Munnar – Unspoilt hill station

Table of Contents :

Part 1 : Kumarkom – Backwaters n Houseboat

Part 2 : Munnar – Unspoilt Hill Station

It was beginning of April and our next sport was Munnar. From Kumarkom we traveled north till Thiruvankulam and then took right on NH 49 to reach Munnar. On the way we saw a huge pile of sea shells, I used to collect them as a kid and had around 40 of them. So not missing the opportunity we got down from the car got some pictures taken. They are added in colors for luster. I wonder how they are collected in such a huge quantity. We visited Vaikom Mahadeva (Thekkan Kashi / Southern varanasi) temple; an 11th century temple spread over 8 acres. It has tall walls covering up an huge square area, inside there were walls covering smaller square area and had rows and rows of diyas covering up all the inside walls. These thousands of diyas must be looking magnificent when they are lit up. We had darshan and on the way out saw an mother and child sitting in one side of an huge balance and other side had bananas (apparently for donation)

Munnar valley filled with tea planation as far as one can see

Munnar valley filled with tea planation as far as one can see



Huge pile of sea shells

Huge pile of sea shells

From there we reached Thiruvankulam around 11 AM and took right turn on NH 49. We saw plantations of various spices, rubber, coco and pineapple. On the way we stopped for beautiful Valara (42 km from Munnar) and Kallar (19 km from Munnar) water falls. At both places you can reach and play in water. As it was cold we dipped our toes in water and headed back. Apart from these falls there are many places on the road where you can see that an small water stream will be flowing down in the rainy seasons; but again in those time it will be colder and you can see beauty of waterfalls but cannot get drenched in it.

Valara waterfalls

Valara waterfalls

We reached Munnar and checked in Archana Residency; hotel on banks of one of the three rivers (Munnar means 3 rivers). Standard room that we booked was relatively smaller but was very clean and very well decorated. In Munnar sightseeing is basically done in four directions; Mattupetty dam, Coimbatore, Cochin and Thekkadi. We hurried through lunch and started journey in Coimbatore direction. I was thinking that as we started by 2:30 we have lot of time in day to cover the various places; little did I know that it gets darker by 5:30 and that entrance time for almost all attractions (boating, parks, reserve forests) ends at 5:00 PM itself.

View from hotel-One of the river from Munnar

View from hotel-One of the river from Munnar

We reached Eravikulam national park, Rajamalai at around 3:30. This park is having South India’s highest peak; Anai Mudi at 2695 meters from sea level. Half of the worlds population of rare Nilgiri Tahr (mountain goat) is found here.

Eravikulam National Park-Welcome Info board

Eravikulam National Park-Welcome Info board

After standing in long queue for about one hour, near the ticket window (hidden behind queue) was small notice “NO ANIMALS SIGHTING AT PRESENT”. I made up my mind to visit the park anyways as it is the natural habitat of the animals in forest that is major draw for me :-(. On the steep way up to park you get to see the valleys and hills with beautiful tea plantations and forest.

On the way to Nilgiri Tahr's home

On the way to Nilgiri Tahr's home

After getting down from the bus we climbed on well kept winding road uphill; there were some people who claimed to see Nilgiri Thar at far distance above the green patch having rock on left side of it… we either did not have as good sight or mostly imagination to see the same. This park also offers trekking till Anai Mudi.

Home of Nilgiri Thar

Home of Nilgiri Thar

Even though I did not get to see the Thar; it is an good place to stretch your legs have a walk and enjoy the picturesque valley.

View from Eravikulam National Park - 1

View from Eravikulam National Park - 1

By the time we returned from the park it was around 5:30 and it was already getting dark. We headed towards Munnar and visited the Pothmedu View point (Near Tea Valley resort, around 6 KM from Munnar in Kochi direction). Here one can see rows and rows of mountain ranges as far as the sight can go and tea plantations.

Pothmedu View point - I need better camera

Pothmedu View point - I need better camera

It must be an great view with more light. We had dinner at Hotel Sarvana bhavan (idli, dosa etc.) and had stroll in the Munnar market. In an street side eatery we also got to see the way Kerala Parothas are made. I always used to wonder how those Parothas have so many layers.

