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Munnar
a quick getaway

Kerala. Famous for it's backwaters, far-stretched lush greenery, coconut palms, and forests amidst which one can find plantations of exotic herbs and spices, fine beaches, delicious seafood, art and culture. Aptly called "God's own Country". Nestled in the high ranges of Idukki district, around 4500 ft above sea level, is Munnar - a neat little hill station, an ideal place for anyone wishing to get a lot of peace and quiet and savour the beauty of magnificent tea gardens.

Lush green tea gardensYes! Besides other places of interest that one must visit, Munnar is all about Tea. The high ranges of this place have some of the finest Tea Gardens in this part of the country and almost all of it belongs to Tata Tea. The famous Kanan Devan brand of tea is packed here at Tata Tea's packeting centres in Madupatti and Pullivasal. Pick your spot from anywhere and let your eyes travel across the deep valleys and you will see vast expanses of greenery on the slopes of these mountains. A network of fresh and lush green tea gardens all over and occasionally, the mist clinging to the mountain slopes and flirting between the bushes.

The TownMunnar is approachable either from Cochin or Coimbatore. From Kottayam it's just 80 kilometers and from Kodaikanal about 90 kilometers. The drive up is approximately three and half-hours from Cochin and a little over four hours if one is coming in from Coimbatore. It's a pretty good and fairly broad road from Cochin, though the same cannot be said of the approach road from Coimbatore. Because it's narrow and with two-way traffic, one has to slow down often to allow buses and the like to pass. Coming in from Cochin and as you enter the high range area of Idukki district, the climb towards Munnar, is simply beautiful. On either sides of the road one can see thickly populated forests comprising of rubber plantations, pepper and cardamom trees.

Driving up to MunnarCross the small town of Adimally (which is famous for some of the spices grown here), and a little further up, the first signs of tea bushes make their presence, which means you are nearing Munnar. By now the air is cool or chill, depending on the period of the year you visit the place. Except for the months of June to September, which is the off-season and rains rather heavily all throughout, March to May and then again, from September to January are the best months to take a 3-4 days trip to Munnar.

There are a number of Hotels in Munnar - from the expensive to the medium-budget ones and each has off-season and season tariff. However, if you plan on visiting Munnar during the season, then you would need to book well over 10-15 days in advance because, once the season is in full swing accommodation could be a problem. There aren't any restaurants in town that one can go over to eat. Food is best ordered in the room or you could eat in the hotel restaurant, some of which are pretty good and clean.

So, what else is there besides tea, in Munnar? Well, there are quite a few places that would be of interest and help you pass the day and relax as well.

fine picnic spotsMADUPATTI is located about 14 kilometers from Munnar town. The road winds it's way through tea estates and at Madupatti you can see the Indo-Swiss Cattle Project and the Madupatti dam. Also available are boating facilities.

THE ERIVAKULAM NATIONAL PARK is just about 15 kilometers from Munnar and is perched on the high ranges of the Rajamalai Mountain. The famous Niligiri Thar - a rare and endangered species of mountain goats - can be spotted here, besides other wildlife such as the lion-tailed Macaque, Langur, Sambar and Gaur.

ANAMUDI is near Erivakulam and about 25 kilometers from Munnar It is also the highest peak in South India situated at about 8900 ft above sea-level.

CHINNAR WILD LIFE SANCTUARY is on the way towards Coimbatore, about 70 kilometers from Munnar on it's Northern Foothills. Here one can (if lucky) come across herds of elephants and other wild life.

Munnar has many view points such as TOP STATION and POTHANMEDU where you can get beautiful and scenic views of the valleys and tea gardens including some fine picnic spots which have quite a few lakes, adding splendor to the surroundings.

 
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