History of Munnar
It would be interesting to note how this glorious land of Munnar came to be so popular among people today. The beauty of Munnar was not discovered by the people of India, but rather the Europeans who first recognized the untapped potential of the forest lands that surrounded the Munnar area. You could say that it was British who expanded Munnar, cut down the trees in the forest to build tea estates and made it as popular as it is today. The English impressed by the cool climate of Munnar and came here to off during the hot summer months. Now let’s examine how British discovered Munnar started coming here with the aim of making profit.
During the early 19th century, the land of Munnar was under the possession of Poonjar royal family. Unfortunately, a border dispute emanated between Travancore (the Poonjar family) and Madras. It was John Daniel Munro, the British Resident of the then Travancore kingdom who arrived at the place to settle the dispute. When Munro came here, he fell head over heels in love with Munnar. After helping in settling the dispute, Munro visited the Poonjar family and talked them into leasing 1, 36,600 acres of Kannan Devan Hills to him for Rs. 3000 a year. He developed the land and in 1879 formed the North Travancore Land Planting and Agricultural Society.
Munro was responsible for officially starting cultivation in the area and he started planting cardamom, coffee, sisal and cinchona. The harvest was okay, but failed to deliver the desired yield. Later, it was discovered that Munnar, with its cool climate and excellent soil was perfect for cultivating tea and this was how the saga of tea cultivation started. It was A. H. Sharp, a European planter who discovered that tea would bring more success and profit and under his guidance, the cultivation of tea started in full swing.
The first tea plantation that was started in the area now lies under the jurisdiction of Sevenmullar estate; it was this area that was later owned by James Finlay and Co. ltd. Finlay Muir & Company bought 33 independent estates in the area and formed Kannan Devan Hills Company to look after the affairs of these estates. This continued from 1997 to 1964, when Tata Group entered the scene and collaborated with the Finlay. They formed a new partnership and called it the Tata-Finlay Group. Eventually, Tata Tea Ltd came into existence in 1983, where the employees also had stake in the company. lastly, the actual creators of Munnar tea mounts as well as the whole surrounding area is the poor laborers who migrated from Tamil Nadu spent their lifetime on hazardous toil.