Head to this farm stay on the outskirts of Kalimpong to get a taste of rural Himalaya
People like to draw different things from travelling—some prefer the liveliness of a city while others would rather enjoy some quiet time in an idyllic countryside, away from all things touristy. If the latter is what you have in your mind then you might want to pay PaliGhar a visit.
Surrounded by picturesque terraced hillsides and paddy farms, this lovely little farm stay is located in a village overlooking the Relli river valley on the outskirts of Kalimpong town in the Himalayas. It was started by a family who has been calling Kalimpong home for the last six generations. With a strong belief in preserving and promoting Nepali heritage, they offer guests a rare opportunity of experiencing local culture in the Darjeeling hills first-hand.
It has two cottages that have been designed taking inspiration from the traditional Himalayan style of architecture with all the basic amenities you could expect in an area like this. Don’t expect an a la carte menu here. The in-house kitchen sources all their ingredients from their own farm and everything prepared is authentic Nepali except breakfast. In fact feel free to help pick seasonal vegetables and fruits from the garden or collect eggs from the poultry. You could also join the team in the kitchen and learn Nepali cooking with them while they prepare a meal. Apart from helping around the farm you can go for a walk to the village and learn more about rural life in the hills by interacting with local communities.
Falling in the Eastern Himalayas, Kalimpong is a classified ecological hotspot with a rich diversity of avi-fauna and butterfly species—a paradise for birdwatchers as well as entomologists and botanists. There are a number of walks around the farm including one that takes you to Relli River, a tiny river that originates from the nearby Lava forest. It is a great place for a little picnic and some fishing.
A normal day at the farm begins with preparing a meal for cows followed by milking them. Post breakfast, you can take a walk around the farm and learn more about terrace farming from the farmers themselves. And if you happen to visit during the plantation season in July and the harvest season in November, you might as well get your hands dirty helping farmers in the fields.
While you’re in the area, do pay a visit to botanical artist Hemlata Pradhan’s art institute where she trains local children. She won the Royal Horticultural Society’s gold medal in 2000 for her paintings of India’s Jewel Orchids and her illustrations will leave you with more insight into the area’s rich flora.