If your nerves need some quiet time off, try a week at the Baasbari Farms near Darjeeling. Built with local materials, this is really a green stay! It’s a house of bamboo with the most gorgeous views of hills, valleys, rivers and natural forests.
Baasbari aims to serve as a model sustainable initiative – as a knowledge center and learning ground for school children, researchers and think tanks, demonstrating methods of sustainable living (with workshops on local building materials and designs etc). And they are really our kind of people – the area is a plastic-free zone and they have onsite solid waste management, so littering around the farm is strictly monitored.
You get to stay in lovely bamboo units, and you get access to the entire farm and kitchen in case you want to cook your own meals. But if you want to take it easy, you can with meals made from fresh, farm-sourced ingredients. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is included in the cost of the rooms – just tell them in advance what kind of food you like.
There are some great hiking routes from Bijanbari. Singla Bazar can be reached in about 4 hours, Relling is about 8 kms away. You could trek to Sabarkum (7 km before Phalut on the main Sandakphu- Phalut trail), if you have time. From Bijanbari, it is possible to climb to Pulbazar and then return to Darjeeling.
You can also head to Singalila National Park, a popular trekking destination. Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak, is visible for much of the trek. The park can be accessed from Rimbik, where many trekkers finish up, or from Bijanbari, with one extra day’s walking. You have to pay INR 100 fee to enter the park, and must hire a guide. Or just relax and ponder on the mysteries of life sitting on the beautiful wooden, forest-facing verandahs.
Hire a cab from the taxi stand at Chowk Bazaar or Gandhi road in Darjeeling. There are also Darjeeling-Bijanbari buses that leave from the bus stand early in the morning. You can also take a shared jeep from Chowk Bazaar. Take the winding scenic road that goes down from Ghoom down to this sleepy town. On the way, you will pass by mountain streams, waterfalls, tea gardens and forests. You will pass the Hima Falls, and a beautiful bridge over them. Further down is the 50-ft high Biswambhar rock rising vertically. You will also pass the Marybong, Rishihaat, and Chontong tea estates before you reach Bijanbari town.