It’s getting hotter day by day. No, I am certainly not talking about the election heat, but I am literally talking about the weather. A few days earlier, I was talking to a friend in Thiruvanathapuram, and he said that it is getting difficult to venture out during the day. So, while rest of the Kerala might be reeling under heat and it would not be wise to advice going there, until the monsoon touches the state late next month; but a part of Kerala is still enjoyable and worth going. With polling for general elections over in the state and it will now be waiting anxiously for the counting day exactly a month later, in the meanwhile, you can certainly plan a trip to Munnar.
Munnar is one of the favourite destinations in Kerala for tourists from other parts of the country. Besides being a Hill station, it is also rich in wildlife, tea estates, waterfalls among other things. Most importantly, it is also a round the year destination. I was just checking weather, and it was pleasant 26 degree celsius in the day and cooler 17 degrees in the night. So it might not be bad idea to escape the heat and travel to Munnar.
A lot has been said and written about Munnar at many places. In my view, if you plan to travel to Munnar, there are ten things you would not like to miss. Lets see, what are these ten places-
Eravikulam National Park
Had it been a year before, I would have asked you to leave everything else and head to this park just to see the once in 12 year blooming of Neelakurinji flowers. But this park is a must see even without its blue carpet which gives the name Nilgiris. This park is just ten kilometres from Munnar city centre on the Udumalpet road. You can see endangered Nilgiri Tahr only in this park. This park has lot many surprises for nature and wildlife lovers. You can even plan a small trek here. Highest peak of the Western Ghats Anamudi lies in this park.
It is indeed one of the best places in the region to have commanding views of Nilgirs and the valleys from the top. But it is not called Top station because it is at the top. It was called so because it was the Top Station on a 5 km long aerial ropeway used to transport tea from this region to Kottagudi in Tamil Nadu, which was Bottom station. Moreover, hundred years back Top Station was also the last station of Kundala railway from Munnar. This railway line was destroyed in floods of 1924 and was never rebuilt. Top station is considered to be the best place for adventure, camping and trekking. Top station is around 35 kms from Munnar.
Munnar is all about tea. Anywhere you turn your eyes, you will see neatly crafted beautiful tea gardens and it will be shame not visiting them when you are in Munnar. They make for a beautiful photo-op. You can choose anyone to visit.
Also read: Riding a Ducati in picturesque Munnar
Tea Factory and Museum
Tea factories are different from tea gardens and Munnar has a lot many Tea factories. Most of them have paid guided tours to factory showcasing the whole processing. They also have factory outlets for their products. You can purchase good quality tea from there. Tatas, who control almost 90 percent of tea production in Munnar, also have a Tea Museum (KDHP Tea Museum) at Nalluthanni Estate. This museum details the history of all aspects of Tea production in the region. Its just 4 kms from the Munnar town.
Power House water falls
Its the most popular waterfalls in the Munnar region and is 18 kms from Munnar town towards Thekkady (further to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary). Originating from Devikulam lake this seasonal waterfalls is also known as Chinnakanal waterfalls. Waterfalls surrounded by lush green plantations on all sides, give it a classic look. There is also a pool at the bottom of the falls. It is called Power House waterfalls because of an old power house situated adjacent to it.
Another place on the same Munnar-Thekkady road—22 kms from Munnar town—this dam is more than 45 years old and it still continues to charm the tourists coming to Munnar. Anayirankal is a Tamil word and it literally means coming down of the elephants and this dam was named so because herds of elephants will often come down from surrounding jungles to have water in this reservoir. A beautiful setting as it is surrounded by jungles and tea plantations, it is now also place for some boating fun as well. Photography enthusiasts are going to love this place.
This is one more dam frequented by elephants. Mattupetty is 13 kms from Munnar on the Top Station road. Mattupetty lake and dam was also constructed in 1940s. Actually, since it is close to Munnar and is on main road to Top Station, therefore it has more footfall of tourists in comparison to other dams in region. There are boating facilities here and the jungles and plantations around are also popular for trekking as well as bird watching.
Kundala Dam & Echo point
Originally named as Sethuparvathipuram Dam, Kundala is also considered to be the first arch dam in Asia. Kundala has been important place in Munnar’s history as this was the starting point for the Kundala valley railway to Top station. It is further seven kilometres from Mattupetty on the same road. This is also a calm place surrounded by jungle and tea plantations. Echo point is just ahead of Kundala dam at the same Kundala lake and is called so because this place has natural echo phenomenon. It is now a popular tourist spot with beautiful sight around.
Shola National Park
Called as Pambadum Shola National Park, this is the smallest national park in Kerala and is around 35 kms from Munnar town on the Vattavada road, ahead of the Top Station. It’s a perfect eco-tourism destination, an authentic experience of wilderness. April to September are good months to be here. Pambadum Shola literally means the ‘forest where snakes dance’. This tiny national park has 22 species of trees, 74 species of herbs & shrubs and 16 species of climbers. Among the fauna, it has 14 species of birds, 9 species of mammals 100 species of butterflies and 93 species of moths. You can also trek inside.
Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary
Another rendezvous with wildlife while in Munnar can be done at Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary. This sanctuary is on Munnar-Udumalpet road. This sanctuary is said to be home to extremely endangered Great Grizzled Squirrel of India. It has other wildlife as well, and actually a wide range of them. Interestingly, this forest receives very less rainfall every year. While coming from Coimbatore-Udumalpet side to Munnar, we cross Anamalai Tiger reserve of Tamil Nadu and then immediately enter the Chinnar wildlife sanctuary. The main road to Munnar passes through sanctuary for almost 16 kms. This also hosts majestic Thoovanam waterfalls as well as Marayoor sandalwood forests. I also love this particular sanctuary for the hosts of unique staying options it has, from log huts to machaans, that I couldn’t find anywhere else in country.
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Covering these ten things in a single trip might need three to four days. I don’t think that a visit to Munnar will be justified in less than that.
Munnar and surrounding areas have lot more to offer. I have talked here only about the few destinations. There is lot more to experience on the food and culture part, dances to authentic cuisines; lot more to take away from memories to home-made chocolates. Lot can be explored, once you are there.
Kerala beyond Munnar? Read: Places to be this season – Kerala Backwaters
Have you been to Munnar? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below?
Planning a Munnar trip? I can answer any queries if you have. Just write to me in the comments section below.
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