Dooars, The Door to Paradise
At the confluence of the foothills of the massive Eastern Himalayan ranges flanking it in the north and the last stretch of urban junction in the picturesque state of West Bengal in India lies a sprawling, expansive stretch of unending lush greenery and forests, with an amazing treasure trove of foliage and wildlife hidden within. As one winds up through the spiral roads across ascending upwards from the plains of Siliguri that give away into the forests that completely cloak the mountain ranges, the forests become even more scenic and a visual delight. Further upward ahead at an elevation, the roads can be seen spirally winding along the circumference of the mountains and surrounded by a variety of shades of thick greenery, looking absolutely mystic in the reflecting sunlight. This green patch that has been so enchanting and inviting right from the time it was discovered by the British till date is better known as Dooars. The Dooars are a stretch of lush green flourishing green forests flanked by the Eastern Himalayan ranges in the north. Apart from the potential for tourism it holds, the area is principally significant for being home to a number of tea gardens. It was primarily discovered and shortlisted for tea cultivation by the British and it still continues the legacy with its numerous tea plantations. Another interesting aspect to the Dooars area is their indigenous inhabitants, most of whom earn their livelihood from tea plantations, but with recent efforts and awareness made towards their cause, these indigenous tribes also showcase their ethnic culture and tradition through artistic handicrafts and homestays.
Interesting Read: Paradise of West Bengal – Dooars
Tea Tourism in Dooars
However a recent concept that has been gaining foothold and is a surging trend among backpackers, nature lovers and tea savants alike, is the concept of Tea Tourism. We have all dreamt or reserved fascinations for waking up to a quiet and peaceful misty eyed foggy morning in a colonial bungalow overlooking the towering snow-capped peaks on one side and abundant stretch of tea gardens on the other. The weather just sufficiently cool to throw a shawl around and sit back and enjoy the natural beauty and fantastically fresh atmosphere, royally sipping on a cup of freshly brewed tea. This literary picture that has been painted with words readily springs up a visual treat to an imaginative mind and one can relate to a quiet vacation or a weekend retreat that has been long pending. Tea tourism ideally involves the idea of exploring the landscape through the experiential delight of understanding the process of manufacturing tea and the steps it undergoes before being made available readily in a cup for breakfast at the comfort of one’s home, while staying in the operational premises of the tea estate. Arrive into a transformed landscape while travelling through sinuous roads guided along by the Teesta on one side and lush green forests lining it, climb further upwards into the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas as you gradually leave the city landscape out of sight and mind. Hidden safely in the thicket of forests, unknown to the untrained eye is a vast establishment of a tea estate. A heritage bungalow with old fashioned bathroom and antique furniture, overlooking a sprawling century old tea plantation on the gentle mountain slopes dotted with tea plants all around, one can easily mistake this rather enormous ancient British era specimen of architecture to be a historical monument. Standing tall against the tides of time in the middle of nowhere, inviting you to come and be a part of history. Begin your tea sojourns by embarking on a guided tea tour early in the morning. Observe the finer behind-the-scene nuances that go into making processed tea leaves after they are plucked from the gardens. Shadow the colourfully clad workers as they scout the estate lawns for those precious two leaves and bud. Get out into the plantations and get hands on if you wish to be involved in the process of tea production. Get your hands dirty as you immerse yourself in the world of your favourite drink right in the place of its origin, or one can just opt to be a distant observer admiring the knowhow. The whole activity is also quite a prized opportunity as some of the tea plantations in the Dooars are the oldest in Darjeeling, founded by the colonial British rulers and have retained their uniqueness by inheriting and practicing the legacy of the original owners. Not only are views priceless as one walks around the sun kissed tea gardens but also makes for a memorable induction with tea. Indulge in the freshest brews of specially sampled tea from different batches of the tea garden itself in exclusive tea tasting ceremonies while you find yourself a favourable perch to watch colourful varieties of birds jotting the sky and the mountainscape. Take hikes through the dense forests and inhale pollution free fresh oxygen in the pin drop silence of nature occasionally disrupted by different melodious chirping of birds.
Tea Tourism, A Viable Option For a Quiet Retreat
Tea tourism as an independent concept is growing rapidly and is fast winning favour among tourists travellers and backpackers alike. As a result more and more people are flocking from the congested and crowded urban plains for escaping into a quick weekend getaway or a quiet vacation in the tea gardens of Dooars. Along with living the experiential delight of tea, exploring the virgin beauty of nature and its bounties in this paradise on earth, one can also refresh the mind and body fatigued by the stress and pollution of the busy city life. The local inhabitants are some of the rarest and few surviving indigenous tribes and are extremely friendly and one can also interact with them and stay at their tenements in an attempt to understand their culture and traditions. Although most of them earn their livelihood from the neighbouring tea gardens, they are also coming up with home stays and handicrafts to showcase their talent and supplement their income. The government is also aware of their condition thanks to recent efforts and is taking initiatives for their development and upliftment.