Munnar and surrounding areas are unbelievably beautiful. Tea manicured mountains that are reminiscent of a Japanese bonsai theme, just wonderful.
We took a visit to the Tea Museum/Factory today to understand a little more about the history of the plantations up here in Munnar. It’s not one of the horror stories we associate with relinquishing land to foreigners. Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company was the place we visited. The original planters that came to Munnar in the late 1800’s, understood the potential of the land, and were actually forward thinking, kind people with one eye on business and the other on the surrounding wildlife and local people, social welfare and culture. They had an understanding of how working in harmony with the massive land masses and wildlife would benefit everyone (if only all business guys thought like this eh).
After establishing tea growth lifecycle with locals, they were quick to focus back on the community, providing healthcare, housing and later on other benefits like a creche, so the household can double its income. When it came to times of growth and expansion, the planters put wildlife first when looking at new prospects or travel routes, so as not to upset the eco balance.
After independence the company changed hands into Tata Tea, and is now jointly owned by the descendants of the original plantation workers, its first director was a woman.