Mungpoo, a calm and quiet Himalayan village at an elevation of more than 3,500 feet in the Kurseong district, was calling me for long ……. Rabindranath Tagore is the reason. The poet came to stay here four times between 1938 and 1940 with his friend Maitreyee Devi, a renowned author herself. So, the place itself has an importance to all Tagore lovers.
We started from Kalimpong in a cab through the meandering hilly path. It is 42.3 km away from Kalimpong and takes near about 1.5 hours to reach Mungpoo. From Kalimpong it is a downward journey along with Teesta then crossing the coronation bridge it is an upward journey through the forest of Sal. In the mid-April, Sal trees were blooming with flowers. Our Driver said that at this time sleeping in the forest is prohibited.
Then at a higher altitude, we saw a few rubber trees from which liquid rubber was being extracted. Cinchona plants are abundant on the way. The tree with a mixture of red and green leaves looks attractive amid the bushes.
Things to see in Mungpoo
There are not many things except the lush beauty of nature to see here. Among those few –Rabindra Bhavan, Govt. Quinine Factory, Mungpoo Bazar, Monastery and the most attractive place here is, of course, the Orchid Park.
Well, the first two things I could not see. Rabindra Bhavan was under complete renovation and was, therefore, closed. As I knocked the gate of the quinine factory on a Sunday, it did not open for me.
Mongpoo Bazar was booming with the crowd for the Sunday Haat. From tree saplings to Pani puri, readymade garments to sweets, vegetables to electronic goods, even mouth-watering Achaar of several types were present in the Haat to fulfil the demand of the people of this small village.
The Dichhen Sherap Chhoeling Gompa, a Buddhist monastery, perched on a hillock at Shanti Chowk (near the bazar) glistens in the bright yellow colour to capture the attention of tourists.
Mungpoo Cymbidium Orchid Park: The Orchid House
Palden Sherpa, our driver, was very enthusiastic about taking us to this Orchid house and was eager to make us taste lunch there. I thought it would be something like the Pine view nursery of Kalimpong but it is totally different in its untamed natural beauty. It takes about 30mins from the Mungpoo Bazar to reach The Orchid House. Houses with beautiful flowers on their window-sills or at the balcony along the road will surely entertain a tourist on her way.
The Cymbidium is on the top of the Mungpoo Hill with a terrific panoramic view of other hills around it. This plantation is an initiative of the Govt. Cinchona Plantation. It was set up in 2012 as an Orchid House and was open to the public for visiting. Every day it is open for the visitors (from 8 am – 3.30 pm) against a nominal entry fee. They arrange simple veg and non-veg meal for the visitors on order except on Sundays.
At present, there are total 161 varieties of orchid as well as a large number of lilies. Three big tent-like plant houses have orchid, lily and bulbs, kept with utmost care. They take part in different horticultural shows in West Bengal and sell flowers in bulk on order.
This cymbidium has another wing (further a little top from the orchid house) for Kiwi fruit farming.
Though there are a few cement seats are made as watchpoints, every corner of this place will offer a wonderful view of the hills and valleys. It will be simply awesome to spend a night amid this terribly beautiful nature and the authority have thought of it. A picturesque hanging wooden bungalow with a small comfortable bed room, an attached wash room and a very romantic balcony overlooking the valley below, is a must destination for silence lovers.
For booking, Contact:
Mahendra Rai – Ph. No. 8436560481,
Palden Sherpa may be contacted from Kalimpong for tours. He is an experienced and helpful driver, driving in the hills for 14 years (presently owning a Bolero). Contact No: 9647826406.
I hope to spend a starry night in the Orchid Park on a full moon night very soon……listening to the sound of hills.