Munnar is one of the popular hill stations in the Indian state of Kerala. The hill station is situated at an altitude of 5,600 ft in the Idukki district of Kerala. Munnar literally means “three rivers” and its name is taken from the fact that it lies at the confluence of three mountain streams. Munnar was a British favored summer destination in the colonial days. Centuries later it is still horded by tourists who are mesmerized by the endless span of tea plantations, exotic species of flora and fauna and the cool breeze of the beautiful hills and valleys.
HOW TO REACH
Munnar does not have its own airport, and one has to rely on the nearest Cochin International Airport in Kochi, which is around 100 km away. Tourists need to take taxis or cabs to reach to the place once they land in Kochi. Other airports are even far away, like Madurai Airport, Thiruvananthapuram Airport, Coimbatore Airport and Kozikhode Airport.
The nearest railway station is the Angamaly Station, which is around 120 km from the place. It is connected to all major cities of the country.
There are several private buses and state transports that are available from Kochi, Madurai, Kunilly and Kottayam. However, the journey through the road is the best part of the tour to Munnar, where the visitors can enjoy the picture-perfect panoramic views of the mountains and valleys through the curvy roads.
WHAT TO SEE
Echo Point is situated around 13 km from the town of Munnar. Apart from an Echo point, the place is also a picnic spot where visitors love to take nature walks along the hill slopes. Tourists can also trek in the nearby tea, coffee and spice plantations. The cool breeze and serene surroundings makes this place favorite among wayfarers.
The Elephant Lake or Anayirangal is a scenic location surrounded by tea plantations and is around 22 km from Munnar. The Lake is named after the herds of wild elephants which come here from the forests to drink water. It’s very common to spot a herd of elephants by the waters. Tourists can enjoy the panoramic view of the serene waters along with the backdrop of dense tea estates.
Tata Tea Museum:-
The Tata Tea Museum is located at the Nallathanni Estate of Tata Tea just about 1.5 km from the Munnar town. Over a century, Munnar has been linked with tea plantations and is home to some of the best tea estates in the world. The museum is homage to the pioneers who transformed Munnar into a great tea plantation estate. The museum exhibits various pieces of antiquity and describes the origin and evolution of tea plantations in Munnar.
The CSI Church is a popular destination and an important landmark in Munnar. Built in 1910, it is a Protestant Church which is mostly built in stone by the Scottish tea estate workers and managers. The highlights of this Church are in its charming interiors. Just adjacent to the church is a cemetery with tombs which date back to 1894.
Rajamalai National Park (Eravikulam National Park):-
Situated at a distance of around 15 km from Munnar, the park is divided into three sections- the core area, the buffer area and the tourism area. Visitors to the Park only have access to the tourism area. The National Park is the habitat of the highly endangered species of mountain goats called Nilgiri Tahr or Nilgiri Ibex. The park is quite rich in flora and fauna.
The Mattupetty Dam is located at a distance of around 13 km from Munnar. It’s a perfect spot for a lazy picnic. The dam is surrounded by beautiful hills and tea plantations. Boating is a very popular here. The DTPC (District Tourism Promotion Council) provides boating facility and has a fleet of row boats, speed boats and pedal boats. Rose Garden is also a popular destination near Mattuppetty Dam, an excellent place for bird watching and trekking.
Top Station is the highest point in Munnar and is easily accessible by tourists. It is around 32 km from Munnar and 1700 metres above sea level. The Top Station offers a panoramic and picturesque view of Munnar and its surrounding areas. The rare Neelakurunji (strobilanthus) plants belong to this region. These plants bloom only once in twelve years. The next bloom will take place in the year 2018. Top Station is located at border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Being famous for its tea and spice plantations, shopping in Munnar gives you ample scope to buy the best variety of teas and spices. Spices that are available include cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, garlic, vanilla, pepper, clove, etc. Rare and seasonal fruits like passion fruit, tree tomato and strawberries are also available in Munnar.
The staple diet in Munnar is fish and rice cooked in coconut oil which is totally Kerala style. You can taste coconut in almost everything you eat as most of the food is cooked in coconut oil.The weather and physical activity on these hills help build a raving appetite for a variety of snacks like vadas, bondas and bhajis savoured with a cup of tea or coffee.