Hello, fellow travelers and adventure enthusiasts! Join me as I take you on an exciting journey to the mesmerizing hills of North Bengal. It was an early start that day, as the clock struck 4:30 a.m., and we found ourselves rousing from slumber, an occurrence only reserved for catching trains or flights to new destinations. And this time, it was the former, as we embarked on a train journey to the renowned Howrah railway station. Our destination? The enchanting hills of North Bengal.
All Aboard the Vande Bharat Express
As the sun began its ascent, we stood at the Howrah railway station, eagerly awaiting the departure of the Vande Bharat Express at 5:55 a.m. This marked our second visit to the hills of North Bengal this year, and the excitement was palpable as we looked forward to sharing this journey with you.
Our train journey on the Vande Bharat Express was an experience in itself. As the train's wheels set into motion, our concerns about potential delays were quickly dispelled. The train might have seemed slow at times, but it adhered to its schedule with precision.
The food served onboard wasn't exactly surprising, but its quality managed to pleasantly defy our expectations. It seems we had set our hopes too low for this train's dining experience. Starting with the initial serving of tea and biscuits, progressing through the sumptuous breakfast spread, warming up with hot soups, relishing a hearty lunch, and culminating with a delightful ice cream finish – we enjoyed a journey of satisfying indulgence.
Daytime train journeys unveiled Bengal's beauty in all its glory. The region's vast, lush green fields were particularly captivating, a sight unique to these train rides. This visit during the monsoon season offered us a fresh perspective on the landscape, with the rain-kissed fields painting a vivid picture.
The Allure of North Bengal's Hills
After an eight-hour train ride from Howrah to NJP, we were en route to the charming town of Kurseong, nestled in the North Bengal hills. While we've explored the forests and surroundings in the past, this time, we were determined to make the town our temporary abode.
Booking a car on the spot at the NJP Junction, we embarked on a picturesque drive, enjoying the lush green landscapes that stretched out before us.
Leaving Siliguri behind, we entered a realm of tea gardens that North Bengal is renowned for. This region boasts premium quality teas, including the world-famous Darjeeling tea. The landscape transitioned seamlessly from tea gardens to expansive forests, making for an awe-inspiring panorama.
As the car ascended into the hills, a breathtaking transformation unfolded before our eyes. From Siliguri's bustling streets, we were transported to a serene world in just half an hour. The refreshing air and the gentle veil of fog enveloping the hills left us spellbound.
Having driven to Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Kalimpong in the past, we marveled at how each drive offers a unique beauty. The journey itself is a treat, with the ever-changing scenery presenting an array of captivating vistas.
Once again, our drive to Kurseong held a distinct charm, captivating us anew. Monsoons bestowed the hills with their signature mystique. Rain-draped landscapes and fog-shrouded vistas welcomed us, transforming the surroundings into a captivating dreamscape. The experience of driving through these elements was both challenging and enchanting - something we had earlier experienced when we traveled to Meghalaya during the monsoons.
Settling In at Cochrane Place
Nestled within Cochrane Place, our sojourn began in the embrace of a deluxe room named Kinchinjhau, reminiscent of a bygone era. The room's entrancing wooden door, antiquated switches, and artistic embellishments conjured a vintage ambiance that was truly captivating. Amidst the spaciousness and thoughtful amenities, the pièce de résistance was the balcony, unveiling vistas of unmatched serenity – a haven of comfort with a vintage soul.
After refreshing ourselves, we set out for some snacks around 6 p.m. at the enchanting restaurant of the Cochrane Place, known as Chai Country. Despite the restaurant's apparent vacancy, it was open for business. However, please be aware that their last dinner order is taken at 7 p.m., and the restaurant closes at 9 p.m. This is worth noting as options for dining out are limited in the area at night. Just a heads-up for your consideration.
Let's dive into our culinary escapade on the first day at Cochrane Place. Hungry from our train journey, we eagerly ordered the Cochrane Special Garden Salad. We had aimed for the Roasted Tea Salad, but alas, it wasn't an option. Likewise, we intended to savor the Chicken and Pesto Pizza, but circumstances led us to the succulent delight of Chicken Ham instead.
The absence of the Garden Salad, revealed an hour after ordering, further highlighted the significance of attentive service. Our initial appetizer plans shifted, leading us to indulge in crispy French Fries to satiate our hunger. Although the pizza's arrival occurred slightly later at around 7:30 p.m., this delay didn't diminish our enthusiasm. The leisurely pace of service couldn't diminish the impact of the flavorful dishes; each bite was a testament to their culinary artistry.
The pizza emerged as a star, boasting irresistible cheesiness, meticulously handcrafted, and expertly baked in a wooden oven. Equally delightful was the Chicken Shepherd's Pie, a taste that matched its visual appeal. Our thirst found solace in iced teas – Tahiti for me and a Passionately for Shabbir. Cochrane Place's mastery in iced teas shone through, providing a rejuvenating interlude.
Our gastronomic odyssey reached a sweet crescendo with Caramel Pudding. It was a harmonious finale to a flavorsome experience. In retrospect, our culinary voyage paralleled the region's allure, captivating our senses and etching a lasting memory.
With full bellies and satisfied hearts, we retired for the night, ready to embrace another day of exploration.
Discovering the Charms of Kurseong
From drives that captivate to lush tea gardens and dense forests, North Bengal offered an enchanting journey that led us to the charming town of Kurseong. While the service of the Cochrane Place may have been leisurely, the experiences were anything but. If you're an aficionado of misty hills, serene landscapes, and culinary delights, Kurseong awaits your visit. Rain or shine, this destination is ready to weave its magic on you.
I look forward to sharing more tales from our Kurseong escapade. Stay tuned for the next chapter of our adventure!