Nestled in the mighty Western Ghats and surrounded by sprawling tea plantations is the hill station of Munnar. A favoured summer retreat of the British who were lured by the cool mountain air, the surrounding mountains and valleys are one of India’s most picture-perfect destinations.
Munnar sits at the confluence of three rivers and is the centre of Kerala’s tea growing region. The surrounding hills and plantations create a sea of green as far as the eye can see, interrupted only by a sprinkling of colonial-style bungalows and paths that wind their way through the estates. A veil of mist hangs over the lower slopes while higher up, crags and peaks soar towards the clouds.
While the town of Munnar is a cluster of cottages and factories, it is the rolling hills and lush greenery that are the main attraction. Trekking here is superb, and as you weave through the rolling hills, each corner reveals a new vista and a slightly different shade of green.
The nearby Eravikulam National Park is where keen hikers will find southern India’s highest peak, Anamundi at 1,700 metres above sea level. The park is also home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr and a host of rare butterflies and birds. The area surrounding Munnar is where the endemic Neelakurinji plant grows, which covers the hills is a blanket of blue and purple flowers. Nature lovers will have to be patient though, as it only flowers once every 12 years.
There are also lakes and waterfalls to be explored and, rather surprisingly, an Indo-Swiss dairy farm in nearby Mattupetty. However you spend your time in this remarkable region, just make sure you set aside some time to simply sit back and take in its incredible natural beauty – with a cup of tea in hand, of course.
WHEN TO GO
The best time to visit is from November to March.
What to do
- Explore the lush tea plantations
- Hike in Eravikulam National Park
- Visit nearby lakes and waterfalls