Kerala’s Munnar voted world’s second greatest tourist destination
Bested only by Tokyo, Japan, the serene hill station of Munnar in ‘God’s own country’ has been named the second-greatest travel destination in the world by TripAdivsor. Surrounding by sprawling tea plantations, Munnar beat out Cambodia’s Siem Reap and Kyoto and Naha in Japan to round out the top-five in the Traveler’s Choice Destination awards for 2010.
"Millions of travellers rely on TripAdvisor for travel inspiration. So we are thrilled and humbled that Munnar has been honored by travellers this year," said Kerala Tourism secretary Dr Venu. "The awards are particularly meaningful as they are determined by real travellers."
Winners were determined by a combination of travellers’ destination comments, favorite places, and overall destination popularity on TripAdvisor.
While Munnar has been a favourite for both Indian and foreign tourists, in recent years the hill station has started attracting adventure travellers. The region’s topography makes it idea for paragliding, trekking and rock climbing. There is also the Eravikulam National Park, home to an array of wildlife, including the endangered Nilgiri Tahr (ibex), ruddy mongoose and over 120 bird species.
Eight other Indian destinations made it to the top 25 Asian destination choice list, including Andaman and Nicobar Islands at 6th spot, Manali (7), Hampi (8), Goa (9), Udaipur (12), Gangtok (19), Bangalore (20) and Dharamsala (22).
Kerala Tourism director M Sivasankar said: "With 15 million registered members, TripAdvisor is no doubt the world’s most popular and largest travel community. So we are delighted and thrilled to learn that Munnar has rated so well with such an esteemed audience of travellers.
Now in its eighth year, the annual TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice awards honour the world’s best destinations. Unlike any other awards programme, TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice winners are based on reviews and opinions about destinations on tripadvisor.com and content from across the internet.
Near Munnar Town
Atukkad Waterfalls – A scenic waterfalls amidst hills and jungles. You can find a road leading to Atukkad Waterfalls on Kochi road (just about 5 km from Munnar). This road is very narrow and needs a lot of experience to drive on.
Chithirapuram is located at a distance of around 10 km from Munnar. Chithirapuram has old playgrounds and courts, bungalows and sleepy little cottages which all give this place an old world charm. This town is also famous for its tea plantations in the world.
Blossam Park – 4 km from Munnar.
Pothamedu View Point
Photo Point: 2 Kms from Munnar. It is a small place filled with woods and a small stream. Good location to take photos.
Mattupetti Dam – 10km from Munnar, this popular picnic spot activities like boating and horse riding and is a great place to spend the day especially if visiting with children. You could take the speed boat ride which is fantastic. It costs 300 INR if you have to hire a boat for you alone. The ride is for 15 minutes. The maximum capacity is 5 persons and you could save some money if you are a group of 4 to 5.
Mattupetty Indo-Swiss Farm – Better known as Mattupetti (cattle village), Tamil migrant labourers had once upon a time reared cattle here. The cool climate and abundance of fodder made it the ideal location for the Indo-Swiss dairy farm. Established in 1961, the Kerala Livestock Development Board (KLDB) manages this highly specialised dairy farm. The dairy farm is a unique one of its kind with more than 100 varieties of high-yielding cattle being reared.
Echo Point – 15km from Munnar, on the way to top station from Munnar is a small lake set amidst rolling hills. Every loud call made from a spot on the lake embankment is returned manifold by the echo from the surrounding hills. Young tourists throng to this place to listen to the echoes of their friendship calls.
Elephant Arrival Spot – 18 Km from Munnar, Here you can board an elephant for a ride. It costs appox. 350 Rs for a person.
Kundala Lake – 23 kms from Munnar. This lake is very beautiful amidst lush jungles. Hiring a pedal boat and exploring the lake and its surroundings is an awesome experience. Except at the place you hired the boat, don’t expect to find humans around the lake as it is surrounded by scenic jungles and hills. Unless you know how to row a boat, prefer a pedal boat, each trip lasts around 30 min and will be closed at 4:30 PM
Top Station,. 37km from Munnar on the Kerala and Tamil Nadu border, has great views of the Western Ghats. Top station is the "top"-tourist attraction. This place gives a real ‘above the clouds’ experience. Regular buses go to Top Station (1 hr) from Munnar. A jeep costs Rs 400. The area is known for the Neelakurunji plant, which flowers only once every twelve years. The flower is violet.
Tata Tea Museum’ is located at the distance of around 2 km on the Nallathany road, from Munnar. Tourists can see pieces of colonial era and old bits collection. Videography and Photography is strictly prohibited here. This museum remains open from morning 10’o clock till evening 4’o clock every day, besides Monday which is an off day. There is a 50 rupees ticket on the entry for the adults and 25 rupees ticket for the children.
Naimakkadu Water Falls’
Eravikulam (Rajamalai) National Park: 45 mins from Munnar. See Nilgiri Thar (Hemitragas hylocres) – an endangered species of mountain goats, rolling grasslands and sholas, spread over 97 sq km in the Rajamalai hills, rare flora and fauna, Atlas moth (largest in the world), lion-tailed macaque, leopards, tigers, The Kurichi or Neelakurinji Flowers turn the hills of Rajamalai blue every 12 years. The next bloom will be in 2018. One can actually debate if going to the high peak just to see some goats is worth all the effort or not. However, the walk along the park is very romantic and has some breath taking view.
