Munnar holds a special place on the Kerala map, nestled gracefully along the western slopes of the Western Ghats. The Munnar Hills emerge as a favoured sanctuary during the summer months, beckoning local travellers from nearby regions like Cochin. It is also a centre of tea cultivation in Kerala. The pristine tea gardens of Munnar are trendy among honeymooners and nature lovers alike. If you are here to find the soul of Kerala, you can’t miss the spice plantations in the region, especially cardamom, ginger, pepper, etc.,
In this blog, we are trying to answer Frequently Asked Questions by adventure and nature travellers visiting Munnar.
Munnar has various ecosystems, including evergreen, deciduous, and shola forests. Among them, the shola forests are so unique and endemic to higher altitudes in the Western Ghats. It is proven that the shola forests play a significant role in maintaining the fragile ecosystem of the western ghats.
The oldest known human structure here is the Muniyara (Dolmens) found at Marayoor in Munnar. Many believe that it is more than 5000 years old. However, the name Munnar is believed to originate from the Tamil words “munu,” meaning “three,” and “aar,” meaning “river.” Munnar was under the control of local tribes till the British planters discovered Munnar and started the tea plantation business in the 18th century. It may be interesting to know that Munnar was home to a robust Scottish community till the early 20th century. Please visit www.oldenplanet.com if you are interred in learning more about the history of Munnar.
Munnar is well-connected by road. For air travellers, the closest airport is Cochin International Airport, located approximately 110 kilometres away. From there, you can opt for a taxi or bus to Munnar, with a travel time of around 4 hours. If you’re arriving by train, the nearest railway station is Aluva, about 110 kilometres from Munnar.
You should not expect to do any jeep safaris here, as you might do in the national parks of northern India or Africa. Observing wildlife here is more of an incidental experience and relies on your luck. An exception, of course, is the Nilgiri Tahr, the prominent inhabitant of Eravikulam National Park.
These are the four wildlife destinations you can visit while exploring Munnar.
a. Eravikulam National Park: Renowned for the endangered Nilgiri Tahr, this park occasionally offers sightings of the Nilgiri Martin and numerous endemic bird species. Best time to visit: September to January. Please verify the park calendar before finalizing your plans, as the park is closed to the public during the breeding season of the Nilgiri Tahr, which typically occurs from February to April.
b. Anamudi Shola National Park: A hidden gem, home to Nilgiri langurs and the Indian giant squirrel. Trekkers might spot elephants and rare birds. Best time to visit: November to April.
c. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary: Featuring a blend of dry and deciduous forests, this sanctuary is home to grizzled giant squirrels, star tortoises, and abundant birdlife. Best time to visit: is December to April.
e. Mathikettan Shola National Park: An untouched haven with various mammals, including tigers and sambar deer. Birdwatchers can spot the Nilgiri pipit. Best time to visit: November to April.
Munnar is about 5,000 feet above sea level and is blessed with various types of forests, including shola. Based on our experience, Munnar and nearby areas such as Chinnar and Bodimetthu Gap are the best locations in Kerala for observing high-altitude birds. It is possible to spot around 10 Western Ghats endemics, such as the Black and Orange Flycatcher, Nilgiri Pipit, Nilgiri Blue Robin, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Square-tailed Bulbul, and Kerala Laughing Thrush, among others.
If your intention is birdwatching, we suggest setting aside two to three days for Munnar. Although these birds are endemic and resident, planning your birding trip between December and March would be ideal.
Munnar and nearby hills have become famous trekking and hiking destinations for casual and serious trekkers. Watching the sunrise from the summit of Meesapulimala has become a must-do activity among youngsters visiting Munnar. Here are a few popular trekking trails in Munnar:
a. Anamudi Trek: Offering breathtaking vistas from South India’s tallest peak, the trek takes around two days and has moderate difficulty. It starts at Eravikulam National Park and ends at Anamudi Peak.
b. Meesapulimala Trek: Traverse rolling hills and grasslands over 1-2 days with moderate difficulty. Start from Silent Valley and end at Meesapulimala Peak.
c. Chokramudi Trek: This 1-day trek through Shola forests has an easy to moderate difficulty. It starts at Pothamedu and ends at Chokramudi Peak.
d. Letchmi Hills Trek: Explore lush tea gardens and dense forests on an easy 1-day trek starting and ending in Munnar.
e. Chummar Trek: Enjoy a half-day hike through tea plantations with an easy difficulty level. The trek starts and ends in Munnar.
You should take advantage of visiting attractions like the Mattupetty Dam, Indo-Swiss Dairy Farm, and spice plantations while exploring Munnar.
Check with your tour guide if Neelakurinji has bloomed in the hills.
If you are interested in visiting historical places in Munnar, we recommend reading: Heritage & History of Munnar.
Before embarking on your Munnar adventure, consider the timing, as the region experiences a heavy monsoon season. The best time to visit Munnar is from November to March. Avoid the holiday season. You must also ensure decent accommodation here and have secured the necessary permits for activities like trekking and wildlife.