The next morning my alarm rang at 4.45am, ready for an extremely early start – we had to get all the way back to Delhi in one day, as well as visit more producers on a different, longer route back to the city. We bumped along in the darkness before sunrise in silence, still wishing we were horizontal and in bed.
Slowly, as we woke up, the sun woke up too and began to rise over the mountains giving views to which photos do not really do justice. The roads were practically empty so we were able to make very good progress. Even my guide, who suffered from carsickness and had to lie down on the backseat all the way up the mountains looked relatively serene and calm.
On the way down the mountains we stopped off at Devprayag where the River Ganges begins properly with the meeting of the River Alaknanda and the River Bhagirathi. The scenery is spectacular, the calm brown water of the River Bhagirathi merges with the foaming blue water of the River Alakanda, forming the legend that is the Ganges which flows all the way from Devaprayag across the Gangetic plain into Bangladesh. Devprayag is an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus and the confluence of the two rivers is a sacred spot.
On the way down the mountains we saw a salvage operation taking place of a crash in which a lorry had plunged off the side of the road, rolling down the mountainside about 300 meters. It was a very sobering sight and one which I think influenced the driving of our driver from thereon. After about 5 hours we were again at Dehradun, ready to see Chamomile, Lemongrass and Cornflower producers in neighboring towns. It was noticeably hotter in the plains than in the mountains, and the scenery, with the mountains in the background was very beautiful.
We use top quality cornflowers like those shown above for our Earl Grey black tea.
We visited the home of one of our herbal producers, a really stunning place with a huge variety of herbs and flowers including thyme, cardamon, mint, onions, coriander, roses, flowers for garlands, cornflowers, chamomile and many more. He kindly took us to visit the larger fields of cornflowers, chamomile flowers and lemongrass where the majority of his crops are grown, all organically.
Even a small field like the one shown can produce a large volume of Chamomile flowers, with a good-sized group of pickers each able to pick more than 2kg each per day.
When the farm visits were over we piled back in the car for the long drive back to Delhi. As night fell, we were held up by traffic along roads so bumpy that one of the lenses popped out of my glasses. We finally arrived in Delhi at midnight, totally exhausted, having driven for about 15 hours that day.
Next in the series – Part 3 – From Calcutta to the Darjeeling Estates