Of manicured tea gardens, misty mountains, clear streams and beautiful waterfalls, Munnar’s landscape is exquisite enough to draw people from across the country throughout the year. Originally begun as a spice plantation by a British resident of the then Travancore kingdom, John Daniel Munro, 1,36,600 acres of leased land (from the royal family) later gave way to tea plantations. Munnar tea has never looked back since. With perfect temperatures throughout the year, this is probably one of the very few places in India where every room needs a ceiling fan.
The Eravikulam National Park here is home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr as well. Kanthalloor farms and sandalwood forests of Marayoor offer splendid hiking opportunities, a naturalists’ haven. Spectacular rolling hills with tea plantations at Lockhart Gap and panoramic views of sprawling Bison Valley are bound to take up that much-needed memory space on your camera. Cycle through winding roads in scenic locales, trek up muddy ascents to Kollukumalai Tea Estate or Top Station and camp up here in these serene mist-shrouded mountains – experiences like none other here in Munnar.
Places to visit in Munnar
Strive toward the dusky skies of Munnar on this hike conquering the highest peak around. Slump along rocky mud paths through to trails lush green hill sides paving the way to a viewpoint set among the clouds from where you will gaze upon forests and hilly grasslands as far as the eye can see. The fog and the cool breeze add to its fascination.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary Drive
From clear streams freckled with foot-bearings of smooth rock to being home to a great variety of animals, this thorny scrub forest lets you reminisce in your favourite chapters of ‘The Jungle Book’.Explore to glimpse the ambling elephants and gaur, the notoriously inquisitive langur, mesmerising peacocks overshadowing their better halves, for the prize of spotting the rare Giant Grizzled Squirrel.
Hike across the tea estate of Kolukkumalai to get to the factory where you will get to experience a quick tour of how tea is processed some 2000m above sea level. The sheer magnitude of this industry, if not already prevalent, will be clear at the sight of the behemoth of materials and workers in, and the produce coming out of this factory.
Tea Trail with Lunch
Tea Trail at Munnar
Walk through the tea gardens of Munnar and try your hand at ‘nipping’ the tea leaves building up an appetite for a feast which reaffirms the fact that food really is the closest thing to heavenly pleasure on earth. With an ambience that transcends time, lunch with a retro swag that will make your ancestors proud.
Asian Koel at Shola Reserves
Catch glimpses of a variety of species from the Nilgiri Pipit to the White-bellied Shortwing at the Shola Reserves. You better charge your cameras before going though, because this magical place will not let you stop clicking pictures! With idyllic locations cropping up one after the other, this region is a photographer’s paradise.
Cycle across Munnar
Biking across Munnar offers glorious views
Get on a mountain bike and explore Munnar the best way you possibly can. Pedal away to glory through the lush grasslands past villages shrouded in mist and unfathomable lengths of tea plantations. Because while cooped up in a car, what you are missing out on is the essence of Munnar itself, with the fresh air, the inconspicuous spots of pure bliss, and most of all, the opportunity to really get the feel of this magical place.
For clearer skies, opt for a slot between early September to the end of March. The beaches look their best early November through to March as well, so look out for some spectacular sunsets. Mid-October and November does see a fair amount of rain with the North-West monsoons. Sultry summers set in from April to the end of May with fairly high outdoor temperatures. Monsoons arrive by the first week of June right through to the end of August. Cool temperatures with overcast skies and green all around make this a visit like none other.
Things to carry
• Light clothing and sandals, walking shoes and a light jacket for cooler evenings. • An umbrella if you’re here in the monsoons • Mosquito repellent and sunscreen • Chargers and prescription medication.
Best places to stay in Munnar
• Windermere Estate • Spice Tree • The Talayar Valley Resort • Neelakurinji Resort