Kolukkumalai…… is there any better place to have a refreshing cup of tea than the hills of Kolukkumalai, which are home to the highest tea plantations in the world? And the tea grown here has a special flavour and freshness, thanks to the high altitude the world’s highest tea estate at over 8000 ft above sea level, which owns the region’s oldest tea factory established in 1930 by a Scottish planter. It boasts of the world’s highest grown orthodox tea..so we are desired to visite kolukumalai. It’s a memorable trip with my family.
As planned and booked,blumont Resort. We got stuck in the traffic in the hilly area and it took around 3 hours to clear.We reached the resort by 3pm. It was a pleasant stay in blumont, we really enjoyed staying there in mountain club. he hotel was not very easily accessible but the place was very good. It’s far away from the city. The hotel staff was very friendly & supportive. They attend us timely. The parking space was sufficient. The room & the amenities were all very good. Interior and exterior was very good. They had a restaurant in house. There was absolutely no problem in check in. Food was provided in the hotel and was of very good quality. There was nice view from room.
Next day morning 5.30 everyone got ready for kolukkumalai. The manager of the resort, Thanbi,had arranged a jeep for the trip. Our jeep deiver Ravi who was a resident of suryanelli he prefers Jeeps are the only mode of transportation to Kolukkumalai. We drive through the town of Suryanelli and then onto tea plantations owned by Harrisons Malayalam Ltd. through which a narrow, serpentine, stony and rocky dirt path with numerous hairpin bends leads to Kolullumalai. An entry fee of Rs.100/- for the vehicle is charged at this juncture. The scenery is spectacular, as the path winds along the steep slopes of undulating tea gardens and high-altitude shola forests of eucalyptus and pine.The homes of the tea garden employees nestle among the gardens which are encircled by majestic mountains.The colours I associate Munnar with in January are green and red – the soothing green of the tea gardens edged by ferns and the blazing red of Poinsettia which are in full bloom and line most of the tea gardens as also the red of the pretty Indian Coral which dots the hillsides.An hour past, we reached the view point. It was still dark and cold. We stopped at a point from where one could have a view of Kerala on the left and Tamilnadu on the right. The valley down on the left side was all kerala and the valley down on the left side was Tamil Nadu. Across on the front,stood a mountain with its head majestically held high.this was the theepada mountain. Since we wanted to take long vexposures, we thought of moving further to the nearby viewpoint. Even though the Sun couldn’t be seen, the sky had already started splashing both warm and cool hues. We got ready with the cameras and tripod to shoot the rising Sun. By 6:30, the splash of hues slowly gave way to a shining Sun who revealed himself from clouds; far away. Looking ahead we could see some building amidst the tea gardens.the tall building was the factory and adjacent to it was office building.whith in the next 5 minutes we reached the tea factory.We welcome the hot cup of aromatic, fresh tea that Jaya hands us, for Rs.10/-. A factory tour costs Rs.100/- per person. We are assigned a guide but Jaya accompanies us as our interpreter. The factory with its fully wooden interiors exudes an old world charm. The entire process – withering, rolling, sieving, fermenting, drying, fibre extraction and grading – all done by age-old machines, as also the furnace fired by wood, and finally, the room where the tea is manually weighed and packed is shown.
A variety of teas are sold at the outlet attached to the factory. The Kolukkumalai factory is an original tea factory built by the British during the 1940’s and the equipment and process dates back to those days. These enterprising pioneers of the hills must have set up the factory at such a remote slope halfway up the second highest peak in South India for a reason. The tea grown on these slopes are special as the quality of tea improves with altitude and the orthodox process of manufacture helps retain all it’s flavor! The tea produced at the factory is much sort after for it’s distinctive flavor and aroma.
After we started trek from Kurangani village at 3,800 Feet and continues up toward grassland till a single pine tree which is a resting point before entering the forest. From here, the trail is steeply uninterrupted and traverses right into the forest. While hiking through this trail we get mesmerizing views of Kurangani hills and cool breeze continuously hits our face. Once we hit the forest we are completely covered with the jungle canopy all the way till meesappulimala . There are around forty to fifty hairpin bends we have to criss-cross throughout and the only way to reach our destination. As we hit the last stretch of the trek, the pine trees welcome us with unique high altitude environment with birds chirping around in the fog covered tea estates. At 12.15, we finally made it to the much awaited Meesapulimala Summit. This summit doesn’t look like a usual summit, it doesn’t have much of flat land like others and we reached much quicker than we expected. There were steep climbs that we had to do, but they ended abruptly. it was completely covered in fog and it was windy. We didnt get a chance to see the 360 view. I would suggest wait sometime, the fog will go and you will get awesome view from the top. when we reached the top..the total area was covered with mist..almost zero visibility…so we could not able to see anything..we just stayed there for some 30 mins..listened to the sounds of wind..waiting for the mist to go away so that we can enjoy the view of the world below us unfortunately…it did not get clear…we strated trekking down at 2…reached kolukkumalai.The fog descended on many an occasion on our journey through the tea gardens with the clouds caressing us overhead.By the time we return back to blumont Resort. Had a quick look at the pictures taken and went to bed after the shower thanking butty of nature and Mother Nature for keeping us safe for the entire day.