Munnar – breathtakingly beautiful – a haven of peace and tranquility – the idyllic tourist destination in God’s own country.
Set at an altitude of 6000 ft in Idukki district, Munnar was the favored summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days. Unending expanse of tea plantations – pristine valleys and mountains- exotic species of flora and fauna in its wild sanctuaries and forests – aroma of spice scented cool air – yes! Munnar has all these and more. It’s the place you would love to visit – it’s the place you would wish never to leave- so welcome – log on to munnar.com for all information on Munnar anytime, every time.
MUNNAR – Fact File
Altitude : 1600 Mts to 1800 Mts above sea level
Temperature : Min. 0 c – Max. 25 c
Clothing : Warm Clothes and Rain Gear
Tourist Season : August to March .
Tea or Chai is the most widely drunk beverage in the whole world. The tea plant, Camellia Sansis, is a cultivated variety of a Tea planttree that has its origins in an area between India and China. There are three main varieties of the tea plant – China, Assam, and Cambodia – and a number of hybrids between the varieties. The China variety grows as high as nine feet (2.75 metres). It is a hardy plant able to withstand cold winters and has an economic life of at least 100 years.
The Assam variety, a single-stem tree ranging from 20 to 60 feet (6 to 18 metres) in height. Regular pruning keeps its height to a more manageable 4 to 5 feet tall. It has an economic life of 40 years with regular pruning and plucking. When grown at an altitude near that of Darjeeling (Assam) or Munnar (Kerala), it produces tea with fascinating flavours , sought after around the globe.
MAIN SUB VARIETIES OF TEA
The tender light-leaved Assam
The less tender dark-leaved Assam
The hardy Manipuri and Burma types
The very large-leaved Lushai
The dark-leaved Assam plant from Upper Assam.
The Cambodia variety, a single-stem tree growing to about 16 feet (five metres) in height, is not cultivated but has been naturally crossed with other varieties.
History of Tea
Behind this everyday brew lies a colorful and fascinating story that meanders its way through the social and cultural history of many nations. According to ancient legend, tea was discovered by chance by a Chinese Emperor in third millenium B.C. as some tea leaves floated into his boiling pot of water from somewhere.
Whether this is fact or fiction, we will never know. In fact, there was no written reference to tea until the third century B.C., until a famous Chinese doctor recommended it for increasing one’s alertness. Most historians however agree that tea was used in China long before this date.
Tea entered its ‘golden age’ during the Tang Dynasty in the 7th century AD. Tea entered the age of rituals and traditions. No longer drunk simply as a medicinal tonic, tea was taken as much for pleasure as for its restorative powers. The preparation and service of the liquor developed into an elaborate ceremony, while the cultivation and processing of the leaf were tightly controlled.
Tea became important enough during this period for a group of merchants to commission the writer, Lu Yu, to compile the first ever book on the subject – Classic of Tea. All tea produced in China was originally green.
However, with an increase in trade during the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368 – 1644), the Chinese growers were challenged to preserve tea’s delicate qualities during its long journeys, as far afield as Europe. The solution was the invention of new processing methods to make black and flower-scented teas. Ming producers found that fermentation was able to preserve tea leaves, making them suitable for the long overseas journey. And though Europe’s first taste of tea was green, the fashion gradually changed to black as Chinese growers altered tea production methods to suit the logistics of distant trade.
When one looks at Europe, one is not sure who was responsible for introducing tea there – the Dutch or the Portuguese in the early seventeenth century, for both nations were then actively trading in the China Seas. The Portuguese shipped China teas to Lisbon, and from there the Dutch East India Company carried goods on to Holland, France and Germany.
Tea’s fate in Britain took a lucky turn in 1662 when King Charles II married a Portuguese princess. Britain’s new queen was addicted to tea and carried with her some tea as part of her dowry. As word of the new beverage spread, more and more people wished to try it. Soon tea became Britain’s most popular drink, replacing ale at break-fast and gin at any other time of day. Tea also became an essential part of people’s entertainment outside the home.
Luxurious tea gardens appeared all over the country, where people from all walks of life, including royalty, could take fresh air, drink tea, and enjoy a variety of entertainment. The British tradition of ‘after-noon tea’ is normally ascribed to Anna, the Dutchess of Bedford. She conceived the idea of having tea around four or five in the afternoon to ward off the hunger pangs between lunch and dinner. Soon all of fashionable London was indulging in these after-noon gatherings to drink tea, eat sandwiches, and exchange gossip and general conversation.
