This Segment ” Wanderlust Tales“ brings to you the fascinating stories of a young dreamer, a passionate traveler, and a wandering soul. Witness her emotional stories coupled with exquisite photographs from her travel diaries, every Friday.
From Wanderlust Tales of theWanderingSoul
Official Globe-Trotter, The Floating Thoughts Team
” Take only memories, leave only footprints.“
As the first rays of dawn kissed the porch of the little house, my father woke us up to witness the beautifully lit morning sky that greeted us. The sun peeked through the slits of dense forest covers and the birds were chirping their hearts out. The fresh morning dew filled the ambiance with misty fragrance while the sunrays radiated the greenery around us
We reached quite late the previous night and it was pretty dark on the way to the homestay. We found dogs barking at our vehicle when we arrived there. Though it was my well-thought off decision to stay a little far from the tourist crowd, everybody started to doubt my decision. Adding fuel to the fire, as we entered the room, the power went off. Moreover, there were no shops or restaurant nearby where we could have dinner. But watching this beautiful morning at this homestay, which overlooked a quaint and peaceful valley with dense forest cover, left us all with only smiles.
After getting freshened up, we went for a walk around the village and found a small local restaurant where we had our breakfast. At nominal charges, the quality of food and the service that he offered with a big smile and innocence on his face was beyond expectation. Thus, it became another reason for sustaining the smiles on our faces.
As we started our journey from the village, the breathtakingly beautiful tea gardens spread across miles embraced us. I was in awe of the beauty of it. I had imagined myself among the mesmerizing tea hills of Munnar so many times before. The dreams of mine to be there myself and actually being there made me realize the magic of dreams and power of following our passion.
“Truly the universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart. A heart that dreams and never gives up on it.”
I was awestruck by the hills of tea plantations but at the same time, I was disappointed. The reason was the more I traveled around Munnar, the more I came across trees and forests being cut to give way to the tea plantation, thus shrinking the total forest cover.
The tea industry is burgeoning in these hills of God’s own country. Decades ago Munnar used to be an isolated area with large forest cover. It was home to various wild species including elephants and tigers. It was the British who exploited these lands for their own benefit and the trend continues. There are still many areas in and around Munnar with dense forest cover but the pace at which forests are being cut for tea plantation is huge. Development is being done at the cost of environment.
The outside world came to know of Munnar in the 1870s after John Daniel Munro visited Munnar to settle a border dispute between Tranvancore of which Munnar was a part back then and the state of Madras. He fell in love with these beautiful and unexplored hills. He had a keen interest in plantation and hence asked the Poonjar royal family to lease out the hills and in no time he started coffee and spice plantations in these hills. British tried growing several other crops before they found out that tea suits the best in this area. And it was not Munro but A.H Sharp who planted tea in these beautiful hills after clearing a huge area of its dense forest. Gradually several tea companies were established and in 1964, Tata Group along with Finlay Group formed the Tata Finlay group which was later named as Tata Tea.
Though I admit that the tea and spice plantations are profitable and aesthetically pleasing too but the depletion of the forest cover will definitely have its deadly repercussions in the days to come.
Special Tips from theWanderingSoul
1.The Munnar town remains crowded with tourists. Staying on the outskirts of the town in homestays would add more meaning to your visit.We stayed in Devikulam which is around 7 km from Munnar town.
2.Avoid elephant rides in Munnar. It looks fun but you really have no idea what these animals go through. As per PETA, more than 3,000 elephants—including babies—are held captive in elephant tourist-attraction across Asia and the numbers are growing. The animals are beaten into submission when young and then forced to let travelers take rides on their backs and to perform confusing and sometimes painful tricks.
3. If you are planning to visit Eravikulam National Park which is around 12 km from Munnar, reach there as early as possible as the queue for entry ticket and then for the safari ride is always too long. We missed it.
4.There are several tea museums in and around Munnar but the one near Devikulam which is called Lockhart Tea Factory is worth visit. It is around 160 year old and they explain right from tea plantation to processing to export.
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