Munnar – the honeymoon destination of Kerala, the mountain charm of Kerala, Kashmir of South India, we can find many more alluring adjectives used for Munnar. Such is the charm of this hill station. This is the only place in the southern state of Kerala where we can expect snowfall in winter months. Tucked away in a cozy corner of Kerala, and surrounded by Western Ghats, Munnar beckons all holiday-goers. In this Munnar travel guide, we will explore the attractions of Munnar, how to reach there, and what to buy from there.
Before learning more about Munnar, let us see how Munnar got its name. Munnar translated into Malayalam means ‘three rivers.’ Munnar is located at the confluence of three mountain rivers, Muthirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. This hill station is at an elevation of 1,600 meters above the sea level. When India was under British reign, Munnar was their most loved summer destination in the South. Even today, we can see a few colonial structures adorning this sleepy town. Munnar is also home to the famous Kannan Devan Tea brand. Here in Munnar, we find the much talked about Neelakurinji flowers that bloom once in 12 years! During the flowering season, the hills of Munnar turn into a blue paradise. It is a spectacle that attracts tourists from far and wide. The next flower bloom is expected to be in 2030.
How to Reach Munnar
By air: Munnar has no air connectivity. The nearest airport is Kochi International Airport, which is at a distance of around 110 kilometres by road. Kochi Airport is well-connected to most major cities of India. Although the pandemic caused many regular flights to halt, things are now inching back to normal.
By train: Munnar does not have rail connectivity either. The nearest railway station is at Kochi or Ernakulam. As Ernakulam is a junction for most major trains running down south, rail connectivity is excellent. You can hire a cab from the railway station to reach Munnar.
By road: The only way to reach Munnar is by road. It is at a distance of 125 kms from Kochi, and 280 kms from Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala. KSRTC operates bus services from Kochi to Munnar. You can hop on to privately operated buses, or hire cabs as well. As per our Munnar travel guide, a hired cab is the best option. You will need close to 4 hours to reach Munnar from Kochi. You will enjoy the drive through scenic paths and winding roads.
Tourist Attractions in and Around Munnar
Greatest attraction of Munnar is its pleasant climate. As you can expect in any hill station, the weather remains cool and comfortable throughout the year. In the winter months, temperature may occasionally drop to single digits. Summers are warm, but you won’t feel the sweltering heat as in the other parts of the state. During monsoons, the hills will be mist-laden and will have an ethereal beauty. So whatever season you choose for the Munnar trip, you will enjoy it. Munnar travel guide has a list of tourist attractions that you can explore in Munnar.
Tea Gardens of Munnar
According to our Munnar travel guide, a visit to the tea gardens is a must-do when you are in Munnar. It is no exaggeration to say that Munnar is all about tea. Green carpeted hills are the first sights that welcome you in Munnar. There is a tea plantation in every turn that you take. In fact, there are more than 50 tea estates in Munnar. Whether you are a tea lover or not, you will definitely enjoy the beauty of emerald green tea plantations.
When in Munnar, you can take a guided tour to walk inside tea plantations, and a visit to the tea factories as well. Most resorts in Munnar offer such packages as a part of their itinerary for guests. You can walk inside the lush greenery of tea leaves, and take some snaps too. Sometimes, they allow guests to pluck tea leaves along with the workers. A visit to a tea factory will give you insights about the process of making tea. You will be amazed at the steps that the tiny leaflets undergo to make way to your morning cup.
A Visit to the Tea Museum
According to our Munnar travel guide, a visit to the KDHP Tea Museum is one of the most amazing things to do in Munnar. If you are a tea aficionado, this is a must-visit for you. This museum belongs to the Kannan Devan Hills Plantations Company. They opened the museum in 2005, as a part of the initiative to familiarize the general public about the different aspects of tea plantations. This museum is the first of its kind in the country.
In the museum, you will see several precious souvenirs from the tea-laden past of Munnar hills. It showcases rare artefacts such as the first tea roller of 1905, and the antique tea processing machine using a rotor vane. You can also see the rail engine of the Kundala Valley Railway. A visit to the museum will give you a complete idea about the history of tea plantations in Munnar. There is a miniature tea factory attached to the museum where you can watch the various steps involved in processing of tea leaves.
