Munnar is an idyllic town found in the south of India, nestled in the Idduki district of Kerala. The name Munnarsupposedly is taken from the Malayalam words Munu and aaru which mean three and river, respectively. The earliest known inhabitants of Munnar were Tamilians and Malayalis. The closest city is Adimali or, what locals refer to as, Adivaaram. Munnar is generally known for its sprawling tea plantations which can be attributed to J.D. Munro, who, in the 1870s, realized the crop growing potential of the land while hunting, and leased about 600 sq km of land from Poonjar Raja who had control over the land. After trying several crops, the first settlers of the area recognized that tea is the ideal product to be cultivated. The first tea was cultivated by A.H. Sharp at Parvathi, now found in the Sevenmullay estate. In the years 1893 to 1895, the concession area was bought by Muir and Company, later to be known as James Finlay & Company. In 1897, the Finlay estates were being supervised by Kannan Devan Hills Produce Company, the same company that oversees the management of about 16 estates today.
History of Munnar
Munnar came to be known to the outside world in the 1870s with the visit of the British Resident of the then Travancore kingdom John Daniel Munro. Munro, who visited the place as part of settling the border dispute between Travancore and the nearby state of Madras literally fell for the beauty of the region. Though the Munnar region fell under the jurisdiction of the Travancore kingdom, it was the jenmam land of Poonjar royal family. Since it was a ‘jenmam land’ the royal family enjoyed absolute powers over the land as the landlord.
Munro had a great interest in plantation. Of the several hills in the region, he found the Kanan Devan hills with high potential for plantation crops. Without wasting any time Munro visited the Poonjar Palace and met the then head of the royal family, Rohini Thirunal Kerala Varma Valiya Raja, fondly called as Kela Varma Raja. The entrepreneur in Munro won the confidence of Kela Varma Raja and he agreed to lease out Kanan Devan hills to Munro for a handsome payment.