Munnar Tea Plantations and Hills
Coordinates: 10°06′00″N 77°04′00″E / 10.1, 77.066667
Time zone
IST (UTC+5:30)
Area• Elevation
557 km² (215 sq mi)[1]• 1,700 m (5,577 ft)
• Idukki
Population• Metro
• 68,205 (2001)
Codes• Pincode• Telephone• Vehicle
• 685 565• +04865-• KL-06
Coordinates: 10°06′00″N 77°04′00″E / 10.1, 77.066667
Munnar (Malayalam: മൂന്നാര്‍ , Kannada: ಮುನ್ನರ್, Tamil: மூணார்) is a town located in Kerala state in the southern Western Ghats in South India. The name is often used to refer to the whole tourist area of Idukki District of which the town forms a part. Munnar panchayat of Devikulam block is the largest in the district with an area of 557 km². The name of Munnar is believed to be derived from the Malayalam words Muunu (three) and aaru (river), referring to the town's strategic location at the confluence of the Muthirappuzha, Chanduvarai and Kundali rivers. The area is surrounded by vast jungles and remains wet and cold during most of the year. The Mattupetty Dam is nearby. The people of Munnar share the culture and traditions of Kerala and their Tamil neighbours.
1 History
2 History of Plantations in Munnar
3 Geography and climate
4 Economy
5 Flora and Fauna
6 Gallery
7 References
8 External links

[edit] History
The entire area of Munnar, nearly about 137500 acres of land really belonged, and still belongs to the royal family of Poonjar and was given on lease for 99 years by the then poonjar King Kerala Varma in 1887.During the British rule of India, Munnar was developed to cultivate tea plants.[2] At that time, most of the people around the area were employed as laborers for plantations throughout the area. In the early stages of development, only Tamilians and a small number of Malayalis inhabited Munnar. From the late 1890's till 1921, tea was transported down from Top Station by 24 inch railway and ropeway to Munnar for transhipment throughout the World.[3]
Most of the top positions in the estates were occupied by the British "Managers". A few bungalows were built for them and these are still in use. Munnar was a Hill Station for some British who sought a cooler climate. The two educational institutes in Munnar are Govt. Arts & Science College and Govt. Engineering College. Hospitals in Munnar are Tata General Hospital, Matha Hospital and Arun Hospital.

[edit] History of Plantations in Munnar
The history of plantation in Munnar started in the 1870s. J.D. Munro, a European, identified the agriculture potential of the land on a hunting expedition. In 1877 he leased 580 Sq Kilometres of land from the Poonjar Raja who was in control of the land. Munro formed a co-operative called ‘North Travancore Land Planting and Agricultural Society’ and members of the society started farming in different parts of Munnar. The crops included coffee, sisal and cardamom. Tea plantation was started by A.H. Sharp, another European at the A.H. Sharp Parvathy estate (Present Silent Valley Estate). In 1895 Finlay, a European company entered the scene and acquired about 33 tea estates in Munnar. In 1897 the Kannan Devan Hills Produce Company was formed to manage Finlay’s estates. In 1964 the Tata Group, an Indian corporate giant entered into a collaborative venture with the Finlay leading to the formation of the Tata-Finlay group. In April 2005 tea plantations under the Tata group were transferred to a new company called Kannan Devan Hills Produce Co, Pvt Ltd. Today the company manages 16 estates spread over in about 8600 hectares of land. [4]

[edit] Geography and climate
The region in and around Munnar varies in height from 1,600 meters (5,249 ft) to 1,800 meters (5,906 ft) above mean sea level. Munnar enjoys a salubrious climate. The weather ranges between 0 °C (32 °F) and 10 °C (50 °F) in winter and 15 °C (59 °F) and 25 °C (77 °F) in summer. The tourist season is from August to May. However, even the monsoons are lovely with many streams and rivulets in the area. See:map

[edit] Economy
The territory of Munnar is almost entirely occupied by 30) on lease to Tata Tea, one of the Tata Group of companies. The entire area is known as "high range" and rarely Kannan Devan Hills, from which the famous brand of the Tatas gets its name. In April 2005, the Tata Group decided to divest its holding in the Munnar tea plantations, after which the employees purchased the plantations and are now running the same as Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company Private Limited.
Many residents are employed in the tourism business. In 2000, the Government of Kerala declared Munnar as a tourist spot. This has helped in attracting more tourists to this beautiful hill resort. Several protected wildlife areas in the area attract many tourists who support the many hotels, restaurants and transport businesses in Munnar.

Munnar tea gardens.

[edit] Flora and Fauna
Most native flora and fauna of Munnar has disappeared due to severe habitat fragmentation by plantations. However, most of the species survive in several protected areas nearby, including the new Kurinjimala Sanctuary to the east, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and Manjampatti Valley in Amaravati reserve forest of Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary to the north east, Eravikulam National Park and Anamudi Shola National Park to the north, Pampadum Shola National Park to the south and the proposed Palani Hills National Park to the east. These protected areas are especially known for several threatened and endemic species including Nilgiri Thar, Grizzled Giant Squirrel, Nilgiri Wood-pigeon, Elephant, Gaur, Sambar, and Neelakurinji. [5], [6]