About this blog: Our search for offbeat destinations took us to Mim Tea Garden this time. Located near Darjeeling, this place has the mountains, forests, tea gardens, rivers and views of Kanchenjunga, all in one place. It is something that is rarely found. We stayed at Little Forest Homestay, another exceptional property in the hills – beautiful and within budget. Read this blog to know about Mim Tea Estate and our experience at Little Forest Homestay.
North Bengal is undoubtedly one of our favourite places to visit, especially during the weekends. It is one of the few places where we get our beloved mountains, forests, rivers, tea gardens, lovely homestays and the grand views of Kanchenjunga ranges. It is, infact, a perfect concoction of a relaxing weekend destination. While it is not easy to get all of the aforementioned delights at the same place, recently we visited an offbeat destination near Darjeeling which has all these in one single place. This beautiful place that we have clearly fallen in love with is Mim Tea Estate. The village is known as Mim Busty and we spent our weekend at a beautiful homestay named Little Forest Homestay.
It was again a time for a short break from work when we travel around an extended weekend to simply get out of the stressful city life. For us, North Bengal and Sikkim had always been our go-to places in such times. These places have so many small and beautiful villages that can serve as perfect weekend getaways from Kolkata. And while travelling to these places, we have discovered so many offbeat destinations. So, in this blog, we are going to tell you about Mim Tea Estate – one such offbeat weekend getaway near Darjeeling that you can visit with your family and friends.
Mim Tea Garden – A Visual Journey
Where is Mim Tea Estate or Mim Tea Garden Located?
Mim Tea Garden (Mim Tea Estate) or Mim Busty is located about 20 km from Darjeeling town in between Sukhiapokhri and Lepchajagat. If you are coming from Darjeeling, then after a couple of kilometers ahead of Lepchajagat, there is a signboard showing Mim Tea Estate towards the right. You have to take the road towards the right and drive downhill till you reach the village known as Mim Busty.
Little Forest Homestay is about 5 to 6 km from Lepchajagat.
Our Journey to Little Forest Homestay at Mim Tea Garden
We were already in Darjeeling before we visited Mim Tea Gardens. We took a shared jeep from Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling towards Sukhiapokhri. Our homestay owner would send a car for us at Sukhiapokhri to take us to our stay – Little Forest Homestay.
Sukhiapokhri is located about 19 km from Darjeeling. It took us a little over an hour to reach Sukhiapokhri from Darjeeling Sumo Stand. We got down at Sukhiapokhri market and while waiting for our car to arrive, we looked around the place. Sukhiapokhri market is always an interesting place with so many shops and so many people around.
Soon our ride arrived and we started towards our destination. We reached the sign board of Mim Tea Estate and took the winding mountain roads. To be honest, the roads were in quite bad condition and we understood that navigating these roads during the rains will be quite a task. But like all other mountain roads, the scenery was beautiful. The roads were covered by a huge canopy. After some time, we finally reached Mim Busty, the small Himalayan hamlet.
Little Forest Homestay was located amidst the hills and forest a little away from the village. So, we took the narrow and hilly road towards the homestay. The roads were through a lot of greenery and after a small uphill climb we came in front of a very beautiful looking property located amidst the forest. We had arrived at Little Forest Homestay!
Little Forest Homestay – The Best Place to Stay at Mim Tea Gardens
The first thing that came to my mind looking at the homestay was that it was gorgeous! Located within the forests and greenery, the place looked so peaceful. There is a small garden in front having beautiful flowering plants.
Little Forest Homestay is surrounded by tall pine trees. There is a farming land just beyond the homestay area. We could see only green and green in whichever direction we looked. The place is so soothing to the senses. And far beyond the horizon, we could see a glimpse of the snow covered ranges. It was a cloudy day and so the snowy ranges could not be seen. I secretly prayed for a sunny weather on the next day!
As soon as we reached the homestay, Norbu welcomed us. Norbu is the caretaker of this place, a jovial and enterprising young man. The has 3 separate cottages and 5 rooms in the main building. The dining hall is also located in the main building. There are 2 family rooms in the main building and 2 deluxe rooms. We had booked our stay in one of the cottages.
The cottages were built at a higher elevation. We took the stairs to reach our cottage. Our cottage was quaint and cozy. And the best part was that we could view the Kanchenjunga ranges from the balcony of our cottage as well as from the room. What else could we ask for?
If the skies are clear, you can see Tonglu, Sikkim hills and Manebhanjan from the terrace of Little Forest Homestay.
Mim Tea Gardens
Mim Tea Gardens was established in the mid to late 1800s. Spread over an area of about 390 hectares, this is the only tea estate in Darjeeling that is own by the government of India and is managed under the Andrew Yule Tea Company.
