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Hills gear up for tea & tourism fest

Darjeeling, Dec. 20: The third edition of the Darjeeling Tea and Tourism Festival will be held here from December 24 to January 1 and the organisers have decided to make “diverse culture of the hills” the main theme of the event.

Lt. Col (retd) Ramesh Allay, the deputy chief executive of the GTA, said: “The festival is being organised jointly by the GTA, the state government and the people of Darjeeling. Krishendu Chowdhury, the state’s tourism minister will also attend the festival on December 27.”

This year, the organisers have decided to concentrate on cultural events, instead of bringing in celebrities from Bollywood as was done in the past two editions.

Singers and musicians of the 60’s and 70’s will also be felicitated on December 27.

A food festival, flower shows and body building competitions would also be held at the week long festival.

“All the communities in the hills will be showcasing their rich and diverse culture during the festival. However, we will also have star Nepali singers like Kunti Moktan and Sabin Rai for the event,” said Suden Tshering Bhutia, the executive director, information and cultural affairs department, GTA.

The organisers said they were putting in special effort to highlight Darjeeling tea during the festival and will set up stalls to create awareness about how tea is processed.

“We are trying to put up stalls to show tourists how tea is processed in the garden factories. We will also be felicitating tea garden workers during the event,” said Topen Lama, executive director of the GTA.

The organisers have decided to cater for the needs of the tourists and have worked out a special discount package for them.

The tourist flow during the last tourism season was very less because of the hill agitation.

“We will be providing a discount of 10 per cent on paragliding and the ride on the ropeway will also be cheaper by 15 per cent during the festival,” said Sonam Bhutia, executive director, GTA tourism department.

The organisers have decided to dedicate December 27 to Agam Singh Giri, a well-known Nepali poet from Darjeeling.

“Since December 27 is the birth anniversary of the poet, we will dedicate the day to Agam Singh Giri. Songs of Giri will be sung on that day by well-known singers from the hills,” said Suden.