Why is Munnar Kerala So Popular
Munnar Kerala is 130km east of Kochi. It is the centre of Kerala's principal tea-growing region.
Iron-roofed cottages and tea factories, Munnar town fails to live up to its tourist-office billing as a "hill station". But there is plenty to enthuse about in the surrounding mountains.
Lower slopes of the mountains are carpeted with lush tea gardens and dotted with old colonial bungalows. Above them the grassy ridges and crags of the High Range offer superlative trekking routes. Many of these trekking routes can be tackled in day-trips from the town.
Scottish planters who developed this hidden valley in the 1870s and 1880s felt at home here. At an altitude of 1600m, Munnar Kerala enjoys a refreshing climate. Holiday in Munnar is filled with crisp mornings and sunny blue skies.
Munnar's greenery and cool air draw streams of honeymooners and weekenders from the metro cities in India. However, increasing numbers of foreign travellers are also stopping here for few days.
The travel from Thekkady to Munnar is superbly scenic. The journey which takes you across the high ridges and lush tropical forests of the Cardamom Hills.
You can also have spectacular climb to Munnar from Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
How to Reach Munnar
Munnar can be reached from Kochi, Kottaym and Kumily. The nearest rail head is at Aluva (Alwaye) near Kochi. Cochin international airport is the nearest airport to Munnar.
Munnar is clustered around the confluence of three mountain streams. It is a typical hill town in India. Like any hill town in India you'll probably want to escape this place at the first opportunity.
The one sight of note is the Tea Museum, on Nallathanny Road 2km north west of the centre. The museum houses various pieces of old machinery and photos of the area's tea industry.
The social hub of the colonial period the famous High Range Club is on the southern edge of town overlooking the river. The club is an important cultural icon in Munnar. You can visit this typically Raj-era building for a round of golf or enjoy a gin and tonic served on the lawns.
Eating in Munnar
Normaly your hotel, homestay or guesthouse package include meals. Other reliable options in the town are Food Count and Guru Bahvan.
Food Count is on the Ground Floor of the Munnar Inn in the main bazaar. This shiny and glassed-in cafe serves samosas, vegitable cutlets, sandwiches and light meals. The most hygienic option down in the bazaar.
Guru Bahvan Mattupetty Rd, Ikka Nagar. The most dependable of Munnar's local south Indian "meals" joints. It is a 10min walk of the main bazaar. But the walk is worthy. They have a daily chaining menu of delicious Kerala vegetarian dishes. In addition to that hot Parottas, paper dosas and other snacks are available.
Attractions Around Munnar
Several of the mountains towering above Munnar can be reached on day treks through the tea gardens. You can go up to the Top Station, a village famed for its views and meadows. If you have more time you can spot the wildlife at Eravikulam and Chinnar.
Tea plantation visits
The High Range has many working tea factories, but the only one open to visitors lies on the Tallayar Valley Estate. It is 20km out of Munnar on the road to Chinnar.
Their 'Make Your Own Tea' programme is a great- and affordable-way to experience life on a working plantation. It starts at 9am with a walk around the tea gardens to pluck leaves. Then take down it to the factory for processing. Six or seven hours later, you own personal batch of tea, made with the very leaves you picked yourself, is delivered to you.
While you are waiting, you can go for easy walks around the estate, visit the main factory and enjoy lunch on the lawns in front of an old British bungalow.
Walks and treks in Munnar
Hiking scene is surprisingly undeveloped in Munnar, Kerala.
The owner of Munnar's Green View guesthouse and his team of enthusiastic young guides can lead you on interesting local trails.
The Kerala Forest Development Corporation also runs guided treks around Munnar. Treks include one-day walk up to longer routes involving nights under canvas. These walks are extremely popular and sell out quickly. So make bookings in advance through KFDC's office in Munnar.
The more upscale Kestrel Adventures also offer good day treks and camps. They also arrange cycling tours and guided wildlife trips.
Top Station and Kolukkumala in Munnar, Kerala
One of the most popular excursions from Munnar is the 34km climb through some of the India's highest tea estates to Top Station. It is a tiny hamlet on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border which, at 1800m, is the highest point on the interstate road.
The place takes its name from the old aerial ropeway that used to connect it with the valley floor. The ruins of which can still be seen in places.
Top Station is known for its marvellous views over the Tamil plains. Top Station is also renowned for the very rare Neelakurinji plant. The plant grows in the mountain side but only flowers once every twelve years. The next flowering is due in Oct/Nov 2018.
Top Station sees streams of visitors in season. An alternate option is Kolukkumala. You can sidestep the crowds completely and see more awesome scenery.
Kolukkumala is 23km out of Munnar at an altitude of 2400m. It is officially India's highest tea plantations. The only way to reach it is by jeep via the Chinnakkanal Suryanelly Estate.
Eravikulam National Park
The Eravikulam National Park is 13km northeast of Munnar, Kerala. The park spread over 100 sq km of moist evergreen forest and grassy hilltops.
It is the last stronghold of one of the world's rarest mountain goats, the Nilgiri tahr. Sightings of tahr is guaranteed as you enter the park.
Marayoor is 42km east of Munnar, Kerala. It is worth stopping to admire Kerala's only wild sandalwood forest. The 92 sq km reserve holds an estimated 60,000 trees.
The sandalwood sells for $1000-1500 per kilo on the international market. Wardens guide the visitors the heavily protected area.
Other interesting things in this area are prehistoric-art sites and stone-capped burial chambers.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
Although it borders Eravikulam, the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is a less visited place. The sanctuary is two-hour drive from Munnar.
The reserve is in the rain shadow of the High Range and thus much drier than its neighbour Eravikulam National Park. It is one of the best spot in the state for bird watching. There are 225 species of birds in the sanctuary.
The treks through the reserve are run by the excellent Wild Kerala Tour Company based in Kochi.
Hotels in Munnar, Kerala
Munnar hotels costs more than elsewhere in the High Range. Munnar is very popular among the Indian middle class.
Still you can find hotels in budget, mid-range and luxury categories.
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