India, with its varied topography and geographical regions, is a tourist’s delight. And Kerala is a microcosm of everything that India has to offer - from rolling hills, to sandy beaches, to tranquil backwaters and majestic wildlife.
When we think of hill-stations in India, we think of the oft-visited and the most commonly talked about places in the northern part of the country. But southern India is home to some priceless jewels, one of which, is the fabled hill-station Munnar.
Located in the Idukki district of Kerala, the nearest airport to Munnar, is the Cochin International Airport (119 km away). Steeped in rich history, which revolves around its tea plantations, Munnar perfectly captures the quintessence of a southern Indian hill-town.
While Munnar is known widely for its tea plantations, it has something to offer to all manner of tourists. Some of the most popular tourist attractions in the region are detailed below.
Eravikulam National Park
A feast for wildlife enthusiasts, around one-third of the world’s population of the endangered Nilgiri Tahr (a species of mountain goat) lives in this park.
The park is also popular for trekking, offering a striking view of the tea plantations nearby.
Located inside the Eravikulam National Park is the Anamudi Peak, the highest peak in South India.
13 km from Munnar, this quaint town with its sprawling tea plantations, takes one back to simpler times, with its old world charm.
The Tea Museum in Idukki
The Tea Museum in Idukki is a beautiful chronicle of the area’s tea plantations, and their inextricable relationship with the people of the region. One can try a variety of exotic flavours at the tea tasting unit of the museum.
Mattupetty Dam and Lake
Located 13 km from Munnar, this is a popular picnic spot. The lake borders a forest, and tourists have been known to chance upon rare sightings of elephant herds in the vicinity.
Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary
Another treat for wildlife enthusiasts, one can see elephants, bison, sambar deer, along with several species of birds. The sanctuary is adjacent to the Idukki Arch Dam, only the second such dam in the world.
Chinnakanal & Anayirangal
Two popular tourist attractions - located close to Munnar, Chinnakanal is famous for its waterfalls, offering scenic views of the Western Ghats, while, the Anayirangal Dam, 22 km from Munnar, is surrounded by verdant tea plantations and evergreen forests, a sight for sore eyes.
Another popular picnic spot, located a mere 8 km from Munnar, this is the site of the Sita Devi Lake, the highest lake in the region, which is frequented by visitors round the year.
For tourists who like to explore places off the beaten track, there’s Muniyara, a prehistoric site inside the Marayoor Forest. The 2,000-year-old megalithic structures, which were ancient burial grounds, have attracted historians for decades. Close by, is Ezhuthupara, a treasure trove of ancient cave paintings.
Tourists who visit Munnar, leave for their homes, feeling content and fulfilled, and at the same time, wistfully, want more.