The rolling hills around Munnar are carpeted in emerald-green tea plantations, contoured, clipped and sculpted like ornamental hedges. The low mountain scenery is magnificent – you’re often up above the clouds watching veils of mist clinging to the mountaintops. Walk just a few kilometres away from the town and you’ll be engulfed in a sea of thousand shades of green. For those, who are visiting the place between August and October, the Neelakurinji blooms, happening once in 12 years, will be a sight to behold.
Best eating options:
Rapsy Restaurant- This spotless glass-fronted sanctuary from the bazaar is packed at lunchtime, with locals lining up for Rapsy’s famous paratha (Indian-style flaky bread) or biryani. It also makes a decent stab at fancy international dishes like Spanish omelette and Israeli shakshuka (eggs with tomatoes and spices).
Sree Mahaveer Bhojanalaya- This pure-veg restaurant in SN Annex Hotel is madly popular with families for its great range of thalis: take your pick from Rajasthani, Gujarati, Punjabi and more, plus a dazzling array of veg dishes.
Saravana Bhavan- Branch of the popular South Indian pure-veg chain serving all the idlis and dosas you could want.
Taste the Brews- A cool cafe near the bus stand for Continental-style breakfasts and tastings of local tea and coffee.
Eastend- In the slightly fancy hotel of the same name, this brightly lit, smartish place serves Chinese, North and South Indian and Keralan specialties, including occasional lunch and dinner buffets.
Also Read: Best things to do in Munnar
Also Read: Best monsoon treks in India
Best staying options:
Munnar has plenty of accommodation but it seems a shame to stay in Munnar town when the views and peace are out in the hills and valleys. There are some good budget options just south of the town centre; if you really want to feel the serenity and are willing to pay a bit more, head for the hills.
JJ Cottage (Homestay)- The sweet family at this little purple place 2km south of town (easy walking distance from the main bus stand) offers a varied and uncomplicated set of clean, bright, great-value rooms with TV and hot water. The one deluxe room on the top floor has a separate sitting room and sweeping views.
Green View (Guest house) – This tidy guesthouse has 10 fresh budget rooms, a friendly welcome and reliable tours and treks. The best rooms are on the upper floor and there’s a super rooftop garden where you can sample 15 kinds of tea.
Zina Cottages (Guest house) – If you want to be immersed in lush tea plantations but still be close to town, Zina is the budget choice. This fading 50-year-old bungalow offers an interesting location with stunning views and good walks from your doorstep; it looks a little run down but the five rooms are clean. It’s an easy walk from the bus stand but call for directions.
Royal Retreat (Hotel) – Away from the bustle just south of the main bus stand, Royal Retreat is an average but reliable midranger with neat ground-level rooms facing a pretty garden and others with tea-plantation views.
Green Valley Vista (Guest House) – The valley views are superb, accommodation top-notch and the welcome warm. Rooms on three levels all face the valley and have private balconies with dreamy greenery views, as well as flat-screen TVs and modern bathrooms. Staff can organise trekking, jeep safaris and tours to the wild elephant village. It’s 11km south of Munnar on the back road to Kochi.
Rose Gardens (Homestay) – This is a true family homestay in a peaceful spot overlooking owner Tomy’s idyllic plant nursery and organic mini spice and fruit plantation. The five rooms are large and immaculate with balconies overlooking the valley, and the family is charming. Cooking lessons are free, and include fresh coconut pancakes for breakfast and delicately spiced Keralan dishes for dinner.