Neelakurinji at Munnar

Munnar Hill Station and Nearby Tourist Attractions

Munnar  is one of the most beautiful hill stations in India. The highest peak in South India, Anamalai, is situated in these range of hills. Munnar hills are  part of Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Chinnakanal, Munnar in KeralaChinnakanal, Munnar.

This picturesque hill station is known for its rivulets, tea plantations and colonial bungalows built during the British rule in India. The word Munnar means ‘three rivers’.  River Muthirapuzha, River Nallathanni and River Kundala  confluence at this serene hill station.

Eravikulam National Park is a nearby wildlife Sanctuary worth visiting. Rajamala (King of Hills) is situated inside Eravikulam National Park. Rajamala is at around 15 kilometers distance from the Town, on your way to Anamudi. Nilgiri Tahr at Munnar
Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragas Hylocres) at Munnar. Image Courtesy – Aju P. John

Anamudi is the highest peak in South India. Anamudi is located inside Eravikulam National Park. Its is also home to a large number of ‘Nilgiri tahr‘ (Hemitragas Hylocres), a rare mountain goat, which is in the extinct list of animalsHalf of world’s ‘Nilgiri tahr’ is found in Rajamalai. You can see them roam around the steep hills, at a very close proximity, on the roads inside Eravikulam National Park. Approximate number of Nilgiri tahrs at this area is 1300.

Neelakurinji
Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes Kunthianus).

Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes Kunthianus), a shrub which flowers once in 12 years, is found here in this national park and its surrounding areas. The flowering started in August 2018 and is coming to an end in October 2018. Neelakurinji flowering areas were declared as “Neelakurinji National Park” by the state government in 2006.

It is known as ನೀಲಕುರಂಜಿ in Kannada, குறிஞ்சி in Tamil, നീലകുറിഞ്ഞി in Malayalam.

Power House Waterfalls originates from Sita Devi Kulam’. It is believed that ‘Sita’, wife of ‘Raman’, the hero of the great Hindu epic Ramayana, used to bath here in this lake. It is situated at Chinnakanal, at around 21 kilometers from the heart of the city.

Elephants near Mattupetty dam in MunnarElephants at  Munnar. Image courtesy – Sajeevan

Mattupetty dam, which is a nearby dam,  offers boating (speed boat, pedal boat) inside the dam waters. Tehre is also an adventure park here. Majority of plantation in and around Munnar consists of Tea estates, a large portion of which is owned by “Tata Tea Limited”, one of India’s leading corporate groups,

Some of the other places to visit in Munnar are listed below.

There is a flower garden maintained by Kerala Forest Development Corporation Ltd (K.F.D.C.) near Munnar town. Blossom park near old Munnar town is also a beautiful tourist destination.

Top Station, known for the picturesque view of the hills,  is at around 30 kilometers distance from town, on the Munnar-Kodaikanal road.The villave Ellapatti, en route to top station is famous for vegetables like carrot, beans, cauliflower, cabbage, etc. You may buy these vergetables here.  Meesapulimala is just opposite to this village and the view is excellent.

Echo Point is another tourist destination near Munnar, on your way to Top Station.   ‘Anayirankal‘ (the word means elephants comes down) is another beautiful place, where herds of wild elephants can be seen roaming around in the slopes of the mountain ranges.

Kundala Dam is situated at around 20 kilometers from Munnar town, on your way to Top station. Boating facilities are available in this dam. Lake Kundala is on one side of the dam. It is the the first arch dam in Asia. Aruvikkad Waterfall is situated near to this dam.

Pallivasal, Kerala State’s First Hydro-Electric Power Project, is at around 10 kilometers distance form the town. “Sethuparvathy Dam“, part of ‘Pallivasal Hydro electric Project’, is another tourist destination, where boating facilities are available. Iduky dam, the largest and the oldest arch dam in India and the third largest in the World, is around 1.5 hours drive from this town. Munnar is one of the best Kerala tourism destinations.

