Early the next morning we left for the hills. Southern India is cut by the Western Ghats. We were on the bus for about 3.5 hours and suddenly found ourselves surrounded by what looked like cracked green hills. There it was, Munnar, a small town surrounded by rolling hills of tea plantations. Our first stop was the surprisingly fabulous Tea Museum, where we learned about the history of tea development in the region (by the British) and saw how the factory processes the tea leaves into tea (crushing, tearing and curling it to make ctc tea- the one used to make “chai”)! We enjoyed the cool, even chilly, evening air and got ready for the long day to come.
The next morning we took a long walk through the tea plantations. Passing by some cardamon and coffee plantation we got to a view point and then continued by some very nice resorts and then the pickers living quarters in the middle of the tea plantations before making it to a trickling waterfall, and finishing on the main road by the tea “factory outlet store”. It felt like we were in Europe, totally disconnected from India, in a sea of green. Only we had a chat with one of the pickers (the tea leaves are all picked by hand) and discovered that he makes about 1500 Rupees a month (about 30 USD); still in India after all.
That afternoon we went to Eravikulam National Park to see the Nilgiri Tahr, a goat species found only in there and in Australia. Only about 1 km of walking trail is open to the public and we were shuttled from the entrance in a mini bus, but the views of the mountains were stunning and we got to see the goats just a few meters away from us. An Indian family accompanied us, and their excitement at seeing the goats was addicting!
|Nilgiri Tahr goat|