Our tea tour takes you through the plantations to educate you on the process of how a humble leaf is transformed into a much sought after cuppa! See how colorfully dressed tea pluckers, predominantly women pluck the delicate two leaves and a bud dexterously with their nimble fingers. Discover the different steps involved in turning the leaf into your freshly brewed cup of morning tea - all very carefully controlled to ensure that the tea that you drink is only of the highest quality. A quality that has made Assam tea world famous.
Received at Dibrugarh airport and transferred to the hotel. Post lunch take a tea walk in Mancotta Tea Estate. Evening enjoy a dance performance by an ethnic dance group on the bungalow lawns of Mancotta Heritage Chang Bungalow followed by traditional Assamese Dinner. Overnight at the hotel.
Dibrugarh is the gateway to the “Hidden Land” of Eastern Arunachal Pradesh and Northern Myanmar. The Ahoms from Thailand came through Northern Myanmar to this area in the 13th century to establish their Empire which thrived in the ancient land of Assam. It is the “Camellia” town of Upper Assam, an undisturbed haven, with its rich tea gardens resembling a lush green carpet. Experience and enjoy the richness of these tea gardens while staying at the Heritage Chang Bungalows. These are constructed on stilts and are situated in a serene atmosphere free from pollution.
When the British established their tea plantations in the mid-19th century they quickly built comfortable bungalows designed to make life as pleasant as possible in what, was to them, a hostile and strange land. One of the main features of these buildings has given rise to their name – Chang bungalows. Chang in the local language means “raised on stilts” and the design served multi purposes- to keep the house cool by allowing the breeze to blow underneath and to keep both water and animals out!
Bihu is the most popular folk dance of Assam. The people of Assam are very proud of its unique position among all other such dances of India. Except Bhangra (the popular folk dance of Punjab), no other folk dance in India can compete with the rhythmic exuberance of the Bihu dance. ‘Bihu’ performed by young men and women reflects youthful passion and joy rejuvenating life during the spring season, accompanied by songs woven around the theme of love and physical yearning. The dance is performed by all irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
Post breakfast, take a tea tour around a tea estate known for producing high quality CTC teas . i.e Ethelwold Tea Estate. Also experience of a Tea tasting session of different types of tea with one of the knowledgeable person in the field of tea / practicing Estate Manager. We also visit visit Mukul Tea Estate, known for its Organic Hand Rolled Green Tea.
Later we drive on to the river front and take a boat cruise on the mighty Brahmaputra river in a country boat (Subject to weather conditions). Cruise upto a beach island in the midst of the river. Enroute there is a possibility of your sighting flocks of migratory water birds and the elusive Gangetic River Dolphin. Enjoy the view of the Eastern Himalayas and take a nature walk in the vast expanse of grasslands surrounding the island. Enjoy your picnic lunch and the view of the Eastern Himalayas. Option to take a nature walk in the vast expanse of grasslands surrounding the island or go for Kayaking. Return to the mainland. Evening visit local market / tea shop. Dinner at Mancotta Heritage Chang Bungalow with few local tea planters. Overnight at the hotel.
A tea tour through a 157 years old heritage tea garden gives an insight into the different activities that vary from season to season. It teaches us all about tea- its origin, how it is grown, tea tasting and its quality. During the winter months the dormant bushes are pruned to ensure vigorous growth during the warmer months. Once the rains begin, and the temperature rises, the gardens come alive with teams of colourfully dressed tea pluckers, predominantly ladies as they are said to be better able to pluck the delicate buds and leaves. The harvest, which goes on continuously from March to November, is taken everyday to the factory where it undergoes an age old process of being turned into the finished product. All stages of the process are carefully controlled to ensure that the tea that leaves the factory is only of the highest quality, a quality that has made Assam tea world famous.
CTC (Crush, Tear and Curl) tea is a method of processing tea. In this process the leaves instead of being rolled, are passed through a series of cylindrical rollers with hundreds of small sharp "teeth" that Crush, Tear, and Curl.
This style of manufacture has the advantage that the finished product brews quickly, gives a dark infusion rapidly, is well suited for tea bags, and yields more cups per kg. In the Indian domestic market, this type of manufacture has virtually taken over - over 80% of tea production is of the CTC type.
CTC teas produce a rich red-brown color when they are boiled, which adds a beautiful color to tea made in the Indian style. This is done by boiling leaves in a mixture of milk, water and sugar and some spices (producing Masala Chai). With this production method, the tea does not get bitter, and its red colour comes through the white of the milk.
