Keralan Odyssey: Cloud gazing in Munnar

After reaching Kotayam bus stand, I was looking for a direct bus to Munnar those are not frequent on this route. Another alternative was to catch a bus to NH-49 (Cochin-Madurai) and then board a connecting bus to Munnar. I hopped in a bus going towards Adimali which I was not able to locate in my map but still I trusted the bus conductor. As bus started plying uphill on Western Ghats, the downpour enveloped the surroundings leaving nothing much visible. It also penetrated through the strong shade of steel and drenched everyone but life never stops and so never was bus. It strolled ahead on those steep narrow roads wrapped with heavy mist. Along the way, there were rubber, coffee, tea plantations and spice gardens. Finally I touched down NH 49 after some 3 hours of struggle with monsoon.
Alleppey-Kotayam Ferry
                                         
Alleppey-Kotayam Ferry
Soon after, Sun set down at the distant horizon and bus passed through the beautiful section of NH-49 which is a steep Ghat road uphill with innumerous waterfalls adorning the way. In the darkness, all I could appreciate chirping birds, murmuring waterfalls and sound of the jungle. After 5 hours of bus journey, I reached Adimali which is some 31 km (22 INR, 1 hour) away from Munnar. I caught one of the frequent running busses to Munnar. There are tea gardens on both sides of the road as you start approaching Munnar from Adimali. It was drizzling when I got down at Munnar so I rushed quickly in the nearest lodge and checked in. There is a wide range of accommodation available in Munnar. Cheap and nasty lodges are also in surplus along with luxury honeymoon suites facing tea gardens and clouded hills.
Town of Munnar
                                               
Town of Munnar
Next morning, I roamed in the main street and inquired at Kerala tourism department about the activities which Munnar can offer to a non-honeymooner. Munnar is a major honeymoon destination of south India blessed with innumerous crowded picnic spots favorable for honeymooner. However I came to Munnar with a hope of trekking Western Ghats seeking thrill and adventure. I was saddened when I got to know that trekking to Anamudi (2695 m, highest peak of Western Ghats) is not allowed. I am disintegrating Munnar and chalking out the itineraries suitable for both categories of travelers.

                                         Munnar for Honeymooners
there are many attractions near Munnar those are often clubbed together if falls on the same route. All of these destinations can be covered in couple of days. I am listing down the itineraries combining destinations on the same route.

                                                 Mattupetty Direction
* Flower Garden: Maintained by horticulture department.
* Photo point (Tea Garden): Vantage point for hugging your partner and getting photographed.
* Jungle Honey bee Nest:  Have you not seen a honey nest before in your life?
Mattupetty Dam reservoir, near Munnar
                                   
Mattupetty Dam reservoir, near Munnar
* Mattupetty Dam: 13 km away from Munnar, Mattupetty Dam lies at a height of 1700m above sea level. It’s a beautiful dam which also offers nice boating conducted by DTPC and Hydel tourism.
* Elephant arrival spot: Not wild elephants
* Film Shooting Point: Too much of self obsession
Echo Point Munnar
                                               
Echo Point Munnar
* Echo Point: 15 km from Munnar, it’s a place where people make noises to verify the science of sound
   reflection.
* Tribal Village view: just for namesake.
Kundala Lake Munnar
                                             
Kundala Lake Munnar
* Kundala Lake: 24 km away from Munnar, Kundala Lake is situated 7000 feet above sea level. “Kashmiri Sikharas” are the unique attraction of Kundala Lake those inspires the awe to honeymooners.
On the way to Top station munnar
                                          
On the way to Top station munnar

* Top Station: It’s the only destination in this direction which I can recommend for solo travelers. Top station is 34 km from Munnar and there are direct private busses (30 INR, 1 hour 30 minutes) from Mattupetty bus stand. Don’t lose control as these busses are painfully slow and infrequent. Top station is the highest point which was once connected with a ropeway. Although now completely vanished, the trekking trail from Kodaikanal to Top station was once a major route for the workers in Tea estates. The surrounding hills are picturesque and offer incredible view of Western Ghats which are mostly covered with thick mist during monsoon season.  Although it’s another misty vantage point of Western Ghats but it’s a starting point of some of the off-beat treks in surrounding hills. Top station and surrounding hills are also home ground of rare Neelakurinji shrub that blossoms gregariously only once in 12 years.
Munnar's Fruit at Top Station
                                          Munnar's Fruit at Top Station

I’ll recommend you to try local jungle’s fruits from any of vendors in the main street.  After enjoying maggi noodles, tea and local fruits, I headed back to Munnar.
# Entrance fee: 15 Rs.

