Mangpu Trip: What To See & Do
If you are planning a vacation in Darjeeling or Sittong, then you can include this lovely day trip to Mangpu as part of your itinerary. Mangpu, also spelt as Mungpoo is a small mountain village in Darjeeling district. It's located at an average altitude of about 3,700ft and about 31kms from Darjeeling. In fact, Mangpu is part of Sittong-III and can be easily visited from any part of Sittong Khashmahal
by car during a day tour.
On the way to Mangpu - A mountain stream ahead
From Darjeeling town you will go towards east and take the Peshok road from Jorebunglow area. On Peshok Road at '3rd Mile' there is another road to the right that leads all the way to Mangpu. Alternatively, instead of turning right at 3rd Mile, go down further towards '6th Mile' and Takdah
and the road would eventually lead to Mangpu. Although this is a longer route, you will pass through lovely scenic spots on the way, lush tea gardens and areas that are famous for the flowering orchids and Cinchona plantations.
As you approach Mangpu, you will pass through colorful flower nurseries, tea gardens and crystal clear water streams. Mangpu is well known for Cinchona Plantation and cultivation of other medicinal plants. Barks of Cinchona plants are used for extraction of quinine, a medicinal element used for curing malaria.
Waterfall on the way to Mangpu
The first such Cinchona plantations started in 1864 when a Government Quinine Factory was also set up here. Majority of Mangpu's population (around 20,000) depended on Cinchona plantations for livelihood. However with advent of artificial quinine, natural extraction of quinine from Cinchona has come down over the years. However, it still remains an active source of income for many residents of Mangpu.
Cinchona plantations at Mangpu
One of the features of Mangpu is its several schools. Before entering the Mangpu locality you will come across a beautiful school (known a Agamsingh Giri Jr. High School) which is perched in the hill. As you drive along you will first see it from an elevation and then the road winds around and passes by the school.
Agamsingh Giri School, Mangpu
As you come close to Mangpu area, you will see several large constructions on both sides of the road where cinchona plants are dried before the quinine extraction takes place.
Cinchonas being dried
Mangpu is also famous for Rabindra Museum (earlier known as Rabindra Bhavan), the bungalow where the great poet & Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore stayed several times during summers. The poet came to this place for its soothing and quiet ambience, and of course for its beauty of Cinchona plantations. Although the place doesn't have views of the great snow peaks, it has a charm of its own.
Rabindra Museum (Mangpu)
The bungalow belonged to Manmohan Sen, the husband of novelist Maitreyi Devi who wrote the novel 'Na Hanyate'. Mr. Sen was in government Service. Tagore first visited this place in 1938 on invitation from Maitreyi Devi. It is here where the poet wrote his famous poem 'Janmadin'. The bungalow has been now converted into a museum. The bungalow remained in neglect and a state of disrepair for a long time. In July 2018, the bungalow with all its invaluable documents and artifacts were restored by West Bengal Heritage Commission.
Tagore's bed at Rabindra Museum (Mangpu)
Photo: Indrajit Das, cc by-sa 4.0
Tagore came to this house four times between 1938 and 1940. During his last visit he fell seriously ill and had to be shifted to Kolkata. Very few know that Tagore visited this place for another reason as well. He came here to personally meet Maitreyi Devi, who was also the daughter of his friend Surendranath Dasgupta. He had a personal relationship with her. Maitreyi Devi herself published this in one of her own books.
The bed on which Tagore slept and the mahogany desk he used are still there. You will also find several original paintings of Tagore here as well as several of his handwritten verses and poems. There are antique wooden furniture that were designed by Tagore and carved by his son Rathindranath Tagore.
Tagore's Mahogany Desk
Photo: Indrajit Das, cc by-sa 4.0
The museum is a must visit during this tour. It's open on all days except Sunday. Timings: 9am to 4pm (lunch hour is from 12:30pm to 1:30pm).
There is an entry fee as well as parking fee to visit Ranbindra Museum at Mangpu. The entry fee is Rs. 25 per person. And car parking fee is Rs. 35 per hour (bikes can park for Rs. 10/- per hour).
