An Exploration of True Happiness – The Innovative Cultural Tour
Packages of Indo-Bhutan: North Bengal, India
Come close and go deep into local cultures and reach a true revelation of what precisely a culture seldom unveils now a days. This tour is a chance for you to study the world of ethno-medicinal plants among cultures where the rich heritage of traditional folk medicinal treatment, which is still practiced in the hills, will give you an unforgettable experience about the medicine men of Himalayan Tribes – Darjeeling Hills, Dooars and Sikkim
The tour will take you to remote destinations where the world still has preserved its cultures without any signs of syndrome linked to urbanization.
Days: 10 days
1st day: The glimpses through the window of a car:
After pick up from the nearest airport (Bagdogra), Railway station ( NJP or New Mal Junction), we will drive towards the remote village of Dalgaon, set
up by the oldest Cinchona Plantation of West Bengal that once served the only Anti- Malaria medicine- Quinine, to the world during wars.The lunch will be taken on the way to Dalgaon. Accommodation will be arranged at Mechilingma Home stay
, a beautiful wooden house decorated with colorful flowers, and providing a cozy abode for those who truly love to sit on the lap of nature. The evening can be spent appreciating the surrounding nature from selected view points and the village culture on a short walk to the village.
2nd day: Dalgaon: A village set up by one of the oldest Cinchona plantation of whole India.
The day will start with a short pre-breakfast trek towards the nearby forest to enjoy bird watching and make a good start to the day. After enjoying a hefty cultural breakfast, move to the fields of cinchona plantation and see the life on a cinchona plantation village. The work process on the plantation has remained unchanged and traditional for more than 120 years and ranges from hand weeding, digging, planting to manuring. We will then head back to the home stay for lunch before heading off to the Cinchona factory to explore the saga of hand processing, used to this day. You will be shown techniques that have been passed unchanged down generations for more than a century by local workers and supervisors and acquire some basic knowledge of processing and planting of different medicinal plants that serve many pharmaceutical companies around the world. As the day ends, we will head back to the homestay in company of the laborers and will call it a busy day after a delicious rejuvenating cultural dinner.
3rd day:Khumani: A visit to a local medicine man
After breakfast, we will drive to Khumani, and on the way, visit the River Jaldhaka, a territory between India and Bhutan. Khumani is a forest village where you will get the chance to visit the local hospital set up by a local medicine man. Knowledge has been passed on to him by his ancestors. He is especially known for his ability to identify the herbs that can cure all bone problems such as fractures and cramps. People from all the surrounding areas visit him and get treated without relying on any other medical therapies. A visit to the hospital will be the occasion to learn more about this initiative, the history of the place, and to watch the medicine man cure his patients with herbal treatment and chanting. The lunch will be arranged at a local villager’s house in Khumani. In the evening, we will make our way back to the homestay where you will be able to relax before dinner.
4th day: Samsing Visit: The Neora Valley National Park.
On the fourth day, after breakfast, we will drive from Dalgaon towards Samsing (a small village adjacent to Neora Valley national park) to meet a healer renown for curing sinusitis through energy and storytelling. The lunch will be prepared in a homestay at Samsing. After lunch, we will visit another healer who cures yellow fever (Jaundice) with herbal treatment. Accommodation will be provided at the Mechilingma Homestay.
5th day:Visit to Batabarie, to meet an Ojha (a Medicine Man of Muslim origin)
On the 5th day, we will visit Batabarie (a tea garden of the Jalpaiguri district plains) and meet a local Ojha, (a medicine man in a Muslim Community) who has been serving the needful patients with his own ritual techniques and curative powers that were gifted to him, free of any charge.
After the visit, we will return to Mechilingma Homestay to spend the night watching a local Bijua (a medicine man of Rai Community) perform a ritual ceremony to cast negative energies away from his patients. The ritual ceremony will involve music, chants, and the sacrifice of a rooster cock.
6th day:Lepchakha: “the heaven of Dooars” (Dooars means “Gateway to Bhutan”)
After breakfast, we will check out from Mechilingma Homestay and make a scenic 3 hour drive through the forests of Chapramari and Jaldhapara National Park towards Lepchakha, a remote village in the middle of the Buxa Tiger Reserve in North Bengal, running solely on solar energy. The place is often called “the heaven of Dooars”. The village is inhabited by the Dukhpa community from Bhutan, and sits on the India-Bhutan border. The village is not connected by road and will require the travelers a 2 hour walk (from the zero point at Santalabarie, a forest village on the way to Lepchakha) to reach Lepchakha. The trek through the jungle and via the abandoned Buxa fort (a remnant of British colonization)will be a truly resourceful time and will give you a good introduction to the area’s history and nature. You will have the option to have lunch at the Buxa Village before carrying on for the last leg of the trek to Lepchakha.
After reaching the homestay in Lepchakha, the evening can be spent enjoying the amazing playfulness of golden sunrays turning the dense green forest covered hills into gold from a beautiful hill top of the village. The day will end with a hefty Drukhpa Dinner.
7th day: Minchchu – A stone bath treatment practiced by the local medicine man of Lepchakha.
In the morning, after breakfast, a short trek will be organized to the nearby stream in the company ofthe local medicine man to observe the ancient therapeutic stone bath treatment called “Minchchu” in the local Dukhpa language. The people from surrounding villages come to the village to get treatment for diseases such as joint pains, neck pain, digestion problems, chest pain and even some skin diseases. Lunch will consist of a picnic in the forest. In the evening, a Dukhpa dinner can be arranged at the homestay in Lepchakha.
8th day:Darjeeling: The Queen of Hills
Checkout from Lepchakha and trek down to Buxa. We will then drive towards Darjeeling to visit the Darjeeling Heritage Railway and explore the
legendary beauty of the Queen of Hills. The drive will take around 5 hours and on the way you will enjoy some magnificent views of Teesta River flowing through Sikkim towards West Bengal. After reaching Darjeeling, the evening can be spent sightseeing at Chowrasta, at the nightingale park and around the busy streets of Darjeeling and their mouthwatering smells of momos and thukpas. The holy smoke of sang coming out of the monasteries will certainly enchant your soul as well. The accommodation will be arranged one of the oldest edifices of Darjeeling: the Swiss Hotel Darjeeling.
9th day: Explore Darjeeling
Wake up early (before 5am) and head to Tiger hill (the highest point of Darjeeling town at 7200m of altitude) to watch the beautiful sunrise.Return
to the hotel for breakfast and then visit the botanical garden and the only zoological park that rear Red Panda (the first panda discovered in the world) in captivity. The zoo has some of the most amazing and little-seen animals like the snow leopard, the clouded leopard, the Tibetan wolf, and pheasant birds. Lunch will be arranged at the market for fresh momos and thukpa. The evening will be spent at the hotel to enjoy music and dance in a peaceful environment.