The Singtom Tea Estate has the distinction of being the oldest tea estates in India. This was one of the main reasons that I wanted to visit this tea resort. Of course, staying in the middle of a sprawling tea garden is always a welcome change from our daily life. The bungalow was built way back in 1862 and the tea gardens were infact, a part of the Steinthal Tea Estate. It was the first of the tea plantations that took place in Darjeeling, which was the first where Darjeeling tea plantation took place for the first time in 1852.
Singtom Tea Estate is thus India’s first and one of the most beautiful tea estates in India. Situated merely 20 km from Darjeeling town, the tea estate spans across a whooping 1600 acres and stretches over a vast landscape of sprawling tea gardens, forests, natural waterfalls and a river flowing through the estate towards the bottom of the hills. As a guest of the resort, you can access all of these.
The average height of the Singtom Tea estate is about 4500 ft. The resort and the tea factory are both located inside the garden. The tea estate produces some of the finest organic teas of Darjeeling. The quality of the tea depends on the altitude of the place. The more the altitude, the better the quality of the tea. The Singtom Tea Estate, being at a higher altitude produces fine quality of Darjeeling Tea – black, green and white representing different flavours and grades.
The Resort and Rooms
As soon as you enter through the gate of the estate, you will see a beautiful, old British styled bungalow in the middle of an equally beautiful garden. The bungalow was originally built in 1862. Wherever your eyes will see, you will see endless stretches of tea gardens. While you sit at the lawn sipping a cup of fresh Darjeeling Tea, you can see the Darjeeling town just in front of you. From the backside, you will get great views of the Kanchenjunga ranges. It is such a place where you will get the natural beauty and the luxury of a planters bungalow in a single place.
There are 4 rooms in total in the resort – Suite with Mountain View and Queen Suite. Each of the room is more than 500 sq ft in size and has subtle Victorian influences in the furniture and decorations coupled with al the modern amenities. The lounge and all the rooms have fireplaces and are still fully operational. These fireplaces are as old as the bungalow. There is a lounge and a dining room as well. The lounge has comfortable seating arrangements too.
Things to do at Singtom Tea estate
The place is away from the hustle bustle of the city. The natural environment, the lush green tea gardens and the view of the mountain ranges are perfect for a relaxing vacation. There are a number of activities that you can do here.
1. Tea Tasting Tour
You can get a first hand experience of tea tasting from the finest tea gardens of Darjeeling – the Singtom Tea garden and the Steinthal tea Garden. The guests are taught how to taste and identify the different kinds of tea. The activity is chargeable. It costs INR 500 per head.
2. Tea Plucking Tour
One of the advantages of staying inside a tea estate is that you get to see all the activities of tea making at one place. You can see here how tea is plucked while you yourself get immersed in the stunning beauty of the tea gardens. This activity also costs INR 500 per head.
3. Tea Factory Tour
The tea factory tour will enable you to see how the leaves are finally makes way to the cups. You will be shown how tea is withered, rolled, fermented, dried and sorted. Remember, from November 15 to March 15, tea production does not take place. So you will not be able to avail the tea factory tour during this time. This tour will also cost you INR 500 per head.
4. Darjeeling Sightseeing
Since Darjeeling is so close by (only 20 km), you can stay at Singtom Tea Estate and go for a day long sightseeing tour to Darjeeling. There are a number of places of interest in Darjeeling like the Chowrasta Mall, Darjeeling Zoo, HMI, Batasia Loop, Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre and many more.
You can go for a trekking activity amidst the beautiful flora and fauna of the Himalayas. There are four trekking routes nearby the Singtom Tea Estate. All these routes will take you through the jungle trail and offer you the views of the Himalayan peaks. You can take a picnic basket with you along the trek so that you can have a lovely picnic in the middle. Taking a local guide with you though not compulsory, but is recommended for the treks.
6. 360 Degree Point Visit
The 360 Degree point is also a must visit place here. As the name suggests, you will get a sweeping 360 degree view of the surroundings from here. You can see the majestic Himalayan peaks, the undulating hills of Nepal, the Darjeeling town and the entire valley from here. The resort can also arrange a picnic here if you want for a cost of INR 1000 per head.
How to reach Singtom Tea Estate:
The nearest airport is the Bagdogra Airport. The nearest Railway head is New Jalpaiguri.
From Bagdogra/NJP, you can avail the resort vehicle to take you to the resort. They charge INR 1000 for one-way pick-up or drop from Darjeeling for a small vehicle.
Best Time to Visit:
You can visit the tea estate at any time of the year. But remember, from November 15 to March 15, the tea production remains closed, so you will not be able to watch the tea processing.
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