Video (1.7 MB) Use Save Target as… Save it and then you can see it) Making of Kerala Parotha

Our driver and hotel reception staff told us that it will be foggy all over at morning and that we should start by 9 AM only. Regardless we decided to start by 8 AM. Next day there was little rain in the morning and there was no fog at 6 AM itself. We got up early and had stroll crossing the river and walking inside an tea estate having small stream of water.

River near hotel

River near hotel

We started in Mattupetty / Madupetty dam direction and visited Photo point. We had fresh,from the farm carrots; unlike orange carrots we get in Bangalore these were quite sweet. After that we spent little time at Jungle Honey Bee Nest; an tree having numerous honey bee nests and an person selling honey below it. We skipped Mattupetty dam boating (it was not started) and stopped by the Indo-Swiss cattle project. I had an impression that one can visit the place; at entrance gate I was greeted by a board “THIS IS A CATTLE BREEDING FARM AND NOT A TOURIST PLACE”. Hills covered with lush grass make surroundings of this place beautiful. No wonder there is a film shooting spot next; having lush green lawns, tall trees, green mountain ranges and Mattupetty dam water. Next we went to echo point; this place is near water and you can here an echo due to shape of the nearby hills. After shouting heart fully and hearing echo we left that place. Wife was not much interested in doing that as she hardly needs an echo point to do the same.

Shooting Point

Shooting Point

Lush Green Lawns

Lush Green Lawns

Echo Point

Echo Point

Next was Kundalay dam, beautiful lake is formed by the dam and one can do boating as well. We had tasty Maggi at hotel M.M.M.; it also offered BRAD AMBLED, FRIDE RICE & BANI POORI. Kids were doing the horse riding as well.

Kundalay dam lake

Kundalay dam lake

Out last spot was Top station; for which we had to travel 2-3 Km inside Tamilnadu. There is an Tamilnadu welcome board and just after you cross it car speed has to be dropped from 40 Km/H to less than 10 due to poor roads. I had taken the good roads for granted. I must say everywhere we traveled in Kerala the roads were superb and well maintained. The hilly roads were narrower but one can travel with good speed on them. Coming back to top station; one has to walk about one Km to reach entrance of top station. From there one has to take zig-zag and downhills steps for half Km to enjoy different views. This place offers panoramic views of the nearby hills. These rocky hills are covered by forest for most part. Not much of tea plantations here.

Top Point

Top Point

I think the best views of tea plantations are in Eravikulam national park and on the way to top view station. The view of multiple valleys completely covered by tea plantations is breathtaking.

Tea Plantations

Tea Plantations

On our return we had speed boat ride at Mattupetty dam. The speed boat driver moves the boat fast, sways it to the left and right and turns around in small circles making it an nice experience. Here one can enjoy the views of water, lush greenery, tall hills, plantations all at once.

Mattupetty dam boating

Mattupetty dam boating

Small Island n Hills @ Mattupetty dam boating

Small Island n Hills @ Mattupetty dam boating

Near Munnar we visited the flower garden. The garden has beautiful variety of flowers and like everything in Munnar is on hill slope. If you have to choose in this garden and Blossom park I would suggest to skip Blossom park. We reached Munnar around 2:30; had lunch and left by 3:00 PM. There are so many things that can be done here; Munnar needs at least full 3 days of stay to enjoy it fully.

Flower Garden - 1

Flower Garden - 1

Flower Garden - 2

Flower Garden - 2

The only hill in Munnar having houses - See.... Unspoilt hill station

The only hill in Munnar having houses - See.... Unspoilt hill station

On the way back we visited one more view point; took 10 Km diversion to visit Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple; here goddess Rajarajeswari is worshiped as Saraswathy in the morning, Lakshmi at noon and Durga in the evening. The huge temple complex has various another deities. We reached Ernakulam KSRTC bus stand by 6:30. It took us 3 hours to travel from Munnar to Ernakulam as we had an good driver and traffic was less due to vacation (good Friday). We boarded the KSRTC volvo for night journey till Bangalore. Not sure it was the driver &/or the roads; it was not comfortable journey compared to that of Pune-Bangalore Volvo. For me nothing beats the comfort of train.

