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- 27 Jan 2020, 3 nights
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Munnar hill station town is set in Kerala's Western Ghats mountain range. Once a holiday spot for British Raj elites, it's now known for its quiet, natural beauty of rolling tea plantations, waterfalls and the mountain goats of Eravikulam National Park. 'Munnu' means 'three rivers', after the Muthirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala Rivers that flow through the region. Spices like cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg grow in Munnar's cool mountain air, where soaring green peaks overlook clouds pooling in the valleys below.
Munnar hostels tend to be relaxed and outdoor-focused. You can stay in modern rooms set in an organic spice farm, a simple Munnar hostel in the heart of The Old Town, or a cosy tent in South India's highest campsite. Most have communal areas such as outdoor bonfire pits and rooftop terraces, and you'll find lots with little luxuries such as king-size beds and en-suite bathrooms. A few hostels in Munnar offer free trekking with a guide, or bike and scooter rentals to get you exploring the great outdoors.
The central area is Old Munnar, full of relics from Raj history such as 100-year-old The Christ Church. The newer parts of Munnar are some of its busiest, with commercial buildings and a constant flow of traffic. You'll find bus stops, tea merchants and market stalls of every kind along the main street (Main Bazaar). The town stretches out in three directions along the banks of its rivers, transforming into hills and forests in just a few kilometres.
Munnar's most unusual sight is Neelakurinji, a flower which turns the hillsides into a sea of blue and purple once every 12 years. Other attractions include soaring Anamudi mountain – at 2,695 metres it's the highest peak in South India – and Devikulam, where you can take a serene boat ride on the lake or shop for tea and spices. High above the nearby Mattupatti Dam, you can hike through clouds in the Kannan Devan Hills to reach Echo Point (named for its natural sound reverberations), passing cascading waterfalls on your way.
From Cochin International Airport, you can take a taxi to Aluva bus station. It's a 3-hour bus journey to Munnar. If you're travelling by train, Aluva is also the railway station so you can take the same bus from there. From Cochin town, you can catch a bus from Ernakulam at its centre for a journey of just under 5 hours. While there are a few local buses in Munnar, the easiest way to get around is by hailing a taxi or auto-rickshaw, or renting a motorbike.