Just today I was thinking of getting into a train and set out for a long unplanned journey. How exciting that would be!! Can’t tell you how much I am missing the mountains given that I have been stuck at my home for 7-8 months now. Hence, thought of completing the blog on my Munnar trip. Atleast this way I will get to recap my memories. We visited Munnar in February 2020; just a few weeks before the lockdown started in India.
Munnar is a hill station in the Western Ghats mountain range in Kerala, India. The entire town is surrounded by luscious tea plantations. It is also a very popular tourist attraction because of its diversity of nature. You will get to see mountains surrounded my misty clouds, enjoy the serene views around the lake banks and also soak your eyes with the greenery around.
I am not someone who likes to put a tick mark on all the tourist spots recommended in Google when I visit a place just for the sake of it. I like to take my own time to explore, relish and cherish the beauty of a place. So please expect the travel guide to Munnar to be written in a same tone 🙂 Here we begin!
How to reach Munnar: Munnar does not have an airport. The closest airport is at Kochi. So anybody can take a fight till Kochi and then take a cab till Munnar. Kochi to Munnar takes almost 3.5 – 4 hours by road including the time to explore a few roadside tourist spots or just for a quick stop to enjoy the freshness around. Also, you can take a bus directly till Munnar from Bangalore or nearby cities but the bus journey is around 11-12 hours which can be difficult for elderly. In our case we visited Alleppey first. So we took a cab from Alleppey to munnar. We started sharp at 9 am from the alleppey boat jetty and stopped 3-4 times to visit the beautiful spice gardens on the way. We had our lunch at a place called ‘Rasa’. If you are looking for authentic Kerala thali or want to eat on banana leaves please pay this place a visit.
Finally we reached our hotel in Munnar at around 4 pm. Usually Alleppey to Munnar takes 3.5 -4 hours but because we stopped at many places on our way it took us more.
Where did we stay: We stayed in Le Celestium which was pretty close to market yet at a relatively quieter place. The staff and managers were very helpful and they gave us a room at the top floor with a mountain view and also quickly arranged for a local taxi for sight seeing and airport drop at a reasonable price. The room and the washroom was very clean and came with 2 balconies where you can just sit and enjoy the view.
First Day at Munnar: Our hotel was at a walking distance from the KDFC Floriculture Centre where you will get to see loads of beautiful flowers, exotic cactus, rare plants etc. Since we reached Munnar at 4 pm we just walked around and found this place within 1 km radius of of our hotel. There was a very minimal entrance fee (Most probably 40-50 Rs per person; not sure).
We came back to our hotel and ordered some snacks. For dinner we just went out and found a decent place called Gurubhavan and ordered a kuttu paratha which was mentioned as a special dish of the restaurant. Now let me warn you here; it is nothing like a usual paratha or bread rather it was like paratha crumbs along with egg and chicken chunks and I guess you can spot the chillies from the photo itself. It was SPICY; so eat at your own risk :p
Second Day at Munnar: So the hotel arranged for a sedan for entire day sightseeing at INR 1500. After breakfast we started our tour. Now I need to mention that the taxi driver gave us tour packages of 3 types but we could not visit the Eravikulum National Park as it was February and the park was closed for some reason (They said it was the animal’s mating season but I am not sure. So do check before planning in case you want to go to Eravikulum for sure).
We saw plenty of tea plantations on our way and the view of the mountains, occasional clouds and the greenery was just breathtaking. Munnar’s weather is really unpredictable. It can look all sunny and bright and suddenly it can get cloudy and start raining. We stopped here and there and clicked some pictures.
Our first stop was at Blossoms national park which is again a botanical garden with lots of exotics cactus, flowers, plants. They also had a shop inside the park where we bought coconut oil, spices, tea samples, homemade chocolates etc. I must say the price was cheaper if you compare it to online prices. I have been using the coconut oil and spices and all of them are really good.
Next stop was the Mattupetty Dam. The car dropped us outside the dam and we took a walk around the place. The dam is used to conserve water to create hydroelectricity. The view was really serene and the cool breeze took away all my stress. The great part was that on the other side of the dam you can see the tea plantations as well. We went a bit uphill inside the tea plantations. There were also boating activities available.
We next visited the Kundala Lake which also offered a very relaxing view on our way towards Top Station.
We did a lot of souvenir shopping in between. One tip to share here. The street side shops outside the Mattupetty dam were particularly delightful as they offered us good discounts and I found some knick-knacks for gifting which I didn’t see anywhere else in Munnar:)
We also visited Echo point which was basically a valley where people were screaming just to hear their sounds back. We saw a lot of college goers there enjoying with there friends. I probably have surpassed that age and hence quietly sat there for a while :p You can give it a skip if you are not interested in hearing Echo of your own voice.
One thing I wanted to mention is that Kerala is a very popular tourist attraction and hence they have actually a very strong selling strategy for all their locally produced products of small sellers. So you will find that the drivers or guides or hotels will always push you to take you somewhere where they can sell you stuff. So be careful and use your own judgement.
Now we started for Top station which is little far from the Munnar town (around 30 kms). It falls between Tamilnadu and Kerala Border. It is famous for the Neelakurinji flowers which blooms once in twelve years. As mentioned earlier weather is Munnar is rather unpredictable and our driver told us to visit top station before 1 pm otherwise it will get too cloudy. Sadly when we reached it was very cloudy. We could only get a glimpse of the panoramic view. The clouds surrounded us and we couldn’t move further.
Now again we started coming down and stopped at the Kannan Devan Hills Tea Museum. We had to buy a ticket to enter the place and see how tea leaves gets processed and also got some useful tips on how to brew different varieties of tea like green, black and white which I had no clue earlier. There were some entire day tea planation tour available as well where they will take you to the plantations and show you how they do it but we did not have time for that. If you want to buy some tea you can buy it from their store outside the museum. Before buying we tasted a few options as well. Again it is worth mentioning that the tea we bought were cheaper than what we get in market for same quality.
We stopped for lunch at a traditional Kerala Home style Food. It was pure veg and they gave us a thali with rice, sambar, curries, papad, some sweet for INR 100.
And that was the end of the day for us. Rest of the day we just took a lazy walk around the markets and had dinner at the hotel.
Next day after breakfast our driver came. We booked a sedan for Munnar to Kochi airport drop for INR 3000. It took us around 5-6 hours to reach the airport. Usually Munnar to Kochi airport takes around 3 and a half hours but we stopped in the mid way, clicked pictures around the tea plants and a few waterfalls which were almost dry. We also stopped at a spice garden again and went inside for a jeep tour of the entire spice plantation. We saw amazing spice plants like cloves, cardamoms etc. and even the neelakurinjee plant (without the flower). You can see the green cloves in my mom’s palm (in the pic below) which turns black after getting sun dried. We bought a bottle of Kerala special herbal hair oil from their shop. The oil turned out to be great later.
So yeah that’s the end of my Munnar trip. Hope you enjoyed reading about it. Happy Sunday 🙂