Table of Contents:
Munnar at a glance
1. How to reach
2. Where to stay
3. Best time to Visit
4. Duration of Stay
My Top 5 Munnar Experinces
1. Visit Mattupetty
1.1. Mattupetty Dam
1.2. Echo Point
2. Shikara ride on Kundala Lake
3. Take a hike upto Attukad Waterfall
4. Take a stroll in a Tea Estate
5. Pick homemade chocolates
6. Honourable mention – Top Station
Munnar at a glance:
Munnar is located in the Idduki district of Kerala, and is undoubtedly the most popular hill station in the state. The highest point in Munnar measures a towering 5026 ft. All of the Munnar Hill Station, boats of such a great climate that the people have started referring to it as ‘Munnar Weather’. Throughout the year, Munnar’s temperature ranges from 24 °c to 12 °c, irrespective of the season.
The hills of Munnar are home to either huge Pine and Eucalyptus trees or short and intricately manicured tea. Tea plantations were established in the hills during the colonial era and since then Munnar has grown to become the largest tea producer in South India.
With numerous view points, thundering waterfalls, hills shrouded in tea plantations and lakes; Munnar manages to enchant any traveler who happen to set foot in its lap.
|How to Reach:|
| Munnar being a hill station is only reachable by road one can either hire a cab or take the public buses available from various cities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.|
The nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport, which is 110 KM away, and nearest railway stations are in Aluva (110 KM), Ernakulam (130 KM) and Madurai (135 KM). From all these places buses and cab are available for Munnar.
Where to Stay:
| If you want easy access to all urban needs, stay in Munnar town. If you crave for great views and serene surrounding, stay out of town, near the Munnar Bypass.|
Munnar is flush with hotels, hostels and B&Bs of all budget ranges, hence accommodation is very easy to get. However prior booking is advised during peak season which lasts from November to January. All hotel aggregators like MakeMyTrip, Yatra, Booking.com and ktdckerala.com have options of booking hotels online. The biggest resorts in Munnar however are Dream Catcher Resort Munnar and Club Mahindra Munnar.
Best Time to Visit:
Munnar is pleasant throughout the year, winters are best for clear views of the mountains, summers for gettting respite from the smoldering heat of the cities and monsoon for the hide and seek of the low lying clouds.
Ideal Duration of stay:
An ideal duration of stay should be 3 days, excluding the journey to and from Munnar. However with careful planning, a trip can be completed within 2 days as well.
My Top 5 Munnar experiences:
After exploring the backwaters of Poovar, the beaches of Kovalam and streets of Kochi, it was time for us to take a hike up the hills of the western ghats of Kerala, specifically to the ‘Kashmir of Kerala’, Munnar.
Though Munnar has no dearth of picture perfect places, here’s my top 5 pick from the hill station, which I felt were a must visit/do while you are visiting the ‘God’s own Country’. These are definitely the most sought after Places to Visit in Munnar.
Mattupetty is 11 km away from Munnar town and is famous for a concrete gravity dam, and the resulting reservoir. The reservoir, is fed by mountain streams and rain, has metamorphosed into a beautiful lake. At Mattupetty there are two view points, Mattupetty Dam and Echo Point both of which are equally great.
The first thing you encounter in Mattupetty is the dam, that acts as a bridge as well. One can stand on the edge of the dam and feast their eyes with the unheralded natural beauty that is on offer.
While on the dam, one can get splendid views of a lake, the hills beyond and a valley on the otherside. The lake has still blue water and is surrounded by thickly forested Western Ghats hills. The blue lake, green hills and low hanging clouds, together form a picture perfect postcard, any shutterbug ever dreams of.
There is some boating options in the lake, but trust me, just standing on the edge of the lake or on top of the dam, is the best experience one can get.
The place however remains flocked by tourists all year round, hence the typical touristy shops have overrun every available inch of land. Shacks selling souvenirs and food items have mushroomed by the lake shore, which is a bit of a let down.
Just a few 100 mts ahead of the Mattupetty Dam is Echo point, situated along the banks of the reservoir. Since its the confluence point of three famous South Indian mountain ranges, Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and the Kundala, the place is notorious for echoing back voices, hence the name.
It is however ironic that now a days owing to the overflow of tourists, the resulting noise pollution assimilates all the voices thrown at the hills. The scenery though is worth every bit of effort.
You have the option of taking a stroll along the bank of the lake, into the woods, or hike up a nearby hill to get a more secluded and fullfilling experience. Incase you are not the hiking type, you can stay on the actual ‘point’, and indulge in some amazing street foods, shopping knick knacks and participate in some basic activities like balloon pops and ring toss. All this have made Echo Point much more than just a place that echoes back at you.
Shikara ride on Kundala Lake:
I was under the impression that Shikara rides are only offered in the Dal Lake of Kashmir. Imagine my surprise, when I saw a few Shikaras floating idly on the Kundala Lake of Munnar.
