Kaleege House is a farmstay, overlooking the rolling tea gardens of the Rangli Rangliot belt, in Takdah Cantt, strategically located midway between the towns of Darjeeling and Kalimpong. Kaa-lee-j is our resident Himalayan Pheasant and you often spot them in pairs or with their brood. While the males have a glossy bluish-black plumage with greyish silver chests, the females are largely brown. Both have distinct bright red-to-scarlet wattles around the eyes. Male brawls can be noisy.
If you are looking for an immersive break from the city yet want a luxury escape in the wilderness, then this Farm is what you are looking for. Our bedrooms with access to a lounge, a self-catering pantry (should you want one), are fully kitted out to make your stay much more than a holiday.
Watercolour by Gumi Malhotra
Takdah—the “Land of Fog” in the ethnic Lepcha language—was a British era cantonment and a recuperating centre for them to escape the heat and the grime of the plains. Bungalows, barracks and a clubhouse stand testimony to that period of the early 1900s. Some 25 kms from Darjeeling town, Takdah Cantt sits at an altitude of around 5000 feet—not far from the bustle but still isolated, not too high to make it difficult to brave the extreme cold of the winters! On clear nights, the celestial lights mingle freely with the man-made variety. Especially on no-moon nights, the sky is awash with stars.
Takdah Cantt takes pride for housing one of Asia’s oldest orchid centres. It also boasts of the Chagpori Tibetan Medical Institute where students from around the country, and abroad, come to learn indigenous medicine. Kaleege House shares its north-west boundary with the institute, which provides treatment for a variety of ailments, and general well-being.
Here, you’re never far away from tea gardens. With a view of the Rangli Rangliot tea garden, there’s also the impeccably kept Teesta Valley and Gielle plantations, apart from Jinglam and Namring.
ACCOMODATION & AMENITIES
1 en suite spacious bedroom with a large gallery window and dormy (roof) window that bathe the room with natural light. It has a Queen-sized bed and opens out to a porch overlooking the stepped-farm and the tea-covered hills beyond, comfortable chairs for lounging, and access to the drawing and dining areas and the sit-outs in the main house. Guests are most welcome to use the kitchen as well.
Sleeps up to 2 adults.
Amenities include an electric blanket that really amps the cozy factor on cold nights, quality bed and bath linen, and toiletries.
The 2-bedroom elevated cottage is towards the northern parts of the Farm. Perched like a treehouse, it overlooks the treetops, the valley beyond, the silhouette of the bluish-purple Mungpoo and Kalimpong hills, right down to the plains of Jalpaiguri. The large glass panes along the front and the slit windows running along the length of the rear, give you a 360-degree view of the greenery. That view extends to the bathrooms and the shower area.
You can bathe in leafy bliss.
The en suite bedrooms, with large bay windows, have alcoves with shelves for bags and personal belongings. Each bedroom has a Queen-sized bed. Comfortable cane chairs allow you to enjoy the indoors, and beyond. The bedrooms open out to the lounge with a wood-burning stove, dining area and an open kitchen.
The cottage comes with an option of a self-catering pantry.
Each bedroom sleeps up to 2 adults.
Amenities include electric blankets, quality bed and bath linen, and toiletries.
CHECK-IN & CHECK-OUT TIMES
Check-in: 1 p.m.
Check-out: 11 a.m.
The city closest to Kaleege House is the commercial hub of Siliguri. In fact, it’s the gateway to the country’s Northeast, as well as Bhutan. Whether you travel by air or train, you will pass through the city, but leave behind its ‘ills’ very quickly as you climb the green Himalayas. For Takdah Cantt, the drive will take you to National Highway 10 connecting Siliguri’s southern end, the north end being Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. As you pass the Sevoke Forests, you head to the Coronation Bridge (built to commemorate King George VI’s coronation) with the Teesta River coursing below. At a place called 27th Mile, you start the steep drive towards Takdah. The 45-minute ride from there will take you through the tea gardens till you reach the Takdah Orchid Center. Another 10 minutes and you’ll be at Kaleege House.
Airport: The Bagdogra International Airport (IXB) is roughly 75 kms (3 hours’ drive). There are multiple daily flights from Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, etc.
Railway Station: The New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Station is roughly 70 kms (3 hours’ drive).
Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Siliguri towns: Darjeeling and Kalimpong are equidistant from the Farm, an hour’s drive. Siliguri is 2 hours away.
The Farm can organise pick-ups/drops or vehicles for sightseeing.
