The director’s bungalow of the Makaibari tea estate was destroyed in a fire in Kurseong, Darjeeling, on Wednesday afternoon. The property also served as a museum. As such, the destruction of the property is a real loss, as the tea estate is supposedly the oldest tea factory in the world. Luckily, no one was injured in the fire, the cause of which is yet to be ascertained.
A source told the Telegraph, “We were so proud of the bungalow that was filled with mementoes received from around 87 countries. There were rare collections of books and artefacts that reflected the estate's history. Stuffed skins of tigers and leopard were hanging from the walls of the building. The bungalow had other wildlife trophies also. The entire history is lost now.”
At around 2.30 pm on Thursday, residents noticed smoke billowing out of the bungalow. "We were in the kitchen when we smelled smoke. When we rushed to the adjoining room, the ceiling had already caught fire" said one of the employees.
There were five persons present in the Bungalow at the time of the fire, including the wife of the company's chairman. All five were quickly evacuated. Debashish Chattapodhya, the subdivisional officer of Kurseong, said, "The fire started between 2.30pm and 2.45pm and is now under control (after more than three hours). The entire building has been razed to the ground. There are no reports of any casualty."
Makaibari is a global brand of Darjeeling Tea. In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had gifted Makaibari's most expensive tea brand, Silver Tips Imperial, to Queen Elizabeth during his visit to England. In 2014, the tea brand had fetched Rs 1.12 lakh a kg. Normally the garden retails the product for around Rs 20,000 a kg.