Munnar rises as three mountain streams merge – Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. 1,600 m above sea level, this hill station was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India. Sprawling tea plantations, picturesque towns, winding lanes and holiday facilities make this a popular resort town. Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands here is the Neelakurinji. This flower which bathes the hills in blue once in every twelve years, will bloom next in 2018. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India, Anamudi, which towers over 2,695 m. Anamudi is an ideal spot for trekking.
Let us now explore some of the options in and around Munnar that would provide travellers ample opportunities to enjoy the captivating hill station of Munnar.
Eravikulam National Park
One of the main attractions near Munnar is the Eravikulam National Park. This park is famous for its endangered inhabitant – the Nilgiri Tahr. Spread over an area of 97 sq. km., this park is also home to several species of rare butterflies, animals and birds. A great place for trekking, the park offers a magnificent view of the tea plantations caressed by blankets of mists. The park becomes a hot destination when the hill slopes here get covered in a carpet of blue, resulting from the flowering of the Neelakurinji. It is a plant endemic to this part of the Western Ghats which blooms once in twelve years.
Located inside the Eravikulam National Park is the Anamudi Peak. This is the highest peak in South India, standing at a height of over 2700 m. Treks to the peak are allowed with permission from the Forest and Wildlife authorities at Eravikulam.
Another prime draw for visitors, located about 13 km from Munnar Town, is Mattupetty. Situated at a height of 1700 m above sea level, Mattupetty is known for its storage masonry dam and the beautiful lake, which offers pleasurable boat rides, enabling one to enjoy the surrounding hills and landscape. Mattupetty’s fame is also attributed to the dairy farm run by the Indo-Swiss Livestock Project, where one can encounter different high yielding breeds of cows.
Pallivasal, located at about 3 km from Chithirapuram in Munnar is the venue of the first hydro-electric project in Kerala. It is a place of immense scenic beauty and is often favoured by visitors as a picnic spot.
Chinnakanal & Anayirangal
Near Munnar Town lie Chinnakanal and its waterfalls, popularly known as the Power House Waterfalls, which cascade down a steep rock 2000 m above sea level. The spot is enriched with a scenic view of the Western Ghat ranges. When you have traveled about seven kilometers from Chinnakanal, you reach Anayirangal. Anayirangal, 22 km from Munnar, is a lush green carpet of tea plants. A trip on the splendid reservoir is an unforgettable experience. The Anayirangal dam is surrounded by tea plantations and evergreen forests.
Top Station, which is about 32 km from Munnar is at a height of 1700 m above sea level. It is the highest point on the Munnar-Kodaikanal road. Travellers to Munnar make it a point to visit Top Station to enjoy the panoramic view it offers of the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. It is among the prime spots in Munnar to enjoy the Neelakurinji flowers blooming over a vast area.
Munnar has a legacy of its own when it comes to the origins and evolution of tea plantations. Taking account of this legacy and to preserve and showcase some of the exquisite and interesting aspects of the genesis and growth of tea plantations in Kerala’s high ranges, a museum exclusively for tea was opened some years ago by Tata Tea in Munnar. This Tea Museum houses artifacts, photographs and machineries; all of which have a story to tell about the origins and growth of tea plantations in Munnar. The museum is located at the Nallathanni Estate of Tata Tea in Munnar and is worth a visit.
How to Reach :
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, via Aluva - Munnar Rd, about 108 km
Nearest railway station: Aluva about 108 km and Angamali, about 109 km
From Kochi: Munnar is located about 130 km from Kochi, along the National Highway 49 and the road trip takes about 4.5 hours. From Madurai: Munnar is roughly at a distance of 153 km from Madurai. From Coimbatore: The distance from Munnar to Coimbatore is about 160 km and the journey can take up to 4 hours.