Ask any Keralite to name his/her most preferred hill station and without any moment of hesitation would come the answer - Munnar. This hill station nestled in the exquisite mountains of the Western Ghats is your ideal place to attain peace and tranquility.
This exotic hill station, located in the naturally blessed Idukki district in the Southern Indian state of Kerala, is at a height of 5,200 ft above sea level and once served as the summer retreat of the erstwhile British rulers.
The place got its name as the confluence of three streams - Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala - which have their origins from the nearby mountains, transpire in this little piece of heaven on earth.
As this popular resort town tops in the list of many who wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, Munnar hotels also vary from resorts to smaller accommodations from which you can pick one according to your budget.
Those who plan on Munnar sightseeing can start with taking a stroll among any of the tea plantations in and around the hill station. Muunar, Kerala, produces a plethora of fresh tea varities available in the market. Visit one of the tea manufacturing units here and you could learn the various steps involved in the process.
Watching Neelakurinji, the exotic flower which blooms in once in every 12 years, in its full bloom is one of the high points in Munnar tourism.
The above mentioned Neelakurinji, which last bloomed in 2006, covering the mist-clad hills of Munnar, including that of Eravikulam National Park, with enthralling carpets of blue is a mesmerizing spectacle. It is an ethereal experience which is a privilege to those who visit Munnar at the time. The flower usually blossoms from August to October every 12 years.
The most famous Munnar places to visit include Anamudi, the highest peak in South India, Eravikulam National Park, Mattupetty Dam, Eco-Point, Devikulam Lake and Top Station.
Eravikulam National Park is one of the most famous of all the Munnar tourist places. The park, which houses many endangered flora and fauna, is also the home to the largest population of Nilgiri Tahr. The place is also famous for trekking, and its rare butterfly species. Anamudi - the highest peak in South India - is inside the national park.
Mattupetty located about 13 km from Munnar town is another major attraction. The place also offers boat rides, which is a satisfying experience.
Tourists who visit Munnar should also visit Top Station, which is about 32 km from Munnar, to enjoy the panoramic view of the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. It is one of the spots in Munnar where Neelakurinji flowers bloom.
Not just the hills, Muunar tourist places also include many gurgling streams and rivulets.
Devikulam: The quaint hill station of Devikulam rests like a celestial beauty in the midst of luxurious velvet green hills. This pristine hill station is located at a distance of 16 km from Munnar at an altitude of 1700 meters above sea level. The hill station is famous for its crystal-clear lake of Sita Devi. Legend connects Devikulam to the ancient Hindu epic of Ramayana. It is believed that during their exile, Sita Devi - the consort of Lord Rama took a bath in this lake. The water in the lake is considered to contain minerals and is acclaimed for its healing powers.
Mattupetty: The town of Mattupetty though small in geographical area is a treasure trove of natures abounding glories. Every nuke and cranny of it is crammed with the luxurious bounties of nature. The town is located at a distance of about 13 km from Munnar at an altitude of 1700 meters above sea level. Mattupetty is famous for its much renowned dairy farm; the Indo-Swiss livestock project. A large variety of high yielding cattle are reared in Mattupetty. At a stones throw away lies the picturesque Mattupetty dam and lake. The ideal way to revel in the beauty of this scenic locale is a boat cruise. The spot is preferred by picnickers due to its amazing natural beauty. Nearby is the beautiful Kundala Lake and adjoining Tea Plantations.
Pothamedu: This amazing viewpoint is located at a distance of 6 km from Munnar. This vantage point offers astounding views of breathtaking grandeur of the nearby tea, coffee and spice plantations. You can feast your eyes on the misty hills, green meadows and ravines crisscrossed with white streaks of gurgling rivulets. This is also an ideal spot to enjoy a casual ramble through the green mountains and to indulge in serious trekking activities. If you are into nature photography, this is a must visit spot to capture the real essence of Kerala’s natural splendor.
Pallivasal: This place is famous for the Pallivasal hydel station, the first hydroelectric project of Kerala. Located at a distance of about 8 km from Munnar, Pallivasal is also acclaimed for its outstanding natural beauty. The shimmering emerald green water of the reservoir is perfectly color coordinated with the lush green surrounding countryside. Tourists flock here to enjoy the tranquil surroundings of the reservoir and the scenic beauty of the location.
