A sleepy town, surrounded by majestic mountain peaks, emerald meadows, lovely orchards, picturesque lake and a quant monastery… No, it is not a sliver of Switzerland but Mirik in Bengal. Ok, the quintessential churches in Switzerland swapped by a monastery were a slight giveaway! There is a motel in Mirik nestled atop a hill called ‘Swiss cottage’ and a singular church though.

Mirik is a hill station in Darjeeling district of Bengal. Natural beauty and splendour is characteristic of this tourist destination. With an elevation of 4,905 feet, Mirik enjoys a very pleasant climate year-round. It is very accessible being 49 kilometres away from Darjeeling, a pleasant two and a half hours ride away.

Photo credits:Kanchanjunga:Flickr                                                                Photo credits:Boating:Tfrekearth

The lake called Sumendu Lake is the heartbeat of Mirik. The lake is bordered by a garden on one side and a cluster of pine trees on the other end, interlinked by a curving footbridge called Indreni Pool. A winding road around the lake is used for walks. The fresh air coupled with the majestic beauty of the Kanchanjanga range makes the walk a memorable one. Boating on the lake and horse rides are available for the more adventurous souls. On the other hand, the culinary attraction in form of dotted eateries is available on the right side of the lake. `Chatpati’ is one of the popular local snacks here. It is a combination of hardened ‘bhutta’ or corn added with onions, chilly, salt and other spices.

Photo credits:Bokar Monastery:Paradise Tripping                                        Photo credits:Orange Orchanrds:CitiesTips.com

The monastery known as the Bokar monastery is situated at the highest point of Mirik. It is a serene uphill walk of under an hour from the lake, but the options of local taxis are available. The monastery is well designed and well-maintained. It houses `Lamas’, of all ages. The place evokes a very spiritual and calmative presence. Last but not the least, is the view from the monastery. Often used and sometimes out of context the term ‘breath-taking’ is the only way to describe it!

The orange orchards with their beautiful smells and sights are a must-visit in Mirik. In full bloom, the vision resembles the look of a thousand fireflies in daylight!

Tourist attractions are plenty in Mirik. There is ‘Rai Dhap’ where picnics can be had or to enjoy the views one could go to Rameetay Dara which is surrounded by mountains and planes. An interesting name ‘tingling-point’ is there to view the tea gardens.

Trekking and bird watching (sub Himalayan birds) are very popular in Mirik. Ecotourism is encouraged in Bunkulung and homestay is also available albeit a tad stark.

Photo credits:Sournee tea Estate:Bookings.com                                          Photo credits:Deikling Resort: Bookings.com

Places to stay include the Sourenee Tea Estate that gives you the magical British era charm but sits a tad heavy on the budget. One can opt for the Deikling Resort for grandeur coupled with modern amenities or more economical options like Hotel Ratnagiri or Amarjeet hotel. There is a lovely Forest Rest House in Mirik that can be reserved from the District Forest Office, Kurseong. Mirik has lots of Hotels to choose from and homestays are recommended to get a feel of the local ethos.

Photo credits:Makemytrip

Different cuisines are available especially Gorkha cruisines at Nesang's Gorkha Cafe and restaurant. Foreign liquor off-shops and bars are available to have a drink.

Not as commercial as Darjeeling yet pristine and beautiful, Mirik remains a popular tourist destination.