Munnar is one of the most favoured travel destination in South India. It is at a height of 6,000 feet and can be reached by road from Kochi International Airport (111 km). Kerala is commonly identified with lakes and boats. But the cool climate and scenic beauty of Munnar holds a different type of attraction to travellers.
Munnar has unending tea plantations on its hilly terrain. There are many streams and waterfalls in the area. Munnar is at the confluence of three rivers: Muthirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala rivers. It is the largest panchayat in Kerala.
Munnar was developed as a hill station by the British. It is said that they took the help of a tribal hunter to build a road from Kochi to Munnar. The hunter showed them the route taken by elephants to come down from the Western Ghats. The forests around Munnar support diverse flora and fauna.
Some of the world’s highest tea plantations can be found here. As we neared Munnar, we could see long stretches of tea plantations. Some shade trees, usually silver oaks, are planted to provide cover to tea bushes. Other crops such as pepper, arecanut and cashew are also grown on tea plantations. A major chunk of the plantations is run by Kanan Devan Hills Plantation Company.
We stayed in a resort on the outskirts of Munnar. We drove through beautiful mud roads with lots of greenery and flowers on both sides.
Many Christian families have settled in Munnar and surrounding areas to engage in farming of tea, rubber, pepper, cardamom and coffee. It was not surprising therefore to see a Christian church in a rather thinly populated place.
In the heart of Munnar town is the tea museum which is run by Kannan Devan Hills Plantation Company. It is in KDHPC’s Nullatanni tea plantation. There is an entry fee of Rs 95 per person. A 30-minute video on the history of tea plantations in Munnar is shown every hour. There is also an entertaining talk on the benefits of consuming tea.
We can expect to get a basic understanding of how the tender leaves are processed into tea. On display are equipment used in the manufacturing of tea. You can buy Kannan Devan tea products from the sales outlet.
Mattupetty Dam is in a picturesque location with undulating hills and a beautiful lake, Boating is possible on the lake. It is 13 km from Munnar. Get there early to avoid traffic snarls. It is on the route to Echo Point.
A boat cruise could offer occasional sightings of elephant, gaur and sambar. Elephants can also be seen close to the reservoir. This concrete dam has been an important source of power for the nearby areas.
Echo Point is a beautiful place, located on the scenic banks of Mattupetty lake. It got its name from the natural echo phenomenon When you make a sound, you will hear its echo. It is 15 km from Munnar.
Echo Point is covered with abundant greenery. It will be a perfect choice for those who love nature walks or trekking. The place is surrounded by misty hills and water falls.
The road leading to the entrance to Echo Point is lined with shops. The parking area tends to be crowded. Buses carrying tourists from Tamil Nadu are a common sight.
New tea plants take three years before they are ready for harvesting. The bushes have shiny green pointed leaves with a pleasant aroma. You can smell the tea leaves if you take a walk along the plantations. The tea bushes are pruned to waist height for plucking of leaves. Tea leaves are plucked by women workers. They pluck the first two leaves and bud from each shoot and put them in baskets carried on their backs. The collected tea leaves are then sorted into different varieties for further processing.