Yes, Munnar is an excellent destination for both trekking and tea lovers. Here’s why:
Trekking in Munnar:
Munnar is surrounded by lush green mountains, beautiful valleys, and picturesque landscapes, making it an ideal place for trekking enthusiasts. Here are some popular trekking trails in and around Munnar:
- Anamudi Peak: It is the highest peak in South India and offers a challenging yet rewarding trekking experience. The trail takes you through dense forests, grasslands, and rocky terrains, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys.
- Meesapulimala Trek: Meesapulimala is the second-highest peak in the Western Ghats and provides an adventurous trekking experience. The trail takes you through tea estates, rhododendron forests, and shola grasslands, offering panoramic views of the Western Ghats.
- Chokramudi Peak: Chokramudi is a relatively easy trek that offers stunning views of Munnar’s tea plantations, valleys, and waterfalls. The trail takes you through tea gardens and dense forests, making it a memorable trekking experience.
- Echo Point to Top Station: This is a moderate-level trek that takes you through Echo Point, where you can hear your voice reverberate, and continues to the scenic Top Station. The trail offers mesmerizing views of the mountains, tea plantations, and the beautiful Pambanar Lake.
Tea Plantations in Munnar:
Munnar is famous for its sprawling tea plantations that stretch across the hills, creating a picturesque landscape. The tea estates offer a unique opportunity to explore and learn about the tea-making process. Here’s what you can do:
- Visit Tea Factories: Take a guided tour of tea factories in Munnar to witness the tea-making process from plucking the leaves to processing and packaging. You can learn about the different types of tea and even sample some freshly brewed tea.
- Tea Estate Walks: Enjoy leisurely walks through the tea plantations, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the serene surroundings. Many tea estates also offer guided walks, where you can learn about the history, cultivation techniques, and significance of tea in the region.
- Tea Tasting: Indulge in tea-tasting sessions to experience the distinct flavors and aromas of various teas. You can learn about the nuances of tea appreciation and even purchase your favorite blends to take back home.
Munnar’s combination of breathtaking treks and stunning tea plantations makes it a perfect destination for adventure enthusiasts and tea lovers alike.
Munnar Best for Trekking and Tea is just over a hundred kilometres from Kochi, but a four-hour drive inland. We haven’t had enough of the coast yet, but we’re saving the lazing on a beach for the end. In the meantime, we’re driving through small towns and upward past neatly ordered tea plantations dotted with slender eucalyptus trees covered in silvery lichen. Walk through sprawling, terraced tea plantations, huff your way up rolling hills, and look for a Nilgiri tahr in Eravikulam National Park.
Munnar, thankfully, is still way behind the hill stations of the north in terms of construction and traffic, and it offers the possibility of even greater solitude if you spend some time in the Eravikulam National Park (15 km).
Home to surreally beautiful endemic plants such as the neelakurinji, which flowers every 12 years to stain the hills with blue, Anamudi, the tallest peak south of the Himalayas, and as a protective zone for the endangered Nilgiri tahr, the Eravikulam National Park has a lot to offer. Give yourself at least a day to explore its grasslands and sholas (forests), though you’ll probably find yourself wanting more.
Munnar itself has several less strenuous activities to occupy yourself with as well, such as a visit to the Tata Tea Museum in the Nalluthanni Estate, where visitors can watch an interesting short documentary on the history of tea plantations in India and see quaint, now obsolete, machines that were in use in the early 1900s. But perhaps the best way to enjoy the town is by hiring a cycle and rolling down (and huffing up) the roads, as we do, to enjoy the 12,000 hectares of tea bushes. This is, of course, best done in the mornings while the tea pluckers are hard at work. Of course, like every self-respecting hill station in India, Munnar too has a ‘view point’: Top Station, 23km away, which looks out over the plains that border Tamil Nadu.
Where to Stay
Anaerangal Camp is made up of a row of tents and a gazebo where fireside conversations flow as you gaze at Anaerangal Lake (00-91-484- 2092280; munnarcamps.com, info@munnarcamps. com; Suryanelli, 25km from Munnar; from Rs. 4,500 all-inclusive).
Casa Del Fauno has only three bedrooms and feels more like a private home than a guesthouse (00-91-484- 3126444; casadelfauno.com, info@ casadelfauno.in; Peak Gardens, Chinnakanal PO, Muttukadu; from Rs. 5,250).
Where to Eat
Rapsy Restaurant, a hole-in-the-wall eatery that began as a local favourite, now serves a mix of Indian dishes like paratha and biryani and Middle-Eastern shakshuka (Munnar Bazaar; meal for two about Rs. 150)