We were invited to visit this place recently, and in two days of intense research on this place, we learned that this place was a hellhole too. Two long vertical swaths of narrow lands reached from the main road near Tenzing Rock to almost the Rungneet River where the factory was located to be able to run via a turbine. Enough energy had to be created to take care of one hundred thousand kilos of annual production coming from about 250 acres of pure Chinery tea bushes, most of which are either uprooted or abandoned. Everything has been downsized to produce about ten thousand kilos annually in a new mini factory just below a one-time beautiful bungalow which is almost abandoned.
Historically, this place housed a senior manager looking after Ging, Bannockburn, Phubschring, Tukdah and Ambootia at one time, and was the headquarters of the Darjeeling Tea Co. It had five bedrooms to house five managers on a weekend in this lonely dark corner of a Darjeeling town, where the night watchman kept vigil over “Flowers of Tea” if you have seen the film, which was never made and groaned upon. Anyway, fully air-conditioned and at a 6000 ft. altitude, with a magnificent view of Kanchenjunga, every broken glass pane allows enough air to keep the place cool enough to make you shiver and enjoy the past glory. The Koi Hai website gave me wonderful material to rummage through its haunted history.
Carved out of Tukvar Tea Co. the earliest manager’s name was TB Curtis in 1886 and it was managed by Begg Dunlop & Co. of Calcutta till 1949, and later on bought by Terai Group in 1961 with a chequered history as per my personal records (which have come out of several books and documents collected over the years from India House, London and Government of India records, which show its lease having a grant of 405.78 acres) so it is evident that the hellhole theory is a correct one, since the garden became totally uneconomic and passed on to the WBTDC – the West Bengal Tea Development Corporation – list of sick tea gardens. The road reaching down to the original factory must have been a driver’s paradise to prove his determination and skills to return back alive – every turn was almost 45-degreeee gradient with smallest possible radius enough to prove Henry Ford wrong on every turn of the driving wheel.
What is going to turn it around to its past glory is converting it into a tourism project with its wonderful teas and views getting into the same cup and reviving it out of the dumps. And for this the garden has been rechristened to Kanchanview, which means “a place having a great view of Kanchanjungha” – the second highest Himalayan peak for which Darjeeling – the land of thunder – is famous for.