Anamudi Peak inside Eravikulam National Park:
The highest peak (2695 m) south of the Himalayas, towers over the sanctuary in majestic pride. The slopes of the hills abound in all kinds of rare flora and fauna. The Atlas moth, the largest of its kind in the world, is a unique inhabitant of the park. Other rare species of fauna found here are the Nilgiri Langur, the lion-tailed macaque, leopards, tigers, etc. An ideal place for trekking, facilities are provided here and tourists are allowed to go on foot up to Anamudi.
Lakkam Water Falls’ 24 Km from Munnar. It is a small waterfall.
Marayoor – Around 40km from Munnar. It is the only place in Kerala with natural growth of sandalwood trees, natural caves with murals, and relics from Later Stone Age civilisation. There is a sandalwood factory of the Forest Department of Kerala and a children’s park extending across one hectare of land under the canopy of a single Banyan tree, all of which attract tourists in large numbers.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, .Chinnar wildlife sanctuary is located in the Wester Ghats of Kerala. This wildlife sanctuary has a large number of plants and animals. This wildlife sanctuary is spread in around 90 km of area. This sanctuary is one of the protected areas in the western ghats because of its geomorphologic, ecological, cultural significance and floral.
Other places to visit:
Salim Ali (Thattekkad) Bird Sanctuary,. There are woodpeckers, Malabar gray hornbills, Ceylon frogmouths, parakeets, and rose-billed rollers. This sanctuary is located 20km from Kothamangalam on the road between Ernakulam and Munnar. There are basic and mid-range hotels in Kothamangalam and an Inspection Bungalow in Boothathankettu. You can take a boat cruise from Boothathankettu to Thattekkad. Admission Foreigners/Indian Rs 40/10.
water fall near rajmala
Kolukkumalai Tea Estate – At a height of about 7130 ft, this orthodox tea factory lays claim to being one of the highest in the world. The view of the Western Ghats is absolutely enchanting.
Water falls – Check out several natural waterfalls on the way to Munnar. These waterfall carry fresh rain water. They provide an excellent place for all tourists to have photo shootout.
Munnar (Malayalam: മൂന്നാര്) is a town located in the Idduki district of India’s Kerala state, situated in the south Western Ghats of India, the name Munnar usually refers to the whole
tourist area of the Idukki District of which the town forms only a small part.The name Munnar is believed to be derived from the malayalam/tamil words Munu (three) and aaru (river), referring to the town’s strategic location at the confluence of the Muthirappuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly
rivers. The Munnar panchayat in the Devikulam block is the largest panchayat in the Idduki district having an area measuring nearly 557 km. Essentially a pass; the area around Munnar is surrounded by vast jungles and remains wet and cold during most of the year. The entire area of Munnar officially belongs to the government of Kerala; though the Poonjar royal family (its pre-independence owners) have made claims to the contrary. Sprawling tea plantations, picture book towns, winding lanes, trekking and holiday facilities make Munnar a unique experience for the tourist and traveller. Munnar is essentially a tea town. There is a large population of people from Tamil Nadu.
History of the old Munnar-Aluva Pathway
[Old Aluva – Munnar Road]. The Reconstruction of the road was started in 1891s and was completed in the following decade. In fact the road has a much older tale to tell. The road that the local people showed the British was the remnants of a glorious past, Bits and pieces of an ancient Royal Path that connected the historic port city of Musiris (Now Kodungallur) with the city of old Madurai. The road covered the Western Ghat-–home to invaluable natural resources. The history of trade through this route traces back to the times before the Old Testament. There is enough evidence suggesting the importance of the road and the city of Musiris in the history of ancient globalisation.It’s a lush green carpet of tea plants.
The presence megaliths and so many other historical monuments point towards a civilisation over 3000 years old.
The ancient Pathway(road) was constructed in the Chera Era (300 BCE to 250 CE). The road, which transported valuables including sandalwood and spices from the misty heights to Musiris, was once the backbone of an economy. As trade in these items increased, Feneshiya/Arab/Roman/Chinese traders were attracted to India, and more specifically Kerala.
The road is a rather unique one. First, it runs almost parallel to the rivers Periyar and Pooyamkutty. Second,It has no steep slopes and maintains almost a constant slop of 1:10. Third, it goes through The Western Ghats, one of the world’s ten ecological hotspots. This place is famous for the "Neelakurinji" flower .
Third, nobody has as yet traced the ancient road in entirety. The reason being, the change in topography of the land over centuries. The Great Flood in 1354 almost wiped out the city of Musiris, destroyed the port and, as if in a quid pro quo, formed the natural contours enabling Cochin Harbour. The course of the rivers was also changed considerably, making it difficult to apprehend how the road, described as following the ancient river course, actually would have been.
However there is enough evidence to show that the road existed and a civilisation prospered by the side of it. The remnants of old Forts, Nannangadis, and Muniyaras (dolmens) around the region show the same.
Geography and climate
The region in and around Munnar varies in height from 2,000 meters (6,562 ft) to 2,600 meters (8,530 ft) above mean sea level. Munnar enjoys a salubrious climate. The temperature ranges between 10 °C (50 °F) and 0 °C (32 °F) in winter and 8 °C (46.4 °F) and 16 °C (60.8 °F) in summer. The tourist season in Munnar is from August to May. However, even the monsoons are lovely with many streams and rivulets in the area and post drizzle the dew drenched tea gardens looking majestic and heavenly enshrouded in light mist .
Most residents of Munnar are employed in the tea industry, or are involved in the tourism business. In 2000, the Government of Kerala declared Munnar as a tourist spot. This has helped in attracting more tourists to this beautiful hill resort. Several protected wildlife areas and the regions attractive climate area attract many tourists who support the many hotels, restaurants and transport businesses in Munnar and constitute an important, if seasonal, mainstay for its economy.