One distinct advantage of Kerala is that you can get to beaches, backwaters, historical temples, hill stations within hours of travel and all of them look like they are from nowhere but God’s Own Country.
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Alternate Itieneraries

I have not travelled myself as per these; but I would have definately made better plan with this info and did at least one trekking. If you do these things I am all ears.

Neelakurunji flow season comes once in 12 years. In August-October Eravikulam National Park is blanketed in blue color. This would be a good time to visit.

One can travel from Bangalore to Comibatore in Kanyakumari Express or other trains or private buses and then travel to Munnar covering the various points on the way.

While returning back one can travel down from Munnar – Thekkadi – Madurai and then catch the big transport to come to Bangalore.

There are buses directly from Banagalore to Munnar. These are air suspension buses and leave in evening and reach in morning.

One can hire taxi or auto at munnar; at least taxi seemed to be expensive than hiring vehicle full @ Ernakulam or Coimbatore or may be Munnar itself.

Trekking:

Anai Mudi is ideal for trekking. Government has sanctioned Gouldsbury trail trekking program in memory of J C Gouldsbury (general manager of Kannan Devan Tea Company and a keen wildlife enthusiast). There is also an Lukkom Log house in the wilderness. Following is contact info for both, got it from poster @ Eravikulam national park
Forest Information Center
Wildlife Warden’s office
Munnar P. O. 685 621
Tel / Fax 04865 231587
E:Mail – enpmunnar@sify.com
For more details and contact number visit the park website http://www.eravikulam.org/

If you fancy stayhing in treehouse do trekking at chinnar wildlife sanctuary; for details visit http://www.chinnar.org/html/ecotourism.htm/

Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC) has various Eco-Tourism options like trekking and stay at camps; for details visit : http://www.keralafdc.org/eco-tourism.asp

Various adventures like trekking, rock climbing, tent camping, para gliding and night trekking are arranged by http://www.edelweissadventures.com/

Following are the things that can be covered in 4 directions of Munnar

Munnar - Things to do

Munnar - Things to do

22 Comments

  • Ravi says:

    Hi, Very nice write-up. Never been to Munnar though been to Kodaikkanal a few times. Hotel rooms in Munnar – how much they run for?

    Thanks

    • Manoj Phirke says:

      If you liked Kodai; I think you would love Munnar.

      I stayed in Archana Residency (said to be 3 star), it cost me ~2000/- per night. It is not a big thing like resort but is sparkling clean and nice place to stay

      http://www.archanaresidency.com/

      Another place is Misha Holiday homes, it is budget accomodation; I went there just to have a look; rooms do not smell good but I could leave there…

      http://www.cleartrip.com/hotels/info/misha-holiday-homes—-41595/

      From these I can tell that the hotel rooms shall be having similar prices in Kodai and Munnar.

      I plan to go to Kodai next… if you know some good place to stay do let me know…

      Thanks,
      Manoj

      • Ashok says:

        Hi,

        Villa Retreat in Kodaikanal is a very good and reasonable option. There are great views from this hotel.
        I have just been there from June 19-June 22.
        Check it out.

        Regards,
        Ash

  • lex123 says:

    Hi, Very informative travelogue and beautiful photographs.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Ram says:

    Fabulous write up supported by some stunning pictures.

    Thanks for sharing the detailed information.

    • Manoj Phirke says:

      I am glad you liked it…

      If I had all this info before trip, I would have planned my trip in much better way… so though of sharing it…

      Thanks,
      Manoj

  • Sameer says:

    Wow fantstic travel log….feeling like MUST visit place.

  • nandanjha says:

    So much of good valuable information amid the lovely greens which someone like me in current Delhi weather badly needs. Posts like these are to be bookmarked as a reference material.

