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A Guide to Munnar - Tea Plantations, Wildlife, and Mountain Views

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Perched 1,600 meters above sea level, tranquil Munnar has been attracting visitors since the colonial era. The long-departed British Government retreated to this hill station every summer for their fix of mountain air, and it remains a popular Keralan destination today. It's a lush sight: tea plantations cover hills framed by the Western Ghats. Head out of town for impressive views, wildlife sanctuaries, and trekking.

Historic tea plantations

 

Carefully tended tea estates sprawl across the hillsides surrounding Munnar. This verdant landscape in the Idukki District is South India's largest tea-growing region and the town is its commercial hub. You can drive or walk through winding roads that cut through acres of finely clipped tea bushes. If the views inspire you to learn more about the origins of chai, why not make visit the Tea Museum, a 5-minute drive from town? An antique tea roller from 1905 shows the long history of tea production in this area, while tasting sessions offer the chance to sample different varieties.

 

  • Tea Museum, Nallathanni Estate, Munnar, Idukki District, Kerala; Tel: +91 4865 230561; Website: Tea Museum

Mountain views from Top Station

 

Top Station, 37 km from Munnar on the border between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, is the place to go for incredible views of the Western Ghats. Regular buses from town wind their way up through the clouds to reach this impressive vantage point. It's particularly spectacular during the flowering of the rare Neelakurinji plant, every 12 years, when the valleys are carpeted with its blue blossoms. Closer to town, Photo Point and Pothamedu Viewpoint both offer scenic tea plantation views.

 

National parks and wildlife sanctuaries

 

Mountain goats, wild elephants, and tigers are among the animals you might spot in parks and wildlife sanctuaries close to Munnar. At Eravikulam National Park, 13 km from Munnar, you can see endangered Nilgiri Tahr goats in the hills and work up a sweat climbing Anamudi (2,695 meters), the highest mountain in the Western Ghats. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, 60 km from town, offers accommodation in tribal huts or tree houses, plus guided treks where you can look out for leopards and grizzled giant squirrels. Keen birdwatchers can see exotic species at Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, 70 km from Munnar.

 

  • Eravikulam National Park, Munnar PO, Idukki District, Kerala 685612; Tel: +91 4865 231587; Website: Eravikulam National Park
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  • Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Udumalpet Road, Munnar, Kerala 685612; Tel: +91 4865 231587; Website: Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

 

Dramatic waterfalls near Munnar

 

There are several impressive waterfalls just a taxi or rickshaw ride from Munnar. During monsoon time, you can gaze in awe as water cascades down the mountainside at Attukal falls, 9 km from Munnar. The Lakkam waterfall, a 5-minute drive from town, is another popular photo-stop with vacationers.