The story of the Tea in Colonial India and that of Darjeeling started some 150 years ago when Dr. Campbell, a civil surgeon, planted tea seeds in his garden at Beechwood, Darjeeling, 7000 ft above sea level as an experiment. He was reasonably successful in raising
the plant because the government, in 1847, elected to put out tea nurseries in this area.
According to records, the first commercial tea gardens planted out by the British tea interests were Tukvar, Steinthal and Aloobari tea estates. This was in 1852 and all these plantations used seeds that were raised in the government nurseries.
Darjeeling Tea has come a long way since then and is now appreciated worldwide as hallmark of authenticity, purity and quality. It is not just a tea- A philosophy, tradition, knowledge and way of life- practiced and followed by generations through the ages.
Today there are 86 running gardens producing ‘Darjeeling Tea’ on a total area of 19,000 hectares. The total production rages from 10 to 11 million kgs annually.
Indian Nature Tours arranges special Tea Tours including overnight halts at the extravagant British heritage Tea Bungalows of Glenburn ,Goomti , Makaibari and Phaskowa tea estates.
Cradled in the lap of the Himalayas, the mystical land of the ancient seers and saints, where the Vedas were created, Makaibari (literally “Maize Land”) is in Kurseong, the Land of the White Orchid, in Darjeeling. In 1859, this magical land saw the development of the now fabled tea estate. It went on to become the best tea garden in the world. But not just that….
Tropical rainforests and temperate forests merge in a short span of 35 kms from Siliguri to Kurseong and onward, another 35 km to Darjeeling. Within the boundaries of Makaibari, the diversity of flora and fauna is astounding. Enter Chungey, the dream plot of Makaibari, and the chirping birds, rustling leaves, rumblings of a distant waterfall greet you.
There is a dense forest in Makaibari whose secrets have been scouted by few. There is a huge piece of fossil with the impression of an elephant’s foot imprinted. How many thousand years old it is no one knows. Over the four generations, barring the current one, attempts have been made to lift the stone, but none has been able to do so. Rajah Banerjee, of course, would not dream of doing anything to disturb nature. So it is there for people to see.
Snakes, monkeys, rabbits, leopards, Himalayan goats and pheasants, seven natural springs of Himalayan mineral water which originate in Makaibari and give it all the water it consumes….it is an ecotourist’s dream. In some places the incline of the land is close to 80 degrees and Rajah Banerjee had taken up the challenge of growing and plucking tea from there. The Makaibari community has done it! Try scaling those inclines, and see the scars of landslides, the flesh of the forest ripped out due to deforestation, on the opposite sides of Makaibari in lands belonging to other gardens. You’ll feel the difference.
…a world of fine traditions…….
Started by a Scottish tea company in 1860, Glenburn has now passed into the hands of one of India’s pioneering tea planting families The Prakashes, who have over the years come to be known as the “Chaiwala family” which literally means “tea planters”.
The story of the Chaiwala family began over a hundred years ago, and is closely
entwined with that of tea
plantations in India. Today, the third and fourth generation Prakash family,
carry almost a century of tea knowledge in their inheritance, and invite you
to visit Glenburn.
….and spectacular scenery…..
Glenburn a name that literally describes what this 1,600 acre estate is a river valley. With breathtaking views of the Kanchenjunga Mountain Range, Glenburn stretches from an elevation of 3,700 feet, all the way down to the sandy banks of the two snow-fed Himalayan rivers that meander through it The Rungeet and The Rung Dung.
Apart from the sprawling tea fields, Glenburn have forests which are a bird watcher and hiker’s paradise. Across the river lie the forests and villages of the old royal kingdom of Sikkim, which you can access via a hanging bridge.