Eravikulam National Park
Located at a distance of 7 kms from Munnar town is another gem of attraction, Eravikulam National Park. This National Park consists of high altitude grasslands and hillocks. Eravikulam is famous for spotting the Nilgiri Tahr, an endangered species of mountain goat. This National Park is also home to Anamudi, which is the highest mountain peak of the Western Ghats. This is one of the popular spots for capturing the beauty of Neelakurinji flowers as well.
For visiting the Eravikulam National Park, you need to buy entry tickets. Rates are different for Indian citizens and foreign nationals. Private vehicles are not allowed inside the park. Safari vehicles are available, which will take you to a particular point. If you wish to go deeper, you have to explore on foot. You are free to explore on your own, but within the permitted limits. There are boards displaying the areas which are off the limits for tourists. Nilgiri tahr is one of the animals that can be spotted here if you are lucky enough. The Park is open on all days, from 8 AM to 4:30 PM. It remains closed during the mating season of Nilgiri Tahr. It usually happens around February or March, so better make proper enquiries before planning your visit.
Munnar travel guide will be incomplete without a mention of Devikulam. It is yet another laidback locale at a distance of 8 kms from Munnar town. Though the place is more or less similar to its neighbour Munnar, Devikulam has its own unique charm. The name Devikulam can be translated as ‘The pond of the Goddess.’ Sita Devi Lake in Devikulam is the reason behind the name of this place. If the legends are true, Sita Devi, the wife of Lord Rama, bathed in this lake. The water in the lake is considered to be holy. This water has a therapeutic value as well.
As everywhere in Munnar, tea gardens are the ubiquitous presence in Devikulam too. Sight of endless green blanketed hills is a feast for the eyes. There are several other tourist attractions too in Devikulam. Pallivasal waterfalls is a major one among those. Though it is not a huge waterfall, the sight of bubbling water gushing down at enormous speed is thrilling, for sure. Lush greenery surrounding the waterfall makes it prettier. This is ideal for short picnics during your stay in Munnar.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
Chinnar Wildlife Santuary is a fulfilling destination for all animal lovers and nature lovers. It is a wildlife sanctuary located at a distance of 50 kms from Munnar. The Sanctuary shares its borders with the Eravikulam National Park. This park is the only rehabilitation centre in India for the Indian star tortoise. This is also home to animals like spotted deer, Indian leopard, grey langur and Nilgiri tahr. Located at a distance of 9 kms from Chinnar is Marayoor, which is famous for its sandalwood forests. According to our Munnar travel guide, you can have a quick glimpse at Marayoor as well during your Chinnar tour. Marayoor is also famous for its rock paintings that date back to the Stone Age. In Marayoor, you can witness the making of Marayoor Sharkkara (jaggery).Marayoor jaggery is quite popular as it is handmade, and adheres to strict quality standards.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect getaway for people who love trekking. A drive of almost 2 hours from Munnar will take you to the entrance of the Sanctuary. Guided treks are the only way to explore the Sanctuary, as you are not allowed to venture out alone. Thoovanam Waterfall is a hidden gem tucked inside the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. A guided trek of three kms inside the forest will take you to this fabulous waterfall. Areas near the waterfall may be treacherous, so it is better to listen to the instructions given by your guide. Most guides are the members of the local tribal community who know the forest like the back of their hands. Their knowledge of indigenous flora and fauna will make your trek worth every bit.
Top Station Munnar
As the name Top Station suggests, this is a scenic location perched high above the hills. Although it is located in Theni district of Tamil Nadu, the entrance to Top Station is only through Kerala. The place got its name as it was the uppermost point for the Kottagudi Aerial Ropeway, and also the terminal station for the Kundala Valley Railway. These transport systems no longer exist, as they were destroyed in the great floods that devastated Kerala in 1924. But Top Station still continues to attract tourists.
