hen you think of India do you imagine it as it is usually shown in film? Hot and humid plains, cities teeming with humanity, colorful clothing, vivid temples and overwhelming poverty? If so, then you are in for a surprise.
Imagine: Life at an altitude of 1,500 m (4,300 ft.). Rolling hills covered with the exquisite green of tea and cardamon plantations that rise mysteriously through soft mists. Crisp, fresh air that chills your body but warms your heart. Jagged mountain peaks rising behind you, with waterfalls and unique wildlife to tempt you into exploration. The melodies of colorful birds tempting you out of bed on a cool morning, and below you a view of lakes and hillsides as you sip your morning tea.
And all of this is found not in northern India, where the land rises into the Himalayas, but at the very southern tip of the country– where one would expect its heat to be most pronounced.
“Kerala – the land of kera, the coconut – is a coastal strip bordered by the Arabian sea on the west and the Western Ghats on the east. The main attractions in this state are world famous beaches, backwaters, hill stations, tropical forests, waterfalls, wildlife, Ayurvedic health centres, yoga and meditation, monuments, art forms like Kathakali and Kalarippayattu, festivals like Onam, Pooram and fairs like the Christian Perunals. Kerala is 100 per cent literate and easily the cleanest state. It has India’s highest Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI), highest life expectancy and the lowest infant mortality rate.” (http://www.indiatraveltimes.com/kerala/kerala.html)
Welcome to the state of Kerala and the hill station of Munnar, which the top brass of the British Empire made their summer capital over 150 years ago and which is a the favored summer spot for European tea sellers in India to this day.
This is the High Ranges, with tea estates that are among the highest in the world. The highest peak in all of India, Anamudi (2695 m/8841 ft.) is here.
Munnar means ‘three rivers’ and the town is located near where 3 mountain streams meet- Muthirapusha, Nallathanni and Kundala. These 3 streams flow through the town, joining some distance away, and provide all the water requirements of residents and visitors alike. The town itself is typically Indian with the usual shops, guest houses and is really beautiful and traditional. It is a good place to stay to see the surrounding countryside. It is also a popular place for Indian honeymooners.
The town is divided into two parts, Old Munnar, where the tourist information office is, and Munnar, where the bus station and most guest houses are located. It is pronounced “Moon-aar” short for “moonu aar” meaning 3 rivers.
Munnar has lakes and lush forests in addition to its 30+ tea estates, and vast plantings of cardamon, cinnamon, cloves and pepper add spice to the air. It is generally considered the most pleasant of all the hill stations in the region and is often called the Nature-Lover’s Paradise. Don’t forget your camera!
Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands in the area is the Neelakurinji a flower which covers the hills with its blooms only once every twelve years. (The Neelakurinji last bloomed in 2006 and is a sight to behold. In 2018, the hills around Munnar will be blanketed again with flowers, though the neelakurinji blooms in small quantity, sometimes a few plants only, at places around Munnar.) The hills surrounding Munnar are also home for one of the world’s rarest mountain goats, the Nilgiri tahr, known locally as the Nilgiri Ibex or simply Ibex. And the tropical forests are inhabited by elephants, tigers, deer and gaur bison; you will want to arrange for a tour or trek to view some of this munificence.
Some things you might want to experience while visiting Munnar:
- Quiet morning walks in the mist
- A trip to the Top Station, the highest hill station in the state.
- Boating and short rides on horseback at Mudapetty Dam
- A trip to Rajamala Hills
- Lingering in a fragrant sandalwood forest just 26 miles (42 k) from Munnar
- Spotting leopards, elephants and bears at Chinnar wildlife Sanctuary
- Losing your heart to Grey hornbills, Technicolor Parakeets, Woodpeckers and Rose billed Rollers at Thattekad Bird Sanctuary
- Spending quality time with Tigers and Bisons, Sloth Bears, Sambars, Crocodiles, Elephants and Panthers at Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary
While you visit this cool and lovely corner of the world, you might want to stay at The Club Mahindra Lake View-Munnar, an RCI Gold Crown resort overlooking the lake and tea plantations, with views that stretch for miles. About 20 km from the hustle and bustle of Munnar town, the Resort’s charming Indo-British architecture boasts 104 spacious and ornate rooms, suites and cottages, each offering a panoramic view of verdant tea estates and the mystical mountain peaks surrounded by a veil of mist.
The studio apartment can accommodate 3 adults and offers privacy for 1 couple. Ideal for a 3 member family. The Single Bedroom apartment provides comfortable accommodation for 4 adults and privacy for 1 couple. The Double Bedroom apartment provides comfortable accommodation for 6 adults and privacy for 2 couples.
The multi-cuisine restaurant on site features Indian, Chinese, Tandoori, Continental, Mexican and authentic regional dishes. So whether you are in the mood for a tortilla or a butter naan, it’s all right here!
In addition to the tours they will arrange for you, you can have all the fun you want right on the grounds. Included at this resort are a health club; a library; indoor games such as table tennis and video games, air hockey, darts and board games; a swimming pool; evening entertainment such as party games, a bonfire; and putt putt golf. And if you want to bring your children they are especially welcomed here, with giant chess board games, kiddie parties, play-pens for the very young, magic shows and much more.
If you seek a sense of peace, if you need to replenish your spirit after the stress of a modern life, Munnar is a perfect place to do it. And you can have a blast while you’re at it!
If you go:
- Location: Idukki District on the high ranges of the Western Ghats
- Altitude: 5000-8000 ft above sea level.
- Temperature- Summer : 15°C – 25.8°C (59°F – 78° F); Winter : 0°C – 10° C (32° F – 50° F)
- Rainfall: 275 cm (108 in)
- Best time to visit: September to May
- Clothing: Woollen and cotton
- Languages spoken: Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi and English.
- Don’t forget your mosquito repellent, especially if you plan to trek into the hills.
Some Web sites to explore for more information:
- http://www.clubmahindra.com/ –Club Mahindra’s website
- http://travel.indiainfo.com/ –A nice place to start exploring India
- http://www.expressindia.com/ie/daily/20000118/ied18051.html –Trout fishing in Munnar: Beware of leeches
- http://www.munnar.com/ –The place to go for info about Munnar
- http://www.indiatraveltimes.com/kerala/munnar.html –Munnar National Park
- http://www.keralatourism.com/ –All about the state of Kerala
- http://www.kerala.com –“All That’s Kerala”
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