To our relief, the next day we started uphill again, to Munnar which is a tea town up in the hills. Less high than Ooty at a “mere” 1,000 metres, it was still pretty hot. The hills were quite misty, but strangely for us Brits it was still hot, so the effect of the mist was to make it more humid and hence subjectively even hotter.

Munnar is famous for tea and spices. It is the location of the so-called High Range which was one of the most successful tea-growing areas in India set up by the British. It is still a thriving concern, though ownership passed from the British to the Tata family companies and then more recently it has become a worker’s co-operative.

We stayed on a plantation owned by a doctor who used to practise in Bangalore but has now taken over the house and grounds (some 70 hectares) on behalf of the family. They grow mainly cardamom, but we went on a nature walk and also saw pepper, coffee, jack fruit and a variety of other crops.

We had two nights in Munnar. During the day we visited a tea plantation, went round the colourful local market and did some shopping for spices. Our guide, Bijou, was getting more enthusiastic now we had entered his home state and was good at explaining about tea growing, pointing out interesting plants and animals (we saw a giant squirrel and some cashew nuts on a tree) and explaining about the geography of the area.

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