Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Munnar –Kashmir of South India!


While Kerala itself is known for its magical beauty, Munnar in the Idukki district is famous as one of the most visited hill stations in God's own country. Located in the Western Ghats at a towering height of 6,000ft, this scenic hill station is a true paradise for travellers, visitors and tourists. Munnar is a town in the Western Ghats mountain range in south India’s Kerala state. A hill station and former resort for the British Raj elite, it's surrounded by rolling hills dotted with tea plantations established in the late 19th century. Eravikulam National Park, a habitat for the endangered mountain goat Nilgiri tahr, is also home to the Lakkam Waterfalls and hiking trails and 2,695m-tall Anamudi Peak are the major attractions.

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Coorg, Ooty, Munnar, Wayanad, Kodaikanal, Idukki, Chikmagalur, Savandurga, Yercaud, Coonoor, Kudremukh, Yelagiri, Kotagir and many more are the popular hill stations in South India. Munnar, one of the most famous hill stations, has the world's largest exotic tea estates and is known to be the epitome of natural beauty, and is popularly known as the Kashmir of south India. While Kerala itself is known for its magical beauty, Munnar in the Idukki district is acclaimed as one of the most desirable hill stations in God's own country. Located in the Western Ghats at a towering height of 6,000ft, this scenic hill station is a true paradise for travellers and tourists who love to explore new places.

Munnar rises as three mountain streams merge  - Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. 1,600 m above sea- level, this hill station was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in south India. The top officials would escape the summer heat by relaxing in the hill stations.

Munnar town is situated on the Kannan Devan Hills village in Devikulam taluk and is the largest panchayat in the Idukki district covering an area of nearly 557 square kilometers. One of the most sought after honeymoon destinations in Kerala, Munnar is replete with resorts and lodging facilities that fit a wide range of budget. Sprawling tea plantations, picturesque towns, winding lanes and holiday facilities make this a popular resort town. Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands here is the Neelakurinji. This flower which bathes the hills in blue once in every twelve years will bloom next in 2030. Munnar also has the highest peak in south India, Anamudi, which towers over 2,695 m. 

Munnar came to be known 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.

Munnar is considered to be far better than Ooty and Kodaikanal because of its serene beauty. It is also less crowded as compared to Ooty and Kodaikanal. If you go to Munnar, then Anaimudi is a must visit. It’s the highest point in the peninsular region of south India and is 10-16 km from the Munnar town.

Munnar is a town and hill station located in the Idukki district of the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. Munnar is situated at around 1,600 metres above mean sea level, in the Western Ghats mountain range. Munnar is also popularly called the Kashmir of south India and is a favourite honeymoon destination. One of nature's most mesmerizing creations, the Attukal Waterfalls in Munnar is truly spectacular. Set amidst looming hills and the thick forests, this scenic spot is ideal for a family picnic or a romantic evening stroll. Tourists are mesmerized by this panoramic view of natural beauty.

The aesthetically mounted heads of tigers — relics from the days of the British Raj — can still be seen in most planters' clubs in Munnar, Kodaikanal and the Nilgiris. The national animal, the tiger ('Panthera tigris') is the largest of the cat species. Tea County Munnar is a gorgeous honeymoon resort in Munnar which is located amidst the dense forests making you capture the stunning sights of the rolling hill plantations. The soothing sound of chirping birds and the misty fragrance of vibrant flora makes it one of the best places to stay in Munnar for couples and others.

The former Kunda Valley Railway in Munnar was destroyed by a flood in 1924, but tourism officials are considering reconstructing the railway line to attract tourists. This will make it very easy and convenient for tourists to reach Munnar.

