To document the built heritage of the tea gardens of Assam and preserve them for the future generations, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage on Friday released a book, “Burra Bungalows And All That”, at its Lodhi Road office here.
The coffee-table book, which gives a glimpse into the heritage of the tea industry of Assam through interesting historical facts and colourful pictures, has been produced by the Calcutta Regional Chapter of INTACH over a period of three years.
According to Calcutta Chapter of INTACH convenor G. M. Kapur, who has edited this book, the objective behind producing the book was to preserve some of the built heritage of the tea gardens for posterity.
Records for posterity
“This is not a photo-journalistic effort. The idea behind documenting the built heritage of the tea gardens was to list all tangible and intangible records for posterity. Today in Assam there is only one tea garden bungalow with a thatched roof. Thatched roofs had to be removed from all bungalows because of cost of insurance and fire hazard. If anyone asks how a thatched roof bungalow looks like no one will have the answer.”
Pointing out that the book has also been produced to give fillip to tourism, Mr. Kapur said the book will hopefully induce Indian as well as overseas travellers to experience and explore the heritage of tea industry in the North-eastern State.
“Travellers can explore places of historical and green natural beauty, besides getting a first-hand experience of the culture and life the local population leads,” added Mr. Kapur, who plans to produce another book on the tea garden heritage of North Bengal.
Releasing “Burra Bungalows And All That”, Tourism Ministry Joint Secretary Usha Sharma said her Ministry would be a major beneficiary of the book. “The book focuses on a subject which is close to my heart and those who work in the Ministry.”
She said the Tourism Ministry was toying with the idea of conserving the tea garden bungalows built by British and transforming them in order to lure travellers. “We can have interesting packages whether travellers can pluck cherries. Living in such places can be a really romantic experience.”
Dispelling the myth that Indian tea industry owed its existence to China, a tea industry expert Praful Goradia said: “When we come to generalities, some people say that we owe our tea to China. This is a great myth. While it is true that the East India Company smuggled seeds from China, the fact of the matter is that 95 per cent of Indian tea from the North to the South comes from Assam where bushes have been growing for centuries. In fact, it was Governor General William Bentinck who decided that India must become self-reliant in tea.”