Finally, after planning for almost 4 years, we made it to Munnar. One thing that I searched for before this trip was a description about the route (fast and best). Though I found the information in bits and pieces, it was not a holistic one. This is one of the major contributing factor for me to write about it.
Distance (Bangalore to Munnar by road) : approximately 500 km (10-12 hr drive)
Best option to get to Munnar would be to take a train till Coimbatore and hit the road from there on. There are 2 trains from Bangalore to Coimbatore. Planning in advance will be required to secure a confirmed berth in the train.
And there is the road for the “I-love-driving” category of people.
Quality of road overall is GOOD, save for patches at few places. It would be a good idea to take a break (overnight stay) when traveling with kids and elders.
Here’s the route map.
Part I (Bangalore to Coimbatore)
Route 1.(till Coimbatore)
Bangalore – Krishnagiri –Dharmapuri-Salem-Erode-Avinashi-Coimbatore
This is best suited when you are planning to take a break of journey anywhere before Coimbatore. Dharmapuri, Salem and Coimbatore have decent places to stay overnight. Other places may not offer much options.
Bangalore – Salem should take close to 3.5 hr (a total of 200 km). The stretch between Krishnagiri-Dharmapuri-Salem is undergoing widening, so there are quite a few”take diversion”boards. On these stretch you would find vehicles coming on the opposite side in the same lane. Not advisable after dark. Cover this stretch while there is still natural light left.
Salem – Sangagiri- Erode is 1.5 hr. Again , work is going on in this stretch and this goes through the rocky mountains of Sangagiri, so the going is slowed down a bit here
Erode – Perundurai-Avinashi – Coimbatore is a wide single road which is very decent and one should be able to cover in a time of 1.5 to 2 hr.
Coimbatore would be an ideal and logical break if planning to spend a night.
Route 2: ( fast and best route to Coimbatore)
This is by and far the best and fast route till Coimbatore. This route is advisable only if you are planning to go all the way till Coimbatore for stopover.
Take the NH7 till Krishnagiri. From Krishnagiri, take the Dharmapuri Bypass road and keep going till Thoppur. This road has been recently built and there are no signboards yet and no living soul to help with directions. It’s a good 30-40 min drive till you can see the board mentioning the diversion to Thoppur.(It’s a small board and chances of missing this is high, so ..watch out)
The road from this turn onwards is a single-road (but nice one).
This road will take you through Thoppur-Mecheri-Mettur-Bhavani and will join the route 1 past Sangagiri. Route 2 is shorter and saves close to 20 odd km.
The best part of this route is that this involves crossing the Mettur dam . You will miss this if you take the Mettur bypass.. To cross the dam, one needs to climb the hillock and get down from the other side. This is a total of 4 km. In this process, one gets to see the Mettur Dam.
Accommodation in Coimbatore
There are a lot of good hotels near Gandhipuram bus stand (Hotel City Tower is a decent one)
Don’t miss to eat at the Annapurna hotel. A chain of restaurants with many branches all over Coimbatore.
Part II (Coimbatore to Munnar)
Route I (Preferred route)
Coimbatore – Pollachi –Udumalapet – Chinnar – Munnar
Coimbatore – Pollachi (45 km) can be covered within an hour. The road is a single wide road.
Pollachi – Udumalapet (35 km) again is a good stretch and should be doable in 35-40 mins. Soon after you leave Pollachi and head towards Udumalpet, the sight of lush green fields invite you. Miles and miles of green fields on either side occasionally broken by a building or two.
On this road , you would find a mini Holland (so to say) . You would find lines of Windmills as far as one can see.
The diversion to Munnar comes soon after crossing Udumalpet. The forest range starts from here and it’s a 70 km climb up the mountain till Munnar. The signboards of the forest invite you as the forest range starts
This is a preferred route because of the scenic beauty this offers. The road is good, narrow at places, very rare though. As the saying goes ” A picture is worth a thousand words”, I will let the pictures do the talking :-)
Along this route there are a few places of attraction (I will talk abt these in the following posts)
Route II (Longer one)
Coimbatore–Dharapuram–Vathlagundu-Sembatti-Thekady-Munnar. I cannot comment much on this as I have not travelled this route.
Here’s another way to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Udumalpet-Munnar stretch ;-) (happens only in india)
Stay tuned for more on Munnar in the coming posts.