Karmi Farm: A Hidden Beauty In the Himalayas

View of Karmi Farm with the Himalayas in the distance. Photos by Partha De Sarkar.
View of Karmi Farm with the Himalayas in the distance. Photos by Partha De Sarkar.

In the Himalayas with Absolutely No Routine to Follow

By Partha De Sarkar


Karmi Farm lies in a northwesterly direction from Darjeeling on the border of West Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan. It lies at an altitude of 4,500 ft in the foothills of the Himalayas with a perfect climate for hill walking. It is a 90-minute drive from Darjeeling.

Why go?

We met Burt and Nancy Cohen of Johannesburg, South Africa, on the lobby of Hotel Sinclair. They were a bubbly couple on their honeymoon and had spent a week at Karmi Farm. When I asked them “Why Karmi Farm?”

This is what they had to say: “Because it is blissfully solitary where there are no fast cars, no fast lifestyle where even e-mails don’t reach and the most amazing thing is there is absolutely no routine to follow.”

Nancy added, “We were in another world where modern amenities are there but modern life is absent. You will live on organic food only.” We decided to go to this hidden destination. Another thing that fascinated us. Karmi Farm’s clientele is mostly from Europe or America. We didn’t know of any Indian destination where more foreigners came than Indians did.

Climate & Weather

Karmi Farms lies at 4,500ft at the foothills of the Himalayas with a perfect climate for hill walking.

September to mid-December…clear sunny days with a great view of the mountains.

Mid-December to January…a little unsettled with some rain. Nights can be very cold.

February to May… springtime. Starts to warm up again with more sunny days. Rhododendrons forests and other Himalayan floors are in full bloom.

June to September …Monsoon

We saw 2 bushes waking on t


It is private property and accommodation is available at Karmi Farm only. There are 5 double bedrooms, 3 en-suits, and 2 single rooms.


Andrew Pulgar Frame, the present owner of Karmi Farm, is the grandson of Raja Tenduk Pulgar of an ancient Lepcha tribe and son of a Scottish father. Raja Tenduk Pulgar was looking for a place to own a farmhouse. He was trekking for days from Darjeeling and ultimately reached the place where the present farm is located.

It was love at first sight and his search ended. He began farming here. Trekkers still followed the route Raja Tenduk had taken to reach Karmi Farm. It takes about 6 to 7 days to reach Karmi Farm from Darjeeling by trek. Locals told us that the trek passed through scenically very beautiful landscapes.

The Journey to Karmi Farm

The winter of 2004 of Sikkim and Darjeeling had been severe and we needed some warm sun. Karmi Farm, being at a height of 4500 ft, was the right place. We walked down the Laden La Road to Samsara Tours who had handled the tour of Cohen. Samsara’s representative disappointed us when he told us that since it was the peak season, we would not, in all probability, get accommodation at Karmi Farm.

We were carrying our tents and sleeping bags and were determined to visit the place. So, without being deterred, we began our drive to Karmi Farm at around 10 p.m. IST.

We drove through some of the most picturesque tea estates of the region and with the backdrop of the green hills, our journey was excellent though the road condition was at times horrifying. Towards the end of the journey, our Suzuki Gypsy struggled hard to negotiate narrow and practically a cart road.

We had the constant company of local boys running alongside the vehicle. We were amazed at their stamina and at last decided to take them up in our Gypsy. We stopped a little short of the place and walked 5 minutes to reach Karmi Farm. The farmhouse was a large home that dominated a patch of the hillside.

At Karmi Farm

The little Rankit River near Karmi Farm.
The little Rankit River near Karmi Farm.

As feared, Karmi Farm had no accommodation but the owner Andrew Pulgar-Frame asked us to wait till afternoon. If we were lucky, the guests who were to arrive might fail to do so for so many reasons. Otherwise, we could pitch our tent on the lawn for the night.

We had lunch that we had carried from Darjeeling and then went up the balcony. The panoramic view from the balcony was absolutely stunning. Trees tightly covered the slopes as far as we could see.

Sun was brightly reclining over the blue hills to the west. Terraced fields on the lower slopes where the farmers had raised their crops broke the lush green duvet of nature.

We could see Buddhist prayer flags fluttering at a distance. A light breeze was blowing across the hills. Karmi Farm representative who had gone to Darjeeling to get provisions and E-mail returned with the news that no guest would arrive that day but might arrive the next day.

