Special Correspondent

Kolkata: One of the highest tea factories in the world where equipment installed way back in 1854 has been zealously preserved, the Happy Valley tea factory in Darjeeling, located at an altitude of 6,800 feet, will soon be opening its gates to tourists.

Tea museum

They will be given access to a unique working tea museum, set up at a cost of more than $ 1 million and witness the entire tea manufacturing process including withering, processing, rolling, drying of tea leaves till it are finally sorted and packaged.

On display will be the equipment of a by-gone era including the single piston slow-speed engines, and the shaft machines — all in working condition.

Interactions with workers

The “Happy Valley experience” on offer for the tourists, who will have educated youth drawn from the families of the estate’s employees as their guides, will include interactions with workers explaining the intricacies of tea plucking and other field activities across the estate’s 435 acres.

“This will be the first working tea museum of its kind in the country and the intention is to provide a first class experience of how tea is manufactured and why it is so unique,” Sanjay Bansal, chairman of the Ambootia Tea Group that owns the tea estate told The Hindu on Monday.

“We have had to dismantle the old factory that was in a derelict condition after taking it over in March 2007 and erect a new one. But we have been careful in preserving much of the old machinery that will be on display at the museum with four floors which we plan to open in June,” he said.