The hill station of Munnar is situated in
the Idukki District in the eastern part of Kerala, bordering the state of Tamil
Nadu. Popularly known as Kashmir of the South, Munnar is well connected to all
the cities in Kerala.
Munnar is located amidst mist-covered mountain ranges and evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, at a varying altitude of 1,600 m (5,249 ft) to 1,800 m (5,906 ft) above mean sea level, at the foot hills of Anamudi, the highest peak of the Western Ghats (2,695 m).
The name Munnar was aptly given to this place since it is located at the
convergence of three rivers, which are Mudrapuzha, Nallathani and Kundala. The
vast tea estates and coffee plantations are the primary base for the
flourishing economy of Munnar, besides tourism.
The recorded history of Munnar can be dated back to the 10th century, though many pre-historic relics linking Munnar to the Stone Age has been discovered. During the 17th century, a group of people of Tamil origin, known by the name Muthuvans migrated to Munnar and they settled at Munnar and nearby areas.
By the 19th century, Munnar had become a part of Anchunadu, a small tribal kingdom believed to be one among the earliest tribal settlements of South India. The fertile soil of Munnar was used for the cultivation of cardamom, ginger, etc. in those days.
It was the Spanish planters who brought Munnar to the limelight and the first notable personality to visit this place was the Duke of Wellington. John Daniel Munro from the British East India Company visited Munnar around the middle of the 19th century and he gathered permission to acquire 588 sq. km. of land from the Maharaja of Poonjar.
With the assistance from Kannan Thevar, the tribal chief of Anchunadu, Mr. Manro and his companions took over some of the mountains and hills of Munnar. In 1895 Messrs Finlay Muir & Company procured Munros land and in 1976 Tata-Finlay Ltd. procured it.
The nearest airport to reach Munnar is at Kochi,
about 125 km away. The Kochi International Airport is not only well connected
to the rest of the country but also to different parts of the world. From the
airport taxi services are available which might cost around INR3000.
The nearest railway station is at Angamaly,
which is at a distance of 120 km. Angamaly lies on the Ernakulam Thrissur
route and is well connected to other major cities in India. Taxis can be
availed from the rail station to Munnar.
Munnar is also well connected by road. Bus
services are available from different parts within the state as well as
neighbouring states. These are operated by the state governments but private
operators abound. Most of these buses stop at the Town bus stand in the main
bazaar area near the confluence of the river and the Tata headquarters.
The best time to visit Munnar is from the months of August to March. The summer months of April and May are also pleasant with temperatures ranging from 15⁰ - 25⁰ Celsius. During the winter season the temperatures are lower with crisp mornings and bright blue skies and the nights being chilly. Heavy woollens and adequate protection should be taken against the cold. For those who love the rains, Munnar would be an ideal place in the monsoons with lush greenery and rolling mists everywhere.