Mirik is a Lepcha words Mir-Yok meaning “place burnt by fire”, Hari said as we drove towards Mirik. Honestly, we couldn’t find any meaning in it, given the landscape. But it might hint back to turbulent times in the tea gardens used to have in pre-independence India. About half the route to Mirik is through the Nepal border, and almost the entire trail is through forests of pine, fir and chestnut oak forest. It is a laid back, tranquil hill station. The road passes through the small beautiful hamlets of Sukiapokhari, Pashupati, and Simana. And the drive was most enjoyable.
Mirik is a tranquil laid back town on the slopes of the mountains. The vantage of Mirik is we can see an unobstructed view of Kanchenjunga, & a much rolling tea estate surrounds the area on the mountain slope. The distance from Darjeeling is 49km, about an hour drive, many tourists spend a couple of day in Mirik. But ours is a day excursion.
The day was a bit warm, yet a cool breeze was touching my face. Our first stop was The lake Samendu, popularly known as Mirik Lake. The artificial lake was built in 1970, about 1.25 km long, and a 3.5 km road surrounds the lake.
But what attracts your eyes will be the idyllic view of Mt. Kanchenjunga and the green lustre of Oak, Chestnut, and Maple in the backdrop.
Trust me, and it can soothe the soul of a weary traveller. So I took a stroll around the lake that passes through dense cryptomeria forest locally known as Dhupi forest.
While walking up the forest trail, we reached Devi Stan, a forest temple. I had to climb a couple of stairs to reach the temple. The temple complex has a Bhagwati Mandir, which is the main attraction; it also has a temple of Shiva, Ganesh, Hanuman, & others. The temples were pretty old but well kept. Apart from this, you can take a boat ride & horse ride too at Mirik lake. Spending some time at the lake, we drove towards The Bokar Ngedon Chokhor Ling Monastery.
The monastery is about 2.8km from the lake; you can either walk, which might take 40mins or drive. The monastery was founded in 1984 by the Lama Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche. And it is located at 5800 Ft. Initially, the plan was to make a small retreat, but with a passing year of teaching, Buddhism became the genesis of the monastery. Today the monastery has a monastic school named Bokar Vajrdhara memorial school.
The monastery follows the Karma Kagyu sect of Buddhism. The ambience inside the sanctuary is serene with the giant golden Buddha statue & intricate mural paintings on the walls. The aura of monasteries are divine; one can sit and spend the whole day in soulfulness.
While taking a stroll around the monastery, I walked up to the Kawley Dhara and Rameetay Dhara. It’s a 10 min walk from the sanctuary, basically famous for sunrise & sunset. But I got to see the panoramic view of Mirik & mountain landscapes, & of course, the snow-capped peak of Kanchenjunga. I was glad as the day was blessed with blue sky, shining sun & few floating clouds.
We drove back towards the lake and moved ahead to the Thurbo Tea Estate, which was just 2km from the lake. It the most extensive garden in the hill area, though we did not halt; we just passed through it.
Instead, we drove 8km down along the Mirik road to reach the Tingling viewpoint. I guess a hidden gem offering a splendid view of the rolling tea gardens on the mountain slopes with sun & clouds playing the game of light & shadow. Simply! Awesome.
There were many tea stalls lined up serving the estate tea & light snack. We had a light lunch there since it was 3 pm already. Finally, we were left with our last destination, the Pashupati Market situated on the Nepal Darjeeling border. In addition, I was unsure if the Pashupati market was open, but I took my chances. Upon reaching the border, I walked up to the West Bengal Police check post. I showed my Id & did an entry on behalf of all of us. We are damn lucky it was open, & limited tourist was allowed.
Until the check post, only a private car is allowed; either you can walk or take the local cab from the base. Also, only Indian & Nepalese are allowed to cross over the border area & no other foreign nationals. As I entered Nepal, I could not find much difference in people architecture or language. I started to walk along with the shops full of electronics items, Jackets, perfumes, cosmetics, crockery, leather items, etc. The perfumes & cosmetics were pretty cheap hence I bought a few. At the same time, my mom & aunt bought some leather & home decor Items. Consequently, while shopping, I lost my aunt, we had to run around to find which alley she went. Quite a task! But we found her.
Above all, the joy that I steeped my foot in Nepal was at another level. A surge of excitement passed through my body, and we drove back to Darjeeling. On the way, we stooped at the Gopaldhara Tea estate. A beautiful tea garden on a small hill lock surround by pine trees. It was a picture-perfect site; hence I stopped to take few photographs. We also had a cup of tea from the Gopaldhara tea stall & got packed few tea bags from the estate.
It was getting dark, so I did not stop at any other places & drove straight to Darjeeling. If you plan to stay an overnight stay or a couple of days stay in Mirik, visit. About 5km downhill, the Thurbo tea estate factory is Rang Bhang riverbed. Beside the river bed is the quaint virgin tea village Tabakoshi, which has its own scenic charm. There you see the two temples and spend quality time around Rang Bhang river by taking a walk through the tea garden, or view the lush mountain & listen to chirping birds. However, You may also trek from Mirik down if you wish for a bit of adventure. The hike is ideal for bird enthusiasts.
Also, Mirik Orange Orchids – it’s a small village. It is famous for oranges, cardamom etc. You may take a walk in the town among the gardens for an authentic experience of non-touristic. These places I may visit on my next trip to Darjeeling. It was late evening when I reached the hotel. I ordered dinner & went straight for a hot water shower. It was an exhausting day, with endless memories.
How to reach
The nearest airport is Bagdogra, approximately 47 km away from the Mirik. And from the airport, hire taxis to reach the city.
The closest railway station to Mirik is New Jalpaiguri. And New Jalpaiguri connects the city in India. One can hire private cabs from the station to reach Mirik, which is 56km.
It is well-connected via road with Darjeeling, Siliguri, Kurseong city & other closeby cities such as Gangtok and Kalimpong. Buses, private cabs, shared taxis ply to Mirik from these places.