Another guest here brings up an Enid Blyton children's story to describe his experience staying at Darang Tea Estate. That's an apt comparison. When you arrive, you see this huge, rustic tea estate with greenery as far as the eye can see; the backdrop has the snowy Dhauladhar mountain range and the air is truly fragrant.
Naveen and Neeru, the hosts at this homestay, welcomed us in when we arrived and so did their 3 friendly dogs -- a little pug and two Labradors. As you walk up the path to your cottage, you notice a great attention to detail everywhere. There's no place that doesn't have some sort of charming of rustic artifact, some beautiful exotic flowering plant or something else of interest (a tree house with a slide, a hammock, etc.). Clearly, a great deal of love and good design sense have gone into the creation of this place.
The cottage itself is too cute. With pink rose plants hanging from the roof and little potted plants lining the windowsills, the cottage is right out of a painting and exactly the kind of place I always wanted to stay in. When you open the window, you have all kinds of flowering plants right outside, too.
While the accommodations are simple in keeping with the rustic theme of the place, they are extremely clean and well thought out. I tried hard to see if there was any sign of dirt -- there was none. The beds are very comfortable and the doors and windows shut snugly to keep the cold out.There is a little dressing room and the clean little bathroom has hot water.
There are hundreds of delightful trees, bushes and flowering plants to explore all around the estate (apparently we visited in the flowering season in April). We had a delightful time just taking in the beauty of it all.It feels so much more authentic than anything you get to see in a park -- none of the plants here seem cultivated -- they are just natural. What makes it all special, though, is the palpable friendliness. Not only are the hosts unbelievably kind and friendly, even the workers all over the place are nice. When we walked around the tea gardens, even the tea pickers smiled and explained tea-picking to us.
The hosts, Naveen and Neera, are the kind of wholesome characters that you read about in children's books. They are obviously highly skilled in the way they run their huge estate. Yet, they are always there to take care of anything at all that you want. We knew about home-cooked food and organic food; the food served here, though, is home-grown, as well. For instance, the rotis are made of wheat from their own estate, grown, ground and cooked right there. You can tell by the taste that it's special.
Mealtimes are wonderful -- Neera and their cook painstakingly make elaborate meals with multiple dishes and dessert, all of them perfect, pure and delicious. At breakfast, for instance, you have papaya, tea or coffee, toast with 3 homemade jams and homemade honey, butter and cream, dalia and milk. Lunch has roti, 3 kinds of side dish (crispy okra, potato and chickpeas one day), basmati and a wonderful dessert made of cream, homegrown litchi and strawberry. It's all set in their cute dining room. While breakfast is included in the price of the cottage (Rs.4200 per night) the other meals are perfectly priced at Rs.350 per person. After tasting the food here, my family refused to eat anywhere else.
Anytime we needed something, the hosts are always there -- they gave us the wheelchair that the host's mother used because my mother needed it to visit the tea gardens, for instance. They are with you every mealtime and have nice stories to tell. At one point Naveen made my mother little sandwiches with different combinations of honey, jam and cream.
All said, this place made my holiday.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Darang Tea Estate is a family owned Estate which is over 150 years old and one of the first plantations to be planted by an Indian. A self-contained estate in the beautiful pristine hills of Himachal Pradesh. It consists of cottages framed by 70 acres of estate-owned land. The Estate is just 45 minutes drive from Mcleodgang and 20 minutes fromPalampur. The cottages have a direct view of the snow covered himalayas. Our homestay is featured in on Conde Nast Traveller :-) ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Darang Tea Estate Kangra, India - Himachal Pradesh