Munnar, Kerala

                                                    Munnar Tea Plantation

The Kerala state, in the southern tip of India, sits just above the equator. Even in November most of Kerala is hot. After 5 warm days in Fort Cochin on the west coast, we travelled up into the hills of the Western Ghats to Munnar where the air was cooler.

Although the distance was only 150 kms, or so, the road trip took 5 hours on the 2 lane highway. That’s India. Our driver, Josie, kept his white Ambassador moving and passing, swerving by tuk tuks and cyclists, through busy towns with crowded colourful festivals, past cows and carts, churches, mosques and temples, and even a festival elephant. Josie stopped briefly to show us rubber trees, cardoman, coffee, monkeys and waterfalls. Kerala is lush and fertile and the people are friendly, hardworking and traditional.

The area around Munnar is tea country. We stayed in a lodge, the Blackberry Hills, at the top of a mountain overlooking bright green tea plantations in the valleys. The panoramic view was splendid. We spent much of our 3 days on the balcony. The air was fresh with tea, the view - astonishingly beautiful, and each morning unusual soft music played from the plantation village in the distance. Behind us were tall woods with wild flowers, morning glory vines, herbs, coffee, birds of all kinds, some we recognized, some not.

We walked for hours through the forest, and came upon men and women working in the tea estates high up in the hills. This looked like backbreaking work, but the natural setting was fantastic. Older folks relaxed nearby, minding pre-schoolers, ready with mid-day refreshments for the workers.

At the lodge the Indian curry cuisine was delicious, and we even managed to get a bottle of local blackberry wine. Most other guests were young honeymooners from Mumbai or Delhi. The beautiful hills around Munnar are known throughout India to be an ideal spot to begin a marriage.

Munnar, India

When Alberta is freezing cold, we can escape to memories of heavenly Munnar. It was a long drive up but in all ways the journey and the destination were tremendously interesting and unique. Loved it.

Kerala, highest literacy rate in India, only freely elected communist government in the world.

Here's a Globe and Mail article about Kerala by Jim Stanford.

And some music to enjoy.