When British game hunter J.D. Munro first arrived in Munnar in the 1870’s, it wasn’t the prolific numbers of tigers that impressed him so much as the potential for growing Britain’s favorite brew. A verdant hill station in Kerala’s Western Ghats, with a unique temperate climate of mild summers showered with Kerala’s monsoonal rains, Munro acquired 580 square kilometers of jungle and sowed the seeds for what would become India’s largest ever tea company, Tata tea (today known as Kannan Devan). Munnar flourished with British planters and their grand lifestyles; superb art deco bungalows’ overlooking the tea plantations, with tennis and croquet courts, stables, butlers, cooks and weekend gatherings at the High Range Club. A century down the track, Keralan hotel management group CGH Earth are restoring seven of these bungalows to their former glory. Set to open before the end of the year, all of the three to five bedroom bungalows are unique in design. The Madupatty Bungalow has polished floorboards, Art Deco trimmings and spectacular views soaring over the nearby Madupatty Lake; Kadalaar Bungalow has a private tennis court set beneath an imposing rock face. Visitors can expect a full colonial experience: butlers, bed tea, Anglo-Indian cuisine- which is traditional British fare like roast beef, but with local spices- cloves, cardamom and chili. Go in summer to trek with a picnic lunch through the tea estates, fly fish for rainbow trout at Gravel Banks, or a round of golf at the High Range Club. In winter, when temperatures drop to 0 degrees Celsius, you can sit by a roaring log fire while watching for glimpses of wild animals- sambar, elephants and grizzled giant squirrels- that still roam in the area.


This article appeared in DestinAsian Magazine.