Top Station is located at a distance of 17 kms from Munnar town. It is the ideal location for watching the Neelakurinji flowers when they are in bloom. Even without flowers, the view from the viewpoint is breath-taking. You will see the sprawling mountains and valleys all around you. A short walk is needed to reach the view point, but once you are there, you will feel that it was worth the effort. The only thing to do in Top Station is to sink in the beauty of the surroundings. If you are lucky, you will get a mist-free view!
Mattupetty Dam and Dairy Farm
Mattupetty is another beautiful neighbourhood of Munnar. Just like Munnar, Mattupetty is also all about tea gardens and natural beauty. It is located at a distance of 13 kms from Munnar. Mattupetty Dam was constructed as a part of the Pallivasal Hydro-electric project. The Dam and the lake are the biggest attractions in Mattupetty. You can avail boating facilities at the lake. There are speed boats, pedal boats and Shikaras available at the lake. Boating in this lake may be like in any other lake, but it offers breath-taking views of tea gardens all around.
Indo Swiss Dairy farm is another major attraction in Mattupetty. This project was started with an intention to develop an exclusive cattle breed that can adapt to the local climate of Munnar. This is a private farm, and currently tourists have no permission to enter the premises. But any passing tourist can watch the cattle grazing in the lush green grasslands of the farm, from outside the perimeters of the farm. Even from far, the sight is lovely. You may be lucky enough to catch the sight of a few wild elephants as well.
A trip to Thekkady is often a part of Munnar itinerary for most tourists. Although a good 85 kms distance separates both the places, Munnar and Thekkady go hand in hand while beckoning tourists. Thekkady is a small town near the Periyar National Park. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is an evergreen forest where wild animals roam freely and fearlessly. Tourists have several ways to get close to the jungle inmates. Boat rides in the Thekkady Lake may give you a glimpse of the animals who come to the shores for their quota of drinking water.
There are several action-packed tour options in Thekkady. If you wish to get close to the wild beasts, you can go for jungle walks or jungle night treks. If you are happy with the tamed ones, elephant bathing and feeding sessions are for you. Tourists can also go on jeep safari to dig deep into the forest. If you wish to know more, read about the amazing things to do in Thekkady.
What Should You Buy From Munnar?
No tour is complete without a shopping cart. Whether you are in a hill station or on a snowy mountain, you will find some souvenirs and knick-knacks to fill your bag with. So when you tour Munnar, what are the best things to take back home? Our Munnar travel guide has one definite answer. Tea, tea, and more tea. Munnar tea factories produce several tea varieties such as green tea, white tea and oolong tea. Some of these specialty teas are highly expensive too. During your visit to tea factories and tea estates, you can buy a few packets directly from them. Some tea factories and resorts arrange tea tasting sessions for tourists. So take your sip, and buy your favorite.
Munnar and its neighboring villages are rich in spice farms. So this is another item that you can buy when in Munnar. Spices grown here are of the finest quality. Major spices that you can buy from Munnar are cardamom, pepper, clove, cinnamon, coffee, vanilla, and nutmeg. The next item in our to-grab list will bring a sweet smile on your face. Chocolates! Munnar has lots of shops selling homemade chocolates. They come in different sizes and shapes, and are tasty too. And if you are touring to Marayoor, do not forget to buy fresh jaggery from there.
Hotels and Resorts in Munnar
There is no need to say that Munnar has countless resorts and homestays that suit every budget. From five star resorts to budget stays, Munnar is replete with tourist stays. If you wish to have a lavish stay, you can opt for resorts such as the Dream Catcher Plantation Resort, The Tall Trees Munnar, Club Mahindra Munnar, Amber Dale Luxury Hotel, Parakkat Nature Resorts, or Ragamaya Resort. You have the option to choose from a number of pocket-friendly resorts and homestays too. Palm Tree Inn, Sea Grace Cottage, Tulsi Village Retreat, and Munnar Inn are a few of them. Some of the high end resorts have tree houses and other specialty cottages. Most resorts offer packages which include visits to tea gardens and tea factories, tea tasting sessions, chocolate tasting sessions, herping tours, trekking tours etc. The best thing to do is to mention your favorite activity and search for the resorts that offer them.