You should also visit the Government Quinine Factory which holds demonstration of quinine extraction from Cinchona for students. The factory is located right opposite to Ravindra Bhavan. The adjoining garden has many types of medicinal plants and shrubs including Cinchona. There is no entry fee and the guards will let you go in.
Govt. Quinine Factory, Mangpu
What else can you see in Mangpu? Actually the place doesn't have many typical tourist attractions. If you like nature, lovely valleys & meadows, flowering orchids & nurseries, gardens & plantations, you will love the drive from Darjeeling to Mangpu.
There is a local market (bazaar) here at Shanti Chowk. This is a typical street-side bazaar where small shops and stalls sell daily essentials including groceries, vegetables, fruits, etc. This is the main hub and market area of Mangpu and this is where the locals meet and chat with each other.
Local Bazaar at Mangpu
Adjacent to the bazaar area and perched on a hillock is a Buddhist monastery. It's known as Dinchhen Sherap Chhoeling Gumba (Phone: 03552-266222). The atmosphere inside is serene although it's located right next to a noisy area. There is a stairway right from Shanti Chowk which leads up to the monastery.
Monastery at Mangpu
From the bazaar area another 5 kilometers away there is a nice Orchid Center which cultivates different types of orchids. A great place to visit. The Orchid Center is open daily from 8am to 4pm.
Mangpu being part of Sittong, you can visit several other wonderful tourist sites from here that are all within short driving distances. Go through Sightseeing in Sittong
How to reach Mangpu
Mangpu is a part of Darjeeling District under Kurseong Sub-Division and Rangli Rangliot Block. It is about 31kms from Darjeeling, 51kms from Siliguri, 55kms from NJP and 39Kms from Kalimpong.
From NJP station you can take a taxi and reach in 2 hours and 15 minutes via NH-10 (Sevoke Road). On NH-10, you need to go past Kalijhora and get to Rambi Bazaar (46 kms from NJP). Here there is an uphill road to the left that goes up and leads to Mangpu in another 9kms.
From Darjeeling, it takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach Mangpu by car. The route is via Jorebungalow, the on to Peshok Road and then a right turn into a route at 3rd Mile which leads to Mangpu.
How to make a day trip to Mangpu from Darjeeling
You can take the tour by booking a private cab from a taxi stand in Darjeeling or go through a local tour operator
. The drive to Mangpu from Darjeeling takes about 1 hour 20 minutes. The total tour including lunch & sightseeing at Mangpu should take about 5 to 6 hours. But try to carry packed lunch. There is no proper hotel or restaurant at Mangpu, although you will find some small roadside eateries at the main Mangpu market area.
Where to stay in Mangpu
There are several homestays in Mangpu... all of them are not great. One which stands out is Quinine Home Stay run by Solomon... a very nice friendly man and a great host. It's a three-storied building with nicely appointed rooms. There is a shop at the ground floor. The rooms are laid out on the first and second floors. All rooms are spacious, clean and have good amenities such as TV, attached western-style toilets with geysers, free high-speed Wi-Fi, etc. The property is very well maintained and the food served is great as well.
All rooms have windows opening out to nice views. There is an excellent large roof-top terrace which has a panoramic views of the mountains all around. On a clear day, you can see Kanchenjunga snow peaks from here, and river Teesta flowing below... a very scenic sight. There are tables laid out on the terrace as well as gazebos where you can choose to have your breakfast, tea or even your meals.
3) Check out Darjeeling Tours
to know about many other wonderful places that you can visit from Darjeeling within hours.
Mayukh Chatterjee (March 2015)
Dear Sir, I wish to visit Mangpu during 20-25th October 2015 for 2-3 days could you kindly tell me some budget hotel rates for one person and what shall be the weather during the said period and how to go from New Jalpaiguri to Mangpu. Your's
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2015
There are no hotels or proper lodges at Mungpoo. Few local families run homestays that are very basic. However the PWD Inspection Bungalow has few nice rooms which you can book through their regional offices subject to availability. From NJP, Mungpoo is about 57kms. You need to hire a taxi, take the Sevoke road and then a diversion at Rambhi Bazaar area near Teesta to reach Mungpoo. It will take about 2 hours. From Darjeeling, it's about 35kms (1.5 hours). Buses and taxis are available from Darjeeling.