Periyar Wild life Sanctuary near Kumaly Town, is around 3 hours drive from Munnar. Periyar Wild life Sanctuary offers boating facilities inside the lake. You can see many wild animals during this boat safari. Hoards of Elephants can be seen drinking water during the summer season. Periyar wild life sanctuary is one of its kind among the wildlife sanctuaries in India,  offering boat safari inside deep forests, which allows one to have a close look at the beasts of the jungle. (Some other wildlife sanctuaries in India offers boat safari,; but only limited animals can be seen in such cases.)

How Do I Go to Munnar in Kerala?

Madurai airport is the nearest airport at around 160 kilometers from this hill station. Cochin International Airport, at Nedumbrassery near Cochin (Kochi), is another nearby airport. Munnar is around 4 hours drive from Cochin.

Theni railway station is the nearest railway station at around 75 kilometers distance. Angamaly  railway station is  at around 100 plus kilometers distance. Kottayam Railway station is at a distance of around 145 kilometers. It takes around 3 hours drive from this beautiful hill station town to reach Kottayam.

Munnar is well connected by roads to Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thekkedy in Kerala. Cities  in Tamilnadu like Kambam, Theni, Dindigul, etc, are also well connected by bus services.

Which are the Best Munnar Hotels and Munnar Resorts?

Tea County is one among the good hotels run by Government of Kerala’s tourism department, KTDC. Eastend is another one among the good hotels in the center of the town, offering 4 star facilities at affordable rates. Club Mahindra resorts is one of the best Munnar resorts having a large property at a vantage point in Munnar. Ayur County Mountain Resort is at Chinnakanal, Munnar.

Carmelia Haven is another good resort; an Eco-friendly resort in the middle of cardamon, pepper and tea estates.  It is one of its kind in the state. Carmelia Haven is at Vandanmedu, at around 68 kilometers from Munnar on Munnar- (Kumuly) road.  Kumily is at around 23 kilometers from this resort. Apart from regular rooms, Carmelia Haven has a tree top house and an underground house (cave house).

Cloud farm is a camp site  near the Top station. Contact phone number is given at the FB page. There are some videos of the area, posted by them at the Facebook link given at the beginning of this para.

Mar Thoma Retreat center (under Malankara Mar Thomas Syrian Church) also has rooms for rent. Contact numbers are +91 4865 208399/ 232289/ 232290/ 232285.

North Indian Restaurants at Munnar

Sree Mahaveer Jain Restaurant (Near Sterling resorts) and Purohit Restaurant  (Tea County Road, Ikka Nagar)  are two good North Indian restaurants at Munnar.

Water Activities and Health Resorts at Kovalam Beach in God’s Own Country

Kovalam Beach on the Arabian Sea coast in South Kerala is one of the best beaches in India, known for its Water Activities and Health Resorts. There are three main beaches in Kovalam; Howah Beach, Light house Beach and Samudra Beach. Entry to Light house beach is only for the tourists and fishermen are banned here. This Beach at Kovalam offers best relaxation to any tourist.

View of Kovalam Beach
View of Kovalam Beach, one among the best beaches in India.

This beautiful Beach is surrounded by coconut trees. It is around half an hour’s drive from Kovalam hotels like Vivanta by Taj – Green Cove, The Leela Kovalam Beach, Hotel Samudra KTDC, Abad Harmonia, etc.

The lighthouse and beach at Kovalam.
The lighthouse and beach at the Beach.

There are a variety of relaxation facilities and water activities available at the beach. Scuba diving, Wind Surfing, Para Sailing, Water skiing, Catamaran skiing, Swimming in the clear shallow beach waters, etc, are to name a few.

Underwater diving has recently become very popular among tourists to Kovalam beach. Scuba diving kit or scuba diving gear is provided free of cost as part of the Underwater diving package tour. Kovalam beach is one among the best scuba diving destinations in India.

There are many hotels near the waterfront and surrounding areas. Waterfront restaurants are also there on the beach coast.

