“Munnar” is the most “want to go” destination for the Indian honeymooner. Honeymooners around the country who visit Munnar get mesmerized by its weather, the tea plantations, the serene landscapes and the natural water bodies and dams. The Most common thing to head is for the typical “Munnar Sightseeing” that extends up till evening. It includes the National Park, the Tea Museum, blossom rose garden, the Mattupetty Dam, Eco point and finally the Top Station. Come on guys Munnar is not just about Munnar sightseeing and all of these start from Munnar Town. By “Munnar” I mean the Munnar town, the crowded, traffic jammed and hot Munnar town. So here are a few things that would change the whole perspective about Munnar.
The very term Munnar is to identify an area of the Western Ghats which is relatively coolers than the plains. Munnar is considered to be the tea town; however all of the tea is out of town. The best tea scenic tea plantations are either towards Top station or to Marayoor. The Munnar town is basically a Market where all of the tea plantation workers and other residents of Munnar outskirts come to buy the required provisions and vegetables. The town has a lot of small and large scale hotels, lodges and restaurants, and most of these are intended for the budget tourist. For a tourist, an overnight accommodation at the cramped town would be more than enough, plus sightseeing, a few photographs, and buying some carrots would serve the purpose of the visit. But this would be an embarrassment for a traveler loves to feel the soul of Munnar.
So the question arises like where we should you be going, when we mean a “visit to Munnar”. For Accommodation we would like to suggest a few places like Ela Ecoland Nature Retreat (Tree House, plus close to Annakulam), Nature zone Munnar (away from the town), Windermere Estate ( A Planters property away from the town) Shola peaks (Kathaloor) and Camp Noel (Near to top Station and Kottakambur). I am listing these places
The Elephants at Annakulam
Annakulam falls on the original and the very first Aluva Munnr Road, the road from Cochin. This was the road used by the British and later on a new commercial route was developed touching Adimaly (The present day road). Annakulam is a small village close to the forests and the tribal settlements of Munnar. Annakulam literally means “Anna” is Elephant, Kulam means a pond. But here at Annakulam you have a river flowing marking a clear separation between the village and the forests of the Western Ghats. The river at Annakulam has a specialty, when you go closer you could see bubbles popping up from the bottom of the river. Elephants form the nearby forests come down in herds to drink waters from the river at a very particular spot at Annakulam. Villagers say that the bubbles that come up through the bed of the river is salty in nature and Elephants love it very much. I did not get a salty feeling after tasting it, but there is something that attracts Elephants to come down to Annakulam. This is one place where you could see herds of Elephants at a very specific spot. They come down from forests by batches and wait patiently for the previous batch to finish their drinking session. Since the Elephant arrival timing is unsure, we generally phone the locals and ask whether Elephants have arrived and head towards Annakulam to see them.
The Vegetables farms and fruit gardens of Kanthalloor
Kathaloor is a small village some fifteen kilometers away from Marayoor which falls on the Munnar Coimbatore route. Kathaloor is relatively on a higher altitude than Munnar town and hence is relatively very cold. The Marayoor Jaggery, Cabbage and potato farms, and strawberry and passion fruit gardens are some interesting aspects about the place. Local shops sell strawberry and passion fruit wines. The altitude is really high and the place is filled with gradis trees (used for paper making) part of the Eucalyptus family. The dolements and the sandalwood forests are an added attraction. There is a community of tribal people living here, however as time moved on their life also got modernized.
Kottakambur – Farmland and tribal settlements
Just like Kathalloor, kottakamboor is also another place that lies within the same altitude; the weather is drier and is part of the extended villages of Munnar towards Kodaikanal. Kottakamboor is on the old Munnar Kodaikanal road, which is not abandoned and is covered up by forest. In fact this is a dead end. If you get into the forests, there are tribal communities still living the old fashioned lifestyle. There are rudrakha trees in the forest and it is believed that sages used to meditate here. The plains of Tamil Nadu lie not very far away, and people are mostly Tamilians living in Kerala. There are vegetable farmlands of carrots, cabbage, potato, strawberry and a lot more.
Top Station and Neelakurinji
Top station was one of the top points that had access to the plains of Tamil Nadu, this was the point from where the tea was transported to the plain lands of Tamil Nadu and from where it was transported to Chennai from where it was exported to England. Top station is a wondrous view point where many visit every day. From Top Station one could see the Kolukkumalai Tea Plantations and the plains of the Tamil Nadu where a ropeway station was setup during the British Era. Today this acts just like a view point, still it is located in one of the best parts of Munnar at a higher altitude. During the blooming season of Neelakurinji you will see these small little flowers will color up a mountain to Voilet.
Kolukkumalai Tea Factory
Kolukkumalai Tea Factory is the highest orthodox organic tea factory in the world that follows the orthodox method of manufacturing tea. The system and the machinery used are the same used during the British era in India. This method retains more flavor and aroma to tea, whereas the CTC (Crush tear and curl) method is more of a commercial method. To reach Kolukkumalai, you will have to take a Jeep off road drive for an hour to reach the top until the factory. There you will meet Mani who shows your around the plantation and the factory. There is a INR 100 entry ticket. At the end of the tour, mani will offer you some amazing flavorsome Kolukkumalai tea. You can see Top station from the nearby view point. The ambiance and the climate is entirely different here.