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Munnar

Munnar is a town and hill station located in the Idukki district of the Indian state of Kerala. Munnar is situated at around 1,600 metres (5,200 ft.) above mean sea level, in the Western Ghats range of mountains.

Eravikulam National Park is the first national park in Kerala located along the Western Ghats. This 97 sq. km. park is administered by the Kerala Department of Forests and Wildlife, Munnar Wildlife Division. Eravikulam National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 26 species of mammals, 132 species of birds, 101 species of butterflies and 19 species of amphibians have been recorded in the park. Three major types of plant communities are found in the park – grasslands, shrub lands and forests.

Anamudi or Anai Mudi is a mountain located in the southern region of Eravikulam National Park. Anamudi is the highest peak in the Western Ghats in India, having an elevation of 2,695 metres (8,842 ft.). Anamudi is also the highest point in South India.

Mattupetty Dam, is a storage Concrete Gravity dam built in the mountains of Kerala, India to conserve water for hydroelectricity. The large amount of perennially available water allows wild animals and birds to flourish. The reservoir is also known to be one of the visiting grounds of elephants in the region.

Top Station is a tourist destination in the Kannan Devan hills of Munnar. It is part of Theni District in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. This area is popular for the rare Neelakurinji flowers. Top Station was a trans-shipment point for delivery of tea. Top Station derived its name from being the upper terminus of the Kottagudi Aerial Ropeway. It was also the location of the terminal railway station on the Kundala Valley Railway, built in 1902 between Munnar, Kundalai and this low point in the crest of the hills above steep cliffs. A monorail goods carriage system was initially installed along this cart route. In 1908 the monorail was replaced by a 24 inch gauge railway. Kundalai is 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) west from Top Station on the way from Munnar station. Some remains of Kundala Valley Railway can be seen at the Munnar Tea Museum. Tea chests arriving at Top Station from the Kundalai Valley were transported by a ropeway from Top Station 5 km downhill to the south to Kottagudi, Tamil Nadu. The tea was then shipped 15 km by cart to Bodinayakkanur, then by rail to other places in India and ship to England. Remains of the ropeway station at Top Station are still visible. Elevation at top of ropeway was 1,911 meters (6,270 ft.).

Tata Tea museum preserves and showcases some of the exquisite and interesting aspects on the genesis and growth of tea plantations in Kerala’s high ranges. Tata Tea museum, Set up at the Nallathanni Estate, houses curiosities, photographs and machineries, depicting a turning point that contributed to Idukki’s flourishing tea industry. The museum is a tribute to its pioneers who transformed Munnar into a major tea plantation centre of Kerala, from the rudimentary tea roller from 1905 to a fully automated tea factory. Visitors and tea lovers can see various stages of the tea processing – Crush, tear, and curl – and learn about the production of Kerala black tea variants. The power generation plant of the estate dates back to 1920s; a rail engine wheel of the Kundala Valley Railway that shuttled between Munnar and Top Station by 1924. A section of the museum also houses classic bungalow furniture and office equipment of the Colonial area in Kerala. Tea tasting across different varieties of tea is another attraction. A 2nd-century burial urn is also displayed at the museum.

Pallivasal Hydro-electric project, the first in Kerala was established at Pallivasal during the reign of Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma of Travancore Kingdom. It was commissioned in 1940. Kerala electricity transmission system also emerged in 1940 with 66 kV line from Pallivasal to Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala and eight substations were also commissioned in the same year.

Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, Photo Point, Kundala Dam Lake and a few waterfalls which are prominent during the monsoon season are the other points of interests in Munnar.