Garden Work for tea tourists at Happy Valley

Darjeeling, March 19: Globetrotting, high-end tourists will be soon seen helping workers manufacture Darjeeling tea at Happy Valley Tea Garden under instructions from young guides speaking English, German and French.

The garden, set up in 1854, is rolling out an unconventional tea tourism package in which guests will prune and pluck tea, before being treated to a sumptuous lunch at the new lounge coming up beside the garden factory.

The lunch, too, will be special, because each item will have tealeaves in one form or the other.

The $1m project is expected to be launched in three months, said Sanjay Bansal, the proprietor of Rithik Investment Pvt. Ltd, which bought the garden last year. “I personally believe that just opening two rooms for people at the factory bungalow only amounts to paying-guest tourism and not tea tourism,” he said.

Bansal added that the workers’ children (not minors) would be taught English, German and French before they are recruited as guides. “A museum is also being built in the century-old factory, which we are renovating.”

Happy Valley is one of the oldest and most famous gardens in Darjeeling and the museum houses a lot of gems from the past.

“We will, for example, demonstrate the use of the piston prime mover machine, which generates electricity and was built in 1850,” said the garden owner.

The top floor of the factory will have a reception area and changing rooms for tourists to get into workers’ uniform. The building is designed in a way that will allow them to walk around the factory and see the manufacturing process.

While high-end tourists can book a conducted tour for the entire day, people on a tighter budget can visit the garden on two-hour shifts between 8am and 5pm. The price of neither package has been decided.

There will no accommodation facility at the garden.