Munnar (Malayalam: മൂന്നാര്, Tamil: மூணார்) is a town located in Kerala state in the southern Western Ghats in South India. Munnar was a summer resort of British government in South India. It is 1600 m (5400 ft) above sea level. It is pronounced “Moon-aar” meaning “Three rivers” in Tamil and Malayalam. There are in fact three rivers – Madupetti, Nallathanni and Periavaru which flow through this town, but join some distance away from Munnar.
The neelakurinji, a blue flower which blooms only every twelve years, is found in this region. It bloomed last in December 2006. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India, Anamudi, at 2695 m.
The tea plantations and holiday facilities make this a popular hill station in Kerala.
Altitude : 1600 Mts to 1800 Mts above sea level. Temperature : Min. 0c – Max. 25c. Clothing : Warm Clothes and Rain Gear. Tourist Season : August to March
The entire area of Munnar , nearly about 556.44 square kilometer of land really belonged, and still belongs to the royal family of Poonjar and was given on lease for 99 years by the then poonjar King Kerala Varma in 1887.During the British rule of India, Munnar was developed to cultivate tea plants. At that time, most of the people around the area were employed as laborers for plantations throughout the area. In the early stages of development, only Tamilians and a small number of Malayalis inhabited Munnar. From the late 1890s till 1921, tea was transported down from Top Station by 24 inch railway and ropeway to Munnar for transhipment throughout the World.
The region in and around Munnar varies in height from 1,600 meters (5,249 ft) to 1,800 meters (5,906 ft) above mean sea level. Munnar enjoys a salubrious climate. The weather ranges between −5 ℃ (23 ℉) and 10 ℃ (50 ℉) in winter and 15 ℃ (59 ℉) and 25 ℃ (77 ℉) in summer. The tourist season is from August to May. However, even the monsoons are lovely with many streams and rivulets in the area. See:map
Munnar is 140 km (about 4.5 hours) from Kochi. Remember to budget a good 6 hours if you are driving up or down, since the road is blind in some places and there are a lot of trucks and buses that seem to drive as if they own the road. Although, the road is smooth (NH 49), it is narrow, twisty and curvy. Make sure you have a lite meal before you drive to Munnar on these roads, otherwise the next thing you will see on your dash board will be your last meal! Kothamangalam is on the way and is 80 km away from Munnar. Between Kothamangalam and next town “Adimali”, you can experience a beautiful cool drive through a natural forest. Alongside, you can see many refreshing waterfalls.
Once you reach Adimali, Munnar is just 30 kilometers away – but, it will take almost an hour to reach. Around 22 kilometers from Adimali, you can start seeing the tea plantations on both sides of the road and a panoramic view of the western ghats. The view is extremely beautiful during the early mornings.
Munnar can also be reached from Kodai Road, Madurai, Udumalpet. The drive to Munnar involves about 3 hours on the ghat section. There are 17 hair pin bends and traversing them can make you feel nauseated. However if you eat light while travelling you can enjoy the scenery during the drive.
Munnar is about 150 km from Coimbatore. Coimbatore-Munnar route is a very scenic route and though a bit longer is generally considered worth the extra time spent.
- Eravikulam (Rajamalai) National Park: 45 mins from Munnar. See Nilgiri Thar (Hemitragas hylocres) – an endangered species of mountain goats, rolling grasslands and sholas, spread over 97 sq km in the Rajamalai hills, rare flora and fauna, Atlas moth (largest in the world), lion-tailed macaque, leopards, tigers, The Kurichi or Neelakurinji Flowers turn the hills of Rajamalai blue every 12 years. The next bloom will be in 2018. One can actually debate if going to the high peak just to see some goats is worth all the effort or not. However, the walk along the park is very romantic and has some breath taking view.
- Anamudi Peak inside Eravikulam National Park: The highest peak (2695 m) south of the Himalayas, towers over the sanctuary in majestic pride. The slopes of the hills abound in all kinds of rare flora and fauna. The Atlas moth, the largest of its kind in the world, is a unique inhabitant of the park. Other rare species of fauna found here are the Nilgiri Langur, the lion-tailed macaque, leopards, tigers, etc. An ideal place for trekking, facilities are provided here and tourists are allowed to go on foot up to Anamudi.
- Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Mattupetti Dam – 10km from Munnar, this popular picnic spot activities like boating and horse riding and is a great place to spend the day especially if visiting with children. You could take the speed boat ride which is fantastic. It costs 300 INR if you have to hire a boat for you alone. The ride is for 15 minutes. The maximum capacity is 5 persons and you could save some money if you are a group of 4 to 5.
- Mattupetti Indo-Swiss Farm – Better known as Mattupetti (cattle village), Tamil migrant labourers had once upon a time reared cattle here. The cool climate and abundance of fodder made it the ideal location for the Indo-Swiss dairy farm. Established in 1961, the Kerala Livestock Development Board (KLDB) manages this highly specialised dairy farm. The dairy farm is a unique one of its kind with more than 100 varieties of high-yielding cattle being reared.
- Echo Point – 15km from Munnar, on the way to top station from Munnar is a small lake set amidst rolling hills. Every loud call made from a spot on the lake embankment is returned manifold by the echo from the surrounding hills. Young tourists throng to this place to listen to the echoes of their friendship calls.
- Top Station 37km from Munnar on the Kerala and Tamil Nadu border, has great views of the Western Ghats. Top station is the “top”-tourist attraction. This place gives a real ‘above the clouds’ experience. Regular buses go to Top Station (1 hr) from Munnar. A jeep costs Rs 400. The area is known for the Neelakurunji plant, which flowers only once every twelve years. The flower is violet.
- Kundala Lake – This lake is very beautiful amidst lush jungles. Hiring a pedal boat and exploring the lake and its surroundings is an awesome experience. Except at the place you hired the boat, don’t expect to find humans around the lake as it is surrounded by scenic jungles and hills.
- Atukkad Waterfalls – A scenic waterfalls amidst hills and jungles. You can find a road leading to Atukkad Waterfalls on Kochi road (just about 5 km from Munnar). This road is very narrow and needs a lot of experience to drive on.
- Salim Ali (Thattekkad) Bird Sanctuary, There are woodpeckers, Malabar gray hornbills, Ceylon frogmouths, parakeets, and rose-billed rollers. This sanctuary is located 20km from Kothamangalam on the road between Ernakulam and Munnar. There are basic and mid-range hotels in Kothamangalam and an Inspection Bungalow in Boothathankettu. You can take a boat cruise from Boothathankettu to Thattekkad. Admission Foreigners/Indian Rs 40/10.
- Marayoor – Around 40km from Munnar. It is the only place in Kerala with natural growth of sandalwood trees, natural caves with murals, and relics from Later Stone Age civilisation. There is a sandalwood factory of the Forest Department of Kerala and a children’s park extending across one hectare of land under the canopy of a single Banyan tree, all of which attract tourists in large numbers.
- Kolukkumalai Tea Estate – At a height of about 7130 ft, this orthodox tea factory lays claim to being one of the highest in the world. The view of the Western Ghats is absolutely enchanting.
- Blossom Garden – Houses many different varities of flowers. Tourist will definitely take away good memories from this place.
- Water falls – Check out several natural waterfalls on the way to Munnar. These waterfall carry fresh rain water. They provide an excellent place for all tourists to have photo shootout.