Dawaipani Homestay

Dawaipani, Bengal1200

A fascinating peek into rural life in the Darjeeling hills

'Most tourists head to Darjeeling in West Bengal to see Kangchenjunga, the world's third highest peak that dominates the Eastern Himalayas. But there are nooks, often unexplored which can be just as good, if not better'

If you are the type who loves to find a quaint tranquil place in the hills away from the commercial hubs, like to be immersed in nature's stunning offerings, understand life of the rural people in the mountains, take garden fresh organic food, and like to get engrossed with the activities where nature, people, animals and plantations all brought together in wonderful harmony, then 'Dawaipani Village' surely has a treasure to offer. Imagine sipping your morning cup of tea sitting in the sunlit front yard of a small wooden house at an altitude of 6,500 ft in a remote village of a few households in the middle of a thick Himalayan forest.This village is surrounded by thick pine trees and renowned tea estates like Lamahatta, Glenburn Tea and Tukdah.

Dawaipani Homestay

Way to Dawaipani

A three-and-a-half kilometre downhill hike or a rough cobbled stony ride from the nearest metaled road at teen-mile reaches you to Dawaipani - the village named after medicated water. True to it's word, of all you can feel when you come back from the place. Water here does have some special digestive quality. With the nearest town Darjeeling about an hour away this little hamlet has most of it's resources sourced from there. Set against the jaw-dropping gorgeous backdrop of the snow-covered Himalayas and surrounded by the phenomenal forests and streams this little village is a community knit together by strong cultural values that have made it a model of sustainable growth, without losing sight of the health and long-term preservation of their local environment. All of this is particularly important given the adjacent forests whose resident birds and wildlife such as rhesus monkeys, barking deer, red panda, and Himalayan flying squirrels know no borders.

Dawaipani Homestay

Khinanam Homestay

‘Khinanam Homestay’ on the little ridge overlooking the hamlet with the majestic Kangchenjunga range in front. You wake up to the sound of birds chirping to a tune of a new day, a sunrise right on the Kangchenjunga with the emerald lights of Darjeeling and Lebong hills fading into daylight on your left.

Dawaipani Homestay Dawaipani Homestay

Tholung Homestay

Dawaipani Homestay Dawaipani Homestay

Tariffs

Khinanam is offering three double bedroom with attached western toiles and Tholung is offering two triple and two double bedroom with attached toilets. The tariff is 1200 per person with food and stay.

So what can you do in such off beat stays?

Take a walk through the dense forest trails, or stroll through the village and understand the locals & village life more intimately, do some bird watching and even experience the wildlife around. You can enjoy to your heart's content some activities which are hard to find in our normal way of life. Can you imagine spending the afternoon sitting on a large rock and paddling on a natural mountain stream that flows underneath, or treading through a stream that flows by the side of a dense forest, or even camping and having bar-be-que by the side of a waterfall in exclusivity, and all this while being surrounded by majestic mountains and breathtaking valleys? In the evening come back to your cozy home and enjoy the ethnic cultural music & dance organized by the villagers around a bonfire as you have a glass of home made beer. Most amenities here are meant to blend with the settings and are enough even for luxury class travellers. But most won't provide in-room TVs and internet access to break the peace chain. You can combine your Darjeeling visit with one of such off beat places to soak in the nature and be in a state of tranquil bliss before returning to your routine life. It works as a great energizer for most.

Dawaipani Homestay

Community Tourism Initiative

Ever mindful of the difficulties involved in maintaining traditional ways of life and protecting nature, local farmers have also started harnessing the power of community-based tourism as an opportunity for additional income. The Himalayas and the people who inhabit them have long been powerful magnets to adventurous travellers, particular those interested in rural lifestyles and culture. Now homestays with locals like Mr. Rai has been set up, satisfying the desires of both mindful travellers and responsible hosts, the latter eager to share the unique character of their village and local environment. The concept aims to promote socially responsible and sustainable tourism, and specialises in off-the-beaten-path travel experiences. "This gives us an opportunity to share our world with people from far, it enhances economic growth too, Kabiraj explains - "This enables us to take up a sustainable income path along with farming our primary source."

The idea is to offer tourists some intimate insights into the challenges of daily life in this agricultural community. One important byproduct of visits is to see firsthand how tourism can make a positive difference, so hosts also encourage their guests to participate in community activities during their stay. For example, travelers with an interest in agriculture can lend a hand on the farm by harvesting organic produce and learning about 'Permaculture'. Others can enjoy cooking traditional dishes at home with the family, or teaching English at the village primary school. Still more options abound for those who wish to take in the scenery during Yoga classes, local hikes or down time among friendly faces. Traditional village homes and farms stays currently host travelers in Daiwaipani Village. All accommodations feature shared rooms for travelers with Western-style bathroom facilities. In all cases, there is direct involvement with locals interested in participating in the project and benefiting from it.

"I feel proud to be a homestay member letting travelers explore our village," says Mr. Rai a local promoter of homestays, while village resident Mr. Tamang quips "We have been hesitant in starting off with the homestay concept till Mr. Rai convinced us through multiple counseling sessions as to how this will benefit the entire community. The village will be featured in the tourist maps of the area." Although this idea of homestays is new to this rural area of India, with the kind of tourist options offered and the high enthusiasm of the people of such villages, it's only time until this becomes a notable destination for tranquil tourism interested in immersive and enriching experiences with local peoples in a stunning setting.

Review by Anupam Chanda
September-October 2013 INDIA & YOU

Dawaipani Homestay

How to reach?

If you travel from Siliguri/New Jalpaiguri Railway Station, you take Hill Cart Road (NH55), continue to Jorebungalow through Kurseong, Sonada. From Jorebungalow you turn right onto Peshok Rd/Alipuduar Rd/Rishi Rd (turn left will go to Darjeeling thorugh Ghoom) and go upto Sincona 3rd mile, from there Dawaipani is 10 mnts drive. Jorebungalow to Dawaipani 4 kms and NJP/Siliguri is 75 kms. The Peshok Rd is headed to Kalimpong through Tukdah, Teesta Bazar. So, another route is NH31A, onto Sevoke, Salugara, Teesta Bazar, Tukdah, will take almost the same time/distance.

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