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Rain romance: monsoon venture into greener pastures

- Buoyed by success with Cherrapunjee tour, Dibrugarh-based travel agency extends concept to tea gardens

Jorhat, July 7: Vaivhav Todi has unplugged all stops, including the dark monsoon clouds, so that travellers to the Northeast can experience the wettest region of the world to the hilt.

After his Dibrugarh-based Greener Pastures travel agency tasted success with a niche group venturing into Cherrapunjee — the wettest place during the rainy season last year — he has extended the monsoon tour concept to the tea gardens of Upper Assam.

Todi, who calls himself an adrenaline junkie, feels that the romance of the rains should be experienced by all. “We have plenty to offer in the lush hills and valleys of the Northeast. I began the monsoon tours to Cherrapunjee last year. I got five groups of which three were from the UK and rest domestic tourists,” he said.

All the visitors loved the landscape awash with rain or covered with thick black clouds rolling across the sky — the hills, the caves, the tree root bridges, gushing waterfalls. All under the symphonic rhythm of the rain, thunder and lightning at Cherrapunjee and in Asia’s cleanest village Mawlynnong, both in Meghalaya. It made for an exceptional experience.

“We provide the accommodation and take them on the tours, exhorting all visitors to come armed with their brollies and raincoats as well as light cotton clothes as the Indian summer can be quite humid and hot when it does not rain,” he said.

“This year, we have extended the tour to Upper Assam tea plantations. Till now, two European groups have registered. Assam receives a lot of rain till October and the place is replete with tropical forests, grasslands and tea plantations. It is that time when the tea bushes change colour to a soothing and refreshing green — when the bushes are topped with new leaves and buds,” Todi said.

The tour will take the visitor through plantations where they can pluck tea leaves wearing the traditional japis (woven bamboo hats) to ward off the showers.

“They will also be taken to visit the oldest tea research institute in the world at Tocklai in Jorhat, which was set up by the British more than100 years ago. The guests will be allowed to stay in heritage tea bungalows of the British era in Dibrugarh and Jorhat as well as the Mahaseer tea plantation in Adabarie on the north bank,” Todi said.

Todi said there could be nothing more exhilarating than sipping the best of Assam teas ensconced in the luxurious bungalows with their unique colonial décor, sprawling lawns on balmy evenings watching the pouring rain in the midst of the tea plantations.

Also on the monsoon fare is a boat ride on the Brahmaputra and a visit to Majuli to sample the Xattriya culture of the largest inhabited freshwater island. But these trips are conditional, weather permitting.

The tour also promises a trek through plantations on elephant back at sunset and a visit to the ruins of monuments built by the Ahom kings.

Todi said as he stood for conservation and sustainability of the tourism sector, visitors were usually taken around the villages and shown the local handicrafts and the cottage industries.


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