One of the most popular hill stations located in beautiful state of Kerala in South India, Munnar has always beckoned countless holiday seekers, nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts from far and wide. With its pristine natural beauty covered under thick layers of emerald forests and sprawling tea & spice plantations, it undoubtedly, makes for a perfect holiday destination where tired souls can spend few days in utmost peace and tranquillity, away from humdrums of the chaotic city lives. Needless to say, the tranquil little town is a delight for adventure seekers too; with its hill terrains and luxurious greenery, it calls for countless trekkers and campers from across the nation to explore its hidden trails sprinkled with panoramas of captivating waterfalls, sparkling rivulets and teeming birdlife. If you too are planning for a vacation in Munnar and looking for a holiday travel guide listing down the top attractions and tourism places in this picturesque town, here we bring to you a consolidated vacation guide with its 14 best places to visit and things to do. Hope you like the guide!
Famously called the land of tea gardens, a visit to Munnar would be incomplete without taking a trip through some of its bountiful beauties. Located 38 km. from Munnar is the picturesque Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, perched at an elevation of almost 8000 ft. and claimed to be one of the highest in the world. Cuddled amidst the rolling green hills covered in veils of mist and blessed with a soothing cold breeze which carries a mild aroma of tea leaves, a stroll here is sure to leave you completely rejuvenated. And when you are here, do not forget to sip some flavourful assortment of teas produced in its hundred years old factory that still uses traditional methods of tea production; needless to say, what makes your tea savouring experience here all the more enjoyable is the mesmerizing vistas of the nature’s splendour all around. If you are at the estate in the evening, wait for the sun to go down sprinkling the hills and gardens with its orange-golden hues; nothing short of a visual spectacle, it would truly be a sight to behold and engrave in your memories forever.
Located just about 15 km. from Munnar, Eravikulam National Park is one of the must visit places when you are holidaying in this beautiful hill town of Kerala. Spread over a sprawling area of 97 square kilometres and dotted with lush forests and shola grasslands unique to the region, the park makes for an excellent home to a number of wild species including gaurs, sambar deer, Indian muntjacs, small clawed otters, golden jackals, Indian bisons and a variety of mongoose. Amongst all these wild residents, the one which is most celebrated and grabs all the attention is the rare and endangered Nilgiri Tahr; with almost 750 of these threatened mountain goats living here and enjoying a wonderful time amidst their natural environs, no wonder! The park calls for countless wildlife enthusiasts every year to provide them a rendezvous with these shy and lovely creatures, often found sitting on the rocks, resting under the shade of thick trees and grazing in the bushes, giving candid poses to all the ardent wildlife photographers. The unique and fascinating feature of this park is unlike other wildlife sanctuaries, you need not book a jeep safari to spot the wild residents here; the Rajamalai or the tourist zone of the park is open to all and can be best explored on foot.
Just as a word of advice for the readers, if you are planning a trip to Eravikulam National Park, make sure you avoid the months of February and March as it’s the breeding and calving season of the Tahrs and park remains closed during that particular timeframe.
When it comes to listing down the popular adventure activities in Munnar, a trek to the fascinating Anamudi Peak finds it place at the topmost position. Situated inside the Eravikulam National Park and perched at an elevation of close to 9000 ft., it proudly enjoys its status for being recognized as the highest mountain summit in the Western Ghats and whole of South India; no wonder! It is also commonly referred to as the ‘Himalaya of the South’. Needless to say, a trek to Anamudi is definitely an experience in itself and leaves even most seasoned of the trekkers gasping in awe of its lush terrain, wildlife bounteousness and gorgeous scenic beauty sprinkled with captivating vistas of emerald green forests, sprawling tea plantations and three beautiful rivers, Vaigai, Thamirabarani and Periyar that lend it an unmatched heavenly charm. The sweet aroma of spices, gurgling music of gushing waterfalls, soul-soothing symphony of singing birds and frequent sightings of Asiatic Elephants and Nilgiri Tahrs along the trek, further makes your experience here an unforgettable one.
