When you think of Darjeeling, you automatically think of lush green tea plantations and tea estates spanning miles. One of the most famous tea estates in Darjeeling is the Makaibari Tea Estate. It is also one of the first tea factories to be established in India in the year 1859.
Makaibari Tea always fetches the highest prices in the world market. They hold a record for selling one of the most expensive tea in the world.
Overview of Makaibari tea estate
The tea estate is family-owned, and the ownership of the estate has been passed down from generation to generation over the years. Currently, it is being managed by Rajah Banerjee.
The tea estate is located in the Kurseong valley of Darjeeling, just between the Bagdogra Airport and the main city center. It is 37 km away from the town center while from Bagdogra the distance has been calculated to be around 45 km.
The factory currently employs over 700 workers from the local community, out of which the majority of them are women. The tea estate has earned a distinction for being the very first tea garden that was certified by the Fair Trade and for also employing women.
The tea estate produces tea using organic farming methods. Makaibari tea estate is known worldwide for its high-quality tea. Their most popular product is Silver Tea.
Due to the growing popularity of the estate and an increase in tourists every year, the tea garden now accommodates visitors. The local community, many of whom are workers in the tea garden have renovated their homes to provide homestay to the tourists.
You can have a tour guide you through the tea garden, taste different varieties of tea, and see how the finest tea in the world is produced in the factory.
Things to Do at Makaibari Tea Estate
There are several things to do at the Makaibari tea estate. You can rest assured that you will not be bored even once.
Although do remember that a few of the activities may require additional charges which you will have to pay.
- Take a walk through the mountain paths and valleys. Switch on the explorer mood and walk down the winding paths to see where it leads you.
- Immerse yourself in the local culture. The local community consists of both Indians and Nepalese people. There are also differences in castes. See how these local villagers live their day to day lives. Explore the little village.
- Take part in the local cultural dance program that is mostly held in the evenings. If you do not want to participate you can always enjoy the performances.
- Your tour guide will take you to see the tea garden. You can see how the workers pluck the leaves and how the leaves are processed to create the beverage that everyone loves so much. You can also interact with the workers of the factory and know more about their work process.
- When you are in Darjeeling you cannot miss out on the toy train ride. Take the toy train all the way to Darjeeling. Spend the evening there, do some shopping, eat some local cuisine and then you can take the train back to Kurseong.
- If you are a nature lover you will love the beautiful lush greenery all around you and the untouched beauty of nature. Experience the wildlife and watch migratory birds make the valley their home for the season.
- Kurseong has several sights and attractions that you just cannot miss. Even if you are pressed for time we recommend you to set aside a day or two to visit the sights in Kurseong like the deer park, the forest museum, the various viewpoints, and the several lakes and temples.
Accommodation is not an issue here. You can find accommodation at the Makaibari tea estate easily. The Stone House offers few rooms for visitors. Apart from the Stone House, there are bungalows and cottages where you can stay.
If you cannot find accommodation at the tea estate, you can always stay at one of the homestays near the tea garden.
The villagers are renovated their places to include modern amenities to accommodate the growing number of tourists each year. You will find modern toilets for geysers so you will not have to worry about these when you get there.
The villagers have chosen to provide accommodation to travellers because it has become an alternative means of earning for them.
Since the tea garden is located at a hill station the climate tends to be extremely pleasant during the summer season. The temperature usually ranges between 12 degrees to 20 degrees Celsius.
If you want to beat the summer heat, you can book a trip to Makaibari to escape the prickly heat of the plains. During the winter season, the temperature ranges from 3 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius.
In winters the mornings are beautifully enveloped in fog. You get to sip hot tea while taking in the view outside.
It is recommended to avoid planning a trip to the Makaibari estate during the monsoon season, July to August, as the roads are risky.
How to Reach Makaibari Tea Estate
Unfortunately, there is no direct transport to the tea estate. You will have to make certain stops on the way.
For one’s traveling by train, you need to reach the New Jalpaiguri station. It is the nearest railway station to the Makaibari tea estate and is well connected to all the major Indian cities.
From the railway station book a cab to reach Darjeeling. Once you reach Darjeeling, you can then take a jeep to reach the tea estate which is merely an hour away.
If you are traveling by air, you need to reach the nearest airport that is the Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal. From the airport, you can then book a taxi to the hill station. The airport is well connected to cities like Kolkata, Delhi, and Guwahati.
Traveling by road can be tiresome and hectic but those who are opting for it can easily do it. Darjeeling is well connected to other major cities by roads like Siliguri, Kalimpong, and Gangtok.
Plan a trip to the Makaibari tea estate if you love tea and want to see how it is processed first hand, or if you are a nature lover and want some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The quiet retreat away from the city will help you relax.
The Makaibari tea estate is not just committed to producing the best quality tea but is also concerned about the workers in the factory. The workers receive free shoes, food grains as well as umbrellas. They are also entitled to free health check-ups and treatment at the Garden hospital.
The management has also established community halls, computer centers, Library as well as a primary school for the workers and their families.
This is a short trip which is perfect for weekend gateway when you cannot take a long leave for a holiday. If you are planning to visit Darjeeling, then you can make a quick stop at the Makaibari tea estate at the end of your trip to rewind for a day or two before you head back home.