Munnar, the summer resort of the erstwhile British administration in India has now transformed into the one of the most sought after destinations in Asia, even while it still retains its colonial charm. The endless tea plantations and streams here offer opportunities for riding, fishing, golfing, trekking, nature photography and boating. In Munnar is located the most popular tea museum in the country and the highest peak in South India. Munnar is also renowned for its 'Neelakurinji'(Strobilanthus), the flower that blooms only once in twelve years and decorates the hills in blue, and of course 'Nilgiri Tahr' – the rare mountain goats saved from the edge of extinction and native to this region. In short Munnar is nature's paradise that spreads its magic with its lush green wand.
Location: 130 km north of Kochi city and 150 km away from Palakkad, Idukki district, East Kerala
Climate/ Best Time to Visit : In the summer the temperature range is from 13 C to 24 C. In the winter the temperature dips down to 9 C and maximum goes up to 15 C. Munnar is visited all around the year by tourists
Good to know : Munnar is a symbol of India's secular identity. On the 3 hillocks which overlook the Munnar town, stand three major worship places of worship – Murugan temple, Mount Carmel Church and the Muslim Jamath.
What to see around
Since Munnar is renowned for its ornate multiplicity of tea plantations, it is quiet evident that a Tea Museum will magnetize innumerable guests to Munnar. The Tea Museum, administered by the esteemed Tata Tea Company, takes you back into the time when tea industry had originated to make its presence felt in Munnar in the 1880s. Possessions which are preserved inside include the tea roller of 1905, the Pelton wheel used in the power generator plant of the 1920s, a rotor vane (an olden type tea processing machine), a burial urn, and a rail engine wheel of the Kundala Valley Railway that transferred men and materials from Munnar to the Top Station during the earlier part of the last century. The museum also retains photos, novelties and other equipments related to tea. There is also a tea-tasting demonstration room with a variety of teas on display and a mini manufacturing unit to give tourists firsthand knowledge about the different stages of tea processing.
Situated at a height of 1,700 meters, Mattupetty is mainly known for its highly specialized dairy farm – the Indo Swiss Livestock Project. The Mattupetty Dam, surrounded by steep hills and woods, is a tranquil picnic spot. The District Tourism Promotion Council provides boating facilities along with speed boats in this Dam. The Mattupetty Lake, created by the small hydro-electricity dam is really awesome. Wild Elephants may also be visible in the far side as you take a cruise on this lake. The famous Echo Point (5 km from Mattupetty) is where you will find visitors screaming at the top of their voice to hear their voice resounding through the hills. The verdant Kundala tea plantations and Kundala Lake are other attractions.
The Sethuparvathipuram dam is located in Kundala. This area has some of the most incredible vistas. The Kundala Lake is brightly coloured with rowboats, pedal boats and Kashmiri-style "Shikaras". This small town at a distance of around 20 km from Munnar is famous for its Golf Club which is owned by The Tata Tea Company. There are posters here indicating the significant and historic occasions which reminds you of the 'good olden days'.
It is located 15km from Munnar and the hills are home to the Eravikulam National Park. Anamudi is also located at the southern end of the park. The star attraction of the park is the endangered mountain goat species known as the Nilgiri Thars. About 50 per cent of the world population of this species of goats is found in this park. It is estimated that there are around 1500 goats in the park.
This holy lake is 7 kilometers away from Munnar. The authentic and bravura views over the highest ranges of the Western Ghats are really the seventh heaven on earth. Devikulam Lake is said to be the highest in the region and the best place for trout fishing. Locals believe that Goddess Sita has taken a bath in this lake that is why this lake is named after her. Devi means 'Goddess' and Kulam means 'Lake'. Distinguished as a sacred place, a small temple has been built to worship her. Amidst of the lake, there is an island with a fishing lodge on it.
This is the highest point on the Munnar-Kodaikanal road; this place is worth the 34 kilometer drive for the stunning vista it offers. One of the most popular excursions from Munnar is the mounting through the tea states to the Top Station, a tiny village on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. Top Station takes its name from a ropeway that connected it via Middle station to Lower station on the valley.
Munnar is plenty with amazing landscapes that treat you with unforgettable memories. The Lock heart Gap is located on SH 19, which provides an invigorating view of the Bison Valley and the surrounding hills extending up to Thekkady. It also the perfect place for rock climbing and adventure tourism. Standing on the mountain and experiencing the cool breeze, we feel that we are at the top of the world and we are being carried away by the feathery clouds. Do go there for quiet, serene evening and live the vermillion sunset. Snap it as many times as you can, because it's simply tremendous!
Munnar is enfolded by the hills of the Annamalai Ranges with the gigantic Anamudi Mountain which is the highest mountain peak of India at the height of 2695 meters.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
This adorable sanctuary is popular for its ecological, floral and geological significance. When you trek in Chinnar, you will see the grizzly giant squirrel which the star attraction of this sanctuary. Chinnar has the richest number of reptilian fauna. It is also a treasure trove of medicinal plants as well as sandalwood. There is more then 90 square kilometers of wilderness in Chinnar. 'Albizialathamii', a rare tree grows in these dry forests. You can retreat yourself on the 1000 species of flowering plants and study various medicinal plants. Chinnar is one of the richest areas in avian diversity and calls on for 225 species of birds. it also has mugger crocodiles and includes 29 species of snakes. The famous and rare 'White bison of Manjampatti' also thrives in Chinnar. During early mornings and late evenings, you may get the opportunity to view spotted dear, herds of elephant. The place is encircled by wooded hills of the tiger, leopards, wild dog, bonnet macaque, porcupine and the charming butterflies.
This is the venue of the first Hydro Electric Project in Kerala and a place of immense pictorial beauty.
Activities & things to do
Plantation Tours & Trek
Visit some of the tea gardens and spice plantations in the area and get a feel of how they are grown. A trek through the scenic environs could range from one to five days. Day trips are organized through Lockhart Gap, Lakshmi hills and so on. Other treks are also organized through pine forests, grasslands and highest point tea estates.
Boating and Fishing
The rich wildlife of the region can be enjoyed by boating trips. Speed boat services are available in Mattupetty. You could also spend a relaxed day by the river banks fishing.
You could explore the town life and sprawling tea plantation at your sweet pace on a bicycle. The proximity of destinations makes this an attractive option.
Town tour & Shopping
You could go for a causal walk to the town, mingle with the locals and have a feel of their culture. It would also be exciting to shop for artifacts, spices and chocolates from the markets and shops in town. You could also treat yourself to the local cuisine.
Visit some of the tea gardens and spice plantations in the area and get a feel of how they are grown.
How to Reach
By Air : Munnar does not have an airport of its own; the most convenient airport is Kochi. It is about 121 km from here which is about 3 hours from Munnar. Kochi has a very good air network and is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Chennai, and Kolkata.
By Road : NH 49 links Kochi to Munnar. Munnar can be easily reached by a 4 hour drive from Kochi city allowing time for tea breaks and photo shots at waterfalls enroute Munnar. It can also be reached from Palakkad using the Pollachi-Marayoor-Munnar route.
By Rail : The nearest railhead is Aluva but the bigger rail station is Ernakulam Junction which is better connected to other cities