* Some of the experiences are chargeable and availability may be dependent on the season.
Wake up to birdsongs; enjoy a hearty breakfast; then a walkabout around the Farm and build up an appetite for a farm-fresh lunch; indulge in a siesta; wake up for tea, then read, listen to music; come sundown help yourself to a snifter; sup at leisure before calling it a day.
The Farm extends into the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary on the north, which means frequent sighting of deer. Day trails to the forest are a must, especially to Jor Pokhari (lake) and areas that offer expansive views of the Kanchenjunga range. From Jor Pokhari, you can walk down to Lamahatta. You would perhaps like a picnic hamper to go.
You are welcome to join the farm hands and be one with nature. Dig/turn the soil, de-weed, plant new, or water the old. Originally a black cardamom plantation, we also grow ginger, turmeric and dalle chilli. There’s nothing as therapeutic as the feel of the earth on your hands.
The confluence of the Teesta and Rangeet rivers, about an hour’s drive away, is a popular fishing and picnic spot. If you’re up to it, the cold blue waters of the Rangeet offer swimming options. That dip will surely perk you up.
Check out our Gallery! If you’re looking for some Insta-worthy shots or want to pursue serious photography or video shoots, you’ll find some modish backdrops.
Visit to Tiger Hill
One of most visited sites in Darjeeling is Tiger Hill. On clear mornings, vehicles ferrying tourists make a beeline to see the first rays of the sun fall on Mt. Kanchenjunga and Mt. Everest from the observatory located at an altitude of 2590 metres, the highest point in the vicinity of Darjeeling town. It is little over 20 kms from Kaleege House and in fact, again on a clear day, you can spot the observatory from the farm. Given the traffic and the steady flow of tourists, tour guides will rightfully ask you to leave as early as 3.30 am to get to the observatory deck. Alternative is to watch the sunrise from the meadow below. You can also visit the hill later in the day and take a walk around.
Tea Garden Outing
The Farm overlooks Rangli-Rangilot, Teesta Valley and Gielle tea gardens. The gardens are within easy drivable distance. The Teesta Valley and Gielle gardens are among the best-maintained tea plantations in Darjeeling.
The Farm has a golf net which you could use to practice/ fine-tune your swing. There is also an indoor putting mat.
Sometimes it takes a pandemic to open opportunities of combining work with a vacation, or just being able to work in a place far from the urban jungles. However, some of the best places to work (particularly the mountains) don’t have the best network connectivity. At Kaleege House, we cannot promise you 24*7 high speed Internet but then not all jobs require you to “connect”! So if you’re a writer/author, coach, researcher, ornithologist, photographer, an artist, this might be the place for you. You can also hold small but exclusive workshops.
Add some local dishes to your repertoire with fresh produce. Must try is the fiery alu dum (a semi-dry potato snack and a favourite among locals), scrumptious and juicy momos that have been a part of the menu forever, selroti or the Nepali bread that’s a must on every festive occasion, Gorkhay achar or salad using cucumber, potatoes, carrots with a yogurt dressing, and smoked sekwa or meat grilled over fire.
There’s nothing that tastes better than freshly harvested vegetables. For that matter, even if it’s just a bunch of coriander leaves. We have a kitchen garden that gives us something fresh every day. Feel like a snack in the late hours or want something sweet mid-morning or a cup of piping hot chocolate…the pantry is well-stocked. You can help yourself or ask for assistance, depending on the time of the day.
The main house and the cottage have centrally placed wood-burning stoves. Once fired up, the living spaces get snug. Grab a book and sit close to the fire with a mug of hot tea or something stronger.
WEATHER & WHAT TO PACK
To ensure your comfort, you may want to tailor your clothing choices.
At the Farm, we recommend comfortable walking shoes, track shoes, hiking boots for walks. Caution: Footwear with heels can be a handicap.
November to February:
Warm jackets, caps, mufflers or stoles, thermal wear is recommended. While the days— especially when it is clear blue—are sunny, there is a sudden dip as the sun calls it a day.
June to September:
This is when the sluice gates open so we recommend weather-proof jacket and shoes/ gumboots. A light sweater/ fleece/jacket is necessary for cooler morning and evening temperatures. Dry fit clothing will give you a leg up. The Farm will provide umbrellas.
Guests are recommended to bring sufficient supply of personal prescription medicines, though we must reiterate here that Takdah Cantt was a "health spa" for the British when they held the reigns of power.
First-aid kit and sun blocks will be provided as and when required.