I had been keen on touring South India for a very long time. If you have read my past posts, you'd know how excited I was when I reached my first stop in Kerala, Wayanad. It was in Wayanad that I realized why Kerala is called God's Own Country!
In this post, I'll share with you an extensive Munnar travel guide to help you plan your trip to the beautiful green city.
Munnar is known for its endless tea gardens and unparalleled green landscapes. The city was a lot more than just picturesque views for me. I had my first hitch-hiking experience in Munnar, and it is here where I toured the city with a local. A resident of Idduki volunteered to show me the hidden treasures of his beautiful birthplace. Watch the complete story here.
How to reach Munnar?
The best way to reach Munnar (given that you are not coming from far away) is by road. Depending on where you are coming from, you can take a state bus that goes to Munnar.
PS: There are chances that you do not find a direct bus. In that case, the person at the ticket counter can guide you about the bus you'll need to take at each hop before Munnar.
For example, in my case, there was no direct bus from Coimbatore to Munnar. Therefore, I took a TSNTC bus to Udumalpet, from where I took a KSRTC bus to Munnar.
I stayed in Chithirapuram, a hill town 13 km from Munnar. So I had to take another bus from Munnar bus stand to reach my hotel.
Other ways to reach Munnar, take a train to Kochi or Aluva, the closest towns to Munnar, or take a flight to Kochi. Once you reach either of these cities, you can take the KSRTC bus to Munnar.
Where to stay in Munnar?
If you do not own a vehicle, the best location to stay in Munnar, in my opinion, is closer to the city center. It is nearer to many viewpoints, and with many transportation options. The drawback though is, it is in the middle of the tourist crowd.
On the contrary, if you stay a little further from the main town, you'll find a little more secluded, scenic, and budget place to stay.
I stayed at Crayons Guesthouse in Chithirapuram, which is 13 km from Munnar. There is a regular bus service between the two towns that made it convenient for me to commute.
How to commute in Munnar?
I was in Munnar in June'19, and at that time, the scooter rentals in the city were closed. So I depended on public transport and hitch-hiking to commute to different points.
There are also full-day tours offered by jeep/auto drivers that will cost INR 800-1000 for a day tour to specific points of interest.
If you are not comfortable with a more restricted schedule, you can travel using public transport, buses or shared jeeps. But there are problems with public transport too. You will not be able to make pitstops on your way to the destination, and there might not even be any bus route to your point of interest.
Finally, you can also hitch-hike with someone, and if you are lucky like me, the person might even volunteer to show you around their city.
Places to see in Munnar
Tea gardens will definitely be a highlight of your trip to Munnar. But there are so many other beautiful spots in the city that you cannot miss. Let me break it down to a 3-day itinerary to help you plan better.
On your first day in Munnar, you can cover the places situated along the Munnar-Top Station Highway. You can conveniently get a bus from the city center to these places.
The Vast Matupetty (or Madupetty) Dam
Make your first stop of the day at Matupetty dam. It is around 12 km from the main town of Munnar on the Munnar-Top Station Highway. You can take a bus or a shared jeep for INR 20 from Munnar to the dam.
Leave early from your hotel to enjoy the vastness of the dam and its still, calm waters in quiet. Most tourists start gathering around 12.
The drop in the water level of the reservoir was quite evident, which was due to a delay in monsoons this year. Nonetheless, the view of the dam did not fail to amaze me.
Walk on to the bridge connecting the roads to get a picture-perfect panoramic view of the dam reflecting greens of the surrounding trees in its calm waters.
PS: You can also buy souvenirs from the shops just outside the dam area.
A little further of Echo Point
As a visitor, you must have read about Echo Point. But what you wouldn't know of is a point, which just 500 meters from the Echo Point, a vast green meadow. I had hitch-hiked from Matupetty Dam to the Echo Point with a local, who was kind enough to suggest this point instead.
With a delay in monsoons, the water in this area had dried up, and all that remained was dry grassland with shades of green and brown. Moreover, you can shout and let your voice echo back here too!
This place is a reservoir which is full of water during and post-monsoon, and you can actually see it from Echo Point.
View Tamil Nadu from Top Station
Top Station is the highest point in Munnar and is at the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. You can see the extensive lands of Tamil Nadu boasting its giant windmills from here. The views from this point are magnificent with a beautiful landscape below.
