Tucked into the folds of the Himalayan mountain slopes in the Darjeeling hills of West Bengal are tiny villages which are harnessing their strategic location and natural bounty to promote sustainable tourism. One such village is Dawaipani. Although there is no record how the place got its name (which loosely translated means &lsquomedicine water&rsquo), it does have a therapeutic effect on the frazzled nerves swear most visitors. If you are looking to escape the touristy crowd and enjoy a quiet holiday, then head to this serene village, not far from the town of Darjeeling.
Jorethang, on the Darjeeling bound road from New Jalpaiguri, is the gateway to Dawaipani. From Jorethang, Dawaipani is about 50km. The road twists and turns through alpine forests till it reaches the village. Like most villages in this region, the small wooden houses sport pots of flowers, cactus and orchids on their slim balconies and window sills. Some of them now offer homestay facilities, which are simply furnished but with grand views of the surroundings. Enjoy home-cooked food where the ingredients are mostly sourced from their own kitchen gardens or locally grown.
Perched at a height of almost 6,500 feet, the village overlooks rolling green tea gardens and verdant hill slopes occasionally dotted with villages. On a clear day, it is possible to catch the resplendent snow peaks, topped by Mt Kanchenjunga, etched against the blue sky. The forests surrounding Dawaipani are also home to a large variety of birds.
If you are fond of the outdoors, from Dawaipani you can go on light treks into the surrounding forests. You may drive to Lamahatta, about 6km away. Lamahatta is known for its sprawling landscaped garden across the hill slope (ticketed entry). During peak tourist season, you are likely to find the local people setting up food stalls around the place. Located on the top of the hillock is a small lake nestling among a circle of alpine trees. But to reach the lake, you have to ascend a steep stepped path.
You may also visit Dawaipani from Darjeeling, which is about 20km away. Dawaipani may be visited round the year, except during the monsoon. Winters can be very cold.