Munnar (Malayalam: മുന്നാർ) is a town and hill station in the southwestern state of Kerala, India. Munnar is situated around 1600 m above sea level, in the Western Ghats range of mountains.
The name Munnar is believed to mean “three rivers”, referring to the location at the confluence of the Madhurapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers. Munnar town is situated on the Kannan Devan Hills village in Devikulam taluk and is the largest panchayat in the Idukki district in Kerala having an area measuring nearly 557 km². The nearest major railway stations are at Ernakulam and Aluva (approximately 140 kilometres (87 mi) by road). The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, which is 105 kilometres (65 mi) away.
Munnar is a hill that has been re-greened by tea gardens. Back in 1887, Munnar (pronounced moonnaar) 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.
Tea buds are plucked by hand from tea bushes (pic left) 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.
The first tea sapling was planted by A.H. Sharp at Parvathi, which is currently the part of Sevenmallay estate. Presently the whole area is covered by the mile and miles of lush tea gardens, owned by the various private companies. Munnar is essentially a tea town. Tea bushes are planted 1 meter to 1.5 meters 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 were known as seedlings.
Munnar is perhaps the choicest of places to preserve and showcase some of the exquisite and interesting aspects on the genesis and growth of tea plantations in Kerala’s high ranges. With special emphasis to Munnar, and to the delight of tea lovers and tourists, Tata Tea opened a Tea Museum which houses curious, photographs and machineries, each depicting a turning point that contributed to a flourishing tea industry, as seen today in the region.