Sikkim tea garden beckons tourists

Sikkim tea garden beckons tourists image

A bungalow inside a tea garden that was damaged in the 2011 earthquake would be the epicentre of a first-of-its-kind tourism initiative in Sikkim that would combine tea, adventure and gaming.

The management of the state government-owned Temi Tea Estate has entered into a public-private partnership with the city-based Priya Entertainments to promote a part of the garden as a tourist resort. The project, according to officials, is the first government deal with a non-Sikkimese partner in this sector in the state.

The Temi Tea Garden in south Sikkim is spread across 176 hectares along a gentle gradient on altitudes rising from 4,800 to 6,400ft. Set up in 1969 by the king of Sikkim to provide employment to Tibetan refugees, it is the only tea garden in the state and produces high-end organic tea. “The first two tea bushes were planted by the king himself. They still stand in front of the heritage bungalow, We call them King and Queen,” said Mrinalini Shrivastava, the managing director of the tea estate who belongs to the Indian Police Service.

Shrivastava was in town on Friday to announce the partnership with Priya Entertainment. “We chose them because of their experience in developing Khairabera, an eco-adventure resort in Purulia,” she said.

The bungalow, boasting a view of Mt Kanchenjungha, stands on mortars of mud and cut rocks, and therefore was easily affected by the earthquake. “We will restore the building by retaining the same structure and design but by flushing out the mud and replacing it with reinforced concrete. It is a time-consuming process but we hope to finish work in 12-14 months,” said Arijit Dutta, managing director of Priya Entertainment. Work has started from March.

While there are four rooms in the bungalow, five cottages and three tents will be erected on the premises. “We will allow a maximum footfall of 24 at a time,” Dutta said.

A corner of the plantation will be part of the resort. “Tourists can pluck the two leaves and a bud themselves. Their collection will be packed in sachets and branded ‘Temi Tea plucked by me’ as gift items to take back,” he added.

As for the adventure tourism component, paragliding is already operational. By June, ziplines will be in place. “Mountain bikes are already there. We are looking at safety aspects of quad bikes.”

Gaming being legal in Sikkim, the resort has applied for casino licence. “It was part of our agreement with the state government,” Dutta said.

A cherry blossom festival will be started from this November when the hills turn pink with blooms. A hot water spring 40 minutes away is another tourist attraction.

“We are taking a community-based approach to tourism. Priya may also become the common channel for the local homestays,” added project advisor Rahul Banerjee.

“The project should commence by April 2019 if the weather and other factors support us. It will be our golden jubilee year too,” said Shrivastava.

The government wants the tourist focus to shift from Nathu La in the east for the sake of the eco system. Sikkim received six lakh tourists last year – “almost as much as its population”, she pointed out.

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Paragliding at Temi Tea

For hours I surfed, predicting the mountain swell,
Riding breaks and soaring off the crest.
And then I cruised back to the Earth, landing on the Tea-greens
Feeling heaps, and way less stressed

The poem above forks out another promise of maiden reality from the vision-quiver of the current MD Ms Mrinalini Shrivastava at Temi, Sikkim. Yes one more maiden venture Temi offers & would open its adventurous joys to the outside world is Paragliding.

I read somewhere that longitude or latitude is neither an attitude nor a mystified contemplation of a sausage roll on a shelf. Ok then. Tell it to the feathers, mystic beak in realm, tell it to the cloven hooves trotting in the towns, tell it to a block of frozen ice, soon to break and thaw, and don’t forget the number two waiting at the door. And now go bake a cake using a lorry, a car and a huge seventy acre highway. It’s Temi Tea garden all way –

Kudos again to the current management that opens up a vista of new possibilities in this part of south Sikkim.

Paragliding elsewhere in Sikkim has become an increasingly popular adventure sports. And why not. Who would not love to see the magnificent Himalayan range and the snow peaks from the sky as you fly like a bird and the look below to see the stunning mountain landscape of Sikkim and Heavens above.

In fact there is no experience or training required to enjoy paragliding.
As per plan the operators at Temi proposes to offer Tandem Flights … where an experienced and certified pilot will accompany you. Both pilot and the passenger sit safely and comfortably in harness which is attached to the paraglider. The pilot takes care of the entire flight and its navigation. So after an easy take off, you will only enjoy the flight with breathtaking views.

A few snippets – you should be physically fit and within normal weight limits (90 kgs). While the pilot does the bulk of the job, you will need to participate in take off and landing. So wear sneakers, jeans/trousers etc.

Paragliding location and flights in Temi

A section at the garden has made way for take off including flattening of space for landing too –

Proposed paragliding flights you can enjoy are offered with Tandem Flights which means there will be a certified pilot with you.

The first type of Paragliding flight is known as Medium Fly. As the name suggests, you will fly at a medium altitude of about 1000 – 1200 meters and will get a lovely aerial view of Tarku township as well as that of Himalayan snow peaks. The take off location for Medium Fly Paragliding is at one of the sections at the garden. The flying time is 5-10 minutes. Landing takes place at another section at the garden near the diocese of Barabangla-

Pictures below portray the mystic experience that awaits you

The second type of paragliding flight is High Flywhere you will fly at a higher altitude. The take off location is being decided.

Indicative Rates

  • Medium fly: Rs. 2,500/- per person.
  • High Fly: Rs. 4,500/- per person.

Start making your advance bookings. The operators at Temi plan to arrange hotel pickup and drop at additional cost. It can take up to 2 hours for the entire paragliding trip including flying time and ground movements.

Welcome to a whole world of new experience …