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Munnar, located in the Idukki district of Kerala, and perched on the Western Ghats (which has been listed recently as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO), has a population of 1.9 million people.Over the last few decades, this little hill town has been attracting visitors from all over the world who travel to see the lushness, historical heritage & diversity of this protected biosphere.
Munnar literally means ‘three rivers’. Fed by three mountain streams, the Muthirapuzha, Nallathany and the Kundala, it is blessed with almost every shade of green that the mind can conjure, all thanks to thousands of acres of tea and cardamom plantations, and shola forests and grass lands.
Blair Hill, Munnar, monorail transport c. 1900
As far back as 900 AD, its earliest inhabitants were Muduvans, Puliyars and an unidentified tribe. During 1155-1160 AD, it was widely known for the Poonjar Dynasty, headed by the Pandya King Manavikar.

In the late 18th century, after a steady stream of European settlers had made inroads into Munnar, in 1876, John Daniel Munro, the Superintendent of the Cardamom Hills, aided by A W Turner, a pioneer in coffee plantation and his half-brother H G Turner, post master general of Madras, initiated plantation as a key business activity in the region. The trio negotiated with Poonjar Raja, Kerala Varma Vuliya Raja, and conveyed a land measuring 214 sq km at Kannan Thevan Anchannatu Mala for (British) Rs 5,000.

Picking over leaf, Chokenad, 1920s
In 1883, spurred by his surging interest in gold mining, Munro sold his shares to Gibble, who later formed a society with senior members of the Madras civil service, army officers, and businessmen, and planted the first of the Cinchona trees (the source of quinine) in Devikulam region. Over the next couple of years, they drew like-minded adventurous souls to the area.

The landscape of Munnar, however, changed forever in 1886, when A H Sharp planted the first set of tea saplings in 50 hectares of Parvathy Estate.

In 1888, the Kanan Devan Planters Association was formed. However, by early 1890’s, the struggling Association caught the attention of Sir John Muir, Chairman of Finlay Muir & Co, who owned tea estates in Sri Lanka, Kenya and Bengal. Muir and his son, James Muir, went on to rewrite the fortunes and output of the Kanan Devan Hills.

In the early 1970s TATA group joined hands with Finlay company in their efforts as a stake holder. Later with TATA taking over the remaining stakes of the company forms TATA Tea Ltd which continued to contribute to the development of the region . In the year 2005 TATA exits the tea plantation business in Munnar giving way to the Kannan Devan Hills Company Plantation Ltd. Munnar is now home to many plantation workers, agriculturist and allied service providers. Having been discovered and noted as a key tourist location, it attracts a lot of tourist who are mesmerised by its manicured tea gardens, and unique bio-diversity.
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We respect Munnar
We respect everything that
we borrow from nature and
try our best to return the
favour. For instance, we
use energy efficient lighting
all over the estate. A bio-gas
plant provides us all the
fuel we need for cooking.
And water used around
our premises is recycled and
used in our gardens. As of
now, we are also experimenting resolutely through many trials
and errors to set up a
vermi-compost unit in our estate,
which should enable us to pursue organic farming—hopefully
sometime soon.

The bags and notepads used at Windermere are of recycled paper
made by children suffering from
disabilities at the nearby Shrishti Welfare Centre run by Tata Tea.

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