Mukul Tea Estate has an area of 27hectares and is about 8 Kms (approx 30mins) away from Mancotta Heritage Chang Bungalow. The entire garden which is organic, is located within pristine surroundings. The estate, has within its boundary, a tea plantation, a rich bamboo stand and a wet land which attracts numerous bird species. Visitors can enjoy a firsthand experience of plucking tea by hand and preparing roasted green tea themselves.
Today early morning we drive to Jokai Reserve Forest. It’s a small broadleaf forest minutes away from Dibrugarh. Numerous low altitude tropical species are present here in good numbers like the Small Niltava, Little Pied Flycatcher, Black-winged and Large Cuckoo-shrikes, flock of Pompadour Green Pigeons, Jay-walking Emerald Dove, Red headed Trogon, Crimson Sunbird, Ruby Checked Sunbird, Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker, Black breasted Thrush etc. during spring rare cuckoos (like the asian emerald cuckoo) and flycatchers can be seen here.
Later post breakfast we drive to Margherita (100 kms / 2 ½ hrs) to visit a Singpho tribal village which produces traditional Organic Tea. Enroute at Digboi, we visit Oil Museum and the 2nd World War Allied Forces Cemetery where 200 graves are permanently maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Later drive back to Dibrugarh.
Digboi: Digboi is a small but wonderful town in Tinsukia district in the north-eastern part of the state of Assam, India. Petroleum oil was discovered here in late 19th century and the Digboi oilfield is one of the oldest oil fields. With a significant number of British professionals working for the Assam Oil Company as late as until the decade following the independence of India, Digboi had a well developed infrastructure and a number of bungalows unique to the town. It has a world class golf course with 18 holes as part of the Digboi Club.
Singpho people are Theravada Buddhists by religion. The Singphos are divided into a number of clans, each under a Chief known as “Gam”. They were the first to introduce the tea culture in Assam. Producers of Organic Tea coins, packed in silver foils and ready to use-dip the coin into a pot of hot water and it is ready to drink is gaining emense popularity in Europe and Southeast Asian countries. The entire process of manufacturing the tea is done in a traditional manner without the use of any machines or gadgets. The tea is sold under the brand name Phalap (meaning tea in the Singpho language). The loose tea is packed in bamboo containers so that the traditional properties are maintained and it is free from any preservatives or chemicals.
Note : Digboi oil Museum remains closed on Monday of the week.
Today post breakfast we visit Mancotta Tea Estate known for its Orthodox type of tea. We visit the Orthodox tea factory followed by tea tasting session. Later we drive to Jorhat (140 kms / 03 hrs). Enroute we visit the Ahom monuments and temples at Sivasagar which encompass the 600 year old history of the Ahom Dynasty followed by Lunch at local restaurant. Continue drive to Jorhat Visit Dhekiakhowa Bornamghor at Teok. On arrival check in at the hotel. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Orthodox tea : The manufacturing process of orthodox tea is quite different from CTC. Instead of the tea leaf been crushed, the leaves are rolled in a machine that twist and break the leaves to release the natural chemicals that later react with oxygen in the air and give the tea its characteristic aroma and taste. It is the leafy variety of tea.
Sivasagar was once the capital of the Ahom Kings. The Shans who came from Thailand through Northern Myanmar to this area in the early 13th century, ruled from here for 600 years. Thus the ruins of Ahom palaces and monuments dot the landscape around this historical town. The Siva Temple situated in Sibsagar was built by the Ahoms and is believed to be the tallest of all existing hindu temples. Centuries, before the arrival of the British, this part of the world was controlled by a number of tribal chieftains.
Shiva Dol and Shiva Sagar (tank): A huge 125 acres water tank was built in Sibsagar by Queen Ambika in 1734AD. On its bank are three temples – Shivdol, the most important of three, attracts a large number of devotees on Shivaratri. It is probably the loftiest Shiva temple in the country.
Rang Ghar: It remains Asia's largest amphitheatre and was the cultural playground of the Ahom Swargadeos or kings. It was constructed in 1746 during the reign of King Pramatta Singha. The king and his officers would sit in the auditorium and watch indigenous games like wrestling, birds' fight, buffalo fights and more. There is a beautiful park near the ancient royal auditorium which enhances its picturesque setting.
Talatal Ghar: Ahom architecture over the centuries has resulted in some very defining edifices. The Talatal Ghar at Sivasagar is a seven storied building with four floors below the ground and three floors above the ground- an amazing palace for the Ahom Kings but at the same time an exceptional architectural concept given the period of history in which it was built.
