The beautiful state of Assam is the world's largest tea-growing region, lying on either side of the Brahmaputra River and this part of India experiences high precipitation during the monsoon period, so cultivating tea here has its own class & culture. But in this article, I would like to focus on a different dimension - the amazing beauty offered by these tea gardens. As 27th September is commemorated as World Tourism day, my aim is to bask in the glory of the blissful atmosphere offered by Assam and North Bengal. But before that let’s commence this exploring with an enquiry and the question is - what’s the similarity between Assam & North Bengal from the tea tourism perspective? Both of these regions are densely forested, being the flood plains of rivers that originate from the mountains and the region christened as Dooars now falls in the North of West Bengal and the Bodo Territorial Council of Assam.
In the North Bengal portion, with the initiatives taken by entrepreneurs during the colonial era, several tea gardens were established between the forests in this region. Gradually, these islands of development amidst beautiful, virgin and wild landscapes became centres of attraction for visitors, who often combined it with their visit to the Darjeeling Hills. The legacy continued and even today, a few days in a tea garden can be a fantastic and memorable experience in North Bengal & Assam. Today, this region is a gold mine for tourists who want to indulge in tea throughout the year. Let me further elaborate how staying in a tea garden can mesmerise you.
One such tea garden was established as Barrons Tea Estate, which later came to be known as Damdim. I was told that the oldest section of this garden or estate dates back to 1927. Prior to 1963, this estate was under the UK-based James Finlay group, so guest are still hosted here with English breakfast and British tea on a magically magnificent morning surrounded by the mighty mountains. For visitors to the Sikkim, Darjeeling & Dooars region, Damdim Tea Estate is a must visit, as it not only provides a nostalgic experience of authentic British hospitality from the days of yore, but also serves as the base camp for a memorable wilderness experience. This might be one of the many reasons why towards the end of 2006, the Tata Tea administration with the technical support of Help Tourism, an East Himalaya based ecotourism organisation, decided to convert one of their assets, a tea bungalow at Damdim Tea Estate, into a resort for tourism purposes.
The landscape of most of the tea estates in Dooars towards the north is dominated by the legendary Neora Valley National Park, on the east by Garumara National Park and the West by the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. For the golfers, the neighboring Western Dooars Club, a heritage club from the time of the British planters, provides a nine-hole golf course in the lap of the excellent scenery of the East Himalayas. As guests of these estates, you will have easy access to the evergreen trails between the gardens. In my interaction with Mr Sunil Agarwala, Jt. Director of Tourism Department, Government of West Bengal, I was impressed by the plethora of such trails that are being discovered by his team to offer trekking within the lush green tea gardens. Local guides are available on the tea trail and picnics.It would be certainly nice if you plan a stay in the tea gardens of Assam or North Bengal this winter.