Darjeeling, the queen of hills, is all set to welcome tourists from July 1 onwards, after three months since lockdown began due to Covid-19 outbreak. The hills survive on Tea, tourism and education. Covid-19, like elsewhere had paralyzed the economy in the hills. Hotels are out of business, restaurants, shopping markets are shut because of no tourists. Tourism employs more than 50,000 people in the Darjeeling-Kalimpong area.
Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA), the autonomous administrative body for the hills of Darjeeling has formed a committee consisting of hotel owners, Political parties, district administration and police. In their last meeting, the committee has decided to reopen hotels for tourism purpose to revive the economy. Hotel owners are advised to strictly follow the standard operating protocols as per the guidelines of the central government.
Visitors will have to go through two checkpoints where they will be screened before they can ride into town. Hotels will also have to do their own due diligence before letting guests in. Properties will have to screen guests at the door before check in. And all this will be in addition to the certificate of good health all visitors are expecting to produce on demand when they get here. Guests are also encouraged to drive here in theirown carsrather than booking cabs. Guests flying in from out of state should expect to have their temperature checked at airports in Kolkata and Bagdogra, in addition to having to fill out a self declaration form about their health, providing contact details and promising to look out for symptoms for a 14-day period.\
If you’re planning on visiting, here are some places you can stay. You can rent these homes, bungalows and villas out and have them to yourself so you don’t have to worry about being around crowds and other tourists who will be filling up the hotels when they open.
1. ERINA LODGE
Right in the heart of Darjeeling, on Mall Road, is this 100-year-old heritage cottage. It has three comfy bedrooms and warm living areas with fireplaces to sit and read by on a rainy day. There is an outdoor garden and a private road that leads to a wooded area that you can explore on your treks while you are here. It is perfectly suited to small families who want the whole place to themselves.
2. GLENVIEW MANOR
Originally built as a retreat for British servicemen who were posted to the nearby cantonment, this 109-year-old bungalow is now available to rent to visiting guests who would like a place slightly removed from the bustle of Mall Road. Located just outside town centre, this five bedroom home can comfortably accommodate up to 15 guests. You can spend your time drinking Darjeeling tea in the front gardens, gorging on the tasty momos the cook here rustles up or reading by the roaring fire in the living room on a chilly Darjeeling evening. It has all ingredients for the perfect break from city life.
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