Munnar is perhaps the choicest of places to preserve and showcase some of the exquisite and interesting aspects on the genesis and growth of tea plantations in Kerala''s high ranges. With special emphasis to Munnar, and to the delight of tea lovers and tourists, Tata Tea recently opened a Tea Museum which houses curious, photographs and machineries, each depicting a turning point that contributed to a flourishing tea industry, as seen today in the region.
The museum set up at the Nallathanni Estate of Tata Tea in Munnar is a fitting tribute to the toils and rigours of its pioneers, who showed utmost determination and were resolute in their efforts to transform Munnar into a major plantation centre of Kerala.
The Tata Tea Museum diligently portrays the growth of Munnar tea estates, veritably conveyed through some of the displays like the rudimentary tea roller to the modern fully automated tea factory. Visitors to the museum can satiate their curiosity on various stages of tea processing, and also learn a thing or two about the production of black tea.
A sundial, placed on a granite block, which was made in 1913 by the Art Industrial School at Nazareth, Tamil Nadu, greets a visitor to the Tea Museum. At the museum, if one is curious to locate an item with some antiquity, then the burial urn from the second century BC, which was found near Periakanal estate tops the list.
Some of the attention grabbing items on display at the Tea museum include the original tea roller, the ''Rotorvane,'' dating back to 1905, used for CTC type tea processing; the ''Pelton Wheel'' used in the power generation plant that existed in the Kanniamallay estate in the 1920s; a rail engine wheel of the Kundale Valley Light Railway that shuttled men and material between Munnar and Top Station during the first half of the last century.
A section of the Tea museum also houses classic bungalow furniture, typewriters, wooden bathtub, magneto phone, iron oven, manual calculators and EPABX of the1909 telephone system.
A demonstration room for tea tasting is another attraction where one would come across different varieties of tea. Those eager to understand the nuances of tea processing can do so at the CTC and orthodox tea-manufacturing unit at the museum. The museum authorities are also contemplating on the idea of allowing tourists to pluck tea leaves themselves and have them processed in their presence.
The Tea Museum by Tata Tea would soon become yet another reason for travelers to visit the enchanting hills of Munnar, which has already become one of the prime tourist destinations in Kerala.
Timings: 0900 to 1600 hrs. The museum is closed on Monday. Good Friday is also a holiday for museum.
Nearest railway station: Bodinayakanur Railway Station in Tamil Nadu is the nearest (33 km away)
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport is 72 km away