February 18, 2009

Travelogue - Darjeeling!

I just realised that I have done fair bit of travelling within and outside India.. Lots of places, some famous and some remote.. So, I am going to share my travels in India and outside... So, watch out for posts on these as I hit my memory button.. I promise to give a different, personal touch to all the places I've been, with little anecdotes of my own..

I'd like to start with a short trip we made to Darjeeling while we were at Kolkata!

Darjeeling is a quaint hill town... and has tea estates to boast, not to mention the breathtaking view from Tiger Hill - the Kangchenjunga part of the Himalayan range. On a clear day, apparently one can even get a peek of Mount Everest! We were not lucky at all... it was misty and we could barely make out the Kangchenjunga range.. We were told that its a clear day for about a maximum of 10 days in a year!! Don't know how true it is but I sure felt better!

Our stay was at an even more quaint place - the Windamere... Oh what a beautiful place. I just loved the ambience, the tea room - all sunny with a piano and friendly old maids serving hot muffins and apple strudles with Darjeeling Tea! I have never felt such warmth from waiters and waitresses in any hotel before and after. They were all middle aged, some really old, but so friendly and warm and welcoming..

Our trip was way back in 1996 but I still remember every bit of the trip. I also remember that they were booked completely for the New Years Eve of 1999 - 2000, the turn of the Millennium. Apparently, its a big hit with the British tourists and the joke around Windamere is "You can find the true last Englishman here". Its a very small place and the main bazaar area had so many posters on Tibet at that time and I remember taking a few snaps of some of the humorous ones...

We combined business with pleasure and had to visit some of the Tea Estates around Darjeeling and Dooars and we also stayed at one of the Tea Estate Managers' house. Its a dream house, the kind of house I have always dreamed of owning.... a bright and sunny house with large glass doors around the drawing, dining overlooking a sea of Dahlias, roses and all the flowers of that grow in the region, in a riot of colours... The house by itself was perched right on top of the Estate giving a panaromic view of the Estate (apparently all tea estate managers' homes are so designed). The family were charming and the food delicious. We had the most amazing tasty English breakfast with them with freshly baked hot buns with honey (home grown) and everything was so English, not to mention the large rooms and bath and the whole house was laid with teak floors including the stairs and bannister!! We were told it was built in the 1880s..

A visit to tea factory completed our trip and I learnt all about CTC and orange pekoe, broken pekoe etc which is how tea is graded and priced.. Check out the pics in the link provided

No comments: