The tea-and-spice town of Munnar is one of the compelling attractions of Kerala, and was voted the second best tourism destination in Asia after Tokyo by TripAdvisor's 2010 Traveler's Choice Destination Awards. This holiday town in the Western Ghats soars 6,000 feet above the languid backwaters of Kerala and is overwhelmingly green. All roads in Munnar either wind along high-altitude shola forests, rolling slopes of tea plantations or large stretches of spice plantations.
There are about 30 tea plantations in and around Munnar. Tea bushes are planted along the land’s natural contours, and when you wedge yourself amidst them for a photograph, you appear as a barely noticeable blip on a green background. Tea pickers in colourful clothes and baskets on their backs are barely visible amidst the sea of tea plants; each person plucks as much as 25-30 kilograms of tea leaves per day. Four kilograms of green leaf make 1 kilogram of black tea that goes into the making of your morning cup.
The spice plantations are less dense and more fruit laden. Over 12 varieties of spices - including ginger, garlic, cardamom, vanilla, pepper, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg - are cultivated in and around Munnar. Guided visits to these plantations are absolutely fascinating; it’s delightful to see the spices that you use everyday in their raw, natural form rather than bottled or packaged in plastic.
Whether it’s the tea and spice plantations, the lakes and waterfalls, the cattle breeding farms, or the sky-piercing Anamudi peak within the Eravikulam National Park, every part of Munnar accentuates its beauty. Munnar truly complements Kerala, a place that truly deserves its exalted title of ‘God’s Own Country’.
Standing tall at 2,640 metres above sea level, Meesapulimala in Munnar is one of the highest peaks in Kerala and among the world’s highest tea estates. The one-day trek from Munnar to Meesapulimala takes you through sholas (rainforests), grasslands and rare wildlife that is unique to the Western Ghats. With the vast plains of Tamil Nadu on one side and the Sahyadris on the other, you just can’t afford to miss the view from here.
Things to carry!
- Get a good waterproof backpack to ensure your hands are free during the trek.
- Choosing the right footwear is absolutely vital. Ordinary sports shoes or sturdy sandals won’t do. Buy specialised trekking boots or shoes that have a good grip on the earth, so you don’t slip and fall. Check out some sturdy trekking shoes here : http://www.alpinasports.com/catalog/trekking-shoes/29-39
- Invest in a good lip balm and, to protect your skin from the scorching sun, a sunscreen.
- An insect repellent will always come in handy, especially during the monsoon
- Keep a first-aid kit ready so that it comes in handy in case of a medical emergency.
- A pair of binoculars is always useful during treks to spot birds and wildlife that you may chance upon.
- Do ask your F&B manager to pack you a light snack and at least two litres of water so you can re-energise yourself while you take in the sights!
Did you know?
- Munnar’s annual yield of tea is about 50,000 metric tons (50,000,000 kilograms).
Places to visit | Things to do | All About Munnar