Oil Painting of Munnar Tea Plantation, Kerela by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar

Munnar Tea Plantation, Kerela, India

Almost a hundred thousand hectares of tea grows in the hills of Munnar in the state of Kerela, India. It is somewhat remote and completely restful. The perfect place for a morning cup of tea while reading the Indian Times newspaper.

In a world where a billion people reside and make noise, this place offers peace and tranquility matched only by the Himalayas.

 The silence in the morning was met with the occasional sound of a bird call, a woman singing as she picked tea leaves or the rare taxi on the road bringing a guest to the few five star resorts in the area. At night it is quiet and a far distant light could be seen across the valley of perhaps a car miles away. This is one of the few places I have walked by starlight in search of a beer wishing I had a flashlight; and if it weren’t for the promise of a cold beer at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have been out walking at all.

Scottish immigrants cultivated this land from the mid 19th century, developing the tea plantations and establishing the trade out of Munnar. Tata Corp now owns the vast majority of the land and several American franchised resorts share this particular view of the valley which is absolutely stunning when the morning mist lifts off the lake and recedes into the surrounding hillside.

Beyond the mountains are the ghats in Tamil Nadu which have animal sancuaries and other agricultural resources.

Inside this valley, cardamom is grown for export along with black pepper. A small local village behind the hills surrounding the lake share the work of the various processes required for growing and curing the spice before it is ready to use.

I have a penchant for painting the least likely scenes from a country. I like things that are universal in appeal. To my mind’s eye, this could be any one of the British Isles, for example. What do you think? Does it remind you of another place? Would you have known it was tea growing on those hills?