In the plains of India or otherwise almost everyone drinks tea but many will not have idea how tea powder is made. Many of them might have seen tea plantations during their visit to some hill station. But they will have hardly any idea how the tea leaves transforms into tea powder. View of tea plantations and tea factory is not new to me. But during my visit to Munnar, I visited a tea museum for the first time. Located around 10 km from Munnar town, it is run by Kannan Devan Hill Plantations Company (KDHP). Tata Tea actually used to own Kanna Devan tea estate but they exited the ownership of many Plantation business as part of their strategy.
Timings: 9 am to 4 pm
Entry fees: Rs 75 (adults), Rs. 35 ( between 6 – 12 years)
Camera charges: Rs. 20
Little bit of History:
The plantation process started in 1877 with John Daniel Munro making an application to the Poonjar chief for grant of property. Kannan Devan Planters Association was formed in 1888. The first post office opened in 1892 at Devikulam estate. In 1896 the Kannan Devan Hills Produce Company was formed. In 1900 the company constructed the first hydro electric project here. Munnar in its quest to develop tea gardens had light railway and mono rails at that height. In 1924 a flood washed most of the low lying areas.
At the entrance you would need to purchase tickets and then you will be guided in batches to a video show on how Kannan Devan and Munnar tea gardens were developed. Here no photography is allowed. Following this we went to an exhibition room which took us to a journey of bygone era through pictures, writings and old equipments. This gives a vivid idea how the British transformed the jungle hills of Munnar to plantations estates. I saw the original wheel of the rail engine used then, the rotor-vane used to make tea in the 1920s, a clock which runs with punching machine, iron age burial urn from the 2nd century BC, tea rollers from 1905, antique typewriter, calculator, film projector, telephones and telephone exchanges.
On the first floor one can see how the tea leafs are selected for crushing and mastication. Then on the other side of the ground floor one can see the processing of masticated tea leafs. The tea powders are graded according to the size of granules. The larger ones are exported. People can take little bit of tea powder with permission for personal consumption. After coming out of the exhibition hall, one can go for tea testing. I typically do not have tea. But my mom insisted me to have telling that it was mixed with Elaichi (cardamon). Well yes, it was definitely very tasty. The tea museum is housed in the KDHP house in a valley. Outside the building, one can roam around the nearby tea plants and do some photography.
I would definitely suggest to visit this place as it is an adventure through history and information.
To view more pictures of Munnar visit, Travelingbeats Photo Gallery.