Imagine a colourful garden close to a colonial building in the tea plantation area on the banks of the Muthirapuzha river.
Flower gardens were part of the Raj era plantation life with estate bungalows usually situated on top of a hill providing a panoramic view of the surrounding green. After Independence, the Scottish plantation style of life continued in major tea plantation areas.
The flower gardens were maintained well and the bungalows where the top management staff lived were kept intact.
Munnar, which is often called the Kashmir of South India is most beautiful during Spring when the flowering trees on either side of the road is a visual feast.
The flower gardens maintained by the Kanan Devan Hills Plantations (KDHP) close to the former railway station building of the erstwhile Kundaly Valley Light Railway is an attraction now.
“Every building of the Raj era was in beautiful locations. The beauty of the location is not the one when seen from outside but from within the buildings. The gardens are also seen as part of the buildings. In Devikulam taluk even the estate lanes (quarters for workers) are also placed beautifully with space for vegetable gardens. There is a sort of landscaping in almost all the buildings in the tea plantations in Devikulam and Peerumade taluk, though the latter has witnessed a collapse of the system now,” says Kiran Mathew who has studied the British era life in Munnar.
There are some flower plants which were of foreign origin in Munnar. The cool climate and soil conditions in Munnar are best suited for flower plants, he said.
It is a riot of colours in the cool climate of Munnar at the old railway garden now. A variety of flowers including Zinnias, Marigolds, Larkspur, Hollyhocks, Gloxinia, Lady's Lace, Antirrhinums, common orchids, Aster, Cosmos, Alstroemeria, Alyssum, Geraniums, Phlox, Cineraria, Giant Sunflower, Dwarf Antirrhinum , Salvias, and a variety of roses form this colourful sight in the well-manicured old railway station garden.
The Kundaly Valley Light Railway was launched by the erstwhile British- owned KDHP Company way back in 1909 for the transport of passengers as well as goods between Munnar and Top Station. This railway network was badly damaged by the floods of 1924 and later abandoned.
Authorities are now planning to introduce the hill railway network for tourists reaching Munnar.