If you too are amongst those arduous trekkers who wish to have a taste of trekking the lap of Anamudi, be informed that though hiking here is quite a common activity, it still requires a special permit from the national park authorities. So, when planning a trekking expedition here, do make sure you make all the arrangements accordingly and well in advance. Getting a fair insight on the forecasted climate conditions on your day of trek is further advised and which will keep you away from falling in last minute weather traps.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Munnar, Mattupetty Dam needs no special introduction. Built on the serene Mattupetty Lake, the concrete gravity dam is the pride of Kerala and makes as an excellent recreational spot for both natives and tourists. On a weekend, one can see swarms of people flocking to the dam and the adjoining lake area to enjoy picnics and indulge in myriad of activities ranging from boating and nature strolls to wildlife spotting and birding. The place is a photographer’s delight too; with excellent views of the lake cradling amidst rolling mountains and rambling tea plantations, no wonder, it makes for a great place to capture some candid shots of nature and its excellent craftsmanship in its unpretentious form.
While there are endless activities near the dam that can keep you engaged, if you are of the sorts who holds some keen interest in agri and dairy farming, an Indo-Swiss Dairy Farm located near the dam makes for a worth place to be listed on your itineraries. Launched as part of a bilateral agreement between India and Swiss government in the year 1963, today, the farm is operated by the Kerala Livestock Development and works on scientifically developing newer varieties of high yielding cattle; during your trip here, you can get to see a variety of cattle and other livestock, their breeding centres and semen storage cells. If you intend to visit this farm, be informed that entry to visitors is restricted and only guests with special permissions are allowed to enter the premises. So, do make sure you have all the required permits in hand well before your trip here.
While there are a number of interesting tourist activities and things to do in Munnar, if you are on a lookout for a spell-binding cultural extravaganza in this land of tea gardens, there can be no better place than the Thirumeni Cultural Centre. A small theatre in the heart of Munnar, it daily showcases a one hour Kathakali performance wherein the beautifully masked artists elegantly present to you a dramatic story taken from the chapters of Hindu mythological epics and puranas; with their elaborate costumes and brilliant facial expressions, you are sure to be left in awe of this enchanting cultural feast. What more? If you reach the centre half an hour prior to the commencing of the show, you can even meet these artists and see them don their ornate makeup.
Besides this enchanting treat, at the centre, there is something for the martial art lovers too. Right after the Kathakali performance, the stage sets for yet another interesting show which leaves all the guests perplexed and bewildered. Yes! I am talking about the enthralling and hair-raising display of Kalaripayattu, the ancient and traditional martial art form of Kerala renowned as the mother of all ‘modern day martial arts’. During the show, the warriors dressed in black stun you with their brilliant combat fighting skills; spinning and whirling like elegant ballet dancers, flying into the air with the agility of an elk and performing intensely with ring of fire, dexterously curling and gyrating it before finally jumping through it. The rigorous fights with metallic weapons like swords, daggers and spears in the concluding part of the show would be yet another marvellous spectacle that would keep you transfixed to your seats.
When it comes to scouting through the top sightseeing places in Munnar, you just cannot miss its famous vantage point with the name of Top Station. Perched at an elevation of 1700 metres, it is the highest point in Munnar and provides for some scintillating views of the hills, rivers and valleys abounding the Western Ghats. The place got its name from the fact that it was once the uppermost railway station located in the Kundala Valley during the British rule in the state. Today, this enticing destination is popular for many reasons however, what mainly draws the people here is its awe-inspiring spectacle of Neela Kurinji flowers that bloom only once in 12 years and impart it a look of a natural painting drawn in many vibrant hues of blue. Last time when these flowers grew here were in 2006 and the next bloom is expected in 2018.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean Top Station is of no worth visiting in absence of these gorgeous blue blossoms; the place still holds back to its alluring scenery and provides for an awesome experience to nature lovers and solace seekers. Early in the morning, the place is no less than a heaven and instantly takes your breaths away with its enchanting spectacle of surrounding hills, tea gardens and Kundala Lake veiled in layers of foggy mist and clouds. Needless to say, the place is a paradise for shutterbugs too; the ruins of an old ropeway station sitting against the backdrop of the misty hills add their own magic to the rustic scenery and lend your pictures an inexplicable charm which cannot be described in words.
