Takdah - A beautiful mountain village
Want to avoid visiting tourist congested hill towns like Darjeeling? But still like to enjoy the lovely mountains & scenic views, the tea gardens, blooming orchids, the walking trails through the coniferous forests on mountain slopes? Then Takdah can be a perfect answer.
Not many know about this small hamlet, a treasure secret, because it's yet to develop as a full fledged tourism place. Takdah is located at an altitude of about 4,000 ft and close to Darjeeling (about 28kms away), yet far enough to be isolated, quiet and serene. Although the altitude is much lower than Darjeeling town, the place is cooler compared to its surrounding area.
The original name was pronounced as 'Tukdah', which is a Lepcha word meaning mist or fog. And the name is aptly given as the place often remains covered with fog. So what can you expect? Misty meandering roads, chirping of the birds, nature trails passing through dense forests, sound and sight of fountain streams coming down the slope of mountains every few yards you walk - this is what Takdah is.
Takdah started as a military cantonment during the British colonial days in early 1900s. During those days, many senior British officers frequently visited this place. And therefore many bungalows and houses came up here for their accommodations. Those houses were built in traditional British architecture with slanted roofs.
Rungli Rungliot Tea Garden, Takdah
While after India's independence the British have left the place, the houses and many other establishments they built were left behind. most of these houses were built between 1905 and 1915. They now either belong to some locals or have been taken over by establishments like schools.
And some locals have renovated the houses and offer them as guesthouse accommodations. So that gives you a rare opportunity to stay in a heritage bungalow and enjoy the old colonial charm & aura in such houses which belonged to the British once. Will come to the accommodations later.
Attractions & Activities in & around Takdah
So what can you see and do in Takdah? Surprisingly there are several great places of interests and sightseeing attractions here within short distances. There are nice soft trekking routes as well. You can take a vehicle and visit the places. But you can't cover them all in a day. Here are the main attractions:
1) Some of the finest tea gardens of Darjeeling district are located in Takdah. You can walk down or take a local taxi tour to some of them and enjoy the tea gardens on rolling hills. The main tea estates in Takdah are Rungli Rungliot, Gielle, Namring, Jinglam, Poomong, and Teesta Valley estate. You can also visit the estate factories and watch the tea processing (in winters the factories usually remain closed).
Rungli Rungliot Tea Garden, Closeup View
I have visited many tea estates in Darjeeling district, but Rungli Rungliot is one of the prettiest ones and most picturesque. It's about 2kms downhill from Takdah market area. The lush tea garden landscapes surrounded by mountains and Teesta flowing far below makes a stunning ambience.
There is a saying that a monk had apparently named this tea garden when he was searching for the best tea in Darjeeling district. In fact the name Rungli Rungliot actually means 'Thus far and no further'. The former Director's wooden Bungalow on a hill top has four luxury rooms with lovely views.
2) Further down from Rungli Rungliot you will reach the Gielle Bhanjyang Bazaar, also known as Gandhi Chowk. Once there used to be a statue of Mahatma Gandhi here, but no longer so. This is the border point of Jinglam Tea Estate and Gielle Tea Estate.
Approaching Gielle Bhanjyang Bazaar, Takdah Block
From Gielle Bhanjyang Bazaar crossing point, if you go downward you can reach Namring, Jinglam and Poomong tea estates. But why should you come to Gielle Bhanjyang? Because from here you can see many places in one go like Kalimpong Town, Durpin Dara, Mangpoo, Rambi Khola, Takdah, Ranju vally, 6th mile, Tiger Hill etc.
3) Takdah has a great Orchid Center spread across vast stretch of area. It's about half a kilometer from the market area towards 6th mile. Here you can see many different kinds of unusual and colorful Himalayan Orchids being cultivated and grown. Many tourists come to Takdah particularly to visit the Orchid Center.
Orchid Center, Takdah
The Orchid Center which was one of the best in Asia, was neglected for a long time. But now the state government has taken a fresh initiative to revive the center.
Himalayan Orchid - Takdah
4) There is a small monastery in Takdah whose actual name is Dechhen Pema Tshoiling Monastery, but locally known as Takdah Monastery. A steep uphill boulder road after the market area leads to a steep stairway. You will need to climb several flights of stairs to reach up to the Monastery. But once there, the views are awesome. From here you can get sweeping view of Rungli Rungliot Tea Gardens, Teesta Valley Tea Estate and Durpin Dara View Point, Kalimpong etc. I had taken the first picture of Rungli Runliot Tea Garden on this page from the monastery premises (near the entrance).
The monastery was built in 1985 and follows the Buddhist Nyingma sect. Lama Karma Gyaltchen was in charge and head monk of the monastery until 2007. While everything is nice about this monastery, the pet dog of the head lama can be a nuisance. The small dog is not yet used to the visitors and keeps barking incessantly.
Inside Takdah Monastery
4) Visit Tinchuley
, another lovely hamlet about 3kms away from Takdah and famous for its lovely views of Himalayan range including the snow peaks of Kanchenjunga and spectacular sunrise views.
5) Lamahatta Village
with its magnificent gardens and views of Kanchenjunga is about 12kms from Takdah (40 minutes).
6) Another nearby place is Mongpu
where you can visit the orchid nurseries, the famous museum of poet Rabindranath Tagore, and see the vast Cinchona plantations.
