Munnar, which means confluence of three rivers, was the summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days. In the late 19th century, A.H. Sharp planted the first tea bush and since then tea has been the main agricultural crop in the region. Today, the hills around Munnar are blanketed with best-in-class green tea bushes. With its sprawling tea plantations, pristine valleys and mountains and cool air, it’s no surprise that Munnar has been rated the second-best Asian travel destination for 2010.
If you are a true admirer of nature who has a passion for driving, Munnar is your dream destination and cruising along winding smooth roads across mist-sheeted lush green tea gardens is the finest experience you can ever have.Around every corner is another stunning view. You do not need a map or a guide; all you need is a good pair of shoes and the curiosity to see what is around the next curve. You need not necessarily be a shutterbug; random clicks can get you incredible photographs.On the way to Munnar, some 22 kms before reaching there, I stopped by Anayirankal dam, a vast expanse of water surrounded by green carpeted hills covered with tea gardens. The distant view of the reservoir follows you for another 15 kms and it’s an excellent location for photography.The dude who poses here is Varayadu or Nilgiri Tahr, stocky goats with short, coarse fur and a bristly mane. Nilgiri Tahr is an endangered mountain ungulate listed in schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. Eravikulam National Park which has the highest density and largest surviving population of this species is situated hardly 14 kms from Munnar town. Know more about this endangered speciesDoes this picture suggest land’s end? It virtually is. This is Top Station, which is 41 kms uphill from Munnar. Located at the border of Kerala and Tamilnadu, this spot offers an ‘awebreathtakingsome’ panoramic view. Strolling down this pathway with steep abyss on both sides is adventurous, rather risky, but the view you get there is one of a kind.At every other corner you will find women with baskets full of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget to bargain and buy tender carrots, passion fruits and wild tomatoes, all farm fresh and delicious.Anamudi is the highest peak in the Western Ghats situated at a height of 2,695 metres (8,842 feet) above mean sea level. It is located in the southern part of Eravikulam National Park, fifty kilometers from Munnar. It is also the ideal place for wildlife travelers and nature lovers. It literally means “Elephant forehead”.13 kms away from Munnar, Mattupetty is famous for its highly specialised dairy farm, the Indo-Swiss project. More than 100 varieties of high yielding cattle are reared here. The Mattupetty Lake and Dam, just a short distance from the farm, is a gorgeous picnic spot. The sprawling Kundala tea plantations, Kundala Lake and the echo point are other attractions in the vicinity. A boat cruise on the lake is the best way to enjoy the leisure.