There are a large number of Resorts, Ayurveda centers, etc, also, that offers rooms to tourists. ‘Somatheeram’ is a leading Ayurveda Health resort at Chowara Beach, 9 kilometers south of the world famous Beach at Kovalam.

God’s own country,Kerala, beacons you. Kovalam tour packages are one of the best Kerala Tourism packages one can think of. If you are planning for an Indian holidays trip, do not forget to include Kovalam in your trip.

How Do I Go to Kovalam Beach known for Water Activities and Health Resorts?

Kovalam Beach is very near to the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram Alias Trivandum at 13 kilometers away and it takes only 30 minutes drive to reach from Kovalam beach. “Thiruvananthapuram Central” is the nearest railway station to this beach. Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is the nearest airport to Howah Beach, Light house Beach and Samudra Beach at Kovalam.

Varkala Beach, another famous beach known for its geographical formations near the beach, is just 55 kilometers away from Kovalam Beach.

 

Have You Been to This Heritage Village Known for Its Metal Mirror (Aranmula Kannadi), Snake Boats & Mural Art Gallery

Aranmula is a small historical village on the banks of river Pampa, in Kerala. There are lot of tourist places, temples, churches, mosques, etc, in and around this village. River Pamba runs along this village.

Aranmula metal mirror
Aranmula metal mirror

Aranmula is famous for the geographically patented Aranmula Metal Mirror or Aranmula kannadi, as is known in local language, Malayalam.

Aranmula snake boat race‘s history is linked to the history of Aranmula parthasarathy temple, a 900 year old famous temple on the banks of river Pamba. The deity at this temple is that of Lord Parthasarathy Alias Lord Arjuna.

World famous Hindu Pilgrimage center Sabarimala is at around 70 kilometers from this village. Pandalam Palace and Pandalam Temple which was the home of Lord Aiyappan (deity at Sabarimala) is at 12 kilometers distance from Aranmula Ikkara Junction, the junction where Pandalam – Kozhencherry road and Mavelikkara – Kozhencherry road meets.

World famous Maramon Convention center, the largest Christian convention in the world, on the sand-beds of the River Pampa, near the Kozhencherry – Maramon Bridge, is just 3 kilometers from Ikkara Junction (Ikkara Mukku in local language). Cherukolpuzha Hindu Convention or Hindumatha Mahamandalam (as is called in the local language of Malayalam), on the sand-beds of holy river Pampa, near Cherukolpuzha bridge, is hardly 8 kilometers from Ikkaraka Junction.

Vastu Vidya Gurukulam at Aranmula, under the Department of Culture, Government of Kerala, promotes Traditional Kerala style Architecture. The institute situated at Tharayil Mukku Bus Stop, at a distance of around 1 kilometer from Ikkara Junction, offers different courses in Kerala’s Traditional Architecture. There is also a Mural Art Gallery at the same premises for preservation, promotion, exhibition and sale of mural painting works.

The sight of the river in the evenings makes you spellbound. The sight of the river waters, bathed in light bluish color in the backdrop of the evening rosy sun rays from the setting sun; Its one of the best sights of any river one can have.

How Do I Go to Aranmula?

This heritage village is well connected by roads. Mavelikara – Kozhencherry road and Pandalam – Kozhencherry road passes through this village.

Main Central Road (MC Road) at Chenganoor is 9 kilometers away.

Tiruvalla – Pathanamthitta state highway goes through Thekkemala, which is 2 kilometers from Aranmula.

Chenganoor is the nearest railway station with station code CNGR for the railway booking site, irctc.co.in.

Pathananthitta, the district head quarters is just 12 kilometers away.

Cochin International Airport at Nedumbrassery and Thiruvananthapuram International Airport are almost equidistant, at 100 kilometers distance.

Home Stay at Aranmula

Home stay at Aranmula and Pathanamthitta
DJ Holidays Home stay Building near Ikkara Junction where you can stay
with the host family.