As tea consumption in Britain grew, the balance of payment turned in favour of the Chinese. Britain came up with an answer to correct the imbalance and trade in opium, which the Chinese wanted. But soon trade in opium became a serious international issue, and to secure monopoly, Britain declared war. China retaliated by placing an embargo on all export of tea. The Opium Wars had begun.
Its trade with China cut off, Britain began to seek other locations for the production of tea. Northern India was particularly promising due to its climate and altitudes. It is here that in 1823 the British East India Company’s first crop was planted. Its first shipment of Assam tea reached London fifteen years later, and the Company soon expanded into other areas, most notably Darjeeling and the hills of Munnar in Kerala. The Kannan Devan Tea was thus born.
It was inevitable that tea would find its way to North America along with the settlers from Europe. All over the New World, tea was drunk in the same elegant fashion as in Europe. In colonial America, tea and the complimentary silver and porcelain were symbols of wealth and social status. Even the less affluent families viewed the taking of tea as a display of their good manners. The Boston Tea Party ended America’s liking for both the British and their tea. The origins of the trouble lay in the passing of an Act of Parliament in 1767, which attempted to tax the American colonies.
Within two years of its passing, most American ports were refusing to allow any dutiable goods ashore, and when the British sent seven shiploads of tea from London, feelings ran high. In New York and Philadelphia, demonstrations forced the ships to turn back. In Boston, general unrest over several weeks was followed by the boarding of the Dartmouth by a band of men disguised as Indians, to cries of “Boston harbour – a teapot tonight.”
In the course of the next three hours, they threw 340 chests of tea overboard. The British government’s closure of Boston harbor and the arrival of British troops on American soil marked the beginning of the War of Independence and America’s coffee-drinking tradition. World War II marked a final blow to America’s affinity for fine teas. Prior to the war, Americans were well versed in the many varieties of tea. Imported exclusively in the Orient, however, these teas became scarce during the war, and were replaced with lower quality black tea from Argentina and other open markets. Sadly, to this day, almost all tea consumed in the United States is low-grade black.
Tea bushes are planted 1 metre to 1.5 metres apart to follow the natural contours of the landscape. Sometimes they are grown on specially prepared terraces to help irrigation and to prevent erosion. Fifty years ago tea plants were raised from tea seeds and they Tea estatewere known as seedlings. Each plantation grew its own seed bearers in tea trees which grew to a height of approximately 25 metres. These young plants are raised from the cuttings obtained from a strong and rich bush. They are carefully tendered in special nursery beds until they are 12-15 months old and then planted in the tea gardens.
Trees are often planted in between the tea plants to protect them against intense heat and light, particularly on the plains of Assam and Kenya, where sunshine is most intense. The trees also provide microclimatic and soil improvements. Geometric spacing are used, often in quite wide spacing. This, again, ensures uniform treatment (shade) and ease in mechanized operations. Common shade trees are Erythrina, Gliricidia, and Silver Oak.
When the tea plant is allowed to grow wild and unfettered it becomes 10 mts high. To simplify cultivation and stimulate the production of leaf buds, they are regularly pruned and shaped into flat-topped bushes of about one metre in height. When the plant develops to a height of about half a metre above ground, it is cut back – pruned to within a few inches off the ground – to set it on course to develop into a flat-topped bush. Generally, a tea bush is 1 to 1.5 metres in height. Regular 2 to 3 year pruning cycles encourage the supply of shoots, the flush which is plucked every week to ten days, depending on where it is cultivated.
The tea leaves are mostly hand plucked. The tea plant is plucked every 5- 10 days, depending on where it grows. The length of Tea workerstime needed for the plucked shoot to redevelop a new shoot ready for plucking varies according to the plucking system and the climatic conditions. Intervals of between seventy and ninety days are common.
When the tea plant is plucked two leaves and a bud are cut. An experienced plucker can pluck up to 30 kg tealeaves per day. To make one kg black tea, approx. 4 kg tea leaves are needed. One tea plant produces about 70 kg black tea a year. In a warm climate the plant is plucked for the first time after four years and it will produce tea for at least 50 years. A suitable climate for cultivation must have a minimum annual rainfall of 1,140 to 1,270 millimetres. Tea soils must be acidic and tea cannot be grown in alkaline soils.
