Friday, November 25, 2005

India | Darjeeling | Shambhala | Csoma de Koros

The Transylvanian Traveler at Rest - The Grave of Csoma de Köros in Darjeeling, India

Csoma de Köros was a full-blown eccentric who devoted his entire life to the pursuit of arcane knowledge. As the Russian Shambhalist Madame Helena Blavatsky noted, "a poor Hungarian, Csoma de Körös, not only without means, but a veritable beggar, set out on foot for Tibet, through unknown and dangerous countries, urged only by the love of learning and the eager wish to shed light on the historical origin of his nation. The result was that inexhaustible mines of literary treasures were discovered." Among the written works unearthed were the first descriptions of the Buddhist Realm of Shambhala to reach the West . . . Continued

Although my main reason for going to Darjeeling was to make a pilgrimage to Csoma's grave I also of course wanted to sample the Darjeeling Teas for which the surrounding area is famous. Above is a tea plantation just across the road from the tomb. After paying homage to Csoma I visited one of the dozens of local tea emporiums, where I was faced by a bewildering array of types and grades of tea. The very best grades of black tea, such as “First Flush Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe," can cost up to twenty dollars for 100 grams, depending on what garden it comes from and where you buy it. I bought some “Second Flush Ruby Clonal” from the Arya Garden plantation and by evening I was comfortable ensconsced in the second story lounge of the Bellevue Hotel, which overlooked the Chowkra, the main square of Darjeeling, with a cup of freshly-brewed Darjeeling tea at my elbow. How much different this tea is from that found in the tea bags commonly sold throughout the rest of the world! If we lived in a more orderly society the chairmen of the board and CEOs of bag tea purveyors would be hauled off to the nearest public square and given a sound horse whipping for trying to pass off on the unsuspecting populace the floor sweepings they dare to call tea.
Tea at Local Market: this isn't Lipton's!

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