Living in the clouds at Anutri Hill resort in Darjeeling
Are you even a Bengali, born and brought up right here in Bengal, if you haven’t been to Darjeeling? A question I have often been asked since I started understanding the geography of things! Many summer vacations were spent at my uncle’s place in Dooars amidst lush tea plantations, which also meant travelling to the neighbouring states and countries like Bhutan and Sikkim, which were (with a little exaggeration!) a stone’s throw away. However, the closest I had come to visiting the Queen of Hills was this one time when we drove down to a small little hill station near Darjeeling, called Mirik. Call it a cosmos conspiracy, my luck or the lack of it, that somehow Darjeeling never happened for me. Yes, I was that Bengali who wasn’t quite a ‘Bangali’ until a month back.
The subject of an email in my inbox read — ‘An invitation to visit Anutri Hill Resort’. A quick Google search later, I was already thinking about the multiple layers of clothing I would need to wear in order to beat the cold. The weather forecasted a minimum temperature of four degree Celsius. Yes! I was finally going to travel to the famed hill station on an invitation to visit the beautiful property of Anutri Hill Resort.
Located in Upper Batasia, about 25 minutes drive from Darjeeling city centre, the 28-room property that came up in 2017, offers a spectacular view of Mt. Kanchenjunga and Batasia Loop.
A quick, one-hour flight later, we reached Bagdogra airport. I was accompanied by the owner of the resort — Pranab Paul and his daughter Anushka. The journey from the airport to their resort was going to be a two-and-a-half-hour drive. We took the scenic Rohini route to Darjeeling, midway stopping by Margaret’s Deck for a freshly brewed cup of tea. An hour into the drive and I could already feel the mountain breeze. Fresh and crisp. Replenishing ourselves and layering up, we hit the road again. On reaching Jorebungalow, we took the road to Jalapahar Cantonment, towards Upper Batasia. By now the road had started getting more winding.
The impressive exterior of the Anutri Hill Resort with its green-hued sunshades sparkling in sunlight, stood out from a distance. I headed straight to my room to freshen up. For the kind of traveller that I am, the first thing I look forward to doing when I visit a new destination is head out and explore but I will be lying if I say that’s what I wanted to do this time around.
Wood and wooden accents dominate the decor elements of the 600sq ft Orchid Suite, which comes with a fireplace and has a certain warmth that makes you want to laze around. The most interesting part of the room is the winding, iron staircase that leads to a cosy attic with sloping roof. It gives you a feel of being inside a cabin… the kind where you would want to read a book, curled up in a cushy couch while sipping on some hot Darjeeling tea! I watched the sun setting from my room’s French window and wished that it lasted longer.
Due to the close proximity of the resort to the Mall road, Anushka and I decided to grab some hot chocolate and coffee at Glenary’s, before taking a walk till the Chowrasta and indulging in some shopping. We had an early dinner planned at the resort as we were going to have an early start the next day.
My alarm went off at 3.30am. With sleepy eyes and the excitement to witness the Kanchenjunga awashed with golden glow, I got dressed (read: wore all the warm clothes that I had packed for the trip!) and went downstairs to the parking space, to meet Anushka. If you haven’t guessed already, our destination was the quintessential Bengali dream of a sunrise, at Tiger Hill.
The resort’s convenient location lets you take tours to nearby tea estates or places like Batasia Loop, Ghoom Monastery, Tiger Hill and Mall road. A day’s car rent, which can be booked at the resort, will cost you Rs 500.
One of the best experiences that you can have at the resort is eating your breakfast at the patio, overlooking the majestic Kanchenjunga. If I spent my morning tucking in some eggs and sausages while watching the clouds occasionally playing hide-and-seek with the mountains, my elaborate lunch was served in-room, just the way I had wanted it. The evening, post my afternoon nap, was reserved for a bonfire in the garden area, followed by a scrumptious continental dinner at the restaurant inside the property.
Calling it a night, I retired to my room and asked for the fireplace to be lit. Soaking in the quietude in all its glory, I knew it was time to say goodbye to the warm hospitality, a cosy and comfortable room and most importantly, the stunning, stunning view that I knew I would crave for once I go back to the hustle and bustle of a city life.