Munnar is an enchanting hill station located in God’s own country, Kerala. While its picturesque surroundings and tea plantations are extremely popular, its home to some lesser known marvels as well. Neelakurinji, a Strobilanthus shrub here, flowers once is twelve years! The story goes that a British traveler procured vast expanse of land from the then King with assistance from Kannan Devan, a tribal chieftain. As a gesture of gratitude, the hills were named the Kannan Devan hills. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India called the Anaimudi which provides a spectacular view of the picturesque valley below.
As it is a popular tourist destination, it is well connected by road. You may reach the Aluva railway station or the Kochi airport and hit the road thereafter.
There is no dearth of accommodation here. I stayed at Club Mahindra and found it to be awesome. The ambience is lovely and the staff extremely courteous. . Indulge yourselves in the wide spread buffet options available at their restaurant. It is quite a treat for foodies! For those who prefer home cooked food, you may even carry provisions and cook in the kitchenette of your suite.
Mark your calendar and visit Munnar in 2018 to witness the next blooming of Neelakurinji flower. It blooms only once in 12 years and the last bloom was in 2006. All the slopes of the mountains get enveloped in blue during this phenomenon. An interesting side effect is the quantum leap in production of honey, as million of bees descent in Munnar during the blooming!A visit to the Tea Museum run by TATAs is an amazing experience. The museum brings to life the evolution of Tea industry since 1800s. You can have a look at the demonstration of the entire Tea lifecycle from leaf stage to the final package. Some curios that will attract your attention are the original tea roller of 1905, EPABX of the 1909 telephone system, antique furniture, manual calculators, typewriters, wooden bathtub, etc.
Due to its rich flora and fauna, taking a wild life safari is highly recommended. You can visit The Eravikulam National Park, located 15 kms from Munnar. Besides being home to the Nilgiri Tahr, it also houses 26 species of mammals, 132 species of birds, 101 species of butterflies, 19 species of amphibians and 20 species of orchids. If you are lucky you can spot a Nilgiri Marten, or the small-clawed Otter. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is the next in itinerary. You can spot elephants, leopards and bears here. If you speak to the resort where you are staying, they can arrange a Night Safari. It’s a great experience spotting animals in the moonlight!The Devikulam hill which is situated about 7 kms from Munnar is a picture of enchanting beauty. It lives up to its name meaning Lake of the Goddess. This hill station has a lovely Sita Devi lake that is surrounded by magnificent hills.
Like any other typical Indian hill stations, Munnar too has a lake and complete the ritual of a boat ride here! After the ride you can go to Echo point close to the Mattupetti Lake. You can scream till your throat runs dry and enjoy the echo coming back! This is also the hub for all adventure sports.
For a travelogue on a hill station near Coimbatore unspoilt by crowds, which is also the Jaggery capital of India, visit Pollachi.