BANGALORE: If Darjeeling is considered a tourist hub, Mirik, a tinsel town, 50 kilometre away from the district, is just the opposite. The quiet town is known for its scenic beauty and an old Buddhist Monastery.
The Sumendu Lake in the middle of the little village is probably the most popular tourist spot there. Spread over a kilometre radius, there is boating facility available. But, take a walk around the lake with cool breeze blowing in your face; the place will definitely cast a spell on you. With peak Kanchenjunga seen in the far horizon, the beauty is sure to take your breath away.
Within the walls of the town is Bokar Monastery, a popular Buddhist meditation centre. One of the oldest monasteries in India, it also has a retreat centre and a Stupa. The history of the monastery goes like this: The great Indian Mahasiddha Maitripa was known to have spent time meditating here. Marpa, the most eminent Tibetan translator and holder of the Mahamudra lineage, received some of his highest transmissions from the Maitripa. Bokar Rinpoche (after who it’s been named) was one of the most senior tutors of His Holiness, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa , when in exile. He taught him much of the precious oral traditions, sutras and tantras. At present, there are 200 monks at the monastery. Their schedule includes daily practice and a broad range of studies in Buddhist philosophy and Dharma rituals. Situated at one of the highest points in Mirik, the monastery offers its warm presence to the village and the lake Sumendu can be seen from here.
Along with the old monastery to the left, a new monastery has been built a few years ago.
Intricate carvings and a huge idol of Buddha made out of gold, the monks believe that the idol brings instant peace to the village.
The small town of Mirik is no stranger to the Gorkha Land Movement that its nearest district is raging from. Numerous wall paintings, posters and banners in praise of the Gorkhaland Movement can be seen.
The other tourist destinations in the town are Kawlay Dara (a sunset and sunrise point), Deosi Dara (a place that offers a view of the valley), Rai Dhap (an ideal picnic spot) and Devi Sthan (a Hindu temple on the western bank of the lake). Pasupathi Nagar, a market for electronic goods, clothes and household items lies on the Nepal-India border and is very close to Mirik town. Among the many upcoming tourist spots there are the many tea estates, orchid fields, orange orchards (Mirik is the largest supplier of oranges in West Bengal) and cardamom groves.
Although Mirik is not a popular destination, tourism here is developing rapidly. An ideal time to visit the place is during the summer (March to June with temperatures ranging from 29 to 15). It gets chilly in the winters (Max- 13, Min-2).