Located close to the Top Station is yet another interesting sightseeing spot of Munnar and which is known for its natural phenomenon of resonance, the Echo Point; just stand here and scream, and you would hear back your voice reverberating in the air. Needless to say, the destination is filled with tweets and coos of the birds and one can listen to them clearly owing to this very resonating phenomenon. Well! that’s not all that makes Echo Point so popular. Its scenic gorgeousness strewn with a beautiful river flowing by, the grassy hill slopes, verdant tea & coffee plantations and fragrant spice gardens makes it an idyllic locale for trekkers, nature lovers and photography freaks alike. One of the must visit destinations in Munnar, do stop here for some time while travelling to Top Station and you would surely be left in awe of the place’s splendid serenity and tranquillity.
Calm, serene and tranquil; Kundala Lake in Munnar is one of the best nature sightseeing places where one can completely unwind himself from the stress and monotony of a hectic work life. Located around 20 km. from the sprawling hill town, enroute to Top Station, one can stop by here for few hours and soak himself in breath-taking scenery of the place which seems to have directly made its way out from a picture postcard; rolling hills, luxuriant tea gardens, lovely cherry blossoms and vibrant Neela Kurinji flowers that blossom in the region every 12 years, add to the unmatched picturesque charm of the lake and needless to say, treat your visual senses with a magical spectacle that gets etched in your memories forever. If you are looking for some recreational activities, Kundala Lake will not leave you disappointed. There are a range of boating facilities for all the guests; rent a pedal or a row boat and you are sure to be left rejuvenated with the beautiful boating experience here. In case you are on a honeymoon vacation in Munnar, a Kashmiri Shikara Boat Ride over the glistening waters of Kundala is something which you ought not miss; cruising over the lake with scintillating vistas of the misty mountains, a cool breeze brushing against your face and company of your soulmate, needless to say, it would surely be like reliving the famous romantic song ‘Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra’ from the Bollywood classic, ‘Kashmir ki Kali’. And if you feel, there is something amiss in the quixotic ambience, a setting sun with its magical hues will do all the job and make your honeymoon an utmost dreamy affair.
Nestled amidst the rain shadow region of the Western Ghats neighbouring Tamil Nadu, the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary makes for yet another of the fascinating places to visit in Munnar, especially if you are a wildlife freak or a nature photographer. Spreading over 90 square kilometres of area and boasting a diverse topography of deciduous forests, dry thorn scrubs, shola grasslands and riparian forests, the sanctuary absolutely makes for a perfect home to a number of exotic wild species including panthers, spotted & sambar deer, gaurs, elephants and interesting varieties of langurs & monkeys; needless to say, amongst all these wild residents, the ones that steal all the limelight are the endangered Grizzled Giant Squirrels which are found here in large numbers and can be easily spotted on the tree tops leaping between the branches in full flow of exuberance, enjoying the company of their close relatives – Malabar Giant Squirrels and Flying Squirrels. Not to explicitly mention, the sanctuary is a paradise for bird lovers too; with over 200 species of birds recorded in the region, you are sure to have a wonderful time here looking out for beautiful and colourful bulbuls, woodpeckers, Malabar parakeets, kingfishers, flycatchers and barbets.
