A misty winding road, dotted with emerald-green tea plantation on both sides, leads you into a fragrant driveway to welcome you to Chokanad Tea Sancutuary Bunglow – one of the seven colonial tea-planters bungalows of Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company that are scattered among the emerald hillsides of Munnar.
Located around a 2 hour drive from Kochi and a short 15-30 minutes detour from Munnar, these Tea Sanctuary Bungalows are set in the cool, vibrant hills, offering nothing but uninterrupted valley views that blend into the deep blue sky to paint a pretty picture. Add to this the style & character of colonialism and you have an absolute dream vacation. These Bungalows are perhaps the most coveted places to stay in Munnar, and a perfect place for history and tea lovers.
Each of these bungalows has its own distinctive character that dates back to more than a century while they still uphold the colonial ambience. There are no televisions or sound systems in the rooms to maximize relaxation. Meals are a special affair at the Tea Sanctuaries. A unique aspect of the cuisine here is the use of fresh, home grown herbs, vegetables and teas from the surrounding areas. The personalized butler service is sure to delight you with the most delectable and comfort food.
For the active, there are guided hikes and climbs of Chokramudi, day excursion to Gravel Banks, Golf, Fishing, and tour of the Madupatty Tea Factory and Kanan Devan Tea Museum. One can also go on a walk along any of the pristine trails that take you through the finely manicured tea gardens and offer spectacular views of the mountain ranges or ravines and of meandering roads. And for those who crave for a complete relaxation, sit by the warm log fire or stare over the infinity views across the bay windows that frame a beautiful scenery.
On an invite from Ripple Tea to experience their Ripple Trails, I’ve had an absolutely blissful 2-night stay at two of these Tea Sanctuaries Chokanad & Arivikad Bungalow. The experience included a visit to their tea factories – wherein I had a first-hand experience of going through the complete tea processing from picking up leaves to the export process. Also had the opportunity to visit the KDHP museum – country’s first ever Tea Museum and also perhaps the only museum where you’d get to see the famous burial urn that dates back to 2nd century AD.
As part of the experience, also had an exclusive opportunity to visit and dine at two heritage clubs that were more than a century old and each of them had its own unique charm. The High Range Club keeps the vibe of the early 20th century alive to this day and so the Kundale Club too. Both these clubs are a golfer’s paradise that are well maintained by the Tea Planters.
The drive to Gravel Banks an exclusive location somewhere on the outskirts of Munnar was another surprise as part of the Ripple Trails experience where one could try their hands on Angling and host of other activities.
All in all, to miss out on this experience by Ripple Trails would be to miss out on Munnar’s version of mystical landscape. Even if it’s for just two nights, the Ripple Trails and Tea Sanctuaries are a vision to behold as you experience something akin to the halcyon days of yesteryear – a colonial style rendezvous with the past!
About Ripple Tea: Kanan Devan Hills Plantations (KDHP) took over from Tata Tea Ltd and has been producing award winning Tea under the brand name Ripple Tea. Branded as Ripple Tea since 2010, KDHP brings you a taste of Munnar through various retail products. You’d also come across Ripple Tea Chai Bazar – a new retail initiative across Munnar that sells some of the exclusive high-grown teas and other value added products. This retail concept was quite unique, besides providing freshly brewed teas, these outlets offer free parking facilities and modern clean rest room facilities which is major requirement for tourists visiting the hill station.