Misty mountaintops, green valleys, low-laying clouds, and the smell of tree plantations conjure up a beautiful image. Munnar is gifted with a setting that perhaps no other hill station in the Western Ghats have. This former summer retreat for the British government in Kerala is famous for its wonderful weather. The rolling hills and rich wildlife are an icing on the cake for any traveler.
It is located amidst the Western Ghats in the Idukki district of Kerala, India.
Munnar got its name from the fact that it is situated at the confluence of three rivers: Mudrapuzha, Kundala, and Nallathanni. The word ‘Munnar’ is made up of two Malayalam words ‘Munu’ and ‘Aaru,’ which mean three and river respectively. The region remained undiscovered until planters from foreign shores, including Europe, arrived in the latter half of the 19th century.
Facts about Munnar
- Grizzled Giant Squirrel, the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, and the Gaur are endemic to this region.
- Munnar means ‘three rivers’ and it is called so because it is located at the confluence of three rivers.
- Munnar is located 1,600 m (about 5249 feet) above sea level.
- In 1880, H.C. Sharp, a European planter started tea cultivation in Munnar.
Things to Do in Munnar
Explore wildlife at Eravikulam National Park: Spread over 97 sq. km. (about 37 sq. miles), the park is home to some rare birds, butterflies, and animals, including the endangered Nilgiri Tahr. The National Park houses the rare Neelakurinji flowering plant that blossoms only once in 12 years. When it blooms, the flowers turn the entire hill slopes blue, making it a sight to behold. The next flowering of the Neelakurinji flower should be in 2018, from August to October. Trekkers also love to come back to this park.
Take a Tour to Anamudi Peak: Located within the Eravikulam National Park, the Anamudi Peak [2,695 m (about 8841 feet)] is the tallest mountain in South India. Along with the Eravikulam National Park, the peak serves as a habitat of one of the largest surviving populations of Asian elephants, gaurs, and the Nilgiri Tahrs. The structure of the mountain resembles an elephant’s head.
Enjoy Boating at Mattupetty: The Mattupetty Dam has led to the creation of a beautiful lake that has speed-launch boats, slow speedboats, and motorboats, for travelers to enjoy.
Visit the Tea Museum: The museum is a great way to learn about the history of tea in the region. It exhibits pictures related to the growth of Munnar tea estates and pieces of machinery from the rudimentary tea roller to the modern fully automated tea factory equipment. It also offers insights into tea processing and production of black tea.
Chinnakanal: This spectacular waterfall is surrounded by the Western Ghats and speeds down from a height of 800 meters (about 2624 feet). The Chinnakanal Waterfall is also known by the name of Power House Waterfall.
Anayirangal: Located a few miles beyond Chinnakanal, Anayirangal is known for its lush green tea plantations and the beautiful lake created by the dam. The lake and the dam are popular with travelers who flock to the area with a hope of catching a glimpse of wild elephants.
Top Station: This place is located close to the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border along the Munnar-Kodaikanal road. Perched at a height of 1,700 m (about 5577 feet) above sea level, this lookout point offers stunning views of the hills surrounding and the rare Neelakurinji flowers.
Rose Gardens: This is a popular buzzing point for nature enthusiasts and tourists of the lovely town. Here, you’ll find a variety of plants and flowers. The blossoming all over make this place a mini-heaven on the planet.
Pothamedu View Point: Located just a mile away from Munnar, this is a popular vantage point and a trekking destination. It is a wonderful overlook with tea plantations, offering amazing views of the valley landscape below.
Fun Forest: How about trying some adventure amidst scenic landscape? This park is filled with a number of activities, also including an obstacle course and ziplining.
Dream Land Fun and Adventure: Falling in the proximity of Munnar, this family park has a number of exciting rides. Do not forget to try the cable cars, camel rides, a haunted house and mountain biking.
SN Spices: This is your one-stop destination for finding the condiments and spices. Their lovely aroma will awaken your senses. The spices here are widely-considered to be strong.
How to Reach?
By Air – The Cochin International Airport is the closest to Munnar. It is about 110 km (about 68 miles) from the hill station and a drive will take about three hours.
By Rail – The Aluva Railway Station is about 108 km (about 67 miles) away and it is the closest railway station. A drive from the station takes about three hours.
By Road – The hill station is well connected to major cities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu by a network of roads. Buses connect the place with major cities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Bangalore is about 476 km (about 296 miles) away. It is a nine-hour drive from Munnar.
While JJ Cottage and Theresian Cottages are excellent options for budget travelers, Deshadan Mountain Resort and Pulimoottil Estate are some of the popular mid-range budgets. The Windermere Estate and The Silvertips are for those who can’t compromise on luxury.
Saravana Bhavan is the most popular address for sampling South Indian dishes. To try some sumptuous vegetarian dishes, come to Hotel Srinivas. The swanky Silver Spoon restaurant is a nice option for trying the cuisine of Kerala. Mezbaan Hotel is where you can gorge into grilled fish and other non-vegetarian delicacies.
Best Time to Visit Munnar
Munnar can be visited any time of the year except the monsoon months. The period between November and February is widely preferred by the most travelers.
Things to Remember
- Motorbikes are considered the best way to travel around Munnar.
- Don’t expect much of nightlife in this hill station.
- The place can get quite chilly in the mornings and in the evenings. Carrying light woolens are recommended.