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Magnificent Munnar

Munnar Travel Blog

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Bringing in the tea

A 100km drive  north, through lush rolling hills covered with cardamom, pepper and coffee plants. Pepper and coffee beans lay on big mats drying outside houses, and sometimes in the road. We arrived at Munnar, 1400m up in the High Range. Since Scottish planters came in the 1880s, this has been South India's tea growing area. The plants cover the hillsides in great green giant jigsaw patterns. The tea is picked year round, and the bushes are a uniform 1m high everywhere. The all-women teams pick leaves for 15 days a month then shear the plants for the other 15. The shears have a special contraption attached to collect the leaves. The pickers live in tea villages, tied cottages that they have to leave at age 58.

In the High Range
But apparently the tea companies - Tata, who own Tetley the main one - give good conditions, reasonable pay, health care and education to the permanent workers. But there are temporary workers too, who are treated less well. In the Tea Museum with its small tea factory to show the processing are photos of the early 20th century British planters, their families, their social events.

The Church of South India (Anglican) Church, looking all the world like a English village church with its tower had a Sunday service in English. We joined the regular congregation of about 20 to sing "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" and "Abide with Me". Shoes off at the door, so the congregation, and vicar, were barefoot. Men went to communion first, women next. Low Church Anglicanism with a twist, but uplifting and friendly.

Mike took a 6hr Trek in the High Range, up to 2200m. It was a fine ridge walk, looking down on the tea estates, the mists over Tamil Nadu and the hills just stretching in all directions.

This time of year, Munnar is a lovely place, beautiful, fresh clear weather, sunny, warm, but not humid. Green and wooded countryside, with bouganvillea, jacaranda and wild poinsettia lining the roadside, and the tea bushes in all directions. It's not surprising the area is popular with Indian honeymooners. The Aida Hotel next to ours advertised itself as "Honeymoon Paradise". Do they know what happened to her??

But as the Kerala tourism strapline says, "You're in God's Own Country."

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Bringing in the tea
Bringing in the tea
In the High Range
In the High Range
Munnar town - remnant of the last …
Munnar town - remnant of the last…
And more tea
And more tea
Tea shearing
Tea shearing
Looking back down the ridge walk
Looking back down the ridge walk
Drying pepper
Drying pepper
Munnar
photo by: spocklogic