Not to forget! If you are trekking enthusiast, there are a number of enthralling options in the park to quench your thirsts; the most famous of the trekking route embarks you on a splendid journey to the spectacular Thoovanam Waterfalls, which is famed for its gorgeous scenic bounteousness dotted with virgin forests and undulating hills. And needless to say, it’s not only the enchanting beauty of the falls that fills your hearts with joy and rejuvenation, it’s the entire trekking expedition which leaves you completely overwhelmed. Listening to the gurgle of the Pambar River, music of the chirping birds and noises of the jungle residents, as you continue your journey towards these falls, you are sure to be captivated by the soul-soothing jungle aura which will instantly transfer you to a state of trance where the materialistic pleasures of life would seem to be so worthless and insignificant. Reaching here, plan for an overnight stay in the forest log cottage located just near the falls and doze off to sleep listening to the rhythmic music of water cascading down the rocks. For a more surreal experience, choose for a rustic accommodation at a treehouse in Kootor; with only you and the jungle around, a stay at any of these lodging choices would definitely be an experience to remember and would surely bring a proud smile on your faces whenever you will turn the pages of your Munnar travel diary in future.
Located just close to Chinnar, is Munnar’s another popular tourist destination, the mystical forests of Marayoor. Covered under the veil of the fragrant sandalwood trees and hiding in its store, a number of enchanting waterfalls and sparkling streams, it’s a place that can truly hypnotize anyone. Not only that! What makes Marayoor even more exotic is its interesting treasure of Dolmens that date back to the ancient Stone Age i.e. the period between 3000 BC and 1400 BC. Varying in shapes and sizes, these huge and enigmatic stone structures represent the tombs and burial chambers of the pre-historic man and needless to say, make for a fascinating attraction for ardent historians and archaeology buffs who love discovering beautiful and perplexing remnants of the past. In case you are a photography freak, you too would love taking a trip to these historical dolmens that provide for some great photo opportunities, sitting amidst the rippling hills and luxuriant flora.
Not to mention explicitly, if ancient art is something which greatly inspires you, a visit to ‘Ezhuthu Guha’ should definitely be enlisted on your itineraries while travelling to Marayoor. A colossal rock shelter perched 1500 metres above sea level in Attala (the western region of Marayoor Township), the guha (cave) is a treasure trove of rock paintings from the Neolithic times and makes for a significant part of the Marayur heritage. With over 90 painted motifs depicting human and animal figures, a visit here would surely leave you in great awe of the artistic skills of the early man.
While Marayoor is just a short drive away from Munnar and can be covered on a day trip, for those who wish to spend a day or two extra in this scenic and sleepy little hamlet, can choose for a stay in the tribal village of Kanthaloor, located just close by. Steeped in stupendous natural beauty of green hills, vibrant flora and beguiling fruit gardens, the village is no less than a heaven and provides for an overwhelming holiday experience, offering a comfortable stay in its bucolic cottages set amidst beautiful apple & mulberry farms and swaying sugarcane fields.
Soaked in smoky white mist and flanked on all sides by vast expanses of forests and blue & green hills, Attukad Waterfalls is an epitome of scenic beauty and makes for a must visit attraction when you are in Munnar. A true paradise for nature lovers and solace seekers, spend here a fun-filled day picnicking and soaking your souls in serene and tranquil aura of the place. A lone local wooden tea shop near the falls adds its own magical charm to the picturesque ambiance; grab a cup of hot cardamom tea from this rustic shop and enjoy its aromatic flavours sitting on a rock, just watching the magnificent panorama of cascading waters casting a spell on you. If birding is something which greatly fascinates you, give your binoculars a chance to spot some beautiful and endemic species of your winged friends who are often spotted near the falls hidden amidst the bushes perfectly camouflaged or darting in and out of the dark green leaves as if playing the game of hide and seek with you. Needless to say, if you are an adventurous minded visitor, a trek around the waterfall slopes is also something which you would definitely love and which will surely leave you with an experience unprecedented.
