If you want to experience the romance of the famed tea-life during the British Raj, then all you have to do is to take a trip to the Wild Mahseer Lodge, located on 22 acres of certified organic land right in the midst of Balipara tea estate in Assam. It’s a 20-minute drive from Tezpur airport. The resort has four independent bungalows with three or four suites each. It has all the romance of Victorian architecture – spacious rooms, elegantly furnished with a cheerful log fire and a stream lapping nearby. The amenities, however, are modern with an eye on the luxury traveler.
The main heritage bungalow has been restored from a 108-year-old property, the restaurant was a garage for tractors and the conference room, police barracks. The whole ambience is a recreation of the planter’s life during the British raj – the cuisine is similar to the anglo-Indian meals that was so popular then (and now), the meals are served around a fireplace or an open bonfire by liveried orderlies. The food is all homegrown and organic. All the places have been named keeping the tea terminology in mind. The meals are served at the First Flush, a shed that has the feel of a winter garden with lots of plants.
For those who don’t want to laze around the lawns, play a game of golf or simply join in a tea-plucking and tasting session; there are organised tea treks. The tea tourism is somewhat on the lines of the wine and whisky tours in Europe. There are also organised cruises on the Brahmaputra to spot river dolphins after which the boatman takes you to a nearby island and cooks a fisherman’s meal over a bonfire. For the Indiana Jones, there is river rafting and visits to nearby adivasi villages The sanctuary of Kaziranga is close by, so an entire day can be spent on a jeep or elephant safari where you can spot rhinos, deer, wild boar, hornbills and sometimes even a tiger. It’s also close to Arunachal Pradesh so you can visit the oldest Buddhist Monastery in Asia in Tawang. The idea is to bring back a lifestyle and experience of a planter’s life with all its perks and none of the work.
By Priya Sahgal