                                                   Cochin direction
* Bloosom Internation Park: Floral beauty
* Pothamedu view point: lying 3 km away from Munnar, Pothamedu view point offers an excellent view of the tea and cardamom plantations in Munnar. The rolling hills, the cool mountain and the breathtaking scenery here is ideal for trekking and long mountain walks.
* Attukad waterfalls: Attukad waterfalls are some 11 km from Munnar and there is a well outlined trek through tea plantation from Pothamedu view point. However it is now a private property.
* Cardamom, Coffee and pepper plantations:  There are many spice gardens where you can try to quench the botanist within you.

                                                Coimbatore direction
Near Tea Museum Munnar
                                          

Near Tea Museum Munnar

* Tata Tea Museum: It lies within the city at walk-able distance from city bus stand. The museum showcases the history of tea plantation in high ranges of Western Ghats through a short motion picture. Movie is alluring and will keep you interested all the way. It also exhibits the steps of extracting tea from the leaves. Being in Munnar, Tea museum is worth a visit.
Visiting hours: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM (Monday Holiday)
Entrance fee: Adult (75 INR), Camera (20 INR), Children (35 INR)
* Nyayamakad Waterfalls:  10 km away from Munnar.
* Anamudi view point:  View point to the highest peak of Western Ghats which is only worth to visit when sky is clear, else you won’t see anything but heavy mist.
Western Ghats near Munnar
                                        Western Ghats near Munnar

* Eravikulam National Park (Rajamalai): Famous of tame and rare species of Nilgiri tahr, tallest summit of South India and rare Neelakurinji flower, Eravikulam National Park is one of prime attraction of Munnar.
 

About half the world population of Nilgiri tahr roams these lands. Sambar, barking deer,Indian gaur, wild cats such as the tigers and leopards, also wild dogs and wild boars thrive in these forests. Besides being home to a resident population of Asiatic elephants, the Park also serves as a migratory route for elephants from Anamalais to the Cardamom Hills. The Nilgiri langur and Nilgiri marten are endemic to the Western Ghats. Smaller mammals such as the ruddy and brown mongoose, dusky striped squirrel, small Indian civet etc. are also found. An elusive cat as big as the common leopard, with smoky grey coat has been reported from the Park.

 

The introduction of the game fish, the rainbow trout, in these mountains dates back to 1906, when H. C. Wilson, a fisheries expert of the colonial days started trout culture on a scientific basic After Independence, even as the European planters were apprehensive about the future, the work continued to thrive upto the present day, to the extent that these fish are now considered indigenous here. Trout spawn only once a year during the cold months of November to January. Stocking in the high range is normally carried out in July every year alter the onset of the southwest monsoons.
 

Bird diversity is relatively low due to extreme climatic conditions such as high lashing winds, freezing temperatures and heavy rainfall in these higher altitudes. Some of the commonly seen birds are the Malabar whittling thrush, white breasted laughing thrush. Indian kestrel, black winged kite, black bulbul, red vented bulbul, emerald dove, Nilgiri pipit. Nilgiri white eye and Nilgiri wood pigeon.

 

There are frequent busses from Munnar (9 km) those will drop you at the front gate of National park from where you need to get the tickets and then Forest department’s Eco-friendly busses will drop you to the forest check post (also known as Rajamala, 4 km). From here onwards, there is a concrete road where you can stroll along amidst thick mist. A very small section of the national park is open for tourists. It’s just another above the clouds experience with very minimal chances of sighting any wild life.

 

After returning from National Park to the main road, for the first time in my life, I ate a mango in the month of october which was the best thing happened that day. Mango is the best fruit no matter where or what time you eat it.

 

Visiting Hours: 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Entrance fee: Indian (45 INR), Foreigner (230 INR), Children (35 INR), Camera (25 INR), Video Camera (200 INR).
Tea Gardens Munnar
                                                Tea Gardens Munnar

* Tea Garden Valley: for namesake
* Green Valley View: Another Vantage point

* Luckom Waterfalls: 26 km from Munnar

* Sandalwood & Bamboo Forest, Marayoor: Marayoor is some 42 km away from prying populace of Munnar. Marayoor is famous for its Sandalwood forest lying in the placid valley of high ranges. There is also a legend that Pandavas on exile had camped in Marayoor. The pandava caves and Muniyaras (rock dwelling if ancient sages) add substance to this belief.
* Thoovanam waterfalls view: Thoovanam waterfalls are located in the interiors of Chinnar wildlife sanctuary.

* Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary: Situated some 70 km away from Munnar, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is located at the foot hills of western Ghats when you enter those via Udumalpetu in Tamilnandu. Sanctuary is popular for the herds of wild elephants however it’s also a habitat of other wild creature. Kerala Tourism has built a watch tower for the convenience of travelers. Forest Department also arranges various activities such as forest walk, nature walk, and jeep safari within the core area of sanctuary. There are also government guest houses, tree houses within the premises of national park.  It’s well connected with Munnar with frequent bus services (private and government both).
Tea Plantation in Munnar
                                           Tea Plantation in Munnar
                                            Thekkady/Madurai Direction
* Lockhart Gap & Rock Cave
* Power house waterfalls
* Resort Village view
* Anayirankal Dam view
Workers at Tea Gardens Munnar
                                            
Workers at Tea Gardens Munnar

Travel notes:
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- Adimali-Munnar (31 km, 1 hour), frequent busses
- Many cheap and nasty lodges near main bus stand (200-300 INR per night)
- From my experience, Munnar is the coldest place in South India.
- KSRTC government bus stand is a bit away from the city but you can catch all the busses from the main stand which lies in the heart of the town.
- Private busses are plying between all the major destinations and more frequent than government busses.
- Came to Kerala to visit spice gardens, Munnar have those in plenty.
- Tree houses accommodation is also available near Munnar.
- Trekking to the peak of Anamudi (Highest peak of Western Ghats) is not allowed.
- Auto and Jeep guys at Munnar will try to convince you that all the nearby sites are inaccessible by public transport which is indeed not true. Every other Auto guy in Munnar is an expert of organizing the customize tour as per your convenience.
- National Parks/Grasss lands of high ranges are also called as “Shola” in this region.
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A misty view from top station
                                          A misty view from top station
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Important distance:
Cochin (132 km), Nedumbassery(118 km), Aluva (115 km), Perumbavoor (100 km), Kothamanglam (80 km), Kotayam (147 km), Alleppey (190 km), Trivandrum (302 km), Kumily (106 km), Thekkady (110 km), Kodaikanal (185 km), Madurai (165 km), Chinnar (68 km), Udumalpet (80 km), Coimbatore (165 km), Ooty (249 km), Bangalore (548 km), Palani (121 km).
Eravikulam National Park: 12
km
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary: 44 km
Anamudi Shola National Park: 29 km
Pampadum Shola National Park: 36 km
Mathikettan Shola National Park: 41 km
Kurinjimala Sanctuary: 51 km

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Taxi fare list from Munnar

 

Important Munnar's Pamphlet

Important Munnar's Map

Keralan Odyssey: The Complete Series (In Chronological Order)

Keralan Odyssey: Existentialism at Kovalam

 

Keralan Odyssey: Padmanabhapuram Palace

Keralan Odyssey: Trivandrum is the Capital

Keralan Odyssey: Ascetism at beach Varkala

Keralan Odyssey: Varkala-Kappil beach walk

Keralan Odyssey: Whispering memories in Alleppey

Keralan Odyssey: Backwaters of Kuttanad

Keralan Odyssey: Cloud gazing in Munnar

Keralan Odyssey: Chasing Elephants in Anakulam

Keralan Odyssey: Rediscovering love in Kochi

Keralan Odyssey: Lost in the streets of Mattancherry, Kochi

Keralan Odyssey: Sleepless in Kozhikode, Kappad Beach

Keralan Odyssey: Valediction from Wayanad

 

Hey, I like your website and

Hey, I like your website and I enjoyed your comments on the places! Lots of good info, too.

Nice and informative

Nice and informative writing.

I am planning for a solo trip to Munnar, looks like the info shared here going to be helpful.

Thanks for your comment. keep

Thanks for your comment. keep dropping by.

+- Vishnu

This article is relaly good.

This article is relaly good. I've enjoyed reading the original content and fresh ideas you wrote. You are good at writing on this topic and I hope I can read more of your work soon.

Keep dropping by....

Keep dropping by....

Excellent article and well

Excellent article and well researched too.Must have taken a lot of time to collect these photographs. The clouds and the mist add additional charm to the place. Great job.

Thanks Rajeev... Glad that

Thanks Rajeev... Glad that you liked it...

Really an experienced report.

Really an experienced report. Good efforts to add these pictures and content. best wishes

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