Yet another beautiful destination which warrants a visit when you are in Munnar is the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary. Also known as Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary (named after the renowned ornithologist), it is located in district Ernakulam, approximately 2 hours’ drive from Munnar. Needless to say, the sanctuary is a hotspot destination for the avid bird watchers and leaves them with an unmatched visual spectacle of hundreds of exotic birds of the region, playing and tweeting around amidst thick woods and vibrant flora. At this first ever bird sanctuary of Kerala, embark on a birding tour and watch out for its charming beauties, the Indian Cuckoos, Malabar Grey Hornbills, Blue Kingfishers and Dark Fronted Babblers, and you are sure to be left in awe of their mesmerizing splendour. If you are lucky enough, you might even end up spotting Thattekad’s rare lovelies, the rainbow coloured Malabar Trogans, Rufous brown Ceylon Frogmouths, Wayanad Laughing Thrush and White-Bellied Blue Flycatchers; peeping out from amidst the canopy of dense trees or having a refreshing dip in the waterholes of the park, watching these gorgeous birds would really be an ecstatic moment for the true bird lovers and would leave them intoxicated with their benevolent charm.
Undoubtedly, one of the best birding spots in Kerala and Munnar, if you further want to add that extra thrill to your bird watching experience at ‘Thattekad Bird Sanctuary’, plan for a couple of days at the sanctuary. Numerous homestay options are available for the guests around the region and provide for a comfortable and tranquil stay in the lap of Mother Nature.
While Munnar in itself is so picturesque, calm and tranquil that it can leave anyone revitalised, if you are one of those who is yearning for a holiday destination which is completely offbeat, steeped in immense serenity and untouched and away from even a bit of commercialization, you must plan a vacation at Chithirapuram. Located just 10 km. off Munnar, the place has its own unique charm and provides an unmatched tranquillity to the solace seekers. Whether you are on a family holiday or a honeymoon tour, you are sure to fall in love with this enchanting little place that falls off the conventional tourist’s map; just book yourselves a cosy little cottage here and simply enjoy a stay amidst rustling cacophony of swaying trees, embalming scent of nutmegs & cardamoms, soul-soothing melody of chirping birds and trickling music of a little waterfall somewhere flowing close by. If you are at Chithirapuram during monsoons, you are surely going to be taken in awe of its magical ambience, the description of which is completely beyond words; emerald hills engulfed in veils of dark mountain clouds and sweeping mist, rain-drenched greenery all around and a cold breeze to rejuvenate all your senses, I guess there can be no better place on earth than this quaint little hamlet where you can get to see nature at its serene best.
Situated at a height of 3600 ft. above sea level in the picturesque town of Munnar, Fun Forest Adventure Park is yet another of the most famous tourist attractions in the city and undoubtedly, makes for an ideal day for all the thrill seekers and active families. One can indulge here in endless array of adventure activities including Burma Bridge, Horizontal Ladder, Tyre Walk, Spider Net, Rock Climbing, Rappelling, Zip Lining and Valley Crossing, easily satiating his cravings for some adrenaline-raising fun in the midst of stupendous natural beauty speckled with enchanting waterfalls, mist-shrouded hills and small sparkling water streams. The best part is, you need not be worried about safety concerns here as you would be securely harnessed and hooked so that you don’t fall off accidentally. Needless to say, if you are not so adventuresome, a simple stroll or a buggy ride in the park down the tree-lined pathways, revelling yourselves in nature’s vistas and taking in the crisp mountain air, is something you would love and which is sure to prove so immensely therapeutic to your minds, bodies and souls.
Not to explicitly mention, when planning a trip here, carrying a good pair of shoes and comfortable clothing, advisably with zipper pockets is something which is highly recommended; without them, you are really going to have a hard time running, climbing and jumping around during the activities. If you are carrying cameras along, it should be a compact one and if it’s a go-pro, there can be nothing better than that!
A year round destination, whether you plan for a holiday in Munnar during summers, winters or monsoon, you are sure to return home with some unforgettable experiences that would be etched in your memories forever. With so many attractions to see and things to do, one can easily get confused as to what and what not to include on their holiday itineraries in Munnar. To relieve from this dilemma, we have made our sincere efforts in bringing to you, the best 14 tourist destinations in this enchanting little hill town; do browse through the list above and let us know if you find an attraction or a destination missing. We will make sure that it gets added in our next blog on Munnar.