mirik. The sprawling tea plantations form a stark contrast to the white snow and blue sky.
- Kawlay Dara – Kawlay Dara, near Mirik is a great place to see the misty clouds settling in the hills. It also offers a great view of the dark green tea plantations of the region.
- Don Bosco Church – One of the biggest churches in the region, the Don Bosco Church is a Roman Catholic place of worship but welcomes people of all religions into its fold.
What Makes Mirik Special?
Orchids – Mirik is best known for the breathtaking orchids that bloom here each year. Cymbidiums, also referred to as the queen of orchids, grows aplenty. Do visit the Darjeeling Private Gardens (permits required) for a heartening look at the red, pink, blue, and golden blooms that flower here each year.
Tea Plantations – The sprawling tea plantations that meet the eye as you look down from Mirik produce one of the finest varieties of tea in the country – Darjeeling tea. If you can find permits, do visit a tea plantation and a tea processing unit and watch the tea tasters at work.
Orange Orchards – If you visit Mirik and the fragrance of orange blossoms tease you, know that you are just in time to visit the famed orange orchards of this region. You may require a permit to visit most of these orchards, though.
Like most other mountainous parts of northern India, winters in Mirik are very cold and summers are rainy. The roads are treacherous during monsoons and the fear of landslides keep tourists away. February through April and again September through November are the best months to visit Mirik.
You may want to ditch one of the more popular hotels on your trip to Mirik and prefer to put up at a homestay or live on a tea estate in a guesthouse. Most of these have modern facilities and are comfortable besides providing you a wonderful experience. Do remember to bring back a bag of cardamoms from one of Mirik’s own spice groves.