Enjoy Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling

  • Glenburn Tea Estate takes you into the world of colonial style bungalows, tea gardens and factory, tea tasting, Himalayan peak views, fishing in river and short treks.   

An earlier article was about Tea Bungalows of Dibrugarh, Assam.


Darjeeling – that quaint Indian hill station invented by the British East India Company way back in the early 19th century is evocative of lush green tea estates, mighty Kanchendzonga (8586 m), Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (UNESCO World Heritage) and of course the beautiful hill people. This combination makes for a truly mesmerizing setup!


Growing up in India’s North East it is but natural to have friends and acquaintances with tribal lineages and my first brush with people of Nepali origin was at my boarding school in the riverside Assamese town of Tezpur.


Nepali folks are identified by surnames like Lama, Thapa, Gurung, Magar, Chetri .........and I remember one guy – Ang Tshering Lama, very athletic and an out-and-out outdoors guy with whom I shared a particularly good rapport. However, 30 years down the line, it was beyond my imagination to even comprehend what he has achieved in those unforgiving Himalayan mountains – five times Mount Everest summit, credited with conducting the world’s highest rescue mission and what have you.......  


Nepalese people are hardworking and from my own firsthand experience during my childhood days and now with the meteoric rise of my mountaineer buddy – Ang Lama and others of his ilk, I presume that Nepalese Gurkhas and Sherpas have won worldwide accolades for their extraordinary contribution-bravery and high altitude mountaineering skills. 


The hill station of Darjeeling is the Old Gorkha Station. “The name ‘Darjeeling’ came from the Tibetan words, dorje meaning thunderbolt (originally the scepter of Indra) and ling a place or land, hence the land of the thunderbolt.


Needless to say, the Darjeeling Himalayas along with Kalimpong and the Dooars region today is the bastion of the Gurkhas in India. Though the “original inhabitants of the Darjeeling Hills were Lepchas or Rongpa (the ravine folks) as they prefer themselves to be known as. Though their origin is obscure, they are decidedly Mongolian in feature.” The domination of Gurkhas in Darjeeling is of recent origin. Source

Darjeeling is often referred to as the “Queen of hill stations” and during the British rule, it used to be the summer retreat of British administrators who were instrumental in introducing tea plantations. Today the world famous Darjeeling Tea, renowned for its aroma, has worldwide acceptance and is one of the most preferred tea brands globally.


The whole of Darjeeling Himalayas are strewn with undulating tea estates and most of them are at least a century old. Glenburn, Makaibari, Happy Valley, Sourenee, Gomtee, Chamong .......are some of the top end Tea Estates surrounding Darjeeling and have a glorious colonial heritage.  


The Darjeeling tea is amongst the world's most expensive tea brands and prices per Kg could be as high as USD $ 850+. Makaibari Tea in particular has always been uber expensive, pegged at around USD$ 1800 per Kg. 


A number of tea estates have opened up their Victorian era Tea Bungalows and actively promote the concept of Tea Tourism for the benefit of discerning visitors. 


“Glenburn is a heavenly little plantation retreat that lies on a hillock above the banks of the River Rungeet, high in the Himalayas, overlooked by the mighty Kanchenjunga mountain range. Started by a Scottish tea company in 1859, Glenburn then passed into the hands of one of India’s pioneering tea planting families-The Prakashes, One of India's pioneering tea-planting families, we have, over the years, come to be known as the “Chaiwala family“ - which literally means tea planters.”

Welcome to Glenburn Tea Estate

Burra Bungalow-Front verandah.

View of Darjeeling from verandah.  

Glenburn Tea Estate, an 1860’s built tea company for instance has been pioneers in promoting the concept of luxury colonial tea tourism in Darjeeling. Their specially curated tea holidays are top notch offering the quintessential “Bungalow Holiday” experience – spacious British era rooms, vintage wooden floors (Burma Teak), cast iron windowpanes, high ceilings and intimate balconies offering uninterrupted views of the awesome Kanchendzonga-the third highest mountain in the world.

Early morning view of Mount Kanchendzonga.

Bird watching. 

Suspension Bridge to Badamtam Forest in Sikkim. Built in 1902, it is atleast 100 feet above the river.

The Glenburn experience isn’t just immersive, its every bit rejuvenating as well, with well thought out itineraries that offers guided tea factory visits, tea tasting, hiking and soft treks, cooking classes as well as a variety of massage treatments to heal your body-mind-soul. 

Fresh tea just in from the fields. After Factory visit, enjoy Tea Tasting.

Fishing on river Rungeet ie 8 kms away. 

They offer a full body massage using Darjeeling Green Tea Oil.


No wonder, one of the world’s renowned travel & lifestyle publication Conde’ Nast Traveller best sums up the Glenburn Tea Holiday experience thus – 


“A CORNER OF HEAVEN - Stunning scenery, old fashioned elegance and the opportunity to see the rituals of tea production make Glenburn Tea Estate a compelling blend.” 

A day visit to Kalimpong. U can also do a day visit to Darjeeling. 

Compelling indeed it is, but Darjeeling – which was so tenderly developed by the East India Company, first as an army outpost and later on as a summer resort for serving British officials, has lost much of its sheen due largely to a multitude of problems – political unrest, overcrowding or unrestricted tourism surpassing the carrying capacity and rapid urbanization  being the principal causes. 


Darjeeling Himalayas being an ecologically sensitive region, the mandarins in Delhi and Kolkata should have been more responsive in safeguarding Darjeeling’s fragile ecosystem. After all, isn’t Ecology all about interdependence of flora and fauna with the natural surroundings?  

If the government is proactive and there is every reason to believe that there would be a revival of Darjeeling’s socio-political landscape. 


The War Memorial, bang in the centre of Batasia Loop- a railway bend through which the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways operates is a place of great military significance as it is dedicated to those gallant Gurkha soldiers who were martyred after India’s independence in 1947. A Gurkha War Museum is coming up at Ghoom’s (Batasee Loop), thereby nicely complimenting the Gurkha War Memorial. 


How to reach

Glenburn Tea Estate is a three hour drive from Bagdogra Airport i.e. well connected by air to major Indian cities. From their website would suggest best time to visit is November or monsoons (depends on rains) although it is accessible the year round. It is not cheap. Usually pricing depends on season.


For a holiday at Glenburn Tea Estate email info@glenburnteaestate.com 


Author is a Travel Journalist. All pictures provided by author.


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Also see albums of

1. Darjeeling

2. Sunrise Tiger Hill Darjeeling

3. Sillery Gaon  

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