Dhekiakhowa Bornamghor is a namghar (prayer hall) in Jorhat, Assam, that was established by the saint-reformer Madhavdeva in 1461. He kindled an earthen lamp in 1461, which has been burning since then being religiously re-fueled by priests till date. It is located at Dhekiakhowa village of Jorhat, 15 km east of Jorhat town.
The namghar is situated in a complex of facilities spread over 13 bighas of land and is maintained by a managing committee. It is funded with donations from devotees. Besides the maintenance of the complex, the managing committee sponsors various social and cultural programs.
There is an anecdote related to the name of Dhekiakhowa namghar- Guru Madhavdeva after taking up the duty of reforming people and spreading the Ekasharan Nam Dharma came to stay in this small and very poor village. He took shelter for the night in the hut of an old woman, who served him rice with Dhekia Saak (believed to be poor man's veggy, but a very popular and tasty ). Though the old woman was very embarrassed to have served the Saint guru a frugal meal as this, he was immensely pleased with the dinner. So he established a namghar there and gave the responsibility of kindling the earthen lamp to the old woman. Thus the namghar got it’s name- Dhekia khowa namghar. There are many stories associated with this Bornamghar. It is said that the main pillar of the namghar is made of a Sal tree. One night, one of the bhakats (monk) of the namghar dreamt that the river near the Bor namghar ( known as Dhekiakhowa jaam ) was flowing in the opposite direction and was carrying a Sal tree meant for the construction of the Bor namghar. This was uncannily true. So the next morning when the villagers learnt of it, they decided to make the main pillars of the Bor namghar from this tree. The lamp in Dhekiakhowa Bor Namghar lamp is said to have been burning since 1461.
JORHAT - Jorhat is the gateway to the state of Nagaland & to Majuli, the largest river island. It was the last capital of the Ahom Kingdom and is home to many historical monuments. Jorhat is another tea hub in the Upper Assam region. Many small and big tea estates surround this town. Cinnamora Tea Estate - the first commercial tea estate, was planted by the British in this area.. Jorhat also boasts of the Tea Experimental Station at Tocklai, where tea scientists continuously endeavor to introduce new and better agricultural practices- some of which include developing of new clones and saplings.
Post breakfast we drive to Neematighat (30 mins) for a ferry boat crossing (1hr downstream boat cruise - the time taken depends upon the water level of the river) to Majuli - the largest inhabited river island in the world. And famous for the Vaishnavite Satras or monasteries (Kamalabari Satra, Auniati Satra, Benganti satra, and many more) and culture. It is nestled between the confluence of the Subansiri and the Brahmaputra River. Visit the monasteries and interface with the tribes on the island. Later in the afternoon ferry back to mainland and overnight at Jorhat.
MAJULI ISLAND - Majuli Island-A World Heritage Site, is located in the Brahmaputra River and is the largest inhabited riverine island in the world. The island has long served as a monastic retreat to the Vaishnavite community and is known for its beautiful rural setting and traditional Assamese and Mishing architecture. Majuli, is the largest freshwater river island (1250 sq km) in the world and is contesting for a position in the "World Heritage” list. It is located 20 kilometers from the city of Jorhat, Assam. Since water bodies cover most of the island, it attracts a number of local and migratory birds. About twenty six Satras or cultural houses of power are located in Majuli- of which the Kamalabari, Auniati and Garmur are worth a mention. These Satras propogate the religious ideology of medeival Assam’s Vaisnavite saints like Sankardev and Madhavdev.
The Mishings- The Mishings belong to the Tibeto-Burman clan of the Mongoloid race. It's not known exactly where they migrated from, but it is believed that they were dwellers of the hills of present day Arunachal Pradesh. This explains the cultural and linguistic similarities they have with the people of the Adi (erstwhile Abor) tribe, and to some extent of the Hill Miri and Dafla tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. Somewhere around the 13th century, they started migrating towards the plains of Assam, most probably in search of fertile land. This exodus continued for at least 2-3 centuries. As fate would have it, they found one of the most fertile river-beds (that of the mighty Brahmaputra) and settled on both banks along the length of the river, starting right from Sadiya in the east, to Jorhat in the west. They continued their practice of living in thatched houses raised on bamboo stilts, known as chang ghars. It was a protection against flood waters during the rainy season, although the original logic behind raised houses was protection from wild beasts. The yearly floods ensured that the Misings lived a life of abject poverty and misery. Agriculture being their main occupation, floods affect them in more ways than one. Their chief festival is Ali-Aye-Ligang, held in the month of February, which celebrates the agricultural harvest. Most Mishings follow both the Donyi-Polo and Hindu religions, but some Mishings also follow the Catholic or Baptist faith. The language of the Misings is known as Mishing language.