Kundala is located approximately 20 km from Munnar town, and is a must visit for people looking for a more exclusive experience. The landscape is similar to that of Mattupetty, just that tourists prefer this place less and hence is less crowded.
The Shikaras are not the only kinds of boat available at Kundala lake. Coracle, row boat, Kayak, Bamboo boat are also quite sought after experiences at the lake. A ride typicaly ranges from 20 to 45 mins, and the charges are accordingly. Safety is considered a top priority hence the head count per boat is adhered to very strictly and life jackets are a must.
Besides the boating, the place is also famous for cherry blossoms, that happen twice in a year, and turns the surrounding of the lake into a hue to pink amongst the greenery. Kundala is also the homeland of the world famous Neelakurinji flower which blooms once in 12 years, bathing the whole area in Indigo colors. The last bloom was in 2018, making the next one to come sometime in 2030. The lakeside also flaunts of tall Eucalyptus trees apart from the layers upon layers of the high hills.
Hike up to Attukad (a.k.a Attarukadu) Waterfall:
A stream of white in the canvass of green, is the best description of Attukad waterfall. Situated 9 km away from Munnar town, Attukad can be reached only by crossing a wooden bridge through a dark and green jungle.
Hiking is a very popular activity in the area, with lots of trails. There are infact some guided hiking tours, which cost around Rs.100 per person. Such hikes takes one through routes canopied through dense folliage, which provides both, shade from sun and cover from rain. Its one of the best activity one can indulge while in Munnar.
Even while you gaze at the falls from across the road, you can smell the distinctive aroma of medicinal plants which grow on either side of Attukad Waterfalls. Even though a couple of hours is enough to explore the area, it is also ideal for picnicking with family or camping with friends, activities that allows one to soak in the nature.
Take a stroll in a Tea Estate:
Not all great spots need to have a specific name. Every nook and corner of Munnar, provides for splendid views of rolling tea gardens. The delicately manicured plants, all having uniform height and the same shade of green, is a pleasant sight, that has a great calming effect on weary eyes and minds.
I had the opportunity of taking an early morning stroll in one of the tea estates, and I must say, it was one of the best experiences of Munnar. Early morning, a thin layer of dew is present on the leaves, which shines when the first rays of sunlight hit it. The visual seems as if someone has sprinkled diamonds all over the hill face.
Curated tea tours are also available in some of the bigger tea estates, where one needs to pay a certain amount of money for a jeep safari, experience the process of making tea and get some knowledge on the history of tea in Munnar. One must indulge in it if interested, I however feel this is not needed as the tea gardens are everywhere and you can simply take a stroll in them, experience the nature and wonder if nature isn’t the best artist then who is.
Pick some homemade chocolates:
I’m not a big chocolate-lover, but I still couldn’t resist indulging in some home made chocolates in Munnar. Cocoa farming is very big in the South Indian hills, specifically of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Though most of this Cocoa is acquired by big commercial chocolate manufacturers like Cadbury, some of it makes its way to small manufactures like the ones in Ooty and Munnar.
These chocolates are mostly fresh made with no or low amount of preservatives. Some of the popular varieties in Munnar are Crisp rice infused dark or white chocolates, spiced chocolates, vanila flavored dark chocolate and chocolates loaded with dry fruits.
Though some of the famous chocolate joints in Munnar are Krishna and M.S.P & Sons, there are many others, practically one in every corner of the town, and most of them offer almost the same varieties.
There are chocolate factory tours on offer as well in some of the shops, where one can take a closer look at the chocolate manufacturing process. While in Munnar, one must pick a few boxes of chocolates, it’s like bringing a small part of the beautiful hill station back with them.
Honorable Mention – Top Station:
It is the highest point in Munnar, standing at alost 1700ft and 16 km away from the main town. Technically this place is in Tamil Nadu and not in Kerala, as it stands on a hill range shared by both the states. Various weather phenomenon in the area causes the peak to remain covered in fog/cloud almost all days round the year, making a trip to the peak a wastage as nothing is visible in the dense fog.
If you come in the peak winters or peak summer, you may get a glimpse of the peaks all around. But the time I went there, it was too cloudy and hence we had to abandon our plans and return back.
As per information available on the internet, this place involves quite a bit of trekking, with stone cut steps and muddy trails. Since I haven’t been to the place myself, I wouldn’t be able to give you my take on it, however would suggest you to go if you can see clear skies from Munnar.
Munnar had a plethora of mesmerizing views on offer, so much so that I fell in love with the hill station. Yes, its a crowded place, but I didn’t seem to mind much as the sooner I managed to look past the crowds, I was treated with an amazing vista. Its a beautiful symphony of colors, blended in with enchanting landscape, that gives a sense of fulfillment. I don’t think Munnar should be called the ‘Kashmir of Kerala’, it should just be ‘Munnar of Kerala’.