7) Visit the lovely orange orchards located in Bara and Chota Mangwa
(both about 12kms from Takdah). The small factories here produce fresh orange juice and you can buy a few bottles of them. Tastes delicious and absolutely fresh.
8) A great place to visit by car is Triveni
- the confluence of rivers Teesta & Rangeet.
9) Visit the Durpin Viewpoint located about 10kms from Takdah. You can get a spectacular view of Teesta river meandering through the mountain landscapes. You can also get lovely view of Kanchenjunga from here.
10) Peshoke Tea Garden Viewpoint is about 14kms away and offers wonderful view of the tea gardens on hill slopes.
11) As I mentioned earlier, several British bungalows and houses were built in Takdah in early 1900s (some 14 of them) during the British Raj days. I love to go around watching the amazing architectures of such houses, the lovely gardens they have and the aura around them. Some of the well known houses are The Club House (about a km away and is now abandoned), Rani Kotthi (now converted to a church), Forest Guest House, Sonpur House also known as Takdah Palace built in 1911 and located near the Club House (it's in ruins now), Old British Post Office etc. Some have been converted into schools like Green Shields Academy, Griffith High School etc.
Note that you won't find tea stalls anywhere in Takdah other than in the market. So while on local sightseeing tour, you may like to carry a flask full of tea.
12) You can take a nature walk through pine and cedar forests, or through villages. The thickly wooded coniferous forests here are maintained by the Forest Department. You can take a shorter trek path through the forest up to Lamahatta, enjoy the views of Kanchenjunga and return via Tinchuley. The entire trek takes about 4-5 hours.
13) Dokan Dara is a local haat (i.e. bazaar) that sets up weekly on Thursdays. If you visit Takdah on a Thursday, don't miss this out. You will see villagers coming from nearby places to pick up vegetables and other essentials. It's a great way to get a glimpse at the local life and culture.
How to reach Takdah
Takdah is about 60kms from NJP (the nearest railhead) as well as Bagdogra (the nearest airport). It takes about 2.5-3 hours to reach Takdah by car from NJP or Bagdogra. Siliguri, the nearest town is about 52kms from Takdah, Darjeeling is 28kms away (about 1.5 hours by car) and Kalimpong about 40kms (2 hours).
From Darjeeling, you need to come up to Jorebungalow and take a left to Peshoke road. At a place called 6th Mile take right towards Takdah, while the original road continues towards Teesta Bazaar (Note: here the places are named on their distances from Jorebungalow like 3rd mile, 6th mile, 9th mile etc). While coming from NJP or Bagdogra, you will need to take Sevoke road and then come via Teesta, Rambi etc.
You can get reserved taxis from NJP, Bagdogra, Siliguri and Darjeeling. There are also shared taxis/Jeeps available from Siliguri to Takdah. They leave from Sevoke Road, behind Vishal Cinema Hall or Ranjit Garage behind 9/10 Hotel Sevoke. Buses are available (in the afternoon) from Darjeeling to Takdah.
You can get transport fares from Darjeeling here
Best time to visit Takdah
October to March is the best time to visit Takdah and the nearby areas. This is the time the sky remains clear and you can enjoy the chill of the winter.
Where to stay in Takdah
Takdah is a developing tourism place and there aren't many hotels here. But luckily there is a great option. After all Takdah's history is firmly connected with the British colonial days and there can't be a better option than staying in a heritage bungalow which has been now converted into a guesthouse with modern amenities while retaining the original British architecture, sprawling lawns and the colonial aura.
One such colonial house and now a guesthouse is Saino - owned and run by the Moktan family. This used to be a bungalow of British officers and built in the year 1907. It has been nicely restored by the Moktan family. Rooms have been refurbished with standard yet modern amenities. This is a nice budget lodge.
Saino Heritage Guesthouse, Takdah
There are double and triple bedded rooms, which are large, airy and have beautiful views of sunrise through the windows. All rooms have attached western toilets with geysers and showers. The double bedded rooms have fireplaces which is an added boon during the winter time.
Amava Bhattacharya (February 2016)
Hello, I follow your site with avid interest and have planned many trips to the hills successfully thanks to the details provided there. I am planning to go to Takdah (Saino) and Darjeeling next week. I am a bit confused about whether I should ask Saino to send me a pick-up vehicle to NJP or should I opt for the pre-paid service at the station. I think the pre-paid service will be cheaper and we are only two people so we need a small car. What I want to ask you, is whether we will get cars to Takdah from the pre-paid counter or do they cater only to fixed locations like Darjeeling, Gangtok and so on. I would be much obliged if you could clear my doubts. Thanks.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) February 2016
The pre-paid counter won't likely have any fixed pre-paid fare for Takdah. However they often talk to the taxi drivers waiting outside and arrange for a taxi when it is not a regular destination. They will quote a fare to you. I have seen it happening several times in my case. Alternatively you can go out of the arrival area and talk to the drivers yourself, it might even be cheaper that way. But taking the taxi from the pre-paid counter would have a taxi tracking mechanism in place should anything go wrong.
Veronika Kuhrner (April 2015)
I just wanted to say a huge thank you to the author of this portal for suggesting Saino guesthouse in Takdah, where we have recently spent four delightful days! I am so grateful to this portal, without which we would possibly not have come across this wonderful town and guesthouse. After Takdah we visited Darjeeling and have to say that Takdah seems to us superior in every way if you are looking for unspoiled natural beauty and warm-hearted local people! Thanks again,