At over 1600 m above sea level, this small hill station has some big charm and an even bigger list of attractions. Start your Munnar sightseeing with a trip to the Tata Tea Museum, powerhouse waterfalls and then on to the rare bird sanctuary. With the excursions, here are some things to do and see in the surrounding area.
The Best of Munnar sightseeing
Tata Tea Museum
This is a working tea museum just down the hill from Munnar. Unfortunately, there were strike when I was there but I have heard that it is very entertaining. Although it hasn't been used at full production for a number of years but it shows the basic process and has a guide who'll show you around and offer tea tasting and things. It's a 30 minute walk down the hill or you can get a bus/rickshaw etc. It costs 50 rupees to get in and shuts at four.
Mattupetty is famous in India for its specialised dairy industry and home to the Indo-Swiss live stock project. It also offers a great picnic opportunity with fantastic views of the tea plantations and the massive Mattupetty Lake. The forest surrounding the town have some well established trails which makes it ideal for a short trekking trip.
It takes a few hours on the bus to get there but even the drive is an (bumpy) adventure in itself. There are also a few places to stay if you like it that much.
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Eravikulam National Park
This rather small but sweet national park is about 16 km away so offers Munnar sightseeing a great day trip possibility. It is home to half of world's population of the rare species of goat known as Nilgiri Tahr. It doesn't cost much to get in but visitors are not allowed in during the monsoon. Also ask in the local tourist office in Munnar just to make sure it is actually open. (It wasn't when I went and I still don't know why?) It is possible to cycle.
This quaint little place is very close to Munnar and has some amazing views of the surrounding area. Also if you come at the right time, you will be blown away by some of the fragrances that float about the place,(February was good for me).
Marayoor is quite a strange place even by India's standards. The rare abundance of sandelwood trees has resulted in a small sandelwood factory which is quite cool to go and see. There are also some really cool caves with paintings and relics which date back to the stone age.
The Thoovanam waterfalls are quite a spectacle and the Rajiv Gandhi National Park are located close by. If you have the determination then march up to echo point which has incredible views in many directions.
On your bus journey, too, or from Marayoor you may be lucky enough to stop en-route to have a glimpse at the Power House Waterfalls which fall from a height of 2000 metres above sea level.
Chinnar wildlife sanctuary
10 km past Marayoor is the Chinnar wildlife sanctuary which is home to deer, leopards, elephants and the endangered grizzled giant squirrel. There are trekking options available as well as some quite cool tree houses which are great place to sleep overnight.
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary
About 80 kms from Munnar, is the Thattekad Bird sanctuary. Boasting more than 285 types of birds and stretching over an area of 30 sqkms the sanctuary is a real hotspot for bird enthusiasts around the world. Your best bet is to hire a car as the roads are atrocious.