Munnar Travel Guide
Munnar is one of Kerala's most enchanting hills stations where your senses will be overwhelmed with absolute greenery, the sweet fragrance of fresh tea and if you are lucky enough, the purely overwhelming beauty of the Neelakurunji flower blooms which occur every12 years.
Amongst the seemingly endless rolling hills of tea and somewhere between the picturesque lakes, mountains and the deep forests, is the tiny town of Munnar which offers stunning scenery, fresh air, pristine beauty and colonial history. In addition to this, the tiny town offers an extraordinary array of activities, from spectacular trekking, national parks, mountain biking, waterfalls, paragliding, and so much more, not to mention all the great places to visit, Attukal, Chithirapuram, Devikulam, Echo Point.......
Things to do
The main reason for coming to this magical place is to exploring the surrounding hills and everyone you meet wants to show you around. Use this to your advantage and bargain hard. Get someone to show you around, you'll see things that few other people will.
1.) Hire a bike. For me, the best thing to do here was to hire a bike and go exploring. There are loads of special bicycle routes to choose from or you can just go where you please. This is truly the best way to get around and also to fully experience the amazing scenery here.
2.)Go Fishing. Devikulam lake is about 3km south west of Munnar and has some good fishing facilities including a hire shop. Note: A permit is required before you start fishing and live bait is not allowed. Contact the local travel agent for more information but just try somewhere else if they say no and try to make you do something else.
3.) Paragliding. Experience India from a whole new perspective and the ultimate thrill of flying. This opportunity is definitely worth every penny as it costs less than half than what it does in the West. The best way to organise this is through one of the local travel agents.
4.)Go Trekking. Due to its mountainous terrain, the Western Ghats are highly regarded as an excellent trekking destination. Expect to see endless waterfalls, massive cliffs, expansive views and quiant little villages.
6.) Buy some tea!!. Forget Tetley's, now is a great opportunity to try and buy some of the freshest and tastiest tea you will ever come across.
6.) Day tripping. Check out this list for all the great excursions and more things to do in and around Munnar. Munnar Excursions
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Where to stay?
There is loads of budget places to stay here as well as some more classier places. Good value accomadation is quite hard to find so your best bet is to find a nice homestay. The centre of the town is noisy and busy so here are a few places that are within walking distance of the town but offer a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere.
At 500 rupees a night Zina cottages offer some of the best value accomadation here. There are only four rooms but they are well furnished and nicely presented and are set in a great location amongst the tea fields.
Set about 15 minutes from the town centre, JJ cottages is comprised of a few well furnished bright cottages which are all slightly different so take a look around each and decide the best. They cost around 400 - 500 rupees a night.
Just next door is a great hotel which is clean and tidy with rooms for about 250-500 INR but I forgot the name, it's very tall - I can tell you that much!
Olive brook is one of the classier places to stay here. Rooms cost between 2500 - 3000 INR.
The accommodation is set in about 10 sqkm of cardamon fields which is a great smell to wake up to in the morning.
The rooms are small and simple but breakfast and dinner are included and a few activities are offered including cookery courses and some trekking.
Getting there and around
Most of the roads leading to and from Munnar are pretty awful and the buses are not much better. They have no windows which is fine during the day, in fact, it's fantastic but at night there are metal shutter which close the bus making it feel like a huge metal coffin. Couple this with the awful roads and you are in for a real adventure!
The closest airport is in Cochin which is about 160 km away and from there you have a choice of about 15 buses a day that go to Munnar so it is not too complicated. Cochin is a major airport in the South of India so has daily flights from all over India.
From Cochin it cost about 70 rupees and takes about 4.5 hours. Pretty much every bus destination around Munnar takes about 6 hours of travel. These include destinations such as Coimbature (Tamil Nadu), Madurai and Kumily.
The main bus station is south of the town but if you are travelling to Munnar then get off at the stop at the bazaar. The buses are always pretty good but be careful during monsoon season as the buses are never on time due to landslips etc.
When to go?
The minimum temperatures during the winter nights can get as low as 0 degree Celsius so it's worth taking some extra jackets. The average rainfall is 110 Inches, most of which falls during the monsoon.
The best time to go is between the months of August/ September to March.
Click here for more information on the Indian Climate
Munnar is situated at the meeting point of three rivers, the Nuthirappuzh, Nallathanni and Kundala. In the language of Tamil Nadu, the word 'Moonu' means three and 'aar' means rivers, I guess that shows how it got its name.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Munnar was leased to Scottish planters who laid the foundations on what is now, one of the biggest tea distributing states in India. The Duke of Wellington is believed to have been the first European visitor to Munnar, in 1790.
Obertime, tea became the main crop and income for the small town. Nowadays a couple of large companies now own and operate the tea estates at Munnar, Tata Tea being one of them.
Languages spoken: Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi and English.