Tinchuley was a very sudden plan, as we had never even heard of this place before. Both of us were extremely repulsed with our work lives and were craving for a weekend break when a colleague introduced us to this heavenly village in the clouds. Since we were planning very close travel dates, we could only manage Sleeper tickets in a train. But that could not lower our enthusiasm and excitement of being able to check another place on the globe.
So what is special about Tinchuley? Well, nothing. And that is the most special part. No clubs, no shopping, no must visit places and at times no network. There is pleasure in being disconnected with the world and this is one place we have been recommending to all our family and friends who are on a financial and time crunch and in need of a good break.
During our search for an abode we found some lovely home stays there. We chose Rai Resort as it was located on a hilltop with an awe-inspiring view of Kanchenjunga, appeared more homely and was well within budget. Booking was extremely easy as Mr. Ajit Rai, the owner, agreed to reserve his best room for us and we transferred a token amount to his bank account. In case you are thinking that an online booking would have been convenient, Tinchuley is still a hamlet only gaining popularity as a tourist destination recently and the people are not tech savvy yet. In fact the organization WWF (World Wide Federation) has been actively supporting some 17 families here to develop a model organic village and promote village tourism.
Finally, came our day of journey and we could not have been happier. We boarded Padatik express from Sealdah Station (Kolkata) at 11:15 PM at night and to our surprise we had good fellow passengers (usually its the opposite). Train reached New Jalpaiguri Station at 9:15 AM sharp in the morning and there we had our driver Mr. Thapa waiting with his red Sumo to take us to our destination. Accompanying us was his adorable son, who was on an outing on an off day. Our home stay owner had facilitated us by arranging the car and a reliable driver.
Tinchuley is located above the old cantonment area of Takdah in Kurseong, in Darjeeling district at an altitude of about 5,800 ft. The word Tinchuley is a combination of two words ‘Teen Chullahs’ meaning Three Ovens because of the three prominent hill tops that frame the place and looks like ovens or chullahs. Tinchuley faces the Kalimpong hills.
Located at a distance of approximately 95 kms from NJP station, it takes around three and half hours to reach Tinchuley, but the picturesque nature, curvaceous river Teesta, pine forest canopies almost hiding the sunlight and heaven-kissing mountains make the journey delightful and completely worthwhile. Blessed with serene environment Tinchuley offers some breathtaking views of the valleys down below and the mighty Himalayas.
Through the empty roads, amidst the mesmerizing tea-gardens and eye-soothing views, we reached our much awaited destination. We were awe-struck. It was like a small cute yellow castle that has been kept on the top of a hill inside the clouds with nothing to block your view on any side.
Although, in a tranquil location, Rai family has kept the guesthouse well maintained. They offered lovely delicious food at just 450/- per head per day for 3 time meal and evening snacks at request. Hospitality by the family made our stay worthwhile and we must mention, Mishi, their silent dog who would escort their guests with all safety without making a noise and Eric, Mr. Rai’s grandson, he is probably the most adorable child and loves pink chocolates.
Rai family also owns a small store to cater to your basic requirements. But we will still suggest carrying your things and not relying on purchasing, as the place is completely dark after around 4:30pm making movement difficult. Rai resort though not very popular offers some breathtaking views and supposedly is the best place to relax in Tinchuley. The resort has a tabletop few steps uphill, which gives a 360-degree ceaseless panoramic view of the entire region. They also have a variety of flower plantations to add more colours to your delightful experience.
We also spotted a lot of butterflies and birds. Kanchenjunga is clearly visible from the room/balcony itself. We visited this place in the month of October and were lucky to have visioned clouds getting into the room through windows; we had never experienced this divine feeling earlier.
Since we were tired after the journey, we zeroed on taking a nature walk nearby and enjoy the quietness of nature. A nature walk in the evening is a must but since it gets dark very early, it is recommended to carry torches and not go very far from the guesthouse as it might be difficult getting help in case of an emergency.
Our evening was blessed with Masala Chai and Pakodas, chilly wind, hazy silhouettes of snow-clad mountains, and some star like lights in a few houses on the nearby mountain villages like Chota Mangwa and Bada Mangwa. We could not have asked for more.
Apart from these exquisite views Tinchuley has a beautiful Lamahatta Park at around 15 kms, and some view points for tourists which we decided to give a miss and an age old monastery in the middle of a jungle, which we visited on our way to Darjeeling.
One can also go to Takdah and see the awe-inspiring orchid garden or Chota Mangwa to see the bright Orange-garden. On our day outing for a nature trail and a small visit to Darjeeling, we spent some time with the leaf-pluckers at the glittering green tea gardens learning their art of plucking tea leafs and carrying the heavy cane baskets on their heads effortlessly.
Our visit to Darjeeling was brief, only confined to Batasia loop, Himalayan Railways, Chowrasta / Mall Road (for some local shopping) and Glenary’s. The mouth-watering food is something you just cannot afford to miss.
We were also fortunate to locate some Nepali street musicians near the Mall, playing melodious tracks on their traditional instruments.
We planned an early return as it was the second day of our three-day trip and we did not want to miss the phenomenal sight and experience we had the prior day. Tinchuley enjoys a pleasant weather throughout the year and it gets chilly towards the night but that day was an exception. There was a cloudburst and it rained cats and dogs entire night. Let’s try if we can explain the setting better. In a wooden house on the top of a hill with almost no lights outside, extremely heavy rains and lightning and the sound of tall pine trees swinging with the furious wind. Not sure how scary or adventurous does that sound but the experience was one of its kind.
However, on our departure day, the sky cleared and we were able to see the magnificent Mt. Kanchenjunga in bright white color and Kalimpong town at a distance. We got some great shots in the bright sunlight.
It was time to bid adieu to this peaceful abode of ours as we had to catch our train from the NJP station same evening. We hit the roads at 11:30 AM and on our way stopped at a view point which gives a scenic view of the meeting point of River Teesta and River Rangit. The nature is unbelievable on how two rivers meet and still stay separate and identifiable. Because of the view, the place is also called the Lover’s Point or Lover’s hill.
With some time in our hand we decided to go to the riverbanks to have a closer look. The road towards the end is broken and gives a hard time driving. The riverbank is full of pebbles in various shades of black, white and grey and we collected as many as we could to take back home and make artistic paperweights and decoratives out of it. Here it is..TADAAA..
We just did not want to come back but then you have to get back to normal life to plan for the next trip.
TIPS & TRICKS
Best time to visit –
Although the weather is pleasant throughout the year, best time to visit Tinchuley is between September to April. Make your bookings in advance as there are less staying options.
Room rents are approximately between 1200-1500/- per day and taxi fare is negotiable.
How to Reach –
Nearest Airport is Bagdogra which is approximately 80 kms from the village and well-connected via roads.
Major Railway Station is New Jalpaiguri at a distance of around 95 kms by road. Private and shared taxis are easily available at the station and charges around Rs. 2,500/- for a private one.
Darjeeling distances 32 kilometers and Kalimpong distances 43 kilometers from Tinchuley.
What to Carry –
Carry light woolens otherwise and heavy woolens if you are travelling in the winter season. It is advisable to carry paper money for your trip as firstly, there is no scope of card payments and secondly the nearest ATM is in Tadakh, which is quite far and not reliable either.
It was a remarkable experience spending time in the serene and calm ecosystem. A must visit for nature lovers!