While Darjeeling is a quintessential hill station in West Bengal, it is seldom visited for its gorgeous tea estates. There’s much to distract the traveller: quaint eateries, age-old bakeries, hidden markets and vibrant, busy lanes.
In addition, there’s the stunning vistas of the mountains. However, if you want a slightly unique experience, here’s a range of charming tea estates that you must visit either for a day trip or for a stay. A regular trip to the vast stretches of tea plantations in Darjeeling is about a walk through them discovering the various types of tea and sampling your favourite brew. These are the ones that deserve a chance:
Sourenee Tea Estate
A rather upscale tea estate, Sourenee is located 7km before Mirik Valley on the Siliguri-Mirik-Darjeeling route. The estate houses a beautiful resort: a 3-storied luxury bungalow with modern amenities and an old world charm. A stay here will afford you the best views of the lush tea gardens, the Mirik valley and even the mountains of Nepal from your room.
Glenburn Tea Estate
Arguably the most famous, Glenburn provides an idyllic retreat to the tea aficionado. Established by the Scottish tea planters in 1860, Glenburn is a sprawling tea estate, covering about 1,600 acres of verdant forests, rolling hills, river valleys and quaint villages.
Makaibari Tea Estate
One of the oldest tea gardens in Darjeeling, Makaibari Tea Estate, was the first to establish a factory in the year 1859. They’re the producer of Darjeeling’s costliest tea, and have been run by the Banerjees – the original founder family – for the past four generations. They have the most stunning colonial era accommodation for guests in the whole of Darjeeling.
Gomtee Tea Resort
Not as well known as its famous neighbours Makaibari and Glenburn, visitors at Gomtee get to stay in a 100-year-old heritage bungalow at an altitude of about 4,000 feet, with sweeping views of the mountains and valleys for company.
Happy Valley Tea Estate
Happy Valley Tea Estate is worth a visit, especially from March to May, when the plucking and processing of tea leaves happen. A guide through the aromatic factory is recommended; it’s a great way to learn about the beloved beverage.
Chamong Tea Estate
Sprawling across 900 acres, Chamong Tea Estate houses a tea plantation, a tea factory and a village for tea pickers. The tall, deciduous forests around here make for surreal walking trails; with the incredible splendour of the rolling hills looming in the horizon.