Munnar is a hill that has been re-greened by tea gardens. Back in 1887, Munnar and surrounding hills were dense forests. In that year, the Englishman J D Murrow purchased the land from the ruler of Travancore. He cleared the forests and planted tea gardens in the clearings. Munnar is now a small town nestling among the hills of the mountain range forming the eastern boundary of Kerala. Munnar and surrounding hills are practically covered fully with tea plantations. The hills range in height from 4000 feet above sea level to 6000 feet. There are tea plantations even at 7000 feet.
There is a tea museum at the town center, set up by the Kanan Devan Hill Produce Company Ltd, who owns most of the tea gardens. The name Kanan Devan is derived from the name of an early tribal ruler of the hills, Kannan Thevan. Tea buds are plucked by hand from tea bushes and transported to factories. The leaves are processed in the factories to produce different varieties of tea – in the form of processed leaves or powdered dust.
Tea Gardens at Munnar
Sight Seeing at Tea Gardens
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Munnar’s top attraction is its scenic tea gardens and is top priority on any travel itinerary in this area. There are around 30 tea estates, all are privately owned (about 27 of them owned by Tata Tea Company), but most estate managers will allow visitors to wander around the estate for free.
Tea factories at the estates offer a great opportunity to witness the entire process by which tea changes from being a fresh, hand picked leaf to the fragrant product that makes it to breakfast tables across the world. Some tea factories also offer tea on sale for visitors. While tea gardens dominate the landscape, the area does have other attractions.
There is a cardamom hill in Munnar itself you might find rain clouds hovering over your head. The journey among the hills, along bend after bend of the ascending mountain roads, is itself a great experience. A mountain stream runs right across middle of the town. At places, the stream is more rock than water. However, at other places, it becomes a true stream, and the view across is captivating.
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Tea Gardens at Munnar, Kerala – Getting there
Air: Nearest major airport is Cochin International airport which is about 125 km away. Taxi services are available from airport to Munnar.
Train: Nearest rail head is Angamaly or Alwaye, both are nearly 120 km away from Munnar. Angamaly is an important rail junction in Ernakulam – Trissur route and is well connected to all cities in India.
Bus: Munnar is connected to other cities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu by state government public transport buses, but are less frequent.
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