Most people in the world would have heard the name Assam. It is a fertile land tucked in northeastern India where the world acknowledged Assam Tea comes from. Known as the ‘land of red river & blue hills’ and as the ‘tea country of the world’, the state of Assam is quite a treat for the eyes. Apart from the lush forest and farmlands, Assam is home to more than 700 tea plantations and they occupy more than one fourth of the land. This has blessed the state with an unique beauty – of green carpeted tea plantations that stretch till as far away as the eye can see, until finally disappearing somewhere in the horizon. Such greenery is quite contagious and can give any peace-seeking soul a high. And something which not many people know about and an influence of the British Raj, golf is a sport which many of the tea planters engage in on their leisurely time in Assam. Naturally, this has led to the creation of some superb golf courses which are at par with the best of the world, be it in comparison of the grass, setting, luxuries or natural beauty.
Legend has it that the tea plant was a creation of Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. The story is quite interesting. Once the saint was meditating near Nanking in China but had managed to fall asleep. On waking up, he punished himself by cutting his eyelids off. Where the eyelids fell on earth, a strange plant grew, whose leaves had the magical property of banishing sleep. Thus, the tea beverage came into being.
Though there are a few claims to the discovery of tea in India, the most believable one is of Major Robert Bruce, who became friends with a chief of the Singpho Tribe and got introduced to indigenous tea plants and seeds in 1823. The following decades since the British discovered the plant, large scale plantation and production of tea started in Assam. The British came in plenty to the region to start their own companies. The region, with its bountiful nature, gave the British enough opportunity to live a life of adventure and exploration, and at the same time, they built luxurious charming bungalows as their residence. Slowly, a cool culture grew in the region, and even the elite locals participated in it. Sports such as horse riding, rafting, hunting, trekking and golf became popular. The women kept themselves busy opening socializing clubs where the talk of the day ranged from gardening, cooking, politics, men and gossips. This, sort of, introduced Assam, and the local population here, to western culture. And even after the British left, the culture is still very much alive, with tea planters choosing to live a life in the serenity of their plantations.
Today, apart from tea tourism; where tourists can stay in heritage tea bungalows and get to live a life of a tea planter, golf is another upcoming niche which has been steadily attracting golf enthusiasts from around the world. In total, Assam has 10 golf courses, which are unique located midst the soothing scenery of tea gardens. As most of the courses are located nearby to airstrips and helipads maintained by the tea garden managements, many of the tourists are using these services for their journeys. Many travelers also opt to combine their Assam golf experience with other delight of the state such as wildlife areas and river cruises.
Midst vast expanses of dense forests and exquisite tea gardens, lies the 18-hole golf course of Digboi, a booming oil town in eastern Assam. Every year, the venue plays host to both national and international level tournaments. The whole course stands over a large 6309 yards of land and is considered to be the best in eastern India. The Digboi Golf Club offers a complete enjoyable experience to visitors. They have a small clubhouse where rooms are not very expensive. The bar located within the clubhouse is a great place to chill and meet like-minded people of the tea gardens, who often come to relax with a couple of drinks. The club also has indoor games, swimming pool and a restaurant that offers mouth watering local delicacies.
Recently, nearby the town of Jorhat, a luxury heritage property has opened its doors to visitors. With four bungalows to choose from and plenty of activities to do, the property, called Kaziranga Golf Resort, is quite an experience for the luxury tourist. They have a clubhouse which provides the best of alcohols and food. The golf course in spectacular, located in carpeted layers of rich tea leaf greenery. Apart from golf, visitors have other options to spend their day; by visiting nearby villages, going for wildlife safaris to nearby forests or learn about tea production and plantation.
Though it is very hard to find proper information on the internet about golf in Assam, Greener Pastures does provide exclusive golf and tea tours to our interested clients. From our experience, golf in Assam is a proper holiday experience, an offbeat one, suitable for families and providing a window into the incredible life and culture of the Brahmaputra plains of Assam.