The first time I walked into Cochrane Place a year back, I felt like I was transported back into the 1900’s. This heritage resort situated on the outskirts of Kurseong was the residence of Percy John Cochrane, the magistrate and barrister of Kurseong town from 1866 – 1944. Back then it was known as The Hermitage because it was actually a nunnery before Percy Cochrane made it his residence. The building was later acquired by the Arora’s who own the resort now and they remodelled The Hermitage to the present day Cochrane Place. Thankfully, the remodelling did not discard the past and the stately British colonial home still looks pretty much like what it was nearly a century back.
The Cochrane Place management was very kind to invite a few of us Kolkata bloggers to the resort last week and as always, it was a wonderful experience staying there. We took a flight from Kolkata to Bagdogra airport and from there, it was a two hour journey uphill to Kurseong. Definitely take the Pankhabari road to go up. Yes, you have to bear the sharp turns and hairpin bends but the view more than compensates. The Teesta river, the misty mountains, the tea gardens will be your companions throughout the journey and companions do not get better than them!
Cochrane Place is located very close to the Makaibari Tea Estate. Perched 4,864 ft above sea level, the hotel offers stunning views of the valley and the tea gardens. The first thing that you will notice when you set foot in the Cochrane Place grounds is definitely the yellow Beetle perched high up on a ledge. No idea why and how the beetle got there but it sure looks very interesting!
Step into the wood-panelled lobby and the eclectic furniture will again catch your eyes. There is a large pine log that has been shaved to become a settee. There is a small library set up next to a mock fire place. The red carpet ramp is flanked by various objects of art and surprisingly, also a figure of a hen. Paintings and old photographs are placed throughout the resort that evoke memories of a bygone era.
There are standard and deluxe rooms as well as suites. The last time I was here, I was staying in a suite on the first floor so this time, I opted for a deluxe room on the ground floor. Again, the rooms take you back a hundred years especially the suites. The first time I walked into a suite, I felt like I was in an Enid Blyton book setup and the prime reason for that is the attic. All the rooms are quite big and they are decorated with antique furniture. The suites feature a master bedroom, an attached bathroom, a sitting area, an attic with a writing table and a balcony that overlooks the valley and the tea gardens. The deluxe rooms are named after the peaks of the Eastern Himalayas. Mine was Singanila. The rooms are quite big and they have a small balcony attached that overlooks the Cochrane Place garden.
Teddy Cochrane, a cute little teddy bear might be the official mascot of the place but unofficially, it has to be Laltu, the resident tea expert. He is quite a master when it comes to Darjeeling tea. If you are there, try out Laltu’s special tea blends which he makes with fruits, flowers, herbs and other ingredients. This time, I was suffering from a bad throat infection and he made me his special Cough and Cold Tea with with ginger, honey and paan leaves. Two cups of that tea everyday and I was sorted!
Food is another reason why I love going back to Cochrane Place. The restaurant serves Indian, Chinese and Tibetan but my favorite is definitely the Anglo-Indian section of the menu. I loved the Mulligatawny soup, the roast chicken, the shepherd’s pie and the veg pantheras. They also make brilliant momos so definitely order for some.
From Cochrane Place, you can visit quite a few places in Kurseong. Makaibari and Ambootia Tea Gardens are very close. You can go to the Netaji Institute for Asian Studies at Giddhapahar, DHR Museum, St. Paul The Apostle’s Church and Dow Hill. Darjeeling is only a two hour journey away so that makes for a good day trip. And of course, if you are there for the first time, a ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or ‘Toy Train’ is a must!
Heritage meets modernity. That is how I would describe the entire feel of Cochrane Place. It beautifully juxtaposes old and new in a way that reframes and reinvents the past. If you are travelling to that side of the country, do not miss out on a Cochrane Place experience.
At a Glance :
Getting there: Fly to Bagdogra and then drive to Kurseong, (90 minutes). Else you can also take the train to New Jalpaiguri Station. Or take the famous Toy Train
Address: 132, Pankha Bari Road, Fatak Dara, Kurseong, West Bengal 734203
Contact: 099320 35660
Website – http://www.cochraneplacehotel.com
Special Thanks :
- Mrs Rita Arora and the staff of Cochrane Place for their hospitality
- Atreya Paul and Riti for organising the wonderful trip.