Munnar

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Is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams - Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. 1,600 m above sea level, this hill station was once the summer resort of the former British Raj in South India

First sight of the tea plantations heading for Olive Brook, the lovely budget hotel on an elettaria cardamon plantation that Jenny had chosen for us in the hills above the tea plantations
Olive Brook
There was an interesting and pleasant group of fellow guests and we very much enjoyed our time here



 
Everyone was invited into the kitchen for a cooking demonstration by the chef, followed by dinner 

I always get a kick out of seeing  poinsettia growing wild

We visited a local spice garden, tasted delicious mangosteen, saw cocoa plants, cinnamon bark, split open ripe nutmeg to find the mace and nut and watched women harvesting cardamon

At the Tata Tea museum on the Nallathanni Estate we saw the history of tea making from the original 'Rotovane' tea roller of 1905 to a fully automated tea factory.   Unfortunately there was no photography or video allowed
The tea pickers were working high up on the plantation slopes, there was nothing to do but wade into the prickly tea bushes from their reaction I guess it didn't happen too often.

Other than in postcards and guide books, they no longer float among the bushes clad in beautiful coloured saris, picking by hand 

These days they have polythene under rubber aprons for protection and use what look like suburban garden hedge shears attached to a metal box



Not as romantic but much more practical
 
At the end of a long day the pickers weigh in their crop. They earn 80Rp. ($2US) for a minimum of 100 kilo then a few Rp. for every kilo over the daily minimum. Their take home pay is about 120 Rp. per day

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School with a view
Eravikulam National Park

In colonial times this area was the game preserve of the Kannedevan Hill Produce Company.  The game keepers were Muduvan tribal people, famed for their tracking skills.   In 1975 the Kerela Govenment designated it a sanctuary and in 1978 it became a national park.  It spreads over 97 sq. km., and is home to several species of rare butterflys, animals and frogs
 

 At the park gates we transferred to a bus which took us up to a point from where I could walk
I thought it was a nice warm day for a walk in the park but my walking companions thought otherwise.
       
 
Nilgiri Tahr

The park was created for the express purpose of saving these little guys from extinction.
 
They may not look that special but they have a genus all to themselves. They are even toed, horned, ungulates, not goats, nor antelopes nor cattle.

 Currently the experts think their closest relatives are sheep but they do keep changing their minds


 

Not really once in a blue moon or even every 'Preston Guild" but every 12 years like clockwork the blooming of the neelakurinji paints the hills blue then purple.   We had missed it by weeks, maybe in 2018 I will have better timing.
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