03 Things to do in Munnar
Things to do in Munnar
Mist-clad hills, sprawling tea gardens, unique montane shola grassland and picturesque towns are just a few things that you can expect when you visit the beautiful hill station of Munnar in Kerala. Located at a height of 1600 m above sea level, this quaint town was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government. Munnar, situated at the confluence of three mountain streams—Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala — is part of the Idukki district of Kerala. Given its exquisite beauty coupled with excellent connectivity, this popular hill station is thronged by tourists who have ample things to do in Munnar. Exquisite flora and fauna, pristine valleys and lush green scenery make it an idyllic tourist destination. Munnar has a lot to offer for every kind of traveler whether it is adventure, relaxation or wildlife exploration. Due to its pleasant weather, Munnar can be visited year-round. However, the winter months of December to February are some of the best months to visit this town. During the monsoon months of June-September, one can enjoy a quiet holiday and the summers make it a perfect time for sightseeing and to enjoy the unending tea gardens.
1. Explore Eravikulam National Park
Spread over 97 sq km, this Eravikulam National Park is home to the endangered Nilgiri District or the mountain goat of South India. This national park beholds the unique montane shola grassland ecosystem of the Western Ghats. The park is managed by the Kerala Department of Forest and Wildlife and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna including the Neela kurinji which is a plant endemic to this part of India. The Neelakurinji blooms once in 12 years and the entire region is said to be covered by a carpet of blue flowers which looks stunning. The biological phenomenon of the mass blooming of the Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes) flower last took place in 2006. Located about 15 km from Munnar, Rajamalai is the tourism zone of the national park and one needs to travel by designated buses of the forest department as private vehicles are not allowed here. Apart from the wildlife, the hills offer breathtaking views of the surroundings and Anamudi, the highest peak south of Himalayas, can be witnessed from here. It is also a popular spot for trekking and hence popular with adventure lovers.
2. Discover Mattupetty Dam
One of the main attractions of Munnar, Mattupetty Dam is about 13 km from the town and was constructed in the 1940s for the purpose of water conservation and hydroelectricity generation. A walk along this concrete gravity dam leads you to the lake which is the highlight of the place. This serene lake attracts a number of animals and birds, making it a haven for tourists. One can indulge in activities like boating organised by the Tourism Promotion Council of Idukki (Munnar) and enjoy the pristine beauty of nature around you. You can choose to cruise along the lake in a pedal boat, motor boat or speed boat. The surrounding shola forests offer trekking options to adventure enthusiasts. Around 3 km from Mattupetty is the dairy farm run by the Indo-Swiss Livestock Project. This exclusive farm has several varieties of high-yielding cattle that are reared here.
3. Visit Echo Point and Top Station
Echo Point is yet another picturesque spot that lies about 15 km from Munnar. As the name indicates, this place is famous for its natural echo phenomenon. It is a common sight to witness tourists standing on the bank of the scenic lake, shouting out and grinning in glee to hear their own voices bounce back! The road leading to the lake is lined by small shops selling local handicrafts and souvenirs. Do not forget to visit the little tea stalls that brew the most refreshing cups of tea. It is just what you need in the nippy weather, along with steaming hot pakoras—the experience is heavenly! Higher up lies the popular Top Station which is 32 km from Munnar and is the highest point in the region. A place where you can literally ‘take a walk in the clouds’, it offers panoramic views of the landscape on clear days. However, like all viewpoints, it may be less enjoyable on cloudy days.
4. Enjoy at Anayirankal
The popular picnic spot of Anayirankal is nestled in the lush green tea plantations and beautiful valleys. About 22 km from Munnar, enroute to Thekkady, this is a perfect place to unwind and soak in the natural beauty of the region. One can engage in boating and rafting in the reservoir created by the Anayirankal Dam. The place is well maintained by the tourism department. The experience of speed boating on the tranquil waters in the lap of nature is exhilarating. Many elephants reside in the reservoir area and are often spotted taking a dip in the lake. You can also see elephants roaming on the surrounding green hills. It is ideal to spend a few hours or even half a day at this picnic spot, which also has a cafeteria and other facilities.
5. Soak in the tea culture
As the winding roads lead to carpets of tea plantations neatly laid out on both sides, you know you have arrived in Munnar. The hill station is synonymous with tea and no trip to this destination is complete without visiting the tea plantations or taking a customary picture around the gardens or even buying or sampling some tea. Started around the year 1880, tea cultivation is a prominent industry in Munnar which boasts India’s first ever tea museum at Kannan Devan Hill Plantation’s Nallathanni Estate. It is an enchanting place where one can study the tea history of Munnar. Apart from the museum, you can also visit any one of the multiple tea factories that are open for tourists. They provide you with a guided tour that gives you an insight into the various processes of tea manufacturing along with an explanation of different grades and kinds of tea. You can also shop for tea to take back home as a souvenir.
6. Indulge in birdwatching, biking and nature walk
With a plethora of activities to do, Munnar is an ideal destination for all adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers. Inhabited by over 250 species of indigenous and exotic birds, it is a bird watchers’ paradise. The unending expanse of green cover makes it haven for birds like the Nilgiri pipit, painted bush quail and Nilgiri wood pigeon.
A great way to explore the rugged grasslands of this hill station is by walking. Apart from enjoying nature’s beauty from close quarters, the walk provides an opportunity to gain insight into the local culture, unique village life and of course, a day in the life of the tea estate workers. In addition, there are numerous cycling trails along the serpentine routes through the lush green tea estates. With the Top Station road considered as one of the best roads for cycling, it is yet another way of experiencing the splendid beauty of Munnar. Besides, organized tours are conducted by a number of companies making mountain biking a popular activity here.