    By the way, there is a provision to keep posts in a series. In the editor, where you are writing post, go all the way down and you would see something like ‘In Series’. Choose a name for the first one and then associate the 2nd one with the first. It might be little cryptic in the beginning but it works. Look at this post to see it in action.

    http://www.ghumakkar.com/2008/12/18/in-the-mystic-alleys-of-delhi-iii-humayuns-tomb/

    Where do you take us next Manoj ?

    • Manoj Phirke says:

      Glad that you liked the post….

      I tried to collect all the information I had at one place…

      I am slowly getting used to writing online (learned some HTML tags… ) I tried “In Series” and felt it to be little cryptic as you said… I shall certainly try it again…

      I was thinking not to write anymore after this… but now that you ask… I am getting tempted to write about an Hot hill station I have been to… it is Coorg….

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    Hello Manoj:
    A brilliant write up on Munnar and your attempts to see the Nilgiri Tahr. I was fortunate to see and photograph dozens of Nilgiri Tahr (Ibex) at the Eravikulam Nat. park three years ago. We started from Kottayam, and arrived at Munnar after a brief rest at the Kallar water falls. It was in late September/early October, and Munnar was nice and cool. We stayed in a hotel close to Kanandevan Company. The mountain scenery was fabulous, reminded me of the Rocky Mountains in Canada, and the fantastic tea plantations like the ones you see on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and Kenya highlands (yes, I was there too). I will be delighted to email you some of the pics I took from Munnar area if you like.

    Once again, your writing was very informative.

    Jerry/ from Western Canada

    • Manoj Phirke says:

      Hello jerry,

      Glad you liked the post… I tried to put together all info I could gather…

      I think credit goes to the great place that Munnar is… with so many nearby places and things to do

      While @ Michigan, I wanted to visit rocky mountains and after visiting Disney I wanted to visit Kilimanjaro… I could not visit these places :-) good to know that I have seen something similar (though by small percentage)

      It would nice to get the pics from you, please send pics or link to my mail ID mrphirke@indiatimes.com

      Manoj

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    Hello Manoj,

    A friend tells me that the pile of shells (your 2nd photo) could be clam, mussel or oyster shells to make lime mortar by firing them up in huge kilns. The lime is mixed with the cement to use in construction of brick walls, among other things, and the lime mortar is called kummayam in Malayalam. When mixed with water to make a paste called chunnambu, which is a key ingredient when preparing betal leaves for chewing along with arecnut, tobacco and cloves. The use of these shells to make lime mortar was very popular in Kerala once.

    Best,
    Jerry

    • Manoj Phirke says:

      Thanks for the info about shells, I see there is lot of uses for the shells apart from decorating objects and curtains. Someone also told me that they are used for adding luster to the paint.

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Manoj,

    Your detailed description helped me to relive the memories of Munnar. I am also giving the link of my post, written at ghumakkar only, I am sure it will also bring some good old feelings going through it.

    http://www.ghumakkar.com/2008/03/19/freshly-water-colored-landscape-of-munnar-gods-own-art/

    I smiled at your description about your wife does not liking the echo point. I also started to wonder what you might be referring to: shouting heartfully or listening echo. If its the latter part, I was wondering about your height ;-)
    And I must say that I was impressed with your guts, but was wondering that your decision not to write again has something to do with this …

    Just kidding :-)

    Similarly interesting was the notice on swiss cattle farm :-)

    On serious note: It would be a pleasure to read more from you, please find time to write

  • Alen says:

    very nice very very good
    it contain all elements for a travelogue
    and planned nicely

  • Chantu says:

    Dear Manoj

    Awesum … you have presented everything beautifully.

    Too bad i am seeing it after visiting Munnar. If i had seen it earlier i would have picked up few more spots to see.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Chantu

  • Gita AM says:

    Very nice read, brought back memories . Lovely photos too.

  • philipmathai says:

    When I was 15 years of age my Brother worked in an estate which is now with Tatas. I have got lots of Honey ephant teeth etc from the workers there. I liked the Sitha Devi lake where tey say Sitha stayed for some time. I could not take any photos then as there was no hand held camera in those days. DEVI KULAM in Malayalam means lake of devi or Sitha. It was very fascinating to see the bags of tea moving to the Factory from the hills by Rope ways.

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