Day 3 (C) ~ #BlogchatterA2Z challenge
All artwork is copyrighted by Lonely Canopy.
Winter 2017 ended with a perfect weekend stay at Cochrane Place, a boutique hotel in Kurseong. Arriving after backpacking through Bhutan, we were content to relax and enjoy the charms of Cochrane Place. Perched on the Pankhabari road, it overlooks the famous Makaibari organic tea estate.
This house has a long and interesting history – in the 1900s it was a Nunnery which was then bought by Percy John Cochrane, the magistrate and barrister of Kurseong town from 1866 – 1944. At that time it was called, rather romantically, “The Hermitage.” The Arora family bought the house in 2004 and renovated it into a charming heritage hotel steeped in tea and history.
We were greeted with refreshing Darjeeling tea and warm tea-steeped face towels. Our room had wooden furniture, lots of paintings, and a tiny balcony with a perfect view of Kanchenjunga. What more can one ask for?
The bungalow is lovingly restored and choc-a-block with colonial and local artefacts. There are all kinds of retro things here – a yellow Beetle perched atop ledge, paintings of local birds on wood panels that are hung in the lobby, a mock fire place, a rather large statue of a rooster, old chests, lampshades, wooden birds, Van Gogh paintings, famous sayings on the wall, lots of framed newspaper articles, antique telephones and gramophones, a small chest with books of course and oh so many more things. The first floor landing leads to a stunning collection of paintings by Hungarian modernist painter Hugo Scheiber. And, there’s that slightly-musty smell reminiscent of a very much lived in house.
It takes a while getting used to such a place so we spent about a day soaking in the sudden shift in scenery and atmosphere. The house has many little corners, a games room with billiard, carrom and table tennis; a tea shop; a vegetable garden; a spa, and a small library. The rooms are quite comfortable and spacious although a creepy element hangs in the air that adds a haunted touch to it all.
The heart of Cochrane Place is its kitchen. The restaurant, Pankhasari, is famous for a host of Anglo-Indian dishes. There’s a tiny tea-kettle shaped chai corner, Cafe- Chai Country, made famous by their resident tea-artist Laltu. He has a lot to offer, from tisanes, classics (first flush, oolongs) and some interesting experimental blends – my favourite being the one made from beetle nut leaves among other ingredients. When we were there, the restaurant was awash with Christmas feeling, the trees all decked up in Christmas colours and paraphernalia.
To work-off the heavy meals, walked to the town and explored some of the tourist points. At the center of the town, is the railway station, with artistic boards of DHR- Darjeeling Hill Railway, adorning the railway tracks which blend in with the ridiculously narrow city road.
We also visited Dow Hill, Victoria Boys School, Deer Park, Gidda Pahad view point. Picture perfect, Dow Hill is marked with dense Fir tree cover and the occasional Victorian Schools. Buttery-smooth winter sun filtered in and balanced the slight chill in the air.
A short walk from Cochrane Place, led us to a cemetery where after much exploration through ferns we located the grave of Percy John Cochrane. I sat here for quite a while, amongst the graves, and prayed for their souls. Kurseong, for me, will always be a mystical, warm, stay at a colonial Bungalow with many a story hidden in its floor boards.
Photographs by Lens Dynamic .