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Munnar

The tea capital of India

[ Travel date : December 2017 ]

Kerala, one of the most beautiful states of India located on the Southwestern Malabar coast. This one state can be considered as the perfect introduction of India to anyone who is visiting the country for the first time. You can discover the beauty of hills, the vast oceans, dense forests, a variety of spices, different kinds of species, the spiritual culture, and whatnot. A destination that will prove that why so many travelers love India so much.

 

Kerala is a Malayalam word - Kera means 'coconut tree' and Alam means 'land'; thus, 'Land of Coconuts'.

Reaching south from other parts of India is often a very long & time-taking journey, may it be via flight, train or any other transport. So planning your trip specifically from which part of the state you want to start and end your trip is very important.

As for us, we booked a train from Nagpur to Ernakulam, Kochi to begin with and booked our return ticket from Thiruvananthapuram (or Trivandrum) to Nagpur.

 

To reach Kerala, here are the options :

  • By Air: Kerala has 4 airports [ Trivandrum, Cochin, Kozhikode, and Kannur ]

  • By Train: Taking a train to Kerala is an incredible experience that provides breathtaking views of the beautiful coastline. Major stops are Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Kozhikode, Kottayam and Ernakulam

  • By Road: If you want to see the breathtaking coastal views and there's no time constraint, a road trip to Kerala should be on your bucket list. You can drive from major cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Goa, Mumbai, New Delhi

  • By Sea: Make unique travel memories by making your way here by sea, with cruise ships from Cochin Port in Kochi or Vizhinjam International Seaport in Thiruvananthapuram.

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Munnar

A hill station/town in the Western Ghats mountain range in the Idukki district, famous for tea plantation. Munnar is also called the "Kashmir of South India" and is a popular travel destination.

We began our road trip to Munnar after arrival at Ernakulam station. Ernakulam to Munnar is a 125-kilometer drive that takes about three hours to reach.

 

The best time to visit Munnar is during the winters. The weather is frosty, with pockets of clouds and water. The overall atmosphere is warm and welcoming!

 

When we arrived in Munnar, all we could see were lovely tea plantations or tea gardens. We checked into our hotel after driving through the Munnar market. Since we reached in the evening, we spent the rest of the day relaxing and strolling around our hotel.

Places to go in Munnar

Here are the top places to visit in Munnar :

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Eravikulam ( Rajamalai ) National Park

Kerala’s first national park. This park is famous for Nilgiri tahr, a highly endangered goat-like species. There are several uncommon wildlife and endangered butterfly species that can be spotted here. Luckily I also got to see a few Nilgiri tahrs in the park.

This park is also famous for the world's rarest flower - Neelakurunji, a blue-colored kurunjiflower, which blooms once in 12 years (the next bloom is expected in 2030). Only to visualize this flower valley, go ahead and google it; you will be blown away by its uniqueness.

 

Just thinking about this place seems unusual, isn't it? Well, it is. One more reason behind it is that private vehicles are not allowed here and hence keeping this part of the Munnar pollution-free.

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How to reach: The only way to scale the whole park is on foot. You will have to take a bus from the entry gate and they will take you through the high rolling hill plateau. After a 15-20 minute ride, they will drop you off at a certain point and you will have to walk around the park from there.

 

The park is open seven days a week. The safari begins at 8:30 a.m. and finishes at 4 p.m. A full safari will take about 2-3 hours.

 

One thing about traveling on hills is that the weather changes very frequently. One moment you'll see the bright sun and the other moment suddenly the clouds will surface. The same thing happened to us in Rajamalai, as we were driving back, it began to rain and the fog began to form.

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Mattupetty Dam

The stunning reflection of the nearby hills on the waters of Mattupetty Lake is a highlight. The reservoir is also a popular destination for elephants in the Idukki area. It's a very small place but the view is quite amazing. The weather had totally changed by the time we reached. Since it was foggy with dark clouds, I couldn't see the reflection in the water. Nonetheless, the environment was very pleasant.

Echo Point

 

Like every other tourist place, Munnar also has its own Echo Point, well-known for its natural echo phenomena. It's a forest/lake surrounded by mountains where you will get a brilliant view of the valley.

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Pothamedu View Point

 

It is a beautiful location with tea gardens and massive silver oak trees. The presence of heavy fog and mist sometimes may result in near-zero visibility, but if the weather is bright, you will get a 360-degree view of tea plantations and also be able to see hills to as far as the eyes can see.

Lockhart Tea Factory & Museum

 

Tea plantations are everywhere around you in Munnar's forested countryside, as you might have clearly imagined this place in your mind while reading this article. Munnar's unique climate and altitude have made the region's valleys suitable for the cultivation of a wide range of tea.

 

So, visiting a tea factory in a place that is known for its tea plantation should definitely be on your list. About 30 minutes from Munnar, there's this famous Lockhart Tea factory which you can visit and book a tour to see how tea leaves are processed. We bought various kinds of tea from there - green tea, white tea, black tea, etc. I was amazed to see these many types of tea.

Things you can buy from Munnar

Sharing this list of few specialties of Munnar (other than Tea) that you can buy :

  1. Spices

  2. Local Chocolates

  3. Aromatic Oils

 

As the day came to an end, we returned to our hotel, had dinner, and went to bed early as we had to get up at 5 a.m. the next day and head towards our next destination.

It was a brilliant idea to begin my Kerala trip from Munnar. Since it was my first time visiting South India, I had no idea of the beautiful natural landscapes I was going to discover in the coming days.

 

We did a 7-day long road trip and the changing landscapes as we were heading from one place to another is a whole new experience one could have here. Kerala allowed me to see the hills, lakes, ocean, and dense forest all in one trip.

 

Stay tuned for the next chapter and find out where I went next.

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