Tea tourism in Assam and its splendid panorama
Assam, the land of Red River and Blue Hills, was a less developed stranded land two hundred years ago. The advent of the British into Assam after signing the treaty of Yandaboo in 1826 A.D. with the Burmese rulers marked a remarkable milestone in the fate of Assam, becoming a part of mainland India as well as the eventual extermination of the powerful Ahom rulers. The British, acclaimed for their indisputable spirit, sustained the splendor of the state till their departure from India in 1947 in two major areas among many others. British instituted Digboi town in the late 1800s where they set up a landmark in the history of Assam with the discovery of crude oil in India in 1889 A.D. Later in 1901, the first oil refinery in Asia (second oldest in the world) was set up by the British under the banner name of Assam Oil Company. Similarly, the credit of discovering Assam tea, the largest industry of present Assam providing livelihood, revenue, employment and development in a large scale, goes to the British’s indomitable fortitude.
“If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.” – William Ewart Gladstone
Tea was first discovered in China and Japan and then in India. The history of tea discovery in Assam dates back to 1823 A.D. when Robert Bruce, an English Major noticed a typical activity of the local people drinking a kind of medicinal drink from a wild plant. Bessa Gam, a Singpho Chief offered this medicinal drink to the Major in a meeting arranged by Maniram Dewan. Robert Bruce presented a few samples of the seeds and leaves of the plant to East India Company’s Botanical Garden at Calcutta (now Kolkata) for scientific observation. Unfortunately, the recognition of the samples was declined owing to miscellaneous grounds. Later, Charles Alexander Bruce, the brother of Robert Bruce became successful in achieving the authentication of the identity of this wildly grown plant as a variety of tea in 1834 AD, finally naming it as Assam Tea (scientifically identified as Camellia Sinosis). In 1835 AD, British led East India Company established its first tea garden in Assam. Later in 1844, the same garden was sold to Assam Company, the world’s first tea company formed in 1839 A.D. Since then, a number of tea gardens have grown in Assam by leaps and bounds. At present, Assam possesses nearly 826 large tea gardens and more than 66,000 registered and unregistered small tea growers producing approximately 500 million kilograms of tea every year.
In due course of time, a variety of research projects has confirmed that ‘tea’ activates anti-oxidants in our body maintaining heart health by lowering cholesterol and prevents some serious ailments like Cancer, Diabetes, Blood Pressure, Tumor, Ulceration, Inflammation, intestinal problem, dental decay and many more. Tea is a calorie-free drink which increases our metabolism. It has less caffeine than coffee.
A woman plucking tea leaves in Assam Tea Garden
Workers filling bags with tea leaves to carry to the Assam Tea Factory
An Assam Tea Factory
Guests experiencing Assam Tea Tasting Demo
“I am a hardened and shameless tea drinker, who for twenty years diluted his meals with only the infusion of the plant; who with tea amused the evening, with tea solaced the midnight and with tea welcomed the morning.” – Samuel Johnson
Tea and tourism is a blend of pretty new concept in the arena of travel and tourism. Tourism sector in Assam has reached an incredible summit by its amalgamation with Assam Tea industry. While Darjeeling is taking a distinct lead (possessing only 80 odd operational tea gardens) in promoting tea tourism over the last decade, Assam is still lacking behind in the race to beckon the domestic and international tourists with its natural fervor of its verdant tea gardens successfully running in the state. Tea gardens in Darjeeling cover thousands of acres of hilly terrain. Darjeeling attracts the tourists across the globe with its unique fragrance of chilly breeze & hazy climate, an incredible view of tea garden workers working relentlessly on lofty hills nowhere to be seen in the world.
The concept of assam tea garden tourism is predestined to the luxurious travelers. The rejuvenating experience of staying in the heritage bungalows resided earlier by the British colonial rulers amidst the evergreen tea gardens with the exceptional view of a lush green landscape coupled with unremitting songs of birds, lively hands of tea garden labourers plucking tea leaves and the soothing aroma of famous Assam tea never appears cheap for the budget travelers. Tea tours are especially designed to bring the esteemed travelers nearer to nature and make them experience the tea garden life while stayingin a luxurious home stay, which cannot to be compared with amenities found in a four star or five star category hotels in metropolitan cities. Generally, the tea holiday packages are offered to the guests with all inclusive rates including transfers, accommodation, meals and other related activities.
Assam Heritage Tea Bungalow
Assam Heritage Tea Bungalow
In Assam, the Mancotta Chang Bungalow and Chowkidinghee Chang Bungalow situated at the heart of Dibrugarh town; Kaziranga Golf Resort (Bura Sahib Bungalow), Banyan Grove and Thengal Manor Bungalow at Jorhat district; Wathai Heritage Bungalow at Tinsukia; Wild Mahseer Tea Planter Bungalows in Sonitpur and finally Koliabor Manor Resort in Nagaon district have been considerably contributing to the promotion of tea estate tourism in Assam and India as a whole. Since the recent past, Assam Tea Festival, an initiative adopted by Assam Tourism is organized in the month of November every year to promote the concept of tea tourism of Assam to the global tourists.
A range of rejuvenating activities is available during tea tour in Assam –
- Accommodation in Heritage Tea Bungalows.
- Walk amidst Tea-Gardens.
- Interaction with Tea Garden Workers.
- Tea processing observation during factory visit.
- Visit to Tea Research Institute.
- Tea tasting observation.
- Visit to Tea Auction Centre.
- Ethnic cultural program with bonfire.
- Miscellaneous entertainment with Golfing, Horse Riding and spa massages.
(External Link — Assam Tea Tour)