One of the best home stays in Manebhanjan is offered by Keshav Gurung. It is by far the best and better than the commercial lodges available in this village town. Manebhanjan is used heavily by the tourists and trekkers from all over the world as a gateway to head for Sandakphu and Singalila National Park. Since treks and safaris need to start in early morning, many prefer to come here on the previous day, stay for a night & acclimatize themselves before heading for the heavens.
But unfortunately in this small sleepy and somewhat backward village, there are no good accommodations. In early 2005 on recommendation from one of my close friends, I tried out the home stay offered by Keshav Gurung for the first time. Since then I haven't though about a second place of stay in this village. The cleanliness, the homelike atmosphere, the hospitality and the great food have all been special.
Keshav is a Nepali who has settled down in Manebhanjan since the past many years. He is a friendly and courteous man, and most importantly extremely resourceful. His wife too is a very polite and a charming lady. As you enter his house, there is a small and cozy living room. There are couple of rooms for guests in the upper floor.
Keshav's Homestay, Manebhanjan
Upstairs rooms are accessible through a spiral staircase from inside the house. The small bedrooms with attached western style toilets are neatly maintained and has all the basic amenities. The queen bed is comfortable and has double quilts that are so essential during the winter time.
Keshav Gurung, Manebhanjan
During the day time, you can see the Manebhanjan playground through one of the windows and in between the tinned roofs of the neighboring cottages. One of the bedrooms has a cute sitting cum dressing area of its own.
Dressing cum sitting area of a bedroom
The dining room is in the ground floor. One of the highlights of the stay here is the food prepared by Keshav's wife - simply delicious. She makes great chicken curry and vegetarian dishes. You can have it with rice or chapatis (handmade phulkas).
You can take the food either at the family dining room or in your own room. I always prefer to dine with the family with an intention to know more about the place and life in this part of the world. The dinner is usually served at 8pm.
The smaller bedroom
The view from the roof terrace is awesome. On one side you can see Chitrey (a village on the way to Sandapkhu) and on the other side the Indo-Nepal border village known as Simana. Look down and you can see almost the whole of Manebhanjan.
Toilet of the smaller bedroom
Overall the experience is really nice. And to top it all, the rates are really cheap. But Keshav is quite selective about his guests and won't normally rent it to young groups of men who tend to make noise and spoil the homely ambience.
Roof Top Terrace
Keshav runs a trek & tour operation called Shikhar Treks & Tours. He offers full trek packages for Sandakphu/Phalut and other treks. He can even organize a great jeep safari to Sandakphu by a 4-wheel Land Rover and get you a good driver.
Keshav's sister Neela runs a nice lodge called Shikhar Lodge
in Tumling (near Tonglu) located on the route to Sandakphu. That lodge is the largest and in my view the best in Tumling area. Keshav can also help booking that lodge for you.
How to book this homestay
You can get Darjeeling Tourism Card
and directly book this hotel. The card entitles you to great discount in this hotel and also at many well known restaurants, bars, shops, tours, transporters etc in Darjeeling giving you all-round benefits. While booking directly using Darjeeling Tourism Card, use the contact information given below.
Keshav Gurung's Phone: +91-9564797551 (Alternative airtel mobile no. 9232695120)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Internet access in Manebhanjan is unreliable. So avoid emails. Better call him and talk over phone).
Tuhin Dutta (October 2015)
Hi, In the year 2012, me & close friends had a chance to visit Sandakphu & Falut. Meanwhile, we had a chance to have our lunch at Maneybhanjan (to & fro). At that time, we met Mr. Gurung. Extremely delicious food was prepared by his wife. It's an awesome experience for my entire team. The way Keshav welcomed us & hospitality provided by his entire family is a life time experience. We always try to recommend him as one of the leading place to stay & dine in Maneybhanjan area. Thanks,