THE PICTURESQUE little town of Munnar lies at a height of about 1,800 m (5,906 ft), in a part of the Western Ghats known as the High Ranges. The name Munnar (which means “Three Rivers” in Tamil) is derived from its location at the confluence of three mountain streams – Kundala, Mudrapuzha and Nallathanni .
Located in 24,000 ha (59,305 acres) of sprawling tea estates, first established by the British in 1878, Munnar was once a summer resort for the British government in South India. The most important plantation in the High Ranges today belongs to Tata Tea, which oversees almost every public facility in the vicinity. The quaint High Range Club, made of wicker and teak, still serves as a social centre for Munnar’s planters and, with its customary “gentlemen’s bar”, retains an old-world atmosphere.
Mannar remains a popular destination for visitors from Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Because of this, the town and its environs have witnessed a proliferation of hotels, restaurants and shopping centres, However, areas further away from the city centre remain relatively unspoilt, and the gentle hills of tea, coffee and cardamom plantations offer excellent cycle rides and walks.
ENVIRONS: Mattupetty Lake 13 km (8 miles) north of Munnar, is surrounded by lovely semi-alpine scenery. A specialized cattle-breeding centre is located nearby.