A crop of 11,650 kilograms per hectare requires 3.7 to 4.9 workers per hectare to pluck the tea shoots and maintain the fields. Mechanical plucking has been tried, but because of its lack of selectivity, it cannot replace hand plucking. Since 1900, advancements in tea cultivation have increased the average yield per acre in India from 180 to 450 kilograms, with many estates producing over 680 kilograms.
PLACES TO VISIT
Mattupetty (13 km from Munnar)
Situated at a height of 1700 Mts ,Mattupetty Mattupetty is famous for its highly specialised dairy farm, the Indo-swiss live stock project. Over 100 varietes of high yielding cattle are reared here.Visitors are allowed into three of the eleven cattle sheds at the farm
Visit Time : 0900 – 1100 hrs and 1400 – 1530 hrs.
Rate : Rs. 5/- per head. ( liable to change)
The Mattupetty lake and dam , just a short distance from the farm, is a very beautiful picnic spot. The sprawling Kundala tea plantations and the Kundala lake are other attractions in the vicinity. DTPC Idukki provides boating facilities on the Mattupetty Dam. Speed Launch and slow speed motor boats are available on hire.
Pothamedu (6 km from Munnar)
Pothamedu offers an excellent view of the tea, coffee and cardamom plantations in Munnar. The rolling hills, the lush mountain and the breathtaking scenery here is ideal for trekking and long mountain walks.
Devikulam (7 km from Munnar)
This idyllic hill station with its velvet lawns, exotic flora and fauna and the cool mountain air is a rare experience. The Sita Devi Lake with its mineral waters and picturesque surroundings is a good picnic spot. The lake is also ideal for trout fishing.
Pallivasal (8 km from Munnar)
This is the venue of the first Hydro Electric Project in Kerala and a place of immence scenic beauty.
Attukal (9 km from Munnar)
A panorama of waterfalls and rolling hills, Attukal, located between Munnar and Pallivasal, is a feast for the eyes. The place is also ideal for long treks.
Nyayamakad (10 km from Munnar)
Located between Munnar and Rajamala, Nyayamakad is a land of breathtaking waterfalls. The waters cascade down a hill from a height of about 1600 meters. The enchanting surroundings makes an excellent picnic spot and trekking point.
Chithirapuram (10 km from Munnar)
With its sleepy little cottages, bungalows, old playgrounds and courts, Chithirapuram still exudes an old world charm. Home of the Pallivasal Hydel Power Project, this hill town is also famous for its picturesque tea plantations.
Lock Heart Gap (13 km from Munnar)
This is an ideal place for adventure tourism and trekking. The fresh mountain air, the mist-clad hills and panoramic view make it worthy of a visit.
Rajamala (15 km from Munnar)
The natural habitat of the Niligiri tahr ,Rajamala Rajamala is 2695 Mts above sea level. Half the world’s population of the rare mountain goat or tahr which is fast becoming extinct, is now found here.The Niligiri tahr in Rajamala are now to be found in small herds found in Eravikulam-Rajamala region. The total number of Niligiri Tahrs in Rajamala is estimated to be over 1300.
Visiting Time : 0700 – 1800 hrs.
Visitors are not allowed during the monsoon.
Entry Pass : Rs. 10 for adults, Rs. 5 for children below 12 years, Rs. 50 for foreigners.( liable to change)
Permitting Authority : Wild Life DFO, Munnar.
Eravikulam National Park (15 km from Munnar)
The 97 sq. km. park is situated in the Devikulam Eravikulam National ParkTaluk and is home to the Nilgiri Tahr. The Anamudi peak (2695 Mts) is located in the Southern region of the park.
Originally established to protect the Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiri Ibex), the Eravikulam National Park is situated in the Devikulam Taluk of the Idukki District. It was declared as a sanctuary in 1975. Considering the ecological, faunal, floral, geo-morphological and zoological significance, it was declared as a National park in 1978. It covers an area of 97 sq kms of rolling grasslands and high level sholas (evergreen forests). The park is breathtakingly beautiful and is easily comparable to the best mountain ranges found anywhere in the world.