So we could occupy one double room for the night. We were delighted. While waiting for the good news at the veranda of the farm, we could see at a distance snowcapped Mt. Narsing in West Sikkim as soon as the daytime haze had lifted.

Exploring Karmi Farm

Still, there was some sunlight time left. We parked ourselves in our room and walked out of the farmhouse. We were in an alpine walking country. We saw a pair of Grey-throated Babbler and a Black Eagle. We descended where farmers were working in their field while Tibetan music entertained them.

Some farmers approached us and asked for the news of the outside world. They were very friendly lots. We came to know that some of them had stuck long-lasting friendship with visitors. We walked to the local monastery where we met extremely friendly Lamas, old and young.

The daylight of eastern India falls fast. Back at the farmhouse, while talking to the other guests, we had our first taste of heady local brew called “Chaang”. We had dinner of freshly picked organic vegetables and farm-fresh bread.

It was clear to us that the atmosphere of the Farm was that of total relaxation where there was no fixed time for anything. Guests decided what they would like to do for the day on how they felt in the morning. We saw some were spending a day just sitting on the verandah or someone taking his favorite book to a slope and sitting under a pine, reading.

But most go ahead with aimless walks into the pine and maple forests carrying packed picnic baskets given by the Farm.

At the crack of the dawn, we walked out of the farmhouse. Just outside the farm, we sighted a flock of Speckled Piculet and a single Northern Goshawk. We were among the cultivated terraces. Out here in the hills and villages, the people had to look after themselves growing their own crops and then bartering with neighbors.

We saw water trickling down the bamboo piping to the farm, bringing crystal clear water.

There were children walking to their school. It amazed us to learn those boys and girls of the age of 7 and older walked 2 hours to reach their school and walked 2-hours back at the end of the school. We saw children were as nimble-footed as mountain goats.

Suddenly two eight-foot walking bushes appeared on the trail. They were farmers carrying freshly cut fodder for their cattle.

Children on the mountainside.
Children on the mountainside.

After a while, we stopped at a tea stall and had steaming cups of tea. The shop was also selling some sweets but we did not take any. The friendly shopkeeper had been to Calcutta once and as soon as he learned that we were from that city, he eagerly asked about it and football.

We came to the local primary school with only three classrooms. Children greeted us with “namaste”, the Hindi salutation.

We could make out that they were accustomed to visitors from the outside world even at this isolated place. They talked to us freely in English and some broken Hindi.

Terraced Fields

We walked on around terraced fields into the valley across to the region of Sikkim. We could see distant mountains where one could trek to Sandakphu or Phalut, 12000ft up on the Indo-Nepal border. These treks last up to six or seven days staying in trekkers’ huts.

Descending further we came to a small house where an old man invited us in. The lady of the house had a fancy nose ring dangling over her lips and her hands were full of solid silver bangles.

Their 2-room home was made of wood, with walls and floor cast with clay. We were offered ‘Rankshy’, a homemade spirit. It was the result of single distillations of ‘Chaang’ and tasted like watery Vodka. Hospitality made up for the watery spirit.

We had descended continuously since leaving Karmi Farm. We now rested sitting under pine trees where we took out our packed lunch provided by the farm. Lunch was potato and peas curry, boiled eggs, salad, and bread.

Now we faced a long climb but we set a comfortable pace. So the journey back was not laborious. We stopped from time to time. Back at Karmi Farm, we were greeted with the news that we had our room at disposal for the night. So we avoided a night drive to Kalimpong.

With great regret, we left this mountain hideaway. Karmi Farm was different where we broke away from the daily mill and recharged our energy in a totally secluded place. We promised to return again.

How to reach

The nearest Airport is Bagdogra and it is directly connected to Delhi and Calcutta.

Delhi-Bagdogra-Delhi $270

Calcutta-Bagdogra-Calcutta @180

Other charges for a couple and an exclusive transport for 3 days at Karmi Farm will cost $350-450

Once at Karmi Farm, you are totally cut off from the outside world. Even e-mails are collected once a week from Darjeeling.

Important links

Karmi Farm reviews on TripAdvisor


For reservation email at kalighat@vsnl.com

Partha De Sarkar

Partha De Sarkar, born on 2nd August 1942, served in the Indian Air Force as an officer for years and on retirement, he is a freelance writer on travel and defense-related matters


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