Thinking of visiting Hannah Memorial Academy?
This area of North East India is a fabulous holiday destination, and visitors are very, very welcome to visit Hannah Memorial Academy. The school is situated in a tea plantation about an hour’s drive from the beautiful and bustling town of Darjeeling, off the main road connecting Darjeeling with Bagdogra Airport. It is a spectacular drive, both on the main road and on the road down to the school, passing small towns, scattered homes, with dramatic vistas across mountains and valleys (and if you are feeling energetic, it’s a wonderful downhill walk from the main road for a second visit, once you know the way, passing local hamlets, with spectacular views across valleys and tea plantations, often meeting friendly locals.)
When to go? It is crucial to pick your dates carefully – and here is why…
Firstly, the weather – most of the annual rainfall occurs between the beginning of May and the end of September. At this time, it’s hot and humid and rain can be very, very heavy and continuous, not only disrupting travel due to landslides, but also bringing heavy cloud coverage and misty weather which completely blocks out the beautiful and amazing views of the Himalayas that are seen from all over town in the dry season, from November to April.
Secondly, Term dates in Darjeeling and NE India are very different to those in the UK! If you come in school holidays, all you will see is the buildings … and if you come in the rainy season, you won’t see the wonderful mountain scenery, so here are our visitor guidelines:
Spring Term starts around the 2nd week in February, with short holidays either side of Easter.
Summer Term then continues until August when there is a one week break (variable dates).
Autumn Term starts in late August and continues until mid/end of December. During this Autumn Term there are two short breaks: Divali (celebrated all over India) and a regional festival – Dussera. Dates vary each year, so it’s vital to check before making your plans to visit India – whilst they are fun and interesting times to visit, it is the most expensive, hotels and transport get booked out, and all schools in this area close for both, including HMA. Then comes Christmas and the start of the longest holiday, with all schools – including HMA- closed until mid to end February. Ask us for exact dates!
Our advice: Darjeeling is an interesting and bustling town all year round, with hotels at all levels, great restaurants, museums (the Himalayan Mountaineering Museum is outstanding) and things to do and see, as well as being a gateway town to Sikkim and Nepal. It’s a great place to visit any time of year, but it is at its best between November and April.
Remember, if you want to visit HMA, it needs to be in term time, so do contact us as early as possible and we will check dates and advise you. Also, if you would like to stay a night or more in the lovely new Homestay there, adjacent to the school, we can book you in. It is a detached cottage, next to the school playground. It is newly built and equipped, spotlessly clean and more than equal to a simple hotel room but with charm and character sleeps 2, with a large shower room with toilet. It is adjacent to Jason’s parents’ house, with interesting village walks and lovely home cooked meals.
Here you can sit in the sun for breakfast end enjoy the sights and sounds of happy children in the playground and classrooms, and they will be delighted to practice their English with you, and you are welcome to observe class activities as well as join in playtime fun! Both staff and pupils really enjoy visitors, and we can put you in touch with previous visitors if you want to know more, just ask! We can also give you lots of info and advice on our favourite hotels in Darjeeling, and all the wonderful things to do using Darjeeling as a base.
Finally, most visitors arrive at Bagdogra Airport and we can arrange for Jason to pick you up and return you at the end of your stay. Visitors say this 2 hour drive up to Darjeeling with him is the most wonderful start possible to their visit to Darjeeling and Hannah Memorial Academy, and he is one of the most experienced and careful professional drivers in the area, with a comfortable large Toyota so you can really enjoy the magnificent and wonderful views on this spectacular drive. Especially when you know that Jason was chosen to drive Joanna Lumley around the area in it during the filming of her TV series about the region!