Landscape photography and sightseeing tour around Mirik, Darjeeling

Sunset over Thurbo tea estate near Mirik.

Mirik is a picturesque touristic town, surrounded by tea gardens located at an altitude of 5000 ft in the hills of Darjeeling district in West Bengal, India. It is 49 km from Darjeeling and 52 km from Siliguri. Unlike Darjeeling, very few people come for sightseeing in this area. The main town of Mirik, itself does not have much to see, as a result most people do not bother to stay here and visit it for few hours. However, I can assure you its surrounding areas are very beautiful for landscape photography as they comprise of majestic tea gardens, valleys, mountains, small villages etc. Most of its surroundings are still untouched my tourists and one can enjoy peace and tranquility there.

Sumendu lake 

Sumendu lake is the main center of attraction in Mirik. A lot of tourists come for a day trip from Darjeeling and Siliguri and spend their time strolling on the banks of this lake. There is a small 80-ft long footbridge, called Indreni pool over the lake, from which one can go to other side. There are facilities of boat ride in the lake and one can also enjoy a horse ride on the banks of the lake.

Indreni Pool, a bridge over Sumendu lake covered in mist.
Indreni Pool, a bridge over Sumendu lake covered in mist.
Colorful buildings on the banks of Sumendu lake in Mirik.
Colorful buildings on the banks of Sumendu lake in Mirik.

Bokar Monastery

Bokar Monastery is located in the highest point of Mirik. It is a very beautiful and calm place and is frequented by few tourists. You have to walk uphill for 10 minutes to reach there or you can take a taxi. 

Bokar Monastery in Mirik
Bokar Monastery in Mirik

For sightseeing, there are a lot of view points and scenic spots in both directions of Mirik. I have divided it into two parts – Northern Direction and Southern Direction.

Sightseeing to the north of Mirik

Golpahar view point

Golpahar view point is about 7 kms to the north of Mirik. Golpahar is a series of round shaped hills with tea plantation and lies in gopaldhara tea estate. You can walk around a bit and enjoy the views, but cannot go much inside as it is guarded by a fence. I got on one of the shared vehicles going to Darjeeling and got down as I reached the view point.

Scenic beauty of Gopaldhara tea garden at golpahar view point near Mirik.
Scenic beauty of Gopaldhara tea garden at golpahar view point near Mirik.
Scenic beauty of Gopaldhara tea garden at golpahar view point near Mirik.
Scenic beauty of Gopaldhara tea garden at golpahar view point near Mirik.

Okaity tea garden

Okaity tea garden is about 6kms to the north of Mirik can be visited while coming down from Golpahar. I walked from Golpahar to Okaity, as it is around 1 km away from it enjoying the scenic views in between and as it was a downhill walk, it was quite easy. There are small paths by the side of the road which lead to tea gardens and stunning views, just do not venture too far away and get yourself in trouble.

Scenic view of Okaity tea garden in Mirik.
Scenic view of Okaity tea garden in Mirik.
Clouds over Okaity tea garden near Mirik.
Clouds over Okaity tea garden near Mirik.

Thurbo tea garden 

Thurbo tea garden lies on the outskirts to the north of Mirik and is one of the most beautiful tea gardens I have ever seen. All vehicles going to north, pass through this tea garden. It is best to visit it during sunset, as you can get stunning views there. To get the best views, it is best to enter the tea garden. You can see small roads on both sides of the main road, just enter these roads and take a walk inside the tea garden, make sure to come back before night, otherwise you might get lost. While coming back, you can easily get a shared vehicle to Mirik.

Sunset over Thurbo tea estate near Mirik.
Sunset over Thurbo tea estate near Mirik.
Sunset over high mountains in Thurbo tea estate near Mirik.
Sunset over high mountains in Thurbo tea estate near Mirik.

Sightseeing to the south of Mirik

Singbulli tea garden 

Singbulli tea garden is about 11 kms to the south of Mirik. I saw it while coming from Siliguri and decided to visit it. Here, one can see tea gardens and small villages nestled amidst the mountains. The shared vehicles going to Siliguri and Phuguri pass through this tea garden. You can easily get down from the vehicle in any scenic spot of your liking and then walk the surrounding areas. If you are adventurous, you can also walk uphill to Tingling View Point, which is only 3.5 kms away from this garden. 

A small village in the midst of mountains in singbulli tea gardens near Mirik.
A small village in the midst of mountains in singbulli tea gardens near Mirik.
Dark monsoon clouds over a Singbulli tea estate.
Dark monsoon clouds over a Singbulli tea estate.