Attukal: This beautiful place is located between Munnar and Pallivasal. The place is an ideal vantage point with picture perfect views of the silver waterfalls and the green verdant hills. Attukal is a Lucullan treat for the eyes with its breathtaking natural splendor. It is also an ideal spot to indulge in long nature walks and trekking.
Nyayamakad: This picturesque location is at a distance of about 10 km from Munnar en route to Rajamala. The place is teaming with natural brilliance and splendid waterfalls. The gorgeous waterfall with sparkling silver water cascading down from a rocky cliff at a height of 1600 meters is sure to hold you mesmerized in its captivating grandeur. The bewitching beauty of Nyayamakad makes it a preferred picnic spot and an ideal place for trekking.
Chithirapuram: Lying at a distance of 10 km from Munnar is the idyllic town of Chithirapuram. The place is steeped in its rich colonial past with numerous English cottages, grand colonial bungalows, old playgrounds et cetera dotting the landscape. This less explored land of timeless beauty is a true trump card for experiencing colonial remnants preserved in its original splendor. This town is home to a number of tea plantations and lies in close proximity to the Pallivasal Hydel Power Project.
Lock Heart Gap: Located at a distance of 13 km from Munnar, this magnificent vantage point lies close to Mattupetty. The place offers some amazing views of the mist clad endless blue hills covered with lush greenery, winding roads and silver brooks splashing the emerald greenery with white streaks. The place is a perfect venue for adventure tourism and trekking expeditions. The salubrious climate and picturesque surroundings make it one of the most preferred locations to visit in Munnar.
Rajamala: These hills are located at a distance of 15 km from Munnar at an altitude of about 2695 meters above sea level. The hills are a part of the Rajamala wildlife sanctuary, home to the endangered mountain goat species locally known as Nilgiri Thars. Half of the world’s population of this endangered species is found in this region. The sanctuary was created to protect and revive this rare species of mountain goats from almost near extinction. These goats roam around in small herds climbing the rocky terrain with amazing agility. The total number of mountain goats is estimated to be around 1300 in the region. Visitors are not permitted to enter the sanctuary during monsoon season and also during the breeding season of the goats.
Echo Point: This is an amazing vantage point located at a distance of about 15 km from Munnar. The place derives its name from the natural echo phenomenon of the point. Spectacular views of the surrounding mist-clad blue hills and plantations could be enjoyed from this point. This is an ideal place for trekking and mountaineering. The place lies on the way to Top Station from Munnar.
Eravikulam National Park: This famous park is located at a distance of around 15 km from Munnar. This park sprawling over an area of 97 sq. km is home to an amazing number of Nilgiri Thars. The highest peak of south India - Anamudi at an altitude of 2695 meters is situated at the southern edge of this park. The park is an ideal place to spot Nilgiri Thars at close range. The park remains closed during monsoon and the breeding season of the goats. The park offers facilities for mountaineering and trekking.
Power House waterfalls: This stunning waterfall is located at a distance of 18 km from Munnar en route to Thekkady. This majestic waterfall cascades down a steep boulder at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level. The place is much acclaimed for its astounding scenic beauty. Tourists flock to this waterfall to enjoy this spectacular display of nature’s magnificent beauty.
Kundala: The tranquil town of Kundala is surrounded by rolling hills covered with tea plantations gently kissed by the silver mist and stretching for miles into the distant horizon. The artificial Kundala dam located here further accentuates the beauty of the place. The town lies en route to Top Station from Munnar. The dazzling Aruvikkad waterfall is located near Kundala.
Anayirankal: This idyllic location at a distance of 22 km from Munnar is surrounded by endless tea plantations and lush green tropical forests. The dam of Anayirankal lies like a dazzling crystal teardrop set in an emerald necklace. The natural beauty of this splendid location makes it a much visited place in Munnar, ideal for picnics.
Top Station: This vantage point at a distance of about 32 km from Munnar offers some of the most spectacular views of the majestic Western Ghats. It is the highest point at an altitude of around 1700 meters en route to Kodaikanal.
Marayoor: Imagine waking up to the sound of birds singing, endless green hills covered in mist greeting you and the air filled with the sweet smell of sandalwood – this is Marayoor, a paradise nestled in the laps of the majestic Western Ghats. This sleepy hamlet is the only place in Kerala with a natural sandalwood forest. The area has been inhabited from pre-historic times with remnants of it preserved in the Megalithic burial caves and rock paintings that dot the area. Marayoor has an assortment of surprises in stock for the nature lover, the adventure seeker and the history buff. Marayoor lies at a distance of 40 km from Munnar en route to Udumalpet.
