Munnar is the city of Tea Gardens. It is also called the Kanan Devan Hills. We can have a beautiful view of tea gardens enrooted to this town. Munnar is probably one of the most beautiful and well planned towns I have ever visited. It is situated in the Western Ghats mountain range in the state of Kerala in India.
Munnar came in the knowledge to the outside world in the 1870s with the visit of the British Resident of the then Travancore kingdom John Daniel Munro. Munro, who visited the place as part of settling the border dispute between Travancore and the nearby state of Madras literally fell for the beauty of the region.
Munro had a great interest in plantation and he found the Kanan Devan hills with high potential for plantation of crops. The then head of the royal family, Kela Varma Raja agreed to lease out Kanan Devan hills to Munro for a handsome payment. This hill station eventually became the resort for the British Raj elite.
It is surrounded by serene hills with tea sprawling, tea plantations that was established in the late 19th century. There is a stone Christ Church, built by the British in 1910, that is adorned with renowned works of stained glass.
There are lot of attractions to explore here. Eravikulam National Park, a habitat for the endangered mountain goat Nilgiri tahr (ibex) is about 10 miles away. You will also find ruddy mongoose and 120 bird species here. It is home to the Lakkam Waterfalls too.
Hiking trails are made to 2,695m-tall Anamudi Peak (South India’s highest peak) and hikes originating at the confluence of three mountain streams. It also attracts adventure travelers craving for paragliding. The elevation of Munnar is 1,532 m above the sea level.
Saravana Bhavan is one of the best family vegetarian restaurants in Munnar and is located in main market area of Munnar. It is easily accessible but little bit off road. We found the food tasty and price reasonable. Till the time we were in Munnar, we were their permanent customer. I, being a Dosa and Idli lover, enjoyed my every meal served on fresh Banana leaves there. If you are a coffee lover then you cannot afford to miss filter coffee in Kerala including Saravana Bhavan’s too.
There is also a very good shop mainly selling local made items just next to it. We picked up lot of things from there that included famous homemade chocolates, spice drops, different types of body massage oils, soaps, etc.
Kanan Devan Tea Museum
Before entering this Tea Museum you are required to pay entry fees. The visit begins with an informative 25 min documentary video about the history of tea cultivation in Munnar. It is quite interesting to know the history of Kanan Devan hills. The place has 2-3 halls which display old machines, antiques and few rare pictures from history. There are also some items of the Planters from early 20th century.
There is a small tea production unit which shows how tea is converted from leaf to the tea that we use. It is nice to go with kids if you want to show them how tea is produced. Thereafter, you enter the tea shop where the wide selection of teas is available and you can even purchase from there.
They also have a carpentry workshop where they fashion old tea bushes into abstract forms and apply varnish for a good finish. These abstract forms are quite appealing and can be a great souvenir of your visit to Munnar.
We enjoyed speed boating at this place. One should certainly go to this place if they want to enjoy boating. There is a variety of Boat Rides which is offered here. With ride if you are lucky enough you may spot elephant herd near. It is a very beautiful place where you can see Emerald River flowing between mountains covered in conifers. The top of the mountains covered by clouds sometimes and sometimes by clear blue sky.
Echo point is located just few kms ahead from Mattupetty dam. The beauty of Echo Point is also the scenic view. We went there in the month of June therefore the water body in that area was dried up. Had there been enough water, the beauty of the place would have got enhanced multiple times. You may also enjoy shouting out loud at the conifers to get back the echo of your voice.
Although many points of Munnar can become Photo point but this point is on the road side only. Most of the tourists stop here for photos as there is no need to plan for the visit to place separately. This place is on your way towards Mattupetty dam. It means that you can get a combo of Mattupetty dam, Echo point and Photo point in one go. We spotted a herd of elephants in the vicinity accompanied by baby elephant.
They were enjoying a mud bath. It was a beautiful sight and you may like to get closer but you need to be careful and not to venture out too near. Contrary to general belief elephants run very fast and if you mess with their kid, you might be running hard to save your life even with your vehicle.
We took an early morning elephant ride here but I would not recommend you to take it especially with the small kids. It was little scary for us and although we laugh now when we remember it, we almost prayed to safely reach the destination. The elephant seat is covered with polythene to protect seat from rain and when the elephant turns back downhill on its walking slope you tend to slip forward crushing the person sitting in front. You may try to pull back but the slope does not permit you.
People generally give this falls a miss, but probably, they are missing the good adrenalin rush. This waterfall is enrooted to Munnar from Cochin with a small deviation. The falls offer good photo opportunities. But, do not attempt to get into the falls, as it is too dangerous. As it is you can’t get very close to the falls as it is barricaded. Best to admire this falls from afar and not to ignore the warning placed there.
Periyar Tiger Reserve
Just the mention of tiger gives you the mixed emotion of excitement and terror. This is exactly what happened as soon as we stepped in Periyar Sanctuary (Thekkady), the oldest wildlife sanctuary in Kerala, which is also credited with having the largest protected area. The 925 sq km sanctuary is gifted with a unique landscape which serves as the habitat for numerous flora and fauna in amazing varieties.
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The sanctuary is known for an attractive boating option in the scenic lake. During the ride travelers can have a variety of sights of elephant herds frolicking in the lake, deer herds grazing on the grasslands, birds roosting in trees and many more. The sanctuary is about 110 km away from Munnar and one of the twenty-seven tiger reserves in India. Now a days it is excellently commercialized and promises to give you the real jungle experience through well designed packages like Bamboo Grove, Nature Walk, Jungle Camp, Bamboo Rafting, Tiger Trail, etc.
In the end, I would say that the place will take your breath away and it is indeed as beautiful as shown in the captivating songs of “Chennai Express”. The tea plantations are so well planned that it looks like someone has drawn the landscape by hands. It is lush green everywhere due to frequent rains and climate is pleasant.
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You can pick up genuine spices at reasonable rates here. The list of items that can fill your shopping cart is long enough starting from Organic tea, Cardamom, Cloves, Black Pepper, cashew nuts, homemade chocolates, etc. If you have time you can enjoy many other attractions here like Rose Gardens, Traditional Cultural Shows like Kathakali and Kalarippayattu (Indian Martial Arts) where you can see how the makeup is applied to the artist, visit more than 100 years old CSI church, and so on.
The beauty of this place is such that even if you don’t do anything you will still not forget the drive to this heavenly place. Do visit if you want to see one of the nature’s best of Incredible India.
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