Of all the tourist places that I have frequented in my lifetime, so far, the name of Munnar has been etched in my mind forever. Munnar is one of the most idyllic tourist destinations, to say the least. It is a hill station located in the Idukki district of India’s Kerala state. Munnar bears a breathtaking beautiful testimony to the adage: ‘God’s own country’
Munnar is set at an altitude of 5400 feet above sea level. It is situated in India’s South-Western Ghats and is nestled in between the confluence of three mountain streams- Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundilla. Munnar is essentially a tea-town. Sprawling tea plantations, on the hills of Munnar, are the unique feature of this place. The unending expanse of tea plantations, on both sides of the winding road leading to the pristine town, indeed make it an experience to cherish. The spice gardens are a natural resource of the hills of Munnar. Spices like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and turmeric are found in abundance, here and hence Munnar plays a key role in India’s spice plantation industry.
Munnar enjoys a salubrious climate. It has cold winters and pleasant summers. It also enjoys a vivacious monsoon when the springs and rivulets flow with lively gusto and the dew-drenched tea gardens are a treat for the eyes. The months between May to September are the best times to visit the place.
Places of interest:
Munnar offers a number of places worth a visit. The Matupetty dam is the most popular tourist destination. The Matupetty lake and the dam, amidst the lush green landscape, form a beautiful picnic spot. Another place frequented by the tourists, in Munnar, is the Echo Point, which is 15 km. from the Munnar town. This place has a small lake set amidst rolling hills. The USP of this place is that every loud call, made from the lake embankment, is returned manifold in the form of echoes, by the surrounding hills. This place is thronged by the young crowd – eager to listen to the echoes of their calls.
Another popular spot is the Top Station, located 37 km. from Munnar, on the Kerala – Tamil Nadu border. Located at 6168 feet above sea level, this point offers a panoramic view of the majestic Western Ghats and gives the tourists a real feeling of being atop the clouds! Also, while in Munnar, the tourists can avail of a number of trekking and boating facilities – for the really adventurous and sporty kind. Trekking in Munnar is actually recommended for those who are vying for a ‘walk in the clouds ‘ experience and who want to actually feel and see the clouds descend upon them.
Culture and cuisine:
The staple diet of the people of Munnar comprises of rice and fish, cooked in coconut oil. The blend of coconut oil, in the dishes, adds to its mouth-watering aroma. Also available in Munnar are the extremely delicious, crunchy and melt-in-the-mouth, local made banana chips. The typical South Indian delicacies- idli, vada and sambhar are very much a part of the Munnar cuisine. Also, while one is in Munnar, one should never miss the local cardamom tea, the taste of which would actually transcend you to somewhere your taste buds have never been to.
However, for the tourists who are really fussy about their food and would settle for nothing less than their daily taste, Munnar offers a number of restaurants providing cuisines of all kind.
One of the best features of Munnar is the hospitality of its people. Tourism, being a major income source, the locals are only too willing to make sure that the tourist has the experience of a lifetime. The people of Munnar even let out their residences to tourists for ‘home stays’, providing them comfortable lodging and mouth watering delicacies.
How to get to Munnar:
With Munnar being promoted as a tourist destination, its accessibility has also become easier. It is well connected by road, rail and air. The nearest airport is Kochi, which is 130 km away from Munnar – a two hour drive. Kochi is connected by air to all the major cities of India. It is also the nearest railway station to reach Munnar, which is very well connected by road. It is a six hour drive from Coimbatore, in Kerala, and takes the same time from Madurai, in Tamil Nadu. So the next time you plan a vacation it would do you a world of good to keep Munnar high on your priority list. You can rest assured that it would be a wonderful experience.
Devkainya Samadrita Das