Beautiful Runglee Rungliot Tea Garden

That is how Sarah Srivastava of Leeds, UK, described her stay sometime back in the Runglee Rungliot tea garden, the only one owned by the Duncans in the Darjeeling hills.

It is comments like these on the visitors’ book — Srivastava herself was a private guest at the estate and not a tourist — that prompted the Duncans, one of the country’s leading tea producers, to jump onto the tea tourism bandwagon.

The drive to the garden, especially after one veers off NH 31A at Rambhi, is back-breaking but the pain gives way to pleasure as the blanket of mist lifts from the curvaceous mounds carpeted with lush green bushes and interspersed with lofty, dark pine trees.

“It took a lot of convincing,” acting manager R.B. Singh said, referring to the uphill task of getting group chairman G.P. Goenka to agree to allow tourists to enter his bungalow. Though Goenka seldom comes here, it was with a lot of care that the enthusiast did up his summerhouse — a wooden luxury sprawling over more than 2,500 square feet. “He is very attached to the bungalow and was reluctant to go in for tourism apprehending that the boarders may mar its beauty. Only his son and other private guests came here some times to spend their holidays,” Singh added.

After years of prodding by local and regional executives, the chairman finally relented under the condition that entry would be restricted to bona fide nature tourists who travel and stay responsibly. With the niche Western market as the target, a stay (there are four double-bedded rooms) at the bungalow is steeply priced at Rs 7,500 per couple per day (all meals inclusive) and Rs 6,500 for single occupancy.

The garden will have its first tourists arriving in March.

They will get to lounge in the sun in the company of orchids either peeping in through the windows or lining the walk, while a host of other flowers appear higgledy-piggledy in the open spaces. The visitors can also go on a tea trail, a short trek across the garden to the factory to see the entire process of tea-manufacturing.

“We often have our foreign guests dropping by at workers’ homes for tea,” Singh said. One can also go rafting in the white waters of the Teesta, about 20 km away.

Samrat Sanyal, director of Bon Voyage, a Siliguri-based group which will promote tour packages with Runglee Rungliot at the centre, said the garden’s scenic beauty coupled with its strategic location would make it an ideal choice for tourists. “The project is top-class and we expect it to be a huge draw,” he said.

“Given its proximity to Darjeeling (29 km) and Kalimpong (35 km), tour-packages linking the nearby tourist destinations can easily be worked out with at least two nights’ stay in the garden,” he added.

This is the first tourism project of the Duncans, which runs 16 gardens in the Dooars. “If this experiment succeeds, perhaps our management will think of replicating it in the other gardens as well,” Singh said.

By Anuradha Sharma
Source: The Telegraph


Anonymous said...

During 1975-1984 I stayed in Hyderabad with my family. An ad in the Illustrated Weekly of India made us order Runglee Rungliot tea from Duncan's in Calcutta. A couple of times we received this superb tea by postal order. Back home in the Netherlands, it was impossible to find this tea at even the most specialized tea shops. Only through internet I could order the tea a few times from a lady in Switzerland, but now this particular tea is no longer on her list! Some other good darjeeling teas, yes, but how to get it now? Duncan's has no postal order, it appears, and nowhere in India I could obtain it. Further search on the internet!