It is a story that was oft–repeated in the Darjeeling hills in the latter part of the 1900s. Historical tea estates, more than a century old, would fall on hard times and would be handed over to the central government owned Tea Trading Corporation of India (TTCI) for management. The TTCI, itself a floundering institution, would not be able to run them and after a few years of apathy and disregard, the gardens would be abandoned, its workers would languish indefinitely, unpaid and unsure of their future.

This is what happened to a 197-hectare heritage holding called Vah Tukvar, only 8 kilometers from Darjeeling town. By 1993, the TTCI—itself under liquidation— had begun defaulting on the meager rations and wages of the garden’s workers. Although there was no official announcement of closure, the estate was forsaken and died an unnatural death by 1995. Within another year, the garden’s factory, the manager’s bungalow and other infrastructural property of the estate had been looted and vandalised. Squatters gradually encroached upon the land and its 197 hectares on paper were reduced to only about 120 hectares in real terms.

True to its passionate policy of rehabilitating failing heritage gardens in Darjeeling, the Chamong Group acquired the abandoned Vah Tukvar and on January 1, 2006, the garden re-opened its rusted gates after 10 long years of neglect. The estate was renamed Shree Dwarika and the arduous task of weeding, pruning, re-planting and rehabilitation began in earnest.

In time, the factory will be functional again with state-of-the-art machinery but for now, the green leaves from the estate are sent to the factory at nearby Soom Tea Estate, also owned by the Chamong Group. Of the original 751 laborers of the estate, 200 have already been inducted as permanent employees and many more work as temporary workers. However, all the erstwhile workers of Vah Tukvar and their families are welcome to stay as residents of the garden. In time, the Group plans to induct as many of the workers as possible and, as in the other gardens, provide health and education facilities as well as create a general upliftment in the living standards of all the estate’s residents.

For now, however, the existing infrastructure of the garden and its excellent quality bushes are expected to produce about 40000kgs of tea per year.

A cup of Shree Dwarika will provide you the satisfaction you can get only from the rarest of experiences—the taste of the oldest, finest green tea rejuvenated just for you.