Rare is proud to present an exceptional plantation stay near Darjeeling, Glenburn Tea Estate. A complete experience that is atmospheric and encompasses landscapes, cuisine, culture and learning.
Inspired by the Vineyards of Europe, the Prakash family opened their 1600 acre plantation estate in the beautiful Darjeeling hills to guests in 2002. Glenburn is a fully functional tea estate employing over a 1000 estate workers and producing quality tea now a popular brand of Darjeeling (Darjeeling tea has GI status ) that is retailed in various outlets all over the country.
Burra Bungalow is the old plantation bungalow that came with the estate when the Prakashes bought it in the year 2000. Verandas that look out to the rolling hills covered with verdant tea shrubs, dotted with quaint gaily coloured villages , weather and luck permitting some of the most magnificent views of the Kanchenjunga – the predominant peak of the Himalayas seen from these parts. Potted plants brimming with seasonal flowers abound in and around the veranda while trailing vines and fragrant honeysuckle cover walls and adorn the bungalow and the grounds. Four themed suites – The Planters’ Suite, The Rose Suite, The Simbong Butterfly Suite and The Kanchenjunga Suite, a formal lounge with an adjacent dining room are a part of the Burra bungalow.
Just a level below Burra Bungalow with no interruptions to the view is the Water Lily Bungalow added about a couple of years ago houses four more suites – The Camelia Suite ( in honour of the tea plant ) , The Rung dung Suite ( Rung Dung is one of the rivers that flows with in the Glenburn estate ), The Singalila Suite and the The Rangeet Suite ( another river on the estate ). A shaded outdoor terrace leading to the bungalow with views of the tea gardens and Darjeeling city ( that spreads out as a twinkling carpet at night ) serves as a breakfast place, private lounge, a small one-bed spa offering Glenburn tea therapies, another sunny terrace with views and a couple of al-fresco dining options ensure that the Water Lily bungalow is self- contained and can be booked independently for a family or group of friends travelling together.
Glenburn’s suites are charming and superbly cosy with teak board flooring, antique furniture, hand embroidered linen, bathrooms with stand- alone tubs and modern mixers. The lingering English cottage feel is everywhere and is integral to the ‘Glenburn Experience’. And mind you this is no promotional cliché. It is fact that is widely spoken about by referral guests and repeat visitors – the experience programmed to extensive detail begins when you are met at the Bagdogra airport or where ever you have arranged to be picked up. A soft greeting, a cool towel and a refreshing drink set on a tray and you are ushered into an SUV, upholstered and maintained a pristine white, a couple of cushions and a bottle of water at hand and you set off at an even pace to Glenburn. From Bagdogra, Glenburn is just over 3 hours and that is exactly when you reach, in time for the gracious hostess Najma to welcome you with a Buddhist scarf and reviving ice-tea.
The service is unobtrusive and impeccable, meal times are a delight – a mix of local Nepali, essential Indian, and continental flavoured with fresh grown herbs from Glenburn’s organic garden. You are treated to delectable fresh bakes - cookies, cakes, quiches served over tea or picnic lunches. Everything at Glenburn is unhurried and timed to perfection. A walk to the village Shikari Dura just below Glenburn is an hour and a half, a bird walk to the log cabin by the Rangeet river is 4 hours, a walk to the Majhitar bridge from here is an excursion of about 2 hours with just over an hour of walking, meet for drink at the lounge or the terrace at 7.30 where the hearty bonfire has already been set up. Yet none of this is to deter you from wanting to do your own thing, have a private meal by yourself, choose to avoid all activity and curl up by the veranda and read your book, opt for a late walk, request for a spa treatment , it is just effortlessly co-ordinated and can be organised to suit individual needs.
The Glenburn Experience is not quite complete without the Glenburn Tea Tour, a full day program which begins with visits to the tea gardens where plucking is in progress as cheerful women carrying the essential wicker basket on their back chat, sing, giggle while plucking the ‘two and a bud’ with practised ease. The accompanying guide from the estate – men and women who have grown up in these parts tell you the story of the tea , its variety, plantation , pruning and the essential agronomy. Picnic lunch on the banks of the river Rung Dung is followed by a visit to the factory to see the subsequent steps in the tea making process from weighing to sorting. You end the tour with a ceremonious tea tasting to acquaint you with the subtle aromas, taste and colour of various varieties of tea grown on the estate.
Glenburn promotes an all-inclusive concept and hence once paid in advance is very much a ‘cashless’ experience. Typically a minimum stay of 4-5 nights would ensure that Glenburn can be used as a base to explore the important destinations around as day excursions – Darjeeling, Kalimpong , Gangtok. With Nepal 4 hours by road and Bhutan 6 hours, Glenburn is ideal clubbed as a getaway or extensions for these areas as well.
Perfect as a ‘slow holiday’ Glenburn can be clubbed as an extension with a trip to anywhere in India. There are easy flight connections from Bagdogra to Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Delhi. With an altitude of just over 3000 ft, Glenburn enjoys a cold to mild climate and hence is practically an all season retreat.
Essential Facts :
Closest Airport : Bagdogra ( 90 Kms – 3 Hours drive ) ; Darjeeling ( 30 kms – 1 hour 15 mins )
Accommodation : 8 Suites
Double / Twin : 5 Doubles and 3 twins , most suites have provision for a third bed.
Credit cards : Visa and Master Card