Chinnar Wild Life Sanctuary: This remarkable sanctuary is at a distance of 60 km from Munnar towards Udumalpet and close to Marayoor. The park sprawls over an area of 90.44 sq. km with dense green foliage making it look much bigger than it really is. The area is crisscrossed with many wild rivers making it an ideal habitat for a wide variety of birds. The park is also home to a large number of animals including leopards, endangered giant grizzled squirrel, tigers, elephants, reptiles, peacocks, monkeys, exotic butterflies et cetera. Don’t be surprised if you encounter herds of elephants on the way to the sanctuary. The forest cover here extends all the way to Tamil Nadu. Prior permission is required to enter the sanctuary for trekking from the forest office in Munnar.
Munnar is a paradise for both adventure tourists and nature lovers alike. Some of the popular things to do are-
Boating and Fishing: Boating is the best way to explore the area and to catch a glimpse of the rich wildlife. In Mattupetty reservoir you can avail speed boat services. Fishing can also be enjoyed here if you want to spend a quite day on the river banks. Almost all the lakes here offer a range of boating services to suit your requirement.
Bicycle rides: This is one of the best ways to enjoy the quaint towns and the countryside. You can explore the place at your own sweet pace and enjoy the charms of nature. This could be best done in Munnar town as most places of interest lie in close proximity making it convenient for you to leisurely explore the area.
Trekking and Mountaineering: Trekking is the best way to explore the scenic beauty of the mountainous terrain. Trekking expeditions could be undertaken in most of the wildlife sanctuaries, please be ensured that you take prior permission from the authorities before you actually go to the sanctuary. In most cases you have to take permission from the authorities in Munnar, so once you are there at the sanctuary without the permission you’ll have to travel back to Munnar to get the required consent.
Casual Ramble: A casual ramble through this scenic location is the best way to understand the locals and to see nature up close. The area is relatively safe and the people generally congenial. A walk through the meadows in the evening or day break will refresh your mind and spirit leaving hoards of memorable pictures in your mind.
Adventure Sports: You can also enjoy paragliding and rafting in Munnar. For the adventure cravers, do check out the places where they have bamboo rafting.
Plantation tours: Do make it a point to visit some of the numerous tea and spice plantations in the area. This is the best way to understand how these exotic spices are grown and to learn how they are used in the local cuisines. Tea factories could also be visited to see how they process tea leaves and to meet the workers there. There are vanilla, cardamom and spice plantations in the region which could be visited with permission.
To know a place completely one must try to understand the culture and traditions of the region.
Tribal Festivals: There are several tribal hamlets in the area. Their festivals are rather secluded and not promoted commercially. Try if you can get a glimpse of some of the exotic festivals celebrated by the tribes in the region.
Onam: This national festival of Kerala is celebrated here with much pomp and gaiety. Floral bed (Pookkalam) competitions are held along with the traditional Kerala “sadya” or feast.
The best buys here are handicrafts and tribal artifacts. If you are traveling to any of the tea growing areas, you may pick up tea leaves or fresh tea powder. If you are going to any of the plantations you can buy fresh exotic spices and herbs. Wooden artifacts could be bought from many of the shops here.
You can rent a bike from one of the rent-a-bike shops in Munnar. This is the best possible way to enjoy the town of Munnar. If you are going to distant locations, cabs are the best bet. From Marayoor to Chinnar wildlife sanctuary you can either get a cab or an Indian motor rickshaw to suit your convenience.
Munnar being a tourist hub offers several good quality hotels. You can have traditional south Indian or continental food here. If you want to have a slice of the local lifestyle, you can stay at one of the many homesteads in the region and savor exotic local cuisines made with fresh spices and herbs.
The highest peak to the south of Himalayas, Anamudi at an altitude of 2696meters lies here.
The Cochin International Airport located at a distance of 105 km is the nearest airport.
Munnar is well connected by road to Ernakulam and Kottayam.
The nearest rail road station is located at a distance of 130 km at Ernakulam. Kottayam railroad station is at a distance of about 200 km from Munnar.