Munnar is South India’s most popular hill resort and Kerala’s highest hill station. It includes the highest Indian peak, at 8841 ft, south of Himalayas.
There are three streams around. Two of these, Nallathanni and Kundale are the tributaries of Muthirapuzha River. This river cascades out of the misty hills to join the Periyar river which then empties into the Arabian sea.
Munnar is the queen of tea cultivation with 12000 hectares of manicured, lushgreen tea gardens dotted with quaint old colonial bungalows make this something of a paradise for both honeymooners and globe-trotters. It offers a wonderful temperate release from the heat and dust of summer India. Gentle eucalyptus plantations sway in the breeze. Shola trees, a shelter to many wildlife species, hug the mist-clad hillsides. Here the air is filtered by the gentle tea leaves.
Munnar enjoys a refreshing climate with crisp mornings and sunny blue skies in the winter- though as with all of Kerala, torrential rains descend during the monsoons.
Munnar town is a typical hill bazaar of haphazard buildings and congested market streets. However there are many attractions such as the Tea Museum (Tues-Sun 9am-4pm), which houses various pieces of old machinery and an exhibition of photos of the area's tea industry from the 1880s right into the modern era. (The tea plantations here are the contributions of the British. A club established by the British planters, Kundale Club, still retains much its colonial ambience. Tucked away in a picturesque corner of the High Range, at 6000 ft altitude, the Club smartly resembles an English house. The Indian successors maintain the Club in its pristine state without losing any of its ethos and traditions.
Munnar’s major attractions are within 10 to 30 km radius.of the town. The network of roads are excellent. Enough local buses, taxis, jeeps are available for transportation, which takes you across the high ridges and lush tropical forests of the cardamom hills. There are many heritage and homestay accommodations, much of it in restored British bungalows, where you can sip High Range tea on lawns against the backdrop of rolling hills and plantations.
The DTPC tourist office (daily 8.30am to 7pm; 04865 231136, 9447190954) has some useful maps and newspaper articles and can arrange transport for excursions. The self appointed tourist officer, immortalized in Dervla Murphy's On a Shoestring to Coorg and more recently by booker prize winning The God of Small Things, can provide a handful of useful tips on the area.