Sanctuary Visit :
Nilgiri Tahr The park is divided into 3 regions – the core area, the buffer area and the tourism area. Visitors are allowed only to the tourism area which is in the Rajamala region. The Nilgiri Tahr can be observed at close quarters here.
Trekking facilities are available here. Tourists are allowed to go on foot up to Anamudi. This is also a place for adventure tourism.
Trekking Areas : Anamudi, Rajamala.
Power House Waterfalls (18 km from Munnar)
The waterfall on the way to Thekkady from Munnar cascades down a steep rock 2000 Mts above sea level. The spot is enriched with the scenic Western mountain ranges, and is an ideal place for a break on the way to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady.
Kundala (20 km from Munnar)
Kundala is a picturesque town on the way to Top Station. The Golf Course which belongs to Tata Tea Ltd. is located here. The Kundala artificial dam is another attraction. Aruvikkad Waterfall is also near Kundala.
CSI Christ Church
CSI Christ ChurchThe British built the Christ Church in 1910 AD. Built of stone, the church is known for its stained glass windows. There are several brass plaques in the church placed in the memory of the tea planters.
IN AND AROUND MUNNAR
AnayirankalAnayirangal (22 kms from Munnar):
It’s a lush green carpet of tea plants. A trip on the splendid reservoir is an unforgettable experience. The Anayirangal dam is surrounded by Tata Tea plantations and evergreen forests. It is an ideal picnic spot.
Devikulam (7 kms from Munnar)
This idyllic hill station with its velvet lawns , exotic flora and fauna and the cool mountain air offers a rare experience to visitors. The Sita Devi lake with its mineral waters and picturesque surroundings is a good picnic spot. The lake is also ideal trout fishing.
Valara (10 kms from Adimali on the Kochi-Madurai highway)
Valara has a chain of waterfalls surrounded by thick green forests.
Marayoor (40 kms from Munnar)
This is the only place in Kerala that has a natural growth of sandalwood trees. The sandalwood factory of the forest department, the caves(muniyaras) with the murals and relics from the New stone age civilization and the children’s park spread across a hectare of land under the canopy of a single banyan tree, are of great interest to tourists. Thoovanam waterfalls and Rajiv Gandhi National Park are also nearby. +more
The Cheeyappara and Valara waterfalls are located between Neriamangalam and Adimali on the Kochi – Madurai highway.
TopstationTop Station (32 kms from Munnar)
1700 Mts above sea level , this is the highest point on the Munnar-Kodiakanal road. The rare Neelakurunji (strobilanthus) belongs to this region. Top Station (a viewing point) also offers a panoramic view of neighbouring state of Tamil nadu.
Echo Point (15 km from Munnar)
This scenic place gets its name from the natural echo phenomenon here. Echo point is on the way to Top Station from Munnar.
It is noted for 2 acres of evergreen forests upon a huge rock. The rock is more than 500 acres in area and an ideal spot for mountaineering.
Malankara Reservoir (6 kms from Thodupuzha)
Located on the Thodupuzha – Moolamattam road, this artificial lake isMalankara Reservoir accessible by road. The reservoir is ideal for boating and fishing.
Thommankuthu waterfalls (17 kms from Thodupuzha)
The seven step waterfall here is a much loved picnic spot . At each step there is a cascade and a pool beneath . Thommankuthu is an ideal place for adventure tourism. (This is also a tricky spot and visitors are advised to exercise caution !)
Nadukani (25 kms from Idukki)
Moolamattam town , Malankara lake etc. can be viewed from the high pavilion situated here.
Kalvari MountKalvari mount
This is a famous pilgrim centre on the way to Kattapana.
Palkulamedu (12 kms from Idukki)
Kochi, Allapuzha and other nearby towns can be seen from this peak at 3125 mts above sea level.
Chithirapuram (10 kms from Munnar)
With its sleepy little cottages, bungalows, old play grounds and courts, Chithirapuram still exudes an old world charm. Home of the Pallivasal Hydel power project, this hill town is also famous for its picturesque tea plantation.
RamakalmeduRamakalmedu (16 kms from Nedumkandam)
Rolling green hills and fresh mountain air make Ramakalmedu an enchanting retreat. The hilltop also offers a panoramic view of the picturesque villages of Bodi and Kambam on the Eastern slope of the Western ghats. One can enjoy the splendid beauty of nature. This is an ideal place for trekkers and mountain climbers.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary (60 km from Munnar)
Situated on the Tamil Nadu border, the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is spread across 90.44 sq km.