Visit Vattavada - The Vegetable Village
Vattavada village is 45 km from Munnar. To reach here, pass the Top Station viewpoint and ride towards Pampadum Shola National Park. Once you cross the beautiful thick range of shola forest, you'll see this extensive land of organic food and crops, the Vattavada village.
The view of the village from the top is dreamy and mesmerizing. Vattavada is a valley surrounded by hills on all sides. And as you reach towards it, you'll start seeing an endless stretch of green fields. Villagers mainly grow strawberries, apples, potatoes, and cabbage here.
Many tourists visit the village to buy fresh organic food, and especially strawberries. Spend some time touring the fields and talking to locals living here.
If on your first day, you covered the points along the Munnar-Top Station highway, you can plan to visit spots in another part of the city on your second day here.
PS: I visited the points near Chithirapuram on the second day.
The quiet and serene Chengulam Dam
If you enjoy peace in a secluded part surrounded by nature, but still stay close to the main road, this place is for you. Skip the boating center and enter from the other quieter side of the dam. Walk down a small muddy path to reach the pristine waters of the reservoir.
PS: There are options for multiple activities, including boating, on the other side of the dam.
If you are interested in those, walk to the Chengulam boating center after spending some peaceful time sitting by the water.
Tea Gardens of Pullivasal Tea Estate
If you don't have enough time to visit the farther Kolukkumalai tea estate(apparently the world's highest tea estate) across the Kerala border in Tamil Nadu, you can visit one of the local tea estates of Munnar.
There are around 50 tea estates in and around Munnar, and Pullivasal tea estate is one of them. It lies mid-way between Munnar and Chithirapuram in Pullivasal village.
I visited the estate on Saturday afternoon, and coincidentally, there was not even a single tourist on the estate at that time. The walk across the tea gardens is so refreshing. The smell of the tea leaves is so strong that it will awaken all your senses. As you stroll through the estate, look on either side, you'll see nothing but endless stretches of tea plants. You will also see Attukad waterfalls on the far end. The falls in the background provides a picture-perfect view from the estate.
PS: Once you finish the tour of the tea gardens, you can walk to these falls, which are around 2.5 km from the Pullivasal tea estate.
Walk to the endpoint of the estate, where you'll see many farmer ladies carefully plucking tea leaves. Do make a stop there and strike a conversation with them.
I had a great time talking with a few ladies working there. They enjoy meeting and knowing people from other places and share their own stories with them.
Sit by the splendid Attukad waterfalls
Attukad waterfall is a 30-minute walk from the Pullivasal tea estate. Surrounded by dense greens on both sides, these falls are a treat to eyes and ears alike.
You can not enter the falls, but you can get a beautiful panoramic view from the Daya Villas Restaurant, which also serves as an entry to the closest point to the falls.
Sip some hot tea while you enjoy lovely scenery in front of you and listen to the falls crashing on the rocks.
See the sunset at Chithirapuram View Point
As the evening approaches, and the sun starts setting, walk to the Chithirapuram View Point. The point is famous for an infinite stretch of tea estate that looks gorgeous under the setting sun.
If you have a bonus day, you can plan a day trip to a place outside Munnar.
Fly with the wind at Chathurangapara viewpoint
Located at Kerala-Tamil Nadu border and around 45 km from Munnar, Chaturangpara is one of the most surreal places to visit. The drive to Chaturangpara is pleasant, and you will cross many tiny villages on the way.
As you start nearing it, you'll see a series of giant windmills adorning the top of the viewpoint. The wind at the top is so strong that it gets really difficult to maintain balance at some points.
Surrounded by clouded hills on all sides and pastures of Tamil Nadu below, the view from Chathurangpara is so scenic that you can spend an entire evening sitting here.
On your way back from the viewpoint, you can make a stop at the nearby tea-shop for some hot tea and chips before you head back to Munnar.
Additional Tips for your Munnar trip
If you prefer a comparatively warmer temperature to stay, find accommodation in Marayoor, a town 42 km north of Munnar.
Visit the Sandalwood forest in Marayoor, which is apparently, the only natural sandalwood forest in Kerala.
Climb to South India's highest peak, Anamudi, 30 km from Munnar.
Other points of interest that I made a stop at are Pothamedu Viewpoint, Kanan Devan Hills Tea Estate, Kallimali Viewpoint, and Ponmudi Dam.