Monsoon Green and Tea Plantations
Dibrugarh - Mancotta Tea Estate - Sivasagar - Gatoonga Tea Estate - Majuli
Available from April to October
Monsoon is when the state of Assam receives wholesome rainfall. Starting from June, the rain is more or less active for the next 3 to 4 months until October. It is the time of the year when the landscape of Assam, which consist of farms, tropical forests, grasslands and tea plantations, changes its color to a very soothing and refreshing green, fresh from the rain brought by monsoon clouds. It is also the time of the year when the Brahmaputra River becomes a place of mighty sunsets and mesmerizing gigantic cloud formations can be seen across the skies.
The history of Assam Tea goes back more than a century ago. It was a certain Robert Bruce from Scotland, an adventurer, who first discovered it for the west in 1823. Locally, tea was being consumed by the Singpho Tribe, who provided samples to Bruce for his scientific research. However, it was only in the early 1830s when proper examination concluded the Assam variety to be different from the Chinese tea. Soon after in 1939, at the time when the west had just begun their love-affair with tea, Britain allowed companies to rent lands for growing tea. More than a decade later, when the first batch of Assam grown tea reached the markets in London, consumers were deeply impressed and thus began the tea industry of Assam. The colonial days saw tea growers who were an adventurous breed. They introduced a laid-back lifestyle in the region, which involved staying in luxurious bungalows and engaging in social/sports events which occurred in clubhouses. Though today the laid-back lifestyle is disappearing due to the global competitive market, the tea plantations still have an aura of their colonial past. After all, the state of Assam is today the world’s largest tract of land growing tea plantations.
The highlight of this tour will be your stay in 2 different boutique heritage bungalows spread across upper Assam, both with rich history. Their colonial decor; set midst unending miles of freshly green tea plantations, will provide the perfect luxury and atmosphere to spend your days appreciating the monsoon season, while you sip on some of finest of the Assam variety of tea. There are a lot of activities included to keep you busy at times when the rain is less or the sun is out, such as tea tastings and visits to tea factories, tea auction center, tea research center, local markets and villages. Depending on the river and weather conditions, you might also get a chance to go on a sunset boat ride in the Brahmaputra and visit the island of Majuli, a hotbed of ancient Assamese culture. The cuisine will many times be exotic, consisting of tribal, Assamese and Indian cuisine. There is also a chance for an informal cooking lesson with organic produces grown locally and a tea time elephant trek which will leave you thrilled.
To end with, to appreciate the monsoon weather without getting wet, we recommend you bring along a good raincoat for this journey. Also, being summer time, it will get quite hot on days when it won’t be raining, for which light cotton cloths are perfect.
Day 1 | Dibrugarh - Mancotta T.E
Arrive at Dibrugarh, an important tea centre of Upper Assam. Drive to Mancotta tea estate of the prestigious Jalan group in the outskirts of the town, check-in at a beautiful tea bungalow surrounded by green plantations. The bungalow is a heritage structure which was built to serve as a residence for the British managers. It is also a fine example of colonial architecture. Indulge in the hospitality and luxury of the British era in the estate. Afternoon will be free at leisure to get a feel of the plantations, which appear lush green during the rains. Your stay will be at Mancotta or Chowkidingee tea bungalows with luxurious amenities.
Day 2 | Mancotta T.E
Go for an early morning stroll into the tea gardens, the best time to experience the therapeutic aromas and the freshness of the plantations. Later after a leisurely breakfast, you will leave for a guided tour of the tea garden. Also visit the tea factory, where experts would explain the various processes involved in tea production. It is also a good opportunity to try tea tasting of the various blends of Assam tea, which is renowned all over the world. Afternoon and evening will be free to visit the local market or go on a stroll along the banks of Brahmaputra at sunset.
Day 3 | Mancotta T.E - Sivasagar - Gatoonga T.E
After breakfast, travel to the historic town of Sibsagar (2 hours), the medieval capital of Assam. Explore the monuments built by the Tai Ahom dynasty such as the old temples of Shiva Doul, Vishnu Doul, Joy Sagar lake, Rong Ghor pavilion and ruins of Tolatol Ghor palace. Continue the drive to Gatoonga Tea Estate near Jorhat (2 hours). Gatoonga is an old plantation which was started by the reputed tea planter Hemendra Barooah and is managed by the B&A Group. Check-in at the century old heritage tea bungalow, which once served as the residence of the Factory Assistant Manager during the British era. The architecture of the place and the antiques displayed gives a feeling of the bygone colonial times. Your stay will be at Banyan Grove tea bungalow with luxurious amenities.
Day 4 | Gatoonga T.E
One may go for an early morning stroll in the plantations if desired. After breakfast, leave for a guided visit to the tea factory, followed by a tea tasting tour of the tea produced from their plantation. Later, visit the Tocklai Tea Research centre in Jorhat, one of the oldest scientific centres on tea which was established by the British. Interact with the experts and learn about the trends in tea production as well as the history of tea in India. If time permits, visit the majestic Thengal Manor in Jorhat, the ancestral residence of the tea baron Barooah family and is now a heritage mansion which still has an old world charm. Return to bungalow in the afternoon and relax by enjoying the view of rains with a cup of premium tea from one of the finest plantations of Assam.
Day 5 | Gatoonga T.E - Majuli - Gatoonga T.E
Go on a day trip to Majuli, the biggest river island in the world and a well preserved spot for Assamese and tribal culture. Leave early to Nimati Ghat (2 hours) to catch the morning ferry across the Brahmaputra. Rest of the day will be free to leisurely explore the island and the countryside. Visit the old Kamalabari Sattra (Assamese monastery), built by the followers of the medieval saint Srimanta Sankerdev. Here, the monks learn a unique form of art, drama, music and Neo-Vaishnavite philosophy which was started by Sankardev. Then, visit the mask making center at Samuguri Sattra where extremely elaborate traditional masks are made by the monks for the Bhaona (dance dramas) which depict scenes from Hindu mythology. Also visit a village of the Mishing tribe, the indigenous inhabitants of the island. Relish their ethnic Mishing cuisine and also try the local brew, Apong. Catch the afternoon ferry and return to the estate by evening.
Day 6 | Gatoonga T.E - Jorhat
After breakfast, transfer to the nearby Jorhat Airport or Dibrugarh Airport (4 hours) for departure. End of tour.
Surrounded midst lush sprawling tea gardens on the outskirts of Dibrugarh, Mancotta Bungalow is a boutique property with the classic old warm charm found in the luxury and comfort the early British tea growers lived in and their lifestyle in the estates. The stilt-raised bungalow displays fine colonial architecture. A peculiar feature is all nails used in building are made out of wood believed to have been handcrafted by traditional Chinese artisans. Rooms are large and luxurious with modern amenities. The open lawns and sit-outs are ideal for long conversations over a fine cup of tea or indulge in a book.
Built more than 100 years ago, Banyan Grove is a boutique bungalow which allows travelers to live the colonial life of early British tea growers and have a peek into their fine adventurous escapades. The property has spacious rooms with fire places, a classic hall-room, sit-outs and finely kept lawns, all surrounded by the pleasant greenery of the Gattonga tea estate in fertile middle Assam.
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