Munnar is one of the most beautiful parts of South India. Located in the Western Ghats Mountains in the tropical state of Kerala, Munnar is a hill station in the middle of green and lush tea plantations, forests and spice farms. Munnar hotels are popular destinations for honeymoons and for anyone who wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and relax in scenic surroundings. There are luxurious resorts as well as cheap hotels in Munnar for all types of holidaymakers.
Kerala is called God’s own country and it is one of the most special tourist destinations in India. The Western Ghats mountain range separates the coastal strip that forms Kerala from the rest of South India, and this is where Munnar is located at 1600 meters altitude from sea level. Members of the British colonial administration in India used to retreat to this hill station to escape the summer heat in South India, and today Munnar is still a very popular destination especially when the summer heat becomes unbearable in lower altitudes around April and May.
Things to Do in Munnar
The Western Ghats are known as one of the main tea, coffee and spice growing regions in this part of India. The mountain climate is perfect for growing tea and coffee, and Munnar itself is a centre of the South Indian tea industry. Miles of tea plantations spread around the town and visitors are welcome to stop at many plantations, to see how tea is grown and to sample local varieties. India is one of the main tea growing countries in the world and the Munnar region in Kerala is one of the important tea producing areas in the country along with Assam and Darjeeling in the northeast of India.
Tea, or chai, is the most popular drink in India and much of India’s tea comes from this region. You can sample local tea, made with lots of milk and sugar, at tea stalls, restaurants and everywhere you go. Sometimes tea is flavored with spices that grow in the region’s spice plantations, from cardamom and cinnamon to ginger and black pepper, and is then called masala chai. Many resorts and hotels at Munnar are located in the middle of tea plantations or spice farms, and often arrange visits to the plantations.
Coffee and spices grow in the hills too, and even though tea is India’s main beverage, South India’s residents like their coffee too. Local grown spices include the exotic ginger, cinnamon, black pepper and Kerala’s specialty, green cardamom. Spices are grown for local use but also for export. When visiting the area, don’t forget to try local food that is spiced up with the exotic flavors of cinnamon and cardamom.
Three mountain streams (the Kudala, the Nallathanni and the Mudrapuzha) meet in Munnar and contribute to the picturesque scenery. Munnar is a great area for hiking, and trekking paths lead through green forests, idyllic mountain scenery and small villages. The Anamudi peak at 2695 meters altitude is South India’s highest peak and famous amongst trekkers in this area. Day treks and longer trips are arranged by many hotels in Munnar and by local travel agents.
Places to Visit around Munnar
The Mattupetty Lake and the Kundala Lake are picturesque spots for daytrips and for picnics. Both are surrounded by tea plantations. In Mattupetty you can also take a boat trip on the Mattupetty Dam. Pothamedu, just outside Munnar, is known for green and lush scenery, perfect for walking and hiking, and for cardamom, coffee and tea plantations. Devikulam is another nearby hill station and is famous for the pretty Sita Devi Lake. Attukal has some idyllic waterfalls and the Rajamala area is a good place for spotting the local mountain goat, the rare Nilgiri tahr. For more wildlife spotting, head to the Eravikulam National Park, just 15 kilometres from Munnar and a good place for a short trek or even a relaxed walk.
Munnar Travel Information
The nearest airports are in Madurai and Coimbatore. The easiest way to travel is to rent a car with a driver. If you have booked a hotel in Munnar, ask if the hotel can recommend a travel agent for booking a car. Many Munnar hotels also offer airport pick-ups for their guests.
The main tourist season in Munnar is between August and May. The southeast monsoon brings heavy rain to the area from June, and the rains can continue until September. After the monsoon the nature is at its greenest and most beautiful. If you are traveling to the region around November and December, keep in mind those nights can be cold in this altitude and temperatures can drop down to 0 degrees Celsius. Remember to pack warm clothes and some waterproof clothing and shoes for visiting Munnar.