Phuguri tea garden 

Phuguri tea estate ranges from 4 to 8 kms to the south of Mirik. It can be seen by the side of the main road near to Soureni Bazaar. This tea garden is divided into two parts – Paschim Phuguri Tea Garden and Purba Phuguri Tea Garden. There are several shared jeeps which go to the Paschim Phuguri Tea Garden village from Mirik. Watching the green tea gardens stretch for miles with large mountains and small houses in between is a treat to the eyes.

Phuguri tea gardens covered in clouds
Phuguri tea gardens covered in clouds
A small locality in Phuguri tea estate
A small locality in Phuguri tea estate

Tingling view point 

Tingling view point is a popular view point, it is about 7.2 kms to the south of Mirik. There is an observatory from which one can panoramic views of the surrounding tea gardens. You can also observe tea gardens plucking fresh leaves there. A small restaurant also operates there from where you can have refreshments. 

Clouds over Tingling view point near Mirik.
Clouds over Tingling view point near Mirik.
Small houses in the midst of tea gardens in Tingling view point.
Small houses in the midst of tea gardens in Tingling view point.

Soureni Bazaar

Soureni Bazaar is about 5 kms to the south of Mirik, it is a small village and is well connected to Mirik by shared vehicles. There is a small jeep stand in the middle of the village, from where you can get shared jeep. You can get down in the village and walk the surrounding areas. There are also few homestays there, where you can stay if you like.

Small houses nestled in high mountains near Soureni Bazaar.
Small houses nestled in high mountains near Soureni Bazaar.
Dark monsoon clouds over a forest near Soureni Bazaar.
Dark monsoon clouds over a forest near Soureni Bazaar.

Asalea Water Fall

There is a waterfall named Asalea Water Fall, located 14 kms from Mirik. You can check it out in the map below, it is quite close to the Nepal border. I could not visit it due to time constraints, also you have to hire a private car, if you want to visit it as shared vehicles do not go in that route.

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Where to stay

Mirik has plenty of budget hotels in the Krishnanagar area, which is near to the lakeside. Hotel Jagjeet is the largest hotel there, other include The Park, Blue Lagoon, Hotel Ratnagiri etc. There are also several eateries in that area serving Bengali, Nepali and North Indian food. Banks and ATM’s are also available if you feel the need to withdraw cash. I feel two days is enough to visit all the nearby places. There are also few homestays coming up in surrounding areas like Soureni Bazaar, Taba Koshi, Bunkulung etc where you can stay in the midst of tea gardens and breathe the fresh air.

How to reach

Mirik is well connected by shared vehicle with towns like Siliguri, Darjeeling and Kurseong. I came to Mirik from Siliguri by a shared jeep. It took around 2 hours and I paid Rs 12o. From Siliguri, you can get shared vehicles from Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus, which is about 7 kms from NJP station. From Darjeeling, shared jeeps are available from Chauk Bazaar in Hill Cart Road. Drivers are quite helpful, ask them if you have trouble finding your hotel. Buses are available, but they are extremely rare.

Getting around

If you are a budget traveler like me, you can go for sightseeing to all these places by shared vehicles travelling to and from the town or you can also hire a reserved vehicle. If you are visiting with shared vehicle, you can get down at any spot of your liking. While coming back, all you have to do is show your hand and these vehicles will stop. These vehicles have a board with the name of the destination in front of them. Sometimes, they don’t stop because they are full. Local people living in these areas use this as a mode of transportation. If you are traveling solo like me, it is easier to use this form of traveling, however if you are traveling in a group or have kids, reserving a vehicle for sightseeing is the best idea. Since, it is a hilly area you will not any vehicles after dark, therefore it is advised to visit the far away areas during daytime.

When to visit

Mirik gets extremely cloudy and foggy during monsoon season, therefore it is best to avoid it during peak monsoon. I visited in September and still it was covered in clouds and mist most of the time. If you want to experience mist and fog, check the weather predictions before going, as weather in hilly areas is unpredictable. October is the peak tourist season, generally October to November and March to May, is considered the best time to visit. In December and January, it gets very cold and temperature drops to a minimum of 2°C, so if you are not adjusted to that cold, you may skip it during that season.

If you’re interested in using my photography or article please contact me as I am available for freelance work.

If you are interested in knowing more about West Bengal, visit my other blog on Kolkata photographyKoley market and Takdah.

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