Most of the Southern Indian wild animals can be found in this forest. These include the grizzled giant squirrel, champal squirrel, elephant, sambar deer, gaur etc.
Jungle fowl, myna, laughing thrush, black bulbul, peafowl etc.
Munnar – Udumalpetta Road 60 km
Coimbatore – Udumalpetta – Chinnar Road 100 km
Cochin – Chinnar 190 km
Parambikulam via Pollachi – Chinnar via Udumalpetta 60 km
Kottayam – Chinnar 250 km
0700 – 1800 hrs. Entry passes are available at the office of the Assistant Conservator of Forests or the Check Post Information Counter.
Wildlife Warden, Idukki Wild Division, Painav/Wildlife DFO, Munnar.
Karimuty – Inchapetty
Karimuty – Alampetty
High Range Club
Charmingly colonial in style, this clubhouse built of wicker and teak still serves as a social centre for the far – flung farmers of the region around Munnar. The club houses an elegant lounge and a dining room, the obligatory gentleman’s bar, a billiards room, a library etc. Entry is limited to members only.
Trekking Points in Munnar
Anamudi, Rajamala, Meesapulimala, Top Station, Kundala, Devikulam.
Sightseeing tours are arranged from the District Tourist Infornation Office, Thekkady Jn., Kumili. Tours cover spice plantations, herbal gardens, tribal settlements, other places in and around Munnar etc.
Tourist Circuits in Munnar
Munnar – Mattupetty Dam – Indo Swiss Livestock Project – Echo Point – Kundala Dam – Top Station (34 km).
Munnar – Pothamedu – Chitirapuram – Pallivasal – Cheyappara – Adimali – Valara (40 km).
Munnar – Rajamala – Marayoor – Chinnar (70 km).
Munnar – Devikulam – Lock Heart Gap – Power House Waterfalls – Anayirankal (32 km).
1 Tea County Munnar 4 Star Rs.3,500 – 6,000
2 Club Mahindra Chinnakannal 4 Star Rs.5,000 – 15,000
3 Cloud 9 Naduparai 3 Star Rs.2,400 – 3,400
4 Sienna Village Chinnakannal 3 Star Rs.1,800 – 2,500
5 Oak Fields Pothamedu 3 Star Rs.2,200 – 2,400
6 Eastend Munnar 3 Star Rs.1950 – 2,300
7 Issacs Residency Munnar 3 Star Rs.1,250 – 2,500
8 Chancellor Resorts Chinnakannal 3 Star Rs.1,500 – 3,500
9 West Wood Munnar 3 Star Rs.1,350 – 2,350
10 Sterling Resorts Chinnakannal 3 Star Rs.1,700 – 2,400
11 B Six Holliday Resorts Latchmi Est. 3 Star Rs.1,500 – 2,000
12 Fort Munnar Chinnakannal 3 Star Rs.5,000 – 11,000
13 Deshadan Mountain Resort Potemedu Luxury Rs.2,750 – 4,000
SN. Resorts/Hotels Location Rating Tariff
14 Las Palmas Devikulam Classic Rs.900-1,650
15 Spring Dale Resorts Devikulam Budget Rs.650 – 5,300
16 Lonely Planet Devikulam Budget Rs.750 – 5,000
17 Munnar Inn Munnar Classic Rs.1,200 – 1,500
18 Hill View Munnar Classic Rs.750 – 2,500
19 Elysium Garden Munnar Classic Rs.600 – 2,500
20 S.N.Annex Munnar Classic Rs.950 – 2,000
21 S.N.Tourist Home Munnar Budget Rs.850 – 2,000
22 Munnar Tourist Home Munnar Budget Rs.900 – 3,000
23 Misha Tourist Home Munnar Budget & Classic Rs.480 – 1,300
24 Sun Mount View Resorts Pullivasal Budget Rs.950 – 2,000
SN. Resorts/Hotels Location Rating Tariff
25 Tea Garden Resorts Munnar Cheap Rs.450 – 1,200
26 Dhanyasree Munnar Cheap Rs.550 – 1,500