Chhota Mangwa or Chhota Mangmaya (as many locals call it) is a small village tucked away in the hills of North Bengal. To be more precise, it falls in Darjeeling district and is still unknown to many tourists, even to many people of West Bengal itself. When Darjeeling has started losing it's charm over the years due to increasing number of tourists, this little hamlet just 35 kilometres away from Darjeeling provides a great atmosphere to detox away from the maddening crowd. Apart from the pleasant weather, the ethereal views and the breathtaking sunrise, Chhota Mangwa is also a great destination to see orange orchards full of ripe oranges and this is exactly the reason why I wanted to visit this place so badly. We (Me and my husband) planned our trip in December and booked a cottage at Darjeeling Blossom Eco Tourism Complex for one night and 2 days. This resort is a private property perched on a hilltop and provides great opportunities to enjoy nature very closely secluded from the rest of the village.
When we were already questioning our decision of coming to Chhota Mangwa due to the tough journey on the rugged road, our driver stopped the vehicle in front of one of the houses in Bara Mangwa. Bara Mangwa is a village on the way to Chhota Mangwa if one chooses to take the path uphill from Teesta Bazar. When we asked the driver why he stopped the vehicle he told that he wanted to show us the Orange Orchard at the backside of the house. We were given free access to explore the orchard and the first view of the orchard left us jumping with joy as there were big juicy oranges all around us. The orchard was really really huge and we could see orange trees laden with umpteen oranges till the point our eyes could see. There were many oranges that had fallen on the ground and we were really surprised to see no one was bothered to pick them up. While coming back our driver picked two oranges and gave us to taste and believe me it was one of the tastiest oranges I ever ate. He even told us that the Orange Orchards of Bara Mangwa are more beautiful than the ones at Chhota Mangwa as the oranges are bigger in size whereas the oranges at Chhota Mangwa are smaller in size due to higher altitude.
We reached Chhota Mangwa at around 2 pm and had a small trek to reach the resort whereas our vehicle had to take the normal route. The resort looked beautiful with amazing views of the mountains at both sides. It felt as if we were higher than the rest of the world and the cool breeze added to the celestial feeling. After having a delicious home cooked lunch prepared from farm grown vegetables, we went to explore the surrounding area of the resort. We visited an orange orchard, saw tree tomatoes for the first time and lots and lots of Squash grown everywhere. On the way back to the resort we met an old lady who was carrying a big basket of grass on her shoulders and still had a smile on her face. I was quite amazed seeing her as we keep complaining of work at this young age very often whereas this was a lady mostly in her eighties working so hard yet looking so happy and content. We requested to have a photograph with her and she happily agreed. when we showed her the pictures in the camera she got ecstatic like a child clapping and smiling. The only words we could understand from whatever she said was "first class". This reminded us that still there is simplicity and innocence left in the people of these hills that is long lost in the people of the cities. We came back to the resort as it was already evening and sun had gone down quite early. Cold had also grown stronger and the weather demanded 2 cups of hot coffee. As night fell, the hills at both sides of the complex started glowing with the lights of the houses creating an impression of a starlit sky and we stood in the balcony for long time enjoying the serenity. There were no other guests in the complex on the day we checked in and it proved to be a good opportunity for us to enjoy the place at its best as there was no noise except the sound of crickets and the whispering wind. This reminded me of one of my uncles who had once told that there is nothing better than nature to see and nothing better than music to hear and that seemed so true to me sitting in this beautiful place away from the hustle and bustle of the city life.
I woke up to the chirping of birds at 6:30 in the morning and after many failed attempts to wake my husband, I surrendered and came out of the cottage to have a look at the surrounding. I went to the other side of our cottage that offered a view of the Kalimpong hills and the vista there was an absolute surprise. There were clouds down in the valley surrounded by mountains and shining with the rising sun's rays. The place looked like heaven and I felt myself lucky to have witnessed such a rare scenery. The weather was getting clear slowly after a few hazy days and we had a good view of Kanchenjunga even though not very lucid. After breakfast we left to explore the other side of the resort and luckily found a place that offered wonderful views of the valley along with Teesta river. We wanted to visit the 100 years old Phunchok Choling Monastery in the near by Takling village. But unfortunately we lost track on the way and had to come back to the resort disappointed. The passing time reminded us it was time to leave and we left the place with content hearts and beautiful memories. For the return journey we took the road via Tinchuley and the road was in much better condition except the first one or two kilometres which was a little bumpy. Even the road was very scenic as we passed through pine forests and the beautiful Peshok Tea Estate. We had a stop at the tea estate to click a few pics and then at Lovers meet view point to see the confluence of Teesta and Rangit river. As we moved closer to NJP station, the dusty roads, the sound of vehicles and the crowd reminded me of the cruel truth that the peaceful good days were over and it was time to come back to the busy city life. But when I looked at the pictures captured in the last 2 days, they brought back the happiness by taking me to that beautiful world again and I promised to come back to mother nature whenever I felt suffocated in the mundane city life.
When to Go:
Chhota Mangwa can be visited all through the year because of it's cool weather. But if you are too keen on seeing the orange orchards full with ripe oranges, then November to December is the best time, mostly late November to late December. Another thing to keep in mind is the harvest time of oranges which is end of December at Bara Mangwa and late January at Chhota Mangwa.
How to Go:
Nearest Railway Station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) from where one could take a bus or any other vehicle on shared basis till Teesta Bazar. From Teesta bazar one has to reserve a vehicle till Bara/Chhota Mangwa as the shared vehicles are the local service jeeps and it is really difficult to catch them due to strict timings. Otherwise, one could reserve a vehicle directly from NJP to Bara/Chhota Mangwa.
Where to Stay:
Both Bara Mangwa and Chhota Mangwa are beautiful villages and you may stay at any one of these two places. But if you are interested in spending your time in the beautiful Orange Orchards, then stay at Bara Mangwa and if you love isolation and better views, then stay at Chhota Mangwa. There are many decent stay options at Bara Mangwa, including Bara Mangwa Farm House and Darjeeling Blossom Eco Tourism Complex. Also, when we visited Bara Mangwa last year, there was a resort under construction with an Orange Orchard at its backside and the owner had informed us that it would be ready by this year.
In Chhota Mangwa, Darjeeling Blossom Eco Tourism Complex is a good option and it has cottages and log huts starting from Rs. 1250.