The locals say that the name ‘Mim’ actually originated from ‘Mem’, a colloquial reference to a British Lady. They believe that the tea gardens were owned by a British lady and the locals referred to her as “Memsahib” meaning “Lady”. The tea gardens came to be known as “Mem ko kaman” meaning “garden of the lady”. From “mem”, the word “mim” originated and today the gardens are known as Mim Tea Gardens.
While we heard these stories from the locals, we did not get any factual reference to these claims.
What to do at Mim?
As I mentioned before, Mim is such a destination where you get most of the beauties of North Bengal in one single place. There are the majestic views of the Kanchenjunga ranges, there are the tea gardens (though the tea gardens are a bit away from Little Forest Homestay), forests and even a mountain river nearby. It is a complete package.
To be completely honest, Mim Tea Gardens is a place where you simply relax and enjoy nature. And Little Forest Homestay is the perfect place for it. You can simply roam around the gardens. There is a small gazebo-like structure where you can sit and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding forests and mountains.
There is a watchtower located high up where you can climb and watch the beautiful sunrise on the Kanchenjunga ranges. Or you can simply spend some time there.
The Mim Tea Estate is located about a kilometer from Little Forest Homestay. You can walk down the roads to visit the tea estate and the tea gardens. You can also visit the tea factory and watch tea production if the factory is open.
Another place to visit is the river side which is located about an hour from the homestay. To visit the river side, you have to hire a car. The car will take you through the tea gardens and the forest roads to finally reach the river. It is a beautiful mountain river surrounded by forests. You can sit by the river and even take a bath if you want. However, be careful of the strong currents.
Apart from enjoying Mim Busty and Mim Tea Gardens, you can also visit Lepchajagat and Sukhiapokhri. Infact, we would recommend you visit the pine forest of Lepchajagat, if you haven’t yet visited the place.
Our experience at Little Forest Homestay
We were glad that we found this place and spent 2 wonderful days there. The day we arrived, we decided to do nothing. We simply sat at the balcony looking at the mountains and talked with each other. Nature seems to have this ability to make us forget our worries. We explored the gardens, went up to the watchtower and had a lovely conversation with Norbu.
The next day was bright and sunny and the Kanchenjunga looked lovely from the homestay. Infact, the moment I awoke I removed the curtains to get a view of the majestic mountains. No matter how many times we have seen it, from wherever we had seen it, Kanchenjunga always remains pristine and beautiful to us.
Later, Norbu arranged a car for us and we went to explore the riverside. On our way back, we stopped at the tea gardens and the tea factory. Unfortunately, the tea factory was closed that day and we could only admire it from outside.
After lunch, we went to visit Lepchajagat pine forest. Lepchajagat pine forest is another place that can never lose its charm. The clouds, mist and drizzle make the place utterly romantic!
It was 2 perfect days spent at Mim where we got all the ingredients to rejuvenate us so that we were ready to face the concrete jungle again!
How to reach Mim Tea Garden?
The nearest Railway station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) and if you are flying in then you have to reach Bagdogra.
You can hire a car from NJP, Bagdogra or Siliguri to Little Forest Homestay or Mim Busty. A small car will charge you about INR 4000 – 4500.
How to reach Mim by shared vehicle?
If you are on budget, then you can take a shared jeep from either NJP or Siliguri Junction towards Darjeeling. A shared jeep will cost you Rs 400 per seat. Buses are also available from Siliguri towards Darjeeling. To reach Mim, you have to get down at Ghoom.
From Ghoom, it is better to rent a car to your homestay at Mim.
If you are coming from Darjeeling, take a shared jeep to Sukhiapokhri and from there hire a car to your homestay. We took a car from Sukhiapokhri to Little Forest Homestay and it cost us Rs 800.
You will also get shared jeeps to Sukhiapokhri from Siliguri, but they are few in number and run at a fixed time.
Homestays at Mim Tea Garden
We had stayed at Little Forest Homestay at Mim Tea Garden and found it a delightful place. The property is beautiful, the location wonderful and the food was also great. The only downside was that the tea gardens were a little far away from the homestay. But considering the room rates and beautiful surroundings, it was a wonderful stay.
The rate for our stay in the cottage was Rs 1700 per day per person. And the room rates in the main building was Rs 1600 per day per head. You can contact Norbu (+91 7865822591) for booking.
There are other homestays also at Mim Busty. Takto Homestay is located a little downhill near the tea gardens.
Mim Heritage Homestay is another place to stay at Mim. This is located right near the tea gardens. The property was the tea manager’s bungalow and has now been converted to a heritage stay.
A Few More Photographs of Mim
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