by: Rohit Agarwal
Sprawling green plains, blanketing patches of tea gardens that seem to roll on forever and a wonderland filled with the aroma of spices and herbs, Munnar seems like a kingdom straight out of some enchanted chronicle. Rich in history and stories, it fascinates one’s senses and sends you on that childhood adventure you always wanted to embark on.
Where is it?
Tucked deeply inside the ancient Western Ghats on the west coast of India, Munnar is located in the Idukki district of vibrant state of Kerala along the south-western coast of mainland India. Enclosed within one of the several biodiversity hot-spots in the world, Munnar houses indigenous flora and fauna and with the cool air, water falls, the misty hills with pretty streams and many other reveling sights, you’ll never want to leave this green haven.
Namesake and Brief History:
Literally translated, Munnar roughly means “three rivers”, as it lies on the confluence of three rivers- Muthiparuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. Munnar in Devikulam Taluk is also the largest panchayat in the state, spanning an area of 557 sq. km. Its elevation at 1500 m to 2695 m made it the summer capital of the British in India in the past, and later turned into the tea cultivations we see today. Munnar carries remnants of age old history from the British era, as well as early tea plantations.
What to See:
Munnar lives more than up to the expectations of any eager traveler. Be it the adrenaline lover or the quiet thinker, there is no scarcity of entertainment and surprises.
1. Pothamedu (6 km): Relaxing walks and trekking await you in this location, just barely 6 km from Munnar. It offers excellent views of tea, coffee and cardamom plantations.
2. Devikulam (7 km)
The angler’s delight, one can indulge in trout fishing along with lazing around in this idyllic picnic spot. The sights and cool air of this hill-station take one on relaxing imaginary vacations just as serene and calming as the location itself. The Sita Devi Lake offers a site of peace and tranquility.
3. Pallivasal (8 km): This is the site of Kerala’s first hydro-electric project.
4. Attukal (9km): Also ideal for long treks, this location provides a magical panoramic view of waterfalls and lush green hills.
5. Nyayamakad (10 km): Another exemplary location for trekking and picnics, this site is a priceless haven of waterfalls, some as high as 1600 m.
6. Chithirapuram (10 km): Picturesque tea plantations cradling this charming nook of Munnar, the old style cottages and bungalows will steal your heart. It is the home of the Pallivasal Hydel Power Project.
7. Lock Heart Gap (13 km): Another fitting destination for trekkers, this site is richly envigored with fresh air from the hills alluringly hidden in misty veils and the wide open panoramic outlook makes time stand still.
8. Mattupetty (13 km): The most famous attraction is a highly specialized dairy farm comprising of Indo-Swiss livestock project. Three of the many dairy farms can be visited. There is also the Mattupetty lake and dam, where tourists can avail boat rides and hold picnics in the vicinity.
9. Rajamal (15 km): At 2695 m above sea level, the nearly extinct Nilgiri Tahr can be seen here. Entry passes for optimal prices can be obtained from the wildlife DFO in Munnar. However, visitors are not allowed during the monsoon season. The zone between Rajamal and Eravikulam is occupied by herds of this fast dwindling endemic species, which comprises of about half of their entire global number.
10. Eravikulam National Park (15 km): It is located in Devikulam Taluk and covers an area of 97 sq. km. Besides being the abode of the Nilgiri Tahr, it also houses the highest peak in the western Ghats, the Anamudi (2695 m) in the southern region. Eravikulam National Park was originally meant to protect the Nilgiri Tahr and was declared a sanctuary in 1975; this was followed by its attainment of the status of a national park in 1978. Its numerous endemic species make this a crucial and priceless biological treasure chest. This also houses the “Neelakurinji” or Strobilanthus flower which flowers every 12 years, attracting hordes of tourists. The park is like a miniature version of the best mountain ranges elsewhere in the world.
11. Echo point (15km)
A perfect spot to take kids and delight yourselves in this fascinating natural phenomenon where you can listen to your own voice bellowing back at you!
12. Marayoor Sandalwood Forests (42 km): Famous for its natural sandalwood forests, it is also believed to be a part of the Stone Age civilization dating back to 10,000 BC as evident for various relics and paintings.
Smitten by the vast and luscious destinations in India, Rohit aspires to share the finds of his travels and explorations with other fervent travelers of the globe.