Book Shelf

The Connoisseur’s Book of Indian Coffee
 

Planting times
 

Elite Clubs of India
The Kanan Devans

“…the extensive and salubrious range of mountains and valleys which are known by the name Kanan Devan Hills…where the delicious climate, pure water and healthy life, really make life worth living…”

This excerpt from an article published in “The Mail” of Madras dated 8th April 1892, holds true even today.

Munnar in the High Range, also known as the Kannan Devan hills in Kerala state, India is quintessentially a tea town and home to the Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company Private Limited (KDHP). While Munnar is located at an altitude of 4,900 ft., the surrounding areas go up to over 7,000 ft., producing high-grown teas. The highest peak in India south of the Himalayas, the Anaimudi (8,841 ft.) is in the High Range. It is here that the Kurinji flower blossoms once in twelve years, covering the hills with a beautiful azure mantle, with the next blossoming scheduled in 2006.

In 1877, the local Poonjar prince owing allegiance to the Maharajah of Travancore leased out a tract of land, measuring 588 sq. km., known as the Kanan Devan Concession Land. It became the base for the Kanan Devan Hills Produce Company established in 1897, which together with the other subsidiaries of the Glasgow-based Finlay Group opened 33 estates in the High Range. In 1964, a collaborative venture between the James Finlay Group and the Tata Group, a leading Indian conglomerate, was initiated to develop value-added teas; later, in 1983, James Finlay sold out to the Tatas. In March 2005, in an historic development, Tata Tea Limited divested its share in the South India Plantations Operations and handed over 17 estates to KDHP, a company formed by ex-employees of Tata Tea, resulting in one of the largest participatory management firms in the world.

Blessed with high altitude and high rainfall, the High Range produces exquisitely tangy and aromatic teas. The Chundavurrai tea factory can process nearly one lakh kg of green leaf per day, and is considered to be the largest orthodox tea factory in the world.

Pullivasal Estate situated in the High Range is where India’s poly pack revolution started. The automated tea packeting center on this estate was established by Tata Tea Ltd., in 1983 and was the first unit to package garden-fresh tea in poly packs under the Kanan Devan brand name. This ushered in a major change in tea packaging and marketing, bringing down prices, and expanding consumer choice.

India’s first tea museum is located at the Nullatanni estate in Munnar. Set up by Tata Tea in March 2004, it is now managed by KDHP.

This tea district co-exists peacefully with the adjoining Eravikulam National Park, which is wedged between the High Range and the Anamallais, covering about 105 sq. km of undulating virgin grasslands and wooded valleys. Originally a part of the Concession Land, the area became a sanctuary under the Kerala State Government in 1981 and was declared a National Park in 1978. This Park is perhaps the only one of national stature in the world where private estate managers of KDHP are involved in the administration of the Park through the High Range Wildlife & Environment Preservation Association, and together with the Kerala Forest Department and the local Muthuvans is engaged in Joint Forest Management of the Eravikulam sanctuary. This Park is also a refuge for the endangered Nilgiri tahr: of the total tahr population in India, the maximum numbers are found here.

- PENSCAPE

 
Gallery

Panorama
 

Rolling Mist
 

Mill 2 Mall