Most of the native flora and fauna of Munnar have disappeared due to severe habitat fragmentation resultant from the creation of the plantations. However, some species continue to survive and thrive in several protected areas nearby, including the new Kurinjimala Sanctuary to the east, the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Manjampatti Valley and the Amaravati reserve forest of Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary to the north east, the Eravikulam National Park and Anamudi Shola National Park to the north, the Pampadum Shola National Park to the south and the proposed Palani Hills National Park to the east.These protected areas are especially known for several threatened and endemic species including Nilgiri Thar, the grizzled giant squirrel, the Nilgiri wood-pigeon, elephant, the gaur, the Nilgiri langur, the sambar, and the Neelakurinji (that blossoms only once in twelve years).

There are four major directions in Munnar - Mattupatty Direction, Thekkedy Direction, Adimaly Direction and Coimbatore Direction. The climate and tea plantations are the main reason for tourism in Munnar. Tourists come here to see the plush green carpet that is strewn all around. The tourist count increases every year with a major number during the months of April–May when summer vacations begin across the country. In 2018, a large number of tourists and visitors arrived during the months of August–September to see the spectacle of the Kurinjiin full bloom, which happens once in 12 years.

For tourists on the move, short of time and to explore many more places, a two day trip is ideal to cover Munnar. Day one is spent to view and soak in the panoramic view, atmosphere and beauty of the place. Day 2-  after breakfast, sightseeing travel to Echo point, Mattupetty lake and Dam Eravikulam National Park , Tea Museum, Kundala dam, Photo point, Shooting point, Top station, Tea plantation tour , Hydel park, Rose garden, Bating National park , elephant ride etc.

It's absolutely trouble-free to find hotels in OYO Rooms. Most of the resorts will permit couples, along with their local ID proof. If on a vacation with your partner, book a couple friendly rooms in a good hotel in Munnar, for absolute privacy and fun. One of the best restaurants in Munnar, the Saravana Bhavan, it’s known for its delicious assortment of typical South Indian dishes like Dosas, Idlis, Appams and Sambhar.

There are many resorts in Munnar to suit your budget and you can choose from a wide range. Another place suggested for a comfortable stay in Munnar, is Pallivasal Chithirapuram located at the most scenic location in Munnar, the bonus is one can enjoy the beautiful tea plantation view from the hotel rooms. The hill station does not witness snowfall and even then numerous tourists throng Munnar in the month of December and January during Christmas and New Year. Ideal time to visit Munnar is December to February: The winter months are by far the best time to visit Munnar since the weather is pleasant. March to May. March marks the beginning of summer in Munnar.

Blame it on the climate change, the intensity of snowfall have reduced in the past few years but the temperature still goes downhill below zero degrees sometimes even  in the middle of February in Munnar. Winter here is from September to November and January to March. The best time to visit Munnar would be October to November and from January to May when it is comfortably cold. There may be occasional rains which will give a misty experience of Munnar.

Here are our pick of four Munnar specialties which you can buy before you head back home from your enjoyable Munnar trip – fresh Spices, Tea, is perhaps the best Munnar specialty that you should take back from your visit, local Chocolates which are delicious with its own special flavour and Aromatic Oils.

You can reach Munnar - By Air: The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, which is around 125 km away from Munnar. The Coimbatore and Madurai airports in Tamilnadu are about 165 km from Munnar.

By Rail: The nearest railway station is located at Kochi or Ernakulam.

By Road: Once you land in Kochi, Aluva or Ernakulam you can hire a cab or take a bus to Munnar. Kochi to Munnar Taxi fare – you can choose from the wide range of Kochi to Munnar car rental options, approximately Rs 2000, 2500 to 3000 one way, depending on the model of the vehicle, AC Sedan, AC SUV large to AC Minibus.

Munnar is well connected by both, national highways, state highways and rural roads. The town lies in the Kochi - Dhanushkodi National highway (N.H 49), about 130 km from Cochin, 31 km from Adimali, 85 km from Udumalpettu in Tamil Nadu and 60 km from Neriyamangalam. Distance from major cities,from Kochi - Ernakulam it’s about 150 km by road.

Also read: Say Cheers in Bengaluru! *   All about food

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