The Early Era
The name Munnar means three rivers (aaru). It is located at the convergence of three rivers named Madhurappuzha,Nallathanni and Kundali. The ancient history of Munnar is not very clear.The region is always densely forested because of the heavy rain fall it receives during the monsoon. Many rare species of flowers like neelakurinji and animals found here.
The history of Munnar has roots into the prehistoric period and to the stone ages, but the written history actually begins from 900 AD onwards. Tamilians in large numbers migrated to Munnar and nearby places during the war period of Pandia rulers. They crossed the woods and climbed up the steep hills with bundles on their backs and they got the name ‘Muthuvans’. There was no transport facility or even permanent paths and Munnar was an isolated forest area. The British came to this place to exploit the scope for agriculture.
It is believed that Munnar was occupied by the local Muthuvan tribes during the early days. They came here around 900 AD from Madurai due to some socio political issues there. Apart from them other tribal communities like Pallayers,kaders,kuruvas, and Ooralers are also lives here.
The High Ranges known as the Kanan Devan Hills, the name having been derived from a certain native chief, Kanan Thevar who had been a landlord in the Anchanaad Valley on the eastern side of the district. It is said that travellers from Madurai to the West Coast, who used to pass through his villages, had named these hills after him.
In 1790 coloner Arthur Wellesley and his trrops arrived in the kurumaly gap in Munnar to defend the trvancore from the invasion of Tipu Sultan of Mysore. He was the first recorded European to visit Munnar. As time passed merchants from various places visited Munnar. The merchants carried cloth to Munnar and took away betel nuts.
In 1870 the resident of the court of Travancore, John Daniel Munro visited Munnar to settle a border dispute between Travancore and madras. He found that the area is good for plantation farming, especially the Kannan-Devan hills. The area was under the control of Poonjar Royal family,who were the subordinates of Travancore Maharajah. So Munro visited the royal family and met the then head of the royal family Rohini Thirunal Kerala Varma Valiya Raja. Muro leased the land for 9 years for five thousand rupees.
In 1878 H G Turner and A W Turner came to Munnar on Munro’s invitation for a shooting expedition. The turners realized the potential of plantation in Munnar they joined with Munro and formed the North Travancore Land Planting And Agricultural Society. Tamil workers were utilized and crops like coffe, cardomn, sisal were cultivated. But after some time the society faced problems and the land was sold out.
In 1880 A H Sharp introduced tea for the first time. Finaly Muir and company purchased the land started tea cultivation in 1893.In 1897 Kannan Devan Hills Produced Company was formed and tea plantation was widely established in the area.
In 1964 the TATA’s formed collaboration with the Finalys and in 1983 TATA group purchased all the shares and renamed the company to TATA Tea Ltd. Tourism sector also flourished in Munnar by this time. Today Munnar is one of the most sought after tourism location in India.