There’s more than just tea-‐picking and tasting in these lavish estates. Adventure awaits you, even within colonial halls
1. Makaibari Tea Estate
Seeing that some of the world’s best teas originate from this region, it makes sense that Darjeeling figures large in this section. The secret to its popularity perhaps lies in the abundantly rich and verdant spread of flora and fauna of Makaibari, making this also a trekker’s paradise. The estate invites visitors to partake in tea leaf picking, sorting, and tasting, arranges visits to its seven natural springs, a millennia old fossil of the impression of an elephant’s foot, and visits to the seven Makaibari villages where they can arrange a homestay with the families living there. If you are among those well planned travellers who enjoy to plan their travel well in advance, check the list of Hotels in Darjeeling and make your booking beforehand. This will help you be doubly sure of a great stay and a fun vacation close to tea estates of Darjeeling.
2. Banyan Grove, Gatoonga Tea Estate
You might not want to venture out for a walk after the sun sets at Banyan Grove. It’s not that you’re in the middle of what is practically a forest; it’s mainly the fact that the clear night skies bursting with stars might shock your urban heart. But the walk around the colonial bungalow, to the enormous banyan tree that gave it its name is special, made better with knowledge that a perfectly brewed cup of Jorhat Assamese tea awaits you back in the bungalow.
3. The Tea Sanctuary
While there are a number of tea estates to stay in in India, there are few that are located in the heart of the tea plantation itself. The Tea Sanctuary, run by the Kanan Devan Hills Plantation, happens to be that rare accommodation. Large parts of the Munnar tea estates used to be owned by Tata, until they were sold to its employees. Today, the original manager’s bungalows have been converted to hotels and staying in them surrounded by looming eucalyptus trees and endless slopes of olive green tea bushes is a sensory experience like no other. So why waste your time thinking. Check out the list of Munnar Hotels and plan your best vacation in God’s Own Country.
4. Glenburn Tea Estate
If the centuries old cottages of the original Scottish tea plantation owners aren’t quaint enough, there’s the 1,600 acres of a working tea plantation to amuse you. Glenburn is remotely located, even by Darjeeling’s standards, but the upside to it is an unreal peace with all its trappings. This includes hikes accompanied by cold lemonade, beautifully curated meals, fishing, cooking classes, hiking, stargrazing and dinner by flickering candle/lamplight. Did we mention the spa? It’s almost criminal to head back to urban life after this. If you are a budding writer yearning for that inspiration, this is your chance. Book into any of these Darjeeling Hotels that offer perfect stay under the luminous skies away from the noise of cities.
5. Glendale Estate Stays
The blue hills of the Nilgiris produce a rich and very aromatic dark coloured tea, a chunk of which emerges from the Glendale Estate. They also produce exotic iced tea bags and a mind-‐boggling variety of teas. If you fancy yourself a tea connoisseur, book yourself a stay at their bed and breakfast. It’s charming and authentically colonial, with flower beds outside your window and hot cuppas at your beck and call. Surf through the list of Conoor Hotels and pick the one that offers a cosy stay for you and your family. Booking in advance can help you find more options to choose from.
The Assam Tea Tourism Festival takes place annually around late November at Jorhat, 200 miles away from Dispur. The three-‐day celebration takes you through plantations, factories, tastings, and history, when even before the Brits introduced the dark brew to us, 200 years ago, we were growing and having it as a vegetable.