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 has now passed into the hands of one of India’s pioneering tea planting families – The Prakashes, who have over the years come to be known as the “Chaiwala family” – which literally means “tea planters”.
The story of the Chaiwala family began over a hundred years ago, and is closely entwined with that of tea plantations in India. Today, the third and fourth generation Prakash family, carry almost a century of tea knowledge in their inheritance, and invite you to visit Glenburn.
The “tea estate” experience was inspired by the vineyards of Europe and other parts of the world, where visitors observe the wine-making process, taste the wine and shop for wine, local crafts and produce. We found the whole experience educational and very interesting, and were inspired to open our own tea estate for tourists who may be interested in knowing about how a tea leaf makes it to their tea cup.
On her very first visit to Glenburn, Husna-Tara Prakash decided this was the place for such an experience. It was simply the most heavenly place. In addition to the “tea experience” we could also offer the guests a “walking” experience, and Glenburn remains perhaps the only destination in India where you can walk all day and return to luxury at night. We grow our own fresh herbs, spices and many fruit and vegetables, making the experience a “foodie” one as well, with an emphasis on using local ingredients to create mouth watering menus.
The initial idea took about a year to materialise. On a chance encounter, Bronwyn Latif – an interior designer based in Delhi, found herself in Glenburn and fell in love with the place too, because before we knew it, we had fallen right into a complete restoration of the main bungalow of the estate. Our aim was to restore it to its original grandeur. There seemed to be layers and layers of paint and plywood covering the beauty of the house, as if each manager’s wife wanted to contribute in some way to its beauty! I don’t think we would have got very far without Bronwyn’s amazing energy and passion as far as restoration and innovative ideas go.
In 2002 The Burra Bungalow was lovingly restored, whilst retaining the style of a colonial planters’ bungalow, and is now a wonderfully peaceful place to stay. With 1000 acres of private forest, and two rivers running through the estate, Glenburn offers a unique holiday experience.
In 2008 we added 4 more rooms at Glenburn as part of The Water Lily Bungalow perched on the edge of the hill in front of The Burra Bungalow with views of the valleys all around, Darjeeling Town up on one hill and of course the Kanchenjunga Range straight ahead, with views from all the rooms. We have sourced antique furniture for all the rooms, as well as some old Burma teak for the flooring, and some old (restored) cast iron window frames (with arched skylights) for the 9 foot high windows in each room. There is a small balcony just outside each of these large windows, just enough to step out on to and enjoy the magnificent views all around.
This project would never have been possible without the hard work and resourcefulness of Sanjay Sharma, Glenburn Tea Estate Manager, our “Mr Fix-it” and his team of local workers who transported everything to this very remote site with amazing results.