5 Beautiful Tea Plantations in KeralaDid you know that the commercial production of tea in India was started by British with the idea to break the Chinese monopoly? The East India Company took over huge areas for the plantation and since then the tea in Kerala became one of the most favorite beverages. It became such a popular drink that about 70% of the production is consumed in the country itself!
Kerala, situated on the slopes of the Western Ghats of India, receives monsoon rains from the Arabian Sea that give it a fertile landscape perfect for tea plantation. While on your trip to this state, the tea plantations in Kerala are something that you cannot miss!
Why Kerala Has Tea Plantation?The earliest record of commercial planting of tea in Kerala is in 1875. Tea plantation requires warm and humid climate and also constant supply of water along with sunshine. All these elements are available in Kerala along the elevations of Western Ghats. The undulating hills that have narrow paths between the thick tea plantation bushes are something that is a delight for every tourist. Apart from the green and the unique cultivation, you can also spot a number of butterflies and birds. Munnar is one of the best places for growing tea in Kerala. The place was a summer retreat for the British and today is the most recognized tea plantation area of Kerala.
1. Kolukkumalai Tea Plantation, IdukkiGeographically speaking, Kolukkumalai is a small village situated in the Theni district of Tamilnadu. However, it is most easily reached from Munnar. Tourists generally hire a jeep from the Suryanelli tea estate and take around 9 km (5.6 miles) to reach Kolukkumalai. This estate was formed in 1920 and took about 7 years from then to start the first planting of tea.
Situated at an altitude of 8,000 feet, this is a place where you can get breathtaking panoramic views of the Kodaikanal hill station. The place is quite far from the Munnar town, so this is not a very touristy area. Also, as there are no private cars allowed in Suryanelli tea estate, neither is there any proper sign boards that show where is the jeep hiring spot, the general tourists do not find this a very comfortable option to visit. The jeep ride takes close to 1 hour and the swirls are not for the faint hearted.
Kolukkumalai Tea Plantation
· Best time to visit:Although some would say the weather in this area is great all through the year, the best visiting time is during September to March, during which the best scenic beauty is mostly spotted. The flowers of the Eravikulam national park in Munnar can be clubbed with the trip to Kolukkumalai Hill Top. Many tourists like to go for the Neelakurinji trek from here. The best time to visit is from August to October because the blossoms start drying up by November. The variety of mountain flowers on the path would make your trip to this tea plantation in Kerala a vivid experience.
· Average cost:The nearest accessible town from the tea estate is Munnar and there are plenty of homestays available. The jeep hire takes around 200 INR; the trekking of Kolukkumalai Tea Plantation is close to 1000 INR and entry to the tea museum costs 100 INR per person. The entire trip in this state can take around four hours which includes visiting the highest organic tea factory.
2. Kannan Devan Hills Plantation, MunnarThis place belonged to John Daniel Munroe who got it on lease in 1877. Today, it is one of the most sprawling tea plantations in Kerala. When you visit the Kannan Devan Hills, you would do an exact tea plantation model. There are 7 extensive tea Gardens that are sprawled over an area of about 24,000 hectares. With 16 manufacturing units, the place produces about 22 million kilogram of tea and has 12,000 employees in the estate. The enthralling beauty of the place has made it one of the most popular tourist destinations.
Kannan Devan Hills Plantation
· How to get:By road, the place can be reached with the local bus although the frequency is limited. The nearest bus station is in Ernakulam bus stand. If you are travelling from Kochi, it can take around 4 hours by road. From Coimbatore, it is about 148 kilometers (92 miles) and takes around 5 hours to reach. Palakkad Junction Railway Station is the nearest railhead and Cochin International Airport is the major airport nearby.
· Things to around the plantation:
The tea plantation is often coupled with the other close by attractions that are Mattupetty Dam, Rajamalai National Park, Messapulimala, and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. But if you are only touring the plantation area, you will be amazed by the biodiversity in this manicured tea garden. Also, the place has the country’s first museum which can be an exciting visit for you as well as your kids.
See more about Tea Museum at Munnar
3. Elstone Tea Estate, WayanadSituated in the lap of the Nilgiris, this is one of the most beautiful tea plantations in Kerala that is worth a visit. The closest railway station is Kozhikode in Calicut, from which you can get a car or hire a jeep to visit the tea estate.
The dense carpet of the tea plants along the sloping hills of the Western Ghats provides one of the finest spots to enjoy an amazing variety of flora and fauna. The Wayanad hill view from the plantation is one of the finest natural beauties of this place. Many visitors would take upon a trekking experience for a more elaborate trip. You can club your trip with a visit to the Kaumudi road of Kerala and also so to the other nearby attractions like Sulthan bather, Hibernest in Kalpetta and the misty hills of the Western Ghats.
Elstone Tea Estate
4. Chinnakanal Tea FieldsThis tea plantation in Kerala is also very close to Munnar but is not a very popular tourist din. The walk along the plantation can takes around 3 to 4 hours and you can find out about how the entire procedure of plucking the fresh tea leaves and then processing it into the ones that we get in the market are done.
The jeep tour through the fields is something you are bound to love. Some love to visit the place before sunrise so they can click the amazing natural beauty from here. You can find guided tour that includes visiting the tea museum. Camera is allowed in the tea garden and it costs around 700 INR for the entire trip per person.
5. Bonacaud in Thiruvananthapuram
Along the lap of a beautiful hill station called Ponmudi, this estate is absolutely one of the most stunning tea plantations in Kerala, and also one of the favorite places for the trekkers and hikers. With a famous tea estate, Bonacaud among the greenest places in the city. Apart from the waterfall, valley and the thick forest beauty, this tea plantation forms one of the centers of a major weekend getaway outing for the locals. The tea plantation was established by the British and was called Bon Accord in the past. Horses were used to reach here as it is not accessible by vehicles. Today, you can hire private jeeps to reach here. Just the tea plantation would take around 1 to 2 hours for the entire trip and the best time to visit here will be from October to March. The beautiful waterfall of Vazuvanchola and Bona are not to be missed.