Named after the three rivers - Madupetti, Nallathanni and Periavaru which flows through this town, "Munar" is short for "moonu aar" meaning 3 rivers. According to the history of the place, Mr. John Daniel Manro, an adventurous Englishman and Kannan Thevar, the tribal chief of Anchunadu, after getting permission from his Highness, Maharaja of Poonjar started acquiring and cultivating spices and coffee. Cardomom, coffee and Zinchona were cultivated first here. This land was later bought by the Thalayar, Panniar, Suryanelly and Anglo American companies.
In honour of the tribal chief whose assistance was invaluable, the Englishman named the tea plantations Kannan Devan hills and the company, the Kannan Devan Tea Company. It is Kannan Devan Company which is really instrumental in moulding Munnar to its present form.
A land kissed with some of Mother Nature's choicest blessings, some of the must-visits here include the Atukkad Waterfalls, a scenic waterfall amidst hills and jungles. Other scenic waterfalls here include the Lakkam Water Falls and the Naimakkadu Water Falls. Located at a distance of around 10 km from Munnar, Chithirapuram is known for its old world charm, tea plantations, ancient bungalows and sleepy little cottages.
A great place to visit especially if you are there with children, for its boat and horse rides is Mattupetti Dam, a popular picnic spot, 10km from Munnar. Mattupetti Indo-Swiss Farm is a unique one of its kind with more than 100 varieties of high-yielding cattle being reared. Visitors are allowed into three of the eleven cattle sheds at the farm.
Other interesting picnic spots here include the Echo Point, which is 15 km from Munnar. A little further away at 23km is the Kundala Lake, a beautiful lake amidst lush jungles. Apart from the place where one can hire a boat to explore the lake, one cannot find human beings around the lake as it is surrounded by scenic jungles and hills. The 'Top station' is another spectacular destination, for its 'above the clouds' experience. On the way to Top station is a small lake set amidst rolling hills. This area is also known for the Neelakurunji plant, which flowers only once every twelve years. Pothamedu View Point is also famous for its excellent view of the tea, coffee and cardamom plantations.
Munnar also has its share of natural caves with murals, and relics from late Stone Age civilization. Sandalwood trees can be found in Marayoor, at a distance of around 40 km from here. Enclosed here is a sandalwood factory of the Forestry department of Kerala and a children's park.
Want to know more about its olden days? Try the Tata Tea Museum, located on the Nallathany road at the distance of around 2 km from Munnar. Here tourists can see pieces of the colonial era and olden days.
Wildlife enthusiasts must give the Eravikulam National Park, one of the main attractions here, a try for its endangered inhabitant - the Nilgiri Tahr. Located at about 15 km from Munnar, the park is also home to several species of rare butterflies, animals and birds. It is an all time favorite for the trekking trails and magnificent view of the tea plantations. It is also a hot destination when the hill slopes get covered in a carpet of blue, resulting from the flowering of Neelakurinji. Anamudi, the highest peak in South India is also located in the park.
Located in the Western Ghats of Kerala, the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary has a large number of plants and animals and is one of the protected areas in the Western Ghats because of the significance of its flora, geomorphologic features, ecology and local cultural.
Besides the amazing wildlife found here, Munnar is also home to some spectacular species of avifauna. The Salim Ali (Thattekkad) Bird Sanctuary, is known for woodpeckers, Malabar gray hornbills, parakeets, Ceylon frogmouths, and rose-billed rollers.
From trekking to nature walks, mountain biking or boating, here are some activities one can take part in whilst holidaying. The adventurous few can even try out rock climbing, paragliding and rappelling.
How to Reach
Want to know how you can escape the summer heat and head to these charming hills? While the nearest airport is Cochin International airport also known as Nedumbassery Airport and is around 135 km from the Munnar, the nearest railway station is Aluva(120 km) and Ernakulam (140 km). Munnar is also easily accessible by road from most of the cities and town in Kerala.
Shopping in Munnar
While this is not a shopping destination, make sure to pick up some tea and spices for yourself. You can find several factories, shops and outlets from where you can buy tea and spices, which also make ideal gifts for family and friends.
Its picturesque views of tea plantations, thick vegetation, wildlife reserve and lush rainforest have not only charmed tourists here, but across the globe and in 2010 is was one of the top tourist destinations to visit. But then can anyone expect anything lesser from a state so spectacular it's been nicknamed as 'God's Own Country?.