Whereas the British planters had developed tea gardens all along the Shivaliks and Lesser Himalayas from Assam to Himachal Pradesh, in effect they did not succeed beyond the Darjeeling area. Explain.

Tea was not only planted in Assam but also many other sites. Tea gardens were developed all along Shivaliks and Lesser Himalayas from Assam to Himachal Pradesh wherever the climatic conditions and terrain lent itself to plantation of tea shrubs. But the success of plantations was in limited. The areas where tea plantation succeeded included the regions located in monsoon belt – Assam, West Bengal and the foot hills of the Himalayas in the North and the moist slopes and the plateaus of the Western Ghats in the south. Not much success was received in other areas such as Himachal Pradesh, Ranchi, Doon valley etc.  There were various geographical as well as other reasons of why the tea plantation was not successful in these areas.  The Ranchi gardens have poor soil not suitable for tea cultivation.  The rainfall, temperature and humidity needed by tea were not available in Himahchal Pradesh and Dehradun although soil in Dehradun is equivalent to that of Assam. Tea needs relatively low temperature for its growth, but not very low, that can adversely affect cultivation of tea. For example, the Kangra valley lies in the foot hills of Himalayas and here climate is too cold.  Additionally, tea requires high rainfall of around 150-250 cm along with well drained slopes. The combination of all these factors exists in the areas of North East, Assam and areas near Darjeeling; as well as in Nilgiri hills.

Further, there was one more reason of failure of tea plantation in Kangra valley. In Kangra, the first tea estate began in 1852. The quality of the Kangra tea was readily accepted in Europe and it was even awarded. But then in 1905, this area was struck by an Earthquake, which ruined the tea plantations. This caused panic into the British planters and they sold their estates to locals and move away. The local people could not maintain the plantations because of technical knowhow.


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