Kamalabari Satra- Founded by Bedulapadma Ata, it is a centre of art, culture, literature and classical studies. The finest boats on the island are made here. It's branch, Uttar Kamalabari Satra, has showcased the Satria Art in several states of India and abroad.
Auniati Satra : Founded by Niranjan Pathakdeva, the Satra is famous for "Paalnaam" and Apsara dances. Also remarkable is it's extensive assortment of ancient artefacts, Assamese old utensils, jewellery and handicrafts.
Bengenaati Satra- It is a storehouse of antiques of cultural importance and an advanced centre of performing art. Muraridev, the grandson of Sankardeva's step mother founded this Satra. The royal robes belonging to the Ahom king Swargadeo Gadadhar Singha, is preserved here. Also on display is the royal gold umbrella.
Early morning we visit Tocklai Tea Research Station followed by visit to Haroocharai Tea Estate and lunch. Post lunch we drive to Guwahati (310 kms/06 ½ hrs). Check in at the hotel for 01 night. Dinner and Overnight at the hotel.
Tocklai Tea Research Association (TRA) is a registered co-operative society dedicated to scientific research and extension for improvement in productivity and quality of tea in North East India. Research on all aspects of tea cultivation and processing is carried out at the Tocklai Experimental Station, Jorhat. It is the oldest and the largest research station of its kind in the world.
Guwahati: Situated on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra River in the Kamrup District of Assam, Guwahati is a fast growing premier city. It is the gate way to the North Eastern States of India and a principal center of socio cultural, political, industrial and trade and commerce of the entire region. Dispur, the capital of Assam is a part of Guwahati. Earlier, this city was full of areca nut trees rappled by pan creepers. Hence this city subsequently got the name Guwahati. The word ‘Guwa’ in Assamese means areca nut and ‘Hat’ means market.
Morning at leisure. Also option to visit Sualkuchi and Hajo. Later in the afternoon interact with Tea Broker and Tea Auctioneer (Subject to being available on the day of visit). Overnight at the hotel.
One of the largest Tea Auction Centres of the world is located at Guwahati. For better marketing of the tea produced in Assam and the entire North Eastern States, a Tea Auction Centre - Guwahati Tea Auction Centre - was established in 1970. This is the world's largest CTC tea auction centre and the world's second largest, in terms of the total tea auctioned.
Tea Auctions are held only on Tuesday & Wednesday of the week through e-auction. However by 03rd week of Feb tea sales are sometimes skipped by a sale or 02 due to less quantity of tea.
Sualkuchi : Located on the banks of the Brahmaputra, 35 kms north of Guwahati, Sualkuchi is a weaving village that produces some of the best silk in the state. This sleepy little village exudes a charm like no other. Almost every house has an adjacent shed (karkhana) that houses the traditional bamboo loom- the gentle click-clacking of which can be heard from the streets. You can walk into any of the numerous karkhanas and observe the talented weavers weaving intricate patterns on the golden Muga silk.
In the early years of the 20th century, Sualkuchi was developed as a “crafts village”. Most of the funds for this development work came from eminent Gandhians across the country who responded to the “back to the villages” slogan of Gandhiji’s swadeshi drive. Although the weaving industry of Sualkuchi remained almost confined to the tanti community till the 1930’s , with encouragement from the government, people from other communities also took up silk weaving. There are about 17000 silk looms in Sualkuchi producing an eclectic range of silk products. Most of Sualkuchi’s silk is woven into mekhela-chadars and gamosas. Owing to the increasing demand , the weavers of Sualkuchi have diversified to saris, shawls and dress material. The silk weaving of Sualkuchi provides direct and indirect employment to more than 25,000 people throughout the year.
Hajo – the meeting point of Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu faiths on the northern bank of river Brahmaputra, has a number of temples The chief among them being the Hayagrib Madhab Temple – a place of pilgrimage both for the Hindus and the Buddhists. Hajo’s bell-metal work is renowned for the interesting artifacts made by local craftsmen.
In time transfer to Guwahati airport to board flight for onward destination. End of services
Visit to tea factory is subject to being operational on the day of the visit. There is no tea plucking between December till mid March and hence the actual manufacturing process of tea cannot be demonstrated when one visits the factory during this period. Factory also remains closed on Monday’s of the week.