A reflection of the lifestyle of colonial tea planters

Wild Mahseer

Wild Mahseer

Balipara
, Assam
, India

The bungalows that are a part of Wild Mahseer are abundant in character. The plantation lifestyle that once thrived, still pulsates in every corner. The bungalows are simplistic, clean and have sprawling gardens to keep you connected with nature at all times. Wide verandahs, airy rooms, and vintage furniture leave the heritage stamp at every corner. Overall, though the bungalows have a charming and dated vibe, they are extremely comfortable with all modern amenities. A lovely conservatory, which is the dining pavilion and a conference room, is a part of the complex.

Our Rating: Mid-Range
Property Type: Plantation

Destination

Wild Mahseer, named after the well-known game fish, is set within the Balipara division of Addabarie Tea Estate, which was established by the British Assam Tea Company in 1864. The property is located on the outskirts of Tezpur, 40 minutes west of the Jia Bhoroli river, once abundant in golden mahseer fish. It is a beautiful collection of plantation bungalows set in 22 acres lush vegetation, with old wide canopied trees, manicured lawns, bamboo thickets and the tea estate. Importantly, Wild Mahseer shares its campus with the bio diverse haven of Eastern Himalayan Botanic Ark. Though the winter months are the best season to visit Balipara, misty and magical monsoons are also a special time.

Accommodation

Five independent bungalows and one cottage offer double bedrooms and suites with ensuite bathrooms; they are named after varieties of tea like Silver Tips, Golden Tips, Second flush, Ambrosia and the Heritage Bungalow. Silver Tips has three bedrooms and was originally doctor sahib’s bungalow, while Golden Tips, which was the accountant’s bungalow has two bedrooms. Second Flush was the visiting agents’ office and now houses four spacious bedrooms. Ambrosia has two large bedrooms while the iconic Wild Mahseer Heritage Bungalow with three bedrooms was the visiting agent’s bungalow. All the colonial era bungalows retain their character with large airy rooms, cosy intimate corners, vintage memorabilia and furniture from another era.

Dining

The cuisine at Wild Mahseer is a mix of Anglo Indian, Assamese and North Indian cuisines. Informal but hand-on cooking classes are organised in the bungalow kitchen with the help of the chefs on the estate.

Experiences

Heritage and wildlife come alive at Wild Mahseer. The bungalow’s proximity to the Eastern Himalayan Botanical Ark promises encounters of the wild kind and a complete immersion in the biodiversity of the region. The property offers several excursions and activities which make it an ideal three to four night destination. Nameri National Park is just over 30 minutes while Kaziranga is a two hours’ drive. Nameri is the best sighting spot of the endangered bird white-winged duck, as well as tigers, elephants and extensive flora and fauna. Kaziranga is home to the famed one-horned rhinos, water buffaloes, tigers and more. The forests of Pakke and Orang are accessible from here as well.

Wild Mahseer is a bio-diverse ark of 1,00,000+ plants, 90+ species of birds and 72+ species of butterflies. That makes it even for special. Naturenomics™ lead by local botanists is an enriching experience for kids and elders alike. Tea tours, cooking classes, festivals, bird watching, and community interactions are some of the signature activities organised by the team at Wild Mahseer.

Amongst all the nature-based activities, the art of jungle bathing or ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ practiced in Japan is an experience that guests enjoy. The trail is 30-40 minutes long and guests can learn about different species of plants and birds from a botanist on this trail. Guests are encouraged to hug a tree and experience being close to nature!

Wild Mahseer offers several excursions and activities which make it an ideal three to four-night destination. It is perfect for experiencing the life of tea planters in a bygone era and also visit the national parks in the region.

Why we love this place

Each bungalow has a different ambience and vibe. The stately bungalows offer a distinct old world charm.

About your host

Wild Mahseer is a part of the Balipara Foundation, a conservation incubator. Their community focused approach to conservation is centred around social mobility and long-term sustainability. Some of their efforts include habitat mapping, planning and restoration, research, innovation and application and policy advocacy, investment and publication. The foundation works through Naturenomics & trade; to help preserve the balance between conservation imperatives and human development by creating ecologically compliant assets.

Responsible/Sustainable Tourism

Preservation of the colonial style bungalows and keeping the vibe unchanged, is one of the many things that Wild Mahseer ensures as a conscious policy. The easy access to national parks and knowledge-based activities is unique to the property.

No Single Use Plastic: Filtered water is stored in a glass bottle and is provided in each room instead of using single use plastic mineral water bottles.

Safe Garbage Disposal: Recycling and composting measures are in place.

Water Conservation: Wild Mahseer is sensitive to the usage of water and ensure water conservation is practiced.

Nature and Biological Diversity Conservation: Tree saplings grown at the nursery within Wild Mahseer are used for plantation at Balipara Forest Reserve and for various afforestation projects. The 22 acres property also grows indigenous species of plants. The landscaping of each bungalow is designed to enhance the biodiversity of the property. The Eastern Himalayan Botanic Ark in residence at Wild Mahseer is a bio-diverse ark of 1,00,000+ plants, 75+ species of birds and 72+ species of butterflies. Headquartered within the property, the Balipara Foundation is working towards preservation and conservation of biodiversity, culture and heritage. It holds workshops and awareness programmes regularly on ecology, different species of venomous and non-venomous snakes, fungi photography courses and on many other vital topics at Naturenomics™ School at Wild Mahseer. These are attended by guests, school children and people from the nearby communities and staff.

Local Community Engagement: There is ample community engagement, both at excursions and the property, as most of the staff belong to the tea tribe Adivasi community, the local Assamese and Nepali tribes from the neighbouring areas.

Light Footprint Tourism: In-house organic vegetables are used in the meals for guests. Nature inspired activities are curated like the early morning botanical trail with a guide who has immense knowledge about the different species of plants, birds and butterflies. A walk through the trails is an eye opener for even the most uninitiated. The Japanese art of ‘Shinrin Yoku’ (forest bathing) which is done in the form of tree hugging and meditation is further accentuated by morning yoga sessions.

Sensitive Destination Discovery: The tribal communities that live around the ark engage in traditional and sustainable lifestyle. Guests are encouraged to visit them and experience the village tribal life. The community homestays of Mishing, Garo, Nepali, Bodo and Nyishi are around the Ark and organize various traditional activities. These include organic dyeing workshops, weaving demonstrations, making rice powder, arranging lunch by the river, boating and showcasing organic kitchen garden in their homes where they implement traditional agroforestry practices and grow medicinal plants. This allows the communities to preserve their heritage and continue to have a livelihood through responsible tourism.

Heritage Preservation: Certified as a ‘Heritage Building’ by the Directorate of Archaeology, the Burra Bungalow dates back to more than 150 years. It was the official residence of the Visiting Agents or Burra Sahibs of McLeod Russel Tea Co. till the late 1900s and has been restored. The rest of the tea bungalows draw inspiration from Assamese architecture. Furniture made from indigenous materials such as cane, bamboo and water hyacinth are extensively used in all the rooms at Wild Mahseer. The hotel promotes cultural practices and celebration of all the community festivals like Bihu, Ali ai ligang and Donyi-Polo, while continuing oral traditions by narrating cultural and traditional stories of the forests, tea estates, people living around forest fringe communities. The diverse team represents various languages such as Assamese, Bodo, Nepali, Bengali, Garo, Mishing, Adivasi, etc.

Human Touch: The estate is managed by retired senior tea plantation managers who have wide expertise not only related to tea but also sustainable agricultural, horticultural and agro-forestry processes.

Our Recommendation

Forest bathing is an essential part of your stay at Wild Mahseer.

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