Controversies Surrounding The Proposed Aranmula International Airport

There was a proposal to start a new International airport at this heritage village; “The First Private International Greenfield Airport in India”.

The above mentioned airport proposal was abandoned due to the failure in getting the required environmental clearance certificates. The Government of Kerala, in July 2017, has decided to start a new airport near Erumely, close to the famous religious pilgrimage center, Sabarimala Temple.

Alappuzha

How about Going for a House Boat Ride in Venice of the East – Alappuzha Backwaters

Alappuzha is a small city on the Arabian Seacoast in Kerala state, India. This small city is is famous for its Backwaters and is called ‘The Venice of the East’. A visit to Alleppey is one of the best options available to any tourist to  ‘Gods own country‘.

Visit Allepey alias Alappuzha in Gods Own Country
Tourists on a country boat among-st lotus blooms in Vembanad Lake.

Kerala is rich for its natural beauty with its 44 rivers, backwaters, beaches, mountains, hill stations, valleys, exotic wild life, etc.

Alappuzha has Vembanad lake, a backwater lake, to its charm. It meets sea at Alappuzha. A day’s backwater cruise by Alleppey houseboats on the endless backwaters of Vembanad lake is the best option to explore the beauty of Alleppey and its neighboring areas like Kumarakom in nearby Kottayam district.

These house boats are known as “Kettuvallams”, as these are made by joining two country boats. Joining in local language is called ‘kettuka’ (tying)  and hence the name Kettuvallam. If you are looking for houseboat numbers in Alappuzha, please look at the website of Kerala Houseboat Owners Association.

If you are looking for a cheaper boat cruise, Kerala state water transport boat services are available. You may go for a short cruise for less than Rs 10/-. Alappuza to Kollam boat cruise costs only Rs. 400/- and the traveling time is around 7 hours.  The government boat starts at 10:30 am from Alappuza Boat Jetty.  Alappuzha boat jetty is inside the city. You can hire a cab or auto-rickshaw to go to Alappuzha boat jetty.

There is also a similar service from Kollam to Alappuza for the same fare. These boats will be stopping en-route for lunch. Kollam boat Jetty is on the side of  Kollam KSRTC bus station.

There are many islands in Alleppey backwaters. ‘Pathiramanal’, ‘R Block’, Kakkathuruthu Island (Island of Crows), etc, are to name a few. You will get fresh fish curry, fish fry, fresh coconut toddy, lobster, etc, here in Alleppey. A Houseboat ride in Alleppey ‘s backwaters can take you to all these places.

The beauty of Alleppey or Alappuzha is that the land level is below water level; still it does not get flooded. This has been done by making a man made bund (embankment). This bund was made almost a century back. The intention was to create  agriculture land, a scare resource in the middle of backwaters. This land was primarily used for cultivation of paddy and coconut. These areas were once called ‘The rice bowl of Kerala’.

How Do I Go to Alappuzha in Gods Own Country?

Alappuza is 4 hours drive from the capital city of Trivandrum alias Thiruvananthapuram. National Highway No NH 544 (old number NH47, Salem-Kanyakumari Highway) passes through Alappuzha. It is connected by state highways also.

Alleppey is connected by train services. ALLP is the code for ALLEPPEY railway station on irctc.co.in, the online booking systems of Indian Railway Ticket Booking system developed by Center for Railway Information Systems (CRIS).

Nearest airport is at Nedumbrassery, near Cochin (Kochi). It takes around one and a half hours drive from Alappuzha to reach Nedumbrassery.

Is Accommodation Available at Alappuzha?

There are a large number of hotels at Alappuzha and also near to the Bird Sanctuary at Kumarakam.

Lake Palace Resort‘ is leading resort on the Vembanad Lake side in Alappuzha, near to the finishing point of the world famous Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race. Hotel Prince is a good hotel in the city. Vellappally group of hotels is another leading hotel at Cherthla.