“Bollywood singer Abhijeet and staff of Cochrane Place
Famous Bollywood Director Imtiaz Ali and staff
Michelin Chef and Masterchef India judge Vikas Khanna and staff
Mangificent views of the Kanchenjunga, old Tibetan carpets, piping hot Anglo-Indian meals.. Kurseong;s Cochrane Place exudes an unusual charm. Tired of the clichéd Continental, Mughlai and Chiense fare in a crammed restaurant? Don’t worry, Cochrane offers many options. You can sit out in the gazebo and sip your white tea in champagne glasses along with pistachio cookies; in Constantia, the corner that has bugles on the wall And a garden in its arm, you can order the almost forgotten Anglo Indian dishes like a Mulligatawny soup or a Mango curry and if you wish to add a dash of spearmint in the soup, walk down the stepped kitchen garden and pick some yourself.
As I sit in Cochrane Place in Kurseong looking at the snow bathed Kanchendzonga from behind the chintz curtains, I wonder about ways to describe this hillstation that abuts Darjeeling like a coquettish neighbour. What do I call it? A monk’s retreat? An epicurean’s delight? A trekker’s bliss? A naturalist’s haven? A perfect getaway? Tell me, how do I count the ways? I mull over booing a room eternally at Cochrane Place…But I still don’t know how to describe Kurseong.
As my Mahindra jeep rattled into Cochrane Place, Kurseong, I was struck by the sheer magnificence of the tea country, As I viewed the brightly washed tea factory at Makaibari, from the hotel that marries the Raj mystique with the magic of Kurseong’s awesome views- I couldn’t help thinking that the finest teas are also grown in the most scenic corner of the country, unknown to those who like to be cocooned by the security of the beaten path.
Sanjeev Bhasker of Kumars@No 42 and BBC team with staff of Cochrane Place
Take the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway’s steam train to Kurseong for Cochrane Place . Cochrane Place was a Scootish farmhouse named after its owner, later converted into a theme hotel. The theme, well, is tea and trains. The door to the café is shaped like an engine, and inside there are 40 varieties of tea on offer. Inside the tapestries talk about tea, the air smells of it, and the Jacuzzi spurts a tea bath..
In the wood-paneled lobby there’s an interesting seating arrangement—a large pine log has been shaved to accommodate cushions. As you walk past, you notice the mahogany piano, the antique gramophone and an ancient lantern with turquoise glass. Up the ramp that has been thoughtfully done for the physically challenged, miniature Hungarian nib drawings and birds painted on olden louvers catch your attention. All the 12 rooms are named after the peaks of Kanchanjunga—there are large windows without grills, you can feel the Tibetan carpets under your feet and cane and mahogany furniture add that old-world charm. Not here the modern paraphernalia of an air-conditioner or a power-guzzling geyser—the hills provide more breeze than one would need for a stretched summer and before you can blink, from the tap flows hot water through the gas geyser..
We lunched in a colonial room on roast chicken, rainbow rice, Anglo Indian curries and steamed puddings based on recipes sourced from Parsee ladies, planters and Anglo Indians. Upstairs, my room was Singalila, with a large teak double bed with a carved headboard, wood paneled walls, colourful rugs and a balcony with a panoramic view of tea estates provided a rich peek into the past.
From Kunsamnamdoling Monastery we drove to the head of St. Mary’s trail. We kept stopping to photograph ferns and flowers. We set off for a walk on a trail descending through pine and fir forests abundant with butterflies, thrushes, magpies, accentors, finches and warblers, the highlight was a Khalij Pheasant that crossed the trail in front of us with its striking long tail trailing behind.
MTV Roadies 4