Our drive from Madurai to Thakkary was quite uneventful - a four hour drive on good roads with a climb up the Western Ghat.
On the way, we stopped and briefly visited a local brick factory, one of many along the way. It was very interesting to get an understanding of how the bricks are manufactured by hand. The team (one woman and one man) making the bricks produced 1000 per day. The bricks dry in the sun for four days are then baked in the kiln. There were a number of such brick factories seen along the way - a hard living.
Once done, we had lunch and then drove to a local Tea Factory to see the manufacture of tea from the fresh leaf to the processed tea. The tea factory had been built in 1941. We were not able to photograph the tea manufacture process for reasons only known to the factory. Essentially, the tea is withered (dried for a period), then shredded and pulped and dried into tea leaves. The machinery was a mix of old and fairly new. What was interesting was that the kiln that provides the heat to dry the leaves was produced by a fire powered by wood.
We visited Abraham's Garden once we got to Thekkady, a local garden full of fruits and spices which had featured in the BBC documentary series "Around the World in 80 Gardens".
From that point, some of the group went to ride and wash elephants. Others of us watched a Kalaripayattu martial arts demonstration close to the hotel which was fascinating. This is one of the oldest styles of martial art in the world and is practiced in Southern India and Sri Lanka. Some great skills were demonstrated using various weapons and culmimated in some fairly spectacular gymnastics using hoops of fire.
The following morning, we left for the Kerala Backwaters for our final stay in India.