Started by Joachim Stoelke, a German priest, in 1854, Singtom Tea Estate is Darjeeling’s 2nd oldest tea estate. Stoelke also planted Darjeeling’s first tea estate, called Steinthal Tea Estate, in 1852. He was fondly known as ‘Father Steinthal’ as a result. Father Steinthal discovered that the forests in the Singtom area were an abode of lions, and used to make the short hike from Darjeeling to Singtom to spot lions. When he planted the first tea bushes at Singtom, the locals named the area ‘Singtam’, which meant the house of lions in the local language. Father Steinthal’s co-ownership of both estates led to Singtom and Steinthal being considered sister tea estates. The two estates are right next to each other, with Darjeeling town in between. Father Steinthal planted the two estates in their current locations because he loved the majestic view of the Kanchenjunga mountain range (of course, the mountains were named much later, but they looked breathtaking nonetheless) from both areas!
From 1854 onwards, the estate’s ownership changed hands several times, but has now been with the Chirimar family, one of India’s oldest tea planting families, for several decades.
THE CHIRIMARS OF SINGTOM
Mr. Mohan Chirimar, a 4th generation tea planter and entrepreneur, runs Singtom and Steinthal along with his sons Aditya and Anirudh. Aditya and Anirudh used to love their summer vacations at Singtom when they were little children back in the early 2000’s. The family’s summer holiday home was the Director’s Bungalow at Singtom, which was built by Father Steinthal in 1862. Aditya often remarked that Singtom would be the ideal place for his father to retire, given his father’s passion for tea planting.
Warming to his son’s idea of retiring at Singtom, Mohan and his wife Aditi started restoring the bungalow to its old grandeur. In April 2014, Aditya felt the bungalow, now restored, looked so charming that it would make for an ideal mountain holiday. As a result, Aditya re-branded the bungalow as Singtom Tea Resort, at the time Aditya graduated college from Cornell University in the USA. The resort is Aditya’s debut venture as an entrepreneur, and is the oldest tea estate bungalow in Darjeeling. It is located amidst 1600 acres of tea plantation and forests, with River Rungneet and Mount Kanchenjunga at your doorstep.
A traveller’s experience at Singtom reflects the warmth and hospitality of the Chirimar family. The family has a 100+ year old legacy in the world of tea, and love to share their knowledge and passion for tea, Darjeeling and hospitality with their guests at Singtom. They do not live in Singtom (they stay in Calcutta), but frequently travel to Singtom to teleport back in time to the world of Father Steinthal!