A trip to Munnar is a journey through the most picturesque turfs of Kerala. Set at an altitude of 1600 metres in the lap of the Western Ghats, Munnar was the favored summer capital of the south during the colonial British days. The breathtakingly beautiful Munnar is not only just South India's most sought-after hill station, but also a centre of Kerala's premier tea-growing district, aptly known as the High Range. The idea is not abstract, and one can feel it in the unbelievably pure air of the estates. In Tamil, 'moon aar' literally means 'three rivers', a reference to the mountain streams around whose confluence the town grew; Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. Unending expanse of tea plantations - pristine valleys and mountains- exotic species of flora and fauna in its wild sanctuaries and forests - aroma of spice scented cool air - yes! Munnar has all these and more. There are wild animals to spot, golf to be played, some trout fishing to be done..the list is endless. But if lazing around is all you want to do on your holiday, Munnar's idyllic landscape let you do that too. It is a place you would love to visit. It is a place you would wish never to leave! Beware, Munnar is addictive!
From the bottommost curves, as you will drive upto Munnar, you will see thousands of hectares of lush, manicured tea fields forming an irresistible canvas of green. Proud eucalyptus plantations, which fuel the tea factories in the vicinity, swaying gently in the wind only add to the beauty of the landscape. And shola trees hug the mist-sheeted hill-sides, housing varied and no doubt, many endangered species of wildlife. Trek through the green gardens and if lucky, you can even spot a pack of wild elephants, play a round of golf in the afternoon and engage your evenings doing some leisure fishing before lazing by the bonfire in the night and sipping a cup of fine Malayali tea. Don't forget to pay a visit to the nearby tea factories - engaged in producing one of the best flavors in the world using simple and archaic techniques. One can also visit the nearby tea museum, housing an interesting array of relics and artifacts from the past as well as several historic photographs and pieces of period furniture. Run by Tata Tea, this museum surely provides an insightful and educative experience to a layman.
Plan to spend at least three days in Munnar. Head for the Eravikulam National Park on the first day itself. Nestling on the crest of the Anamalai Ranges,15 km from Munnar, this vast arena of tropical evergreen forest is the house of Nilgiri Tahr, a highly endangered species of mountain goats in the world. Walk over to reach the popular Director's Leap viewpoint. Situated at 7000-ft above the sea level, this pad provides a breathtaking view in its extent and diversity. In the afternoon, hire a taxi and visit the Athukad Falls - one of Munnar's major lures. Located deep in a valley 8 km from Munnar, just off Kochi Road, this serene stream of white water turns into a roaring, untamed cascade when the monsoon peaks in July-August.
On the second morning, drive to Top Station for a picturesque view of the plains of Tamil Nadu., and fit in a memorable cruise at either Mattupetty Dam or Sethuparvathipuram Dam en route. Situated at a height of 1700 mt and 8 km away from Munnar, Mattupetty is famous for its highly specialized Indo-Swiss dairy stock project. Over 100 varieties of high yielding cattle are reared here. Catch a bus from the main bus stand and spend the evening at Gravel Banks, located well off the beaten track in a picturesque pristine surrounding, 25 km from Munnar. Here you can try your hands on trout fishing, but don't forget to get a permit and bring your own equipment. On the third day, you can either drive down to the state-owned sandal plantation at Marayoor or jeep up the dizzying heights of Kollukkumallay, the highest tea garden in the country, situated at 7,900 ft above sea level.
It is for sure that you can't find fresher and better quality tea anywhere else - it is after all grown and produced locally, to the highest standards perfected over the last 125 years. Visit the Tata Tea Sales Outlet, dwelling in the heart of Munnar to get the best, available in convenient packs to suit individual tastes. Enjoy the ambiance that pulsates with the rhythm of fine tea, as if you are in a cup of fragrance. One can also get aromatic oils such as eucalyptus, lemon grass and citriodora. Next to tea, luscious strawberries and spices are Munnar's better known specialties. Tourists can visit the Shristhi Welfare Centre, run by Tata Tea, in Nullatanini Estate, a 7-min drive from Munnar. Buy some of the delicious High Range strawberries and you couldn't resist yourself from eating one right on the spot. Spices are ubiquitous all over Munnar, and shops often offer discounts on large purchases. Visit the DTPC stall to get a good variety of Black Pepper and Cardamom.