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Monday, 22 March 2010

Up in the much cooler Western Ghat mountains

Impressions of India - 4:

I’m currently travelling for 3 months in India, from Goa to Kerala and then Rajasthan, with a pretty hot and hectic schedule of boutique hotel reviews. The galleries below are my online photojournalist diary of scenes caught, people met and things found along the way. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did and am still.

Up in the much cooler Western Ghat mountains:

 Sunset above Munnar, where the views are breathtaking.

Wild elephants live in the Western Ghat hills, though you’ll be lucky to spot them. Here’s proof that one passed by not that long ago.

A cardammom plantation, high in the hills above Munnar, reached by a car-wrecking hairpin road.

 Unfortunately cardammom pods grow right at the base of the plant, next to the ground.

This apparently tends to mean terrible arthritis and bent bones for cardammom pickers after the age of about 30.

The tea plantations stretch up and down the rolling hillsides, as far as the eye can see. I never knew they were such a vivid green, though it was hard to capture on camera given the harsh light. Nor that, thanks to their careful plucking every 15-18 days, they look so wonderfully velvety from a distance.

This is the new growth of the bush the pickers pluck.

Most come from Tamil Nadu, where the minimum wage is 150 rupees (about 2 British pounds) a day. In Kerala, the minimum day wage is 300 rupees.

The mountain sun is very bright and strong from around 10am to 4pm, meaning most wear headscarves and have sun-blackened faces. Almost all tea and cardammom pickers are women, thanks to their more delicate hands.

They have ready smiles and pick deftly through the narrow channels, with large sacks hanging from their heads, shoulders or draped on the bushes

And, down in a little open-fronted convenience shop in Munnar, I met this joyful lady and her son, just  2 of the many strikingly beautful, happy Indians I’ve seen.

Next post: A Walk on the Wild Side

Animal-spotting in Periyar Nature Reserve, monkey-watching in Thekaddy, and playing with bright-eyed children in the fishing village at Mararikulam beach.


  1. ohh..the sunset and the plantation ones are in particular, spectacular

  2. Beautiful colours. Again. XX