- Sauvik Biswas / autobot: 54UV1K - https://sauvikbiswas.com -

Day 7: The other half of Munnar

And you thought we couldn’t combine two experiences together

Kolukkumalai Tea Estate is the highest organic tea garden in the world. It is also the highest tea estate in South India. In order to reach there, one must drive for about 30 kms from Munnar and then take a 4×4 vehicle and drive for another one and half hours at a speed not more than 15 kmph. We were (un)fortunate to get a vehicle that had probably donated its parts to the making of Jeep of Thesius. The three hour long ride also gave us a nice body massage that Kerala is probably famous for. It did not help that while descending, one of the plates of the rear suspension broke!

Our vehicle, Dullahan [1]

Our vehicle, Dullahan

These rocky roads are narrow and has enough width for one vehicle. A vehicle has to halt at bends in order to allow any incoming vehicle to pass. [2]

These rocky roads are narrow and has enough width for one vehicle. A vehicle has to halt at bends in order to allow any incoming vehicle to pass.

The tea estate produces a varietal of Orange Pekoe [3]. We bought tickets for a guided tour of the factory.

Kolukkumalai tea factory [4]

Kolukkumalai tea factory

Step 1: The tea leaves are heated and then rolled. Well rolled leaves are sorted out and the coarser ones are sent back for rolling again. [5]

Step 1: The tea leaves are heated and then rolled. Well rolled leaves are sorted out and the coarser ones are sent back for rolling again.

Step 2: The rolled leaves are fermented. (The fermentation room was empty at that time.) [6]

Step 2: The rolled leaves are fermented. (The fermentation room was empty at that time.)

Step 3: Fermented leaves are oxidised to lock-in the flavours and prevent further fermentation. At this point, tea leaves are dry. [7]

Step 3: Fermented leaves are oxidised to lock-in the flavours and prevent further fermentation. At this point, tea leaves are dry.

Step 4: The chaff and other unwanted sediments are isolated. This process is repeated four times to isolate every last bit of foreign materials. [8]

Step 4: The chaff and other unwanted sediments are isolated. This process is repeated four times to isolate every last bit of foreign materials.

Step 5: Finally, the tea is sorted into various grades. [9]

Step 5: Finally, the tea is sorted into various grades.

Two other miscellaneous citings

There was some festival procession that had blocked our way for quite some time. Locals do something similar to suspension ritual of the body modification community [10]. Our driver said that it was some puja of some Murugappa.

A devotee in Superman suspension [11]

A devotee in Superman suspension

We also crossed the earthen Anayirankal Dam. The mist, that had built up, was a sign of a heavy downpour. The rain prohibited us from stopping at a (relatively pointless) viewpoint called Lockhart Gap.

Anayirankal Dam covered in mist. We sat on the boulder in the foreground and enjoyed the weather. [12]

Anayirankal Dam covered in mist. We sat on the boulder in the foreground and enjoyed the weather.

Closure note

Because of my mother’s health, I consciously chose places where we could comfortably move using a vehicle. I had also restricted myself to places that can be visited between 7 AM to 6 PM. We even avoided animal rides and safaris. One such avoided area near Munnar would be the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.

There are plenty of other places that may appeal to the thrill-seeker or an avid trekker. If I was backpacking, I would have chosen a much different itinerary. That would have been a different experience altogether.

Land of Black Gold: A Tintin book that was not meant to be [13]
Day 6: One half of Munnar [14]