Our time in Kerala was a stark contrast to our time in the North of India , not only is Kerala far more relaxed, it is also full of incredible amounts of nature, endless greens compared to the concrete jungles in the North. I have to admit I enjoyed my time in the South much more than the North. We were lucky enough to see a fair amount of Kerala, we cruised the backwaters of Alleppey, saw the Chinese fishing nets in Fort Cochin and watched the sunset on Marari Beach but our most unique destination was in a little homestay in the middle of the tea plantations – The Gruenberg Tea Plantation Haus in Munnar.
Munnar is synonymous with rolling hills that are carpeted with plantations of tea, it is recognised for having some of the best and most beautiful tea gardens across the globe. Owing to the presence of large tea estates and big names in the field (Tetley!), it is regarded as a prominent hub of tea trade in the country.
During our three nights here we stayed in the Gruenberg Tea Plantation Haus, a beautiful white building perched on the hill inside one of the tea gardens. Surrounded by the lush green plantations, it is probably the last vision you would imagine when thinking of India (well it was for me anyway!), the Gruenberg Tea Haus is certainly a place of tranquillity.
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We were very fortunately placed in a large double room on the top floor, which are fitted with large glass windows across two walls making for stunning panoramic views and at times of lower visibility, you do quite literally have your head in the clouds.
Unfortunately for me, just before reaching Munnar, my immune system decided to fail me and I potentially felt the worst I ever had in my life for nearly three days, sadly meaning I did not get the opportunity to sample much of the traditional Indian menu the Tea Haus offers, however, DJ sampled many of the curries on offer. Room service is available at no additional charge for all meals and there is also a rooftop dining area.
Despite feeling incredibly fragile, I pushed myself to join in the 10 km hike which is included as part of your stay. The steady hike, led by a local, takes you throughout the tea plantations, the waterfalls and down to the local village. I thoroughly recommend joining in the tour if you are able, not only do you get to take in the stunning surroundings, you also get to learn more about the area of Munnar. For those feeling more adventurous, the Tea Haus also offers rental bikes.
The Tea Plantations are the biggest attraction in Munnar and admittedly there is not too much else to do in this area but other activities include:
The Eravikulam National Park – located in the Kannan Devan hills of Munnar. The national park is famous for endangered Nilgiri Tahr.
Get an Ayurvedic Massage – Do not expect it to be the same as the massages you receive in South East Asia! Ayurvedic massages are based on homoeopathic medicine practices and are slightly more uncomfortable but it actually did wonders for my back pain and for the illness I experienced while I was there.
Learn about the spices of Munnar – Alongside tea, many spices are grown in Munnar as well as plants for homoeopathic medicines. Find one of the shops with their own grounds attached and asked to take on a tour to find out about each of them. I have never really been interested in homoeopathy before but I actually came home eager to find out and try more. If it is something of interest to you, you can also buy the products here for an incredibly low price compared to back home, especially spices for cooking and Rosewater for skin care.
While Munnar is quite out of the way compared to the other points of interest in Kerala, I honestly believe if nature and vegetation is something you embrace, you will love visiting. As I previously mentioned it was like nowhere else we visited in India and the Gruenberg Tea Plantation Haus was a haven retreat after the hustle and bustle of the North.
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