Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Dam in the Mountains

Munnar has this beautiful dam with a bridge across which surprises you when you drive around it. There is generation of electricity from it by taking water from the dam through iron pipes down the steep hills.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Munnar Spice- Pepper

A Pepper Creeper

On the way to Munnar, one would find many creepers entwined around trees. The creeper above is pepper (piper nigrum), which is used all over the world as a spice and as a carminative. The creeper also looks very beautiful with its heart shaped leaves which resemble the betel leaves.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Architecture of a Hill Station

In the hills, houses are modest and often part of small settlements. Because of heavy rains and high gradient, there could also be the danger of land slides. All around the Munnar Hills, one would find small villages. From a distance, these really look beautiful.

Your Cup of Hot Chocolate

The Cocoa Plant

The image above is that of a Cocoa plant, (Theobroma Cacao) with the cocoa fruit sprouting out of the trunk. Inside the pod, the cocoa comes in white beans. The tree is an understory and often grows under rubber trees. The flowers come in the trunk in clusters. Whether it is hot chocolate or chocolate ice cream, the world is always hungry for chocolates.

Munnar has the plantations of Cocoa all over, so that it produces all the three family drinks: tea, coffee and chocolate.

The Spice Mountains - Munnar

The Coffee Blossoms

Munnar is the goldmine of plantations. You name it and Munnar has it: tea, coffee, chocolate, cardamom, nutmeg, pepper and rubber.

The image above is that of a coffee plant. The blossoms resemble varieties of tulip or jasmine. the beans are shiny and cherry like, though hard. In this season, I could not find any beans.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Exfoliation in Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is a tall tree of the Myrtle family, and is widely found in tea gardens amidst tea plants. Its bark is smooth in greenish gray colour. But when the outer bark dies out, there is exfoliation, and the new bark appears smooth and shiny.

In the photo above one could see the new barks coming out. In tea estates, with these trees around, production of eucalyptus oil is an inevitable byproduct.

The Lone Jacaranda

The jacaranda tree in full bloom is a sight of rare beauty. The violet-blue flowers cover the complete tree. In case of the jacaranda tree above, near Devikulam, most of the flowers have wilted.

However, a few of the blossoms still remain so that the tree could be noticed by the road side. Very thoughtful of some one who had planted this tree.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Driving through the Mountain Roads

Driving through the mountain roads, one finds many a surprise- a new tree, a gushing stream or a new horizon. While driving to Munnar from Kochi, I snapped the above stream flowing through pebbles and stones with lots of wild flowers. Who planted these flowers? Where from did these come? Or have they been here all along?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Lakes by the Mountains

Munnar has a few large lakes and especially from Mumbai, many tourists come. There are speed boats which are busy all through the day. The verdant silence and the emerald water make you forget time.Fortunately the place is pristine, not many shops and houses have come up around the lakes.One has the feel of being in a deep forest.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kanan-Devan Hill Plantations Munnar

The Kanan Devan tea estate belonged to the Tata group. The Tatas decided to hand over the controls to the workers. The Economic Times dated 13th October reports that the estate has made a profit of Rupees 410 million.

Kanan Devan has 13,000 workers who won 68% of the shares in the company. Tata holding is now reduced to 18%. The estate is now expanding to manage a tea estate in Ethiopia. No wonder
the Munnar Tea gardens have become a great success story.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Path through the shrubs

The paths through the tree plants move like rivers, some times straight, some times serpentine. It must be looking colourful when tea would be harvested with the movement of harvesters through the undulating walks.

A dam by the mountain

Devikulam gets its name from Sita who is supposed to have taken bath in one of the nearby lakes. It is more pristine in its beauty as its isolated. In the evening hours no one moves out of the home. The silence is rejuvenating. The image above is that of an irrigation project

Monday, October 11, 2010

Banana Plants

These are the snaps taken from the garden of Devikulam Cottage in Munnar where we stayed. The banana plants give a domestic setting to the pictures. The few cottages in the frames give a certain degree of warmth to the images.
Devikulam is 1800 m above sea level and is 16km away from Munnar. It is secluded, pristine and sparsely populated. On the roads, there is no lighting. Hence, when evening falls, it is as good as midnight.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Granites in the Gradient

One could see a few granite outcropping in the gradient. the mountain is wide at the base. As you go up, you fine fewer trees.

From the Precipice

I have taken this snap, standing on the edge of the mountain road. The height makes you dizzy, but the landscape below is magical.

Light and Shade

l'ébat des anges ; - Non... le courant d'or en marche,
meut ses bras, noirs, et lourds et frais surtout,
d'herbe. Elle, sombre, ayant le ciel bleu pour ciel-de-lit,
appelle pour rideaux l'ombre de la colline et de l'arche.

Arthur Rimbaud-MÉMOIRE

Need I say more?

The Trees Above

Silver Oaks and Eucalyptuses cast their shadow on the somnolent tea beds and play. Do they know each others' existence?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Evening Light

The soft light of the evening falls on the landscape. The mountain at the far end has some shadow. Soon, it would be dark and all the people would be indoors. The hill roads have no street lamps. Activity could start only after the night is over.

The Elevated Platform

From the road, the mountain here looks like an elevated platform. The tea plants give the surroundings an uniform green, which captivates the mind. At the base, there are some trees with high tension electricity cables at the top with the blue of the sky for its background.

Munnar- The Cup of a Mountain

The mountain has many shapes and each bend looks different. In the image above the mounds have formed in to a cup or a rosette. Form the height the depth looks inviting. The tree plants would continue to retain the shape of the mounds for ever. The foreground of the image has a close up of tea leaves.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Tea Cup

The mounds dance down to the valley in the photo above. One could see the tea leaves clearly at the base of the image. The tea plant protects the mountains by retaining the earth with its roots. The tea roots also retain water. This is one crop which yields leaves suitable for tea every week! So that the world would always have its supply of tea.

In the tea Museum at Munnar, tea processing is shown in different stages. The history of Munnar and the tea plantation is shown in a documentary film. The smell of freshly ground tea is strong and intoxicating when the leaves are crushed and cut in to tiny granules.

Con la paz de las montañas te amare Munnar

"With the peace of the mountains I love you" is the meaning of the Spanish love lyrics. What could be more peaceful than the Munnar mountains with the greenest of tea gardens? The play of sunlight on the undulating foliage looks like a painting with the tall eucalyptus trees standing in line. We had the best of our times going around in Munnar. Each bend in the mountain is different and each mountain relates to the sky in a different manner.

In the rarefied air of the high altitude, Munnar is majestic.