It was the photos that convinced us. Scrolling through the galleries on Google we saw rolling hills covered in emerald green fields of tea. Even if it didn’t look that great in real life, we decided we had to go. Plus it was on the way from Fort Kochi to Pondicherry.
The idea was to spend two days in Munnar. We had a simple plan. We’d spend the first-day being tourists. If we didn’t like the area we’d go to Madurai the next day. If we liked Munnar we’d extend for another night.
It took us around 5 hours to reach Munnar from Fort Kochi. The road wound slowly up into the highlands with sharp s-bend turns that threw me into the corner of the bus. I was feeling motion sickness within the first 20 minutes of getting on the bus.
We’d picked a hotel 12 km outside of Munnar (an area called Chithirapuram). The photos were amazing. It showed a hotel in the middle of the tea plantations with views looking straight out over the fields. Yet I almost didn’t book it.
There were just four reviews or not enough reviews of the hotel on Booking.com. I looked for alternatives, but every other hotel in the price range had boring looking rooms with boring looking views. We gambled. I hoped the photos would be what we’d actually see.
It was late afternoon when we arrived. The sun was still out, but the climate was cool. It took us 10 minutes to walk to the hotel. According to Google Maps it was at the bottom of the hill.
We set off passing the concrete carcasses of half-built hotels. As we continued down the hill the hotels vanished and we saw green tea plantations. The tea plantations vanished. We saw more hotels.
According to Google Maps we had arrived. We walked into the reception of the nearest hotel realizing the photos were too good to be true. We asked the receptionist for directions, but he didn’t know the hotel. He phoned up the number we had and told us we could wait in the reception area while someone from the homestay came to pick us up.
The jeep rolled up into the driveway sending gravel flying. We thanked the receptionist and jumped into the back of the jeep, which went back up the hill and along a dirt road into the nearest tea plantation… The photos weren’t lying!
It turned out we’d made a great choice. There were just three hotels in the plantation surrounded by the rolling fields of tea. We dropped off our bags and spent the afternoon walking around. The setting was really relaxed.
The next morning we set off on a short tour of Munnar. We’d already picked the places that we wanted to visit based on a Google image search. The fields we wanted to visit were on the other side of the town of Munnar, it called Devikulam. It took us 20 minutes to get there and it was a beautiful drive.
The tourism tagline for Kerala is ‘God’s Own Country.’ It’s apt. The setting is picturesque. On every other s-bend turn we were offered panoramic views over the surrounding down the hill and overlooking the valleys.
We stopped a few times for photos and when we thought we had seen everything we turned back. It was a mistake, we should have continued.
Top 3 Sites to See in Munnar
It’s hard to tell the difference between the tea plantations, but here are the three that I would recommend.
The Plantation View
The first stop that we visited was the most popular photo on Google Images for Munnar. The site is 10 km or so outside of the town of Munnar. It was just as beautiful as the photos I saw on Google.
The Big Valley
The second stop we visited is about 20 minutes outside of Munnar, the tea plantation after Devikulam area. The shallow valley is covered in fields of tea and surrounded by steep rocky hills. There’s a viewpoint where you can pay to enter the tea plantation. You don’t really need to enter though. Wherever you stop you get panoramic views.
Unfortunately we never stopped here, though we should have done. It’s another valley. The first view you get as you come along the road from Munnar is spectacular. From the road the valley drops away beneath you towards the dam, which is surrounded by woodland. If you’re lucky you’ll see wild elephants walking through the tea plantations. I wish I had a photo to do it justice.
Where to Stay in Munnar
We’re glad we didn’t stay in Munnar. The town is nothing special. It’s just restaurants, houses, and shops lining the main road that passes through town. There are no tea plantations. You don’t get the view or the feeling of being somewhere beautiful.
I’d recommend staying a little bit outside of the town close to where I stayed. The three hotels below are all in the same tea plantation. They each cater to a different budget, but all offer the same beautiful views.
If you have the chance to visit Munnar make sure you go. It’s a really beautiful part of India. Highly recommended!
Have you visited Munnar? What did you think of the area? Share your thoughts in the comments below.