Munnar… The Kashmir of Kerala!

Face to face with Jaguar

Kerala was on our list for a long time. We wanted to complete Kerala in a go and for that, a long stretch of holidays was required. Kerala being a huge state requires almost half a month to finish off all the bucket list items. We decided January to be the month for going there after the chaos of the new year celebrations because we wanted our trip to be free from overpriced hotel rates and too much crowd. 

The preparations started almost 30 days before the trip where firstly the itinerary was finalized in such a way that trip consisted of diversity. It was planned in a way that the locations were a mixture of mountains, beaches and backwaters. Thereafter, hotels, Airbnb, and campsites were finalized. Here also we tried to keep a put of diversity in such a way that we stayed in hostels, camps, hotels and Airbnb. Then came the most tedious task of the trips all the time- shopping. We ordered online the clothes then tried them and exchanged them if any of them was not of perfect size. We also spend a whole day fixing up minor things in the Thar so that our road trip goes off smoothly. And lastly, we tried something new this time, we also purchased a cooking gas stove, butane Cannes, utensils to cook and groceries.

So welcome to this Blog which covers an adventurous road trip featuring Kerala.

13.01.2023: Bangalore – Erode – Munnar

We started from Bangalore at 8.30 pm thinking of hitting Erode (our stay location for the night) by 2 am. Like always exiting Bangalore and that too on a Friday evening is a task. But almost in an hour, we were able to exit Bangalore. We were extremely excited for this trip because what we were going to do was the first time in our lives. A 17 days road trip!!!

For me and Ishan, road trips are never boring because we keep on listening to songs, I keep on talking all the time, and he keeps on thinking of some future business ideas all the time. We took a coffee break at a roadside restaurant in Tamil Nadu and started again.

Erode came at around 2 am exactly as we predicted. The hotel was fine but there were mosquitos who did not let us sleep for a minute and after an hour of getting tortured by them, we thought of leaving early for Munnar.

We started at 4.30 in the morning for Munnar. Of course, it was tiring because we were sleep deprived. We stopped the car so many times to take a rest, and have tea just to gain that required energy to reach Munnar. Hats off to Ishan who was driving relentlessly in such a condition.

Welcome to Kerala!
Cheerful Ishan after driving the Thar for 16 hours 😉

By the time we reached Munnar, I was sick. I was having a bad headache, was dizzy and very low on energy.

Our stay was booked at Zostel, Munnar. We checked in there at 12 pm all tired and ready to sleep as soon as we saw the bed. We booked a 6-bed dorm there. This was our first time in any hostel and we booked it because firstly we wanted to keep the essence of the trip as a backpacking trip and secondly, we wanted diversity in our stay locations this time.

The thought behind booking the mixed dorm was there would be a mixed crowd of women and men within the dorm but this was clearly not the case in Zostel Munnar. In our dorm, there were all men. But overall the atmosphere of the hostel was good, it was aesthetically very good, well planned and most importantly the food that you get served in Zostel is very good.


After sleeping for almost 3-4 hours we woke up at 4 in the evening, had Zostel’s very delicious and filling veg sandwich and went for a walk to nearby tea plantations. Zostel Munnar is located on a steep mountain, it’s so steep that walking on that mountain is very difficult.

We planned of keeping the first day a bit chill and relaxed as we had a very long trip ahead and there was no sense in exerting ourselves that day.

We came to the hostel and planned to make coffee on our gas stove first time. It felt so exciting to cook ourselves on the road trip. It’s some next-level fun. The coffee was great. After having coffee we went to have dinner on the first floor and there we started to plan for the next day’s itinerary.

While Ishan was planning the itinerary, I coincidently met a college friend and it was so much fun catching up with him there at Zostel after 7 years.

Zostel evenings are all about fun, dance and parties because people from various locations come there who are on their solo travel and for them, it’s a nice place to catch up with one another and make friends while traveling. 


The next day morning we started from Zostel at 5 AM because we wanted to see the sunrise from Chokramundi Peak. The whole hostel was sleeping when we started. We followed the google map and it took us to some unknown place and there was no peak visible there.

Thankfully we saw two bikers coming from the top and they told us there is nothing at the top Chokramundi viewpoint is somewhere else and we were misguided. Google maps sometimes play around with you :p We took a U-turn and followed the bikers and reached the actual location.

There was a viewpoint on the road known as Lockhart Gap and the view was so beautiful from there that we couldn’t stop ourselves from sitting there for a while and making ourselves a cup of coffee. By then preparing coffee on roads became our newfound love.

Chokramundi Peak was 15 minutes or maybe half an hour trek from Lockhart Gap and we were so in love with the view that we canceled the plan of trekking and enjoyed at the Lockhart Gap view point only. The clouds looked like a blanket over the mountains from there and it was just wow.

Lockhart Gap View Point Gap Road

We also covered the Gap road (the most famous road of Munnar). It’s famous because it’s a very shiny, pretty, clean and well-maintained road. After this at a very short distance, there is Chinnakanal Waterfall, we went there but it was not like as shown in the pictures on google maybe because the season was not rainy and we went there during the complete off-season. 

After this we went to the Elephant viewpoint. The natural beauty of tea plantations was so beautiful there. The Elephant viewpoint is surrounded by tea plantations of the Tata group. When we reached there it was 8.50 am and the viewpoint opens at 9 am.

All of a sudden we sensed a rush in the air. The people behind us were running here and there and they were speaking something in Malayalam. We could not understand what was going on until Ishan asked a man and he replied RUN RUN!! There is an elephant coming to this side. We were confused about what to do. Should we be seated in the car? Should we get down and get inside the viewpoint park? Or should we take the car along with us inside the park because chances were high that if the elephant came there he could destroy everything including the car. I was so scared that I ran away inside the park without thinking of Ishan and the car. Ishan started searching for me and then he saw me standing far away in the park and laughed and till now he makes fun of my selfishness of running away without thinking about anything and anybody. All in all the elephant view was fun because we saw a raw elephant roaming around and swimming in the river from one shore to another.

Elephant View Point

Next, we went to a very famous off-roading spot nearby called Mullanthandu Kurishumala. We thought it to be an average off-roading spot but it was one hell of a difficult trail. We tried going up to the top but there was not a single jeep there nor a single tourist and therefore we decided of skipping the idea of going up alone because if by any chance we get stuck it would be difficult to get rescued and come back. My husband was so disappointed while coming back that he pinned the location on his phone and planned of coming there again with his offroading friends in Bangalore.

It was afternoon already and in Munnar what happens is during the day time it becomes too much hot and during evening time it’s cold there. It was too hot and we planned of coming back to the hostel.

On the way, we saw Ripple Waterfall. It was not on the list because it was not looking very great in the pictures but because it came in between we went there. The waterfall was not good again because of the off-season. We came to Zostel after this and went to the canteen for lunch.

In the evening went to a hidden waterfall. It’s promoted by Zostel only and they have also prepared a cue card for it which mentions the instructions while you go down to the waterfall. It was a bit suspense for us as we went down the hill the waterfall was not coming only. We went through cardamom plantations and then after a long wait, the waterfall sound was audible. There the offroading started and it was a good one, trust me! There was a house and a boy living in that village house showed us the waterfall. He also insisted we stay there in the camp but it was all alone there and too scary and hence we denied and went back up because it was already dark and the way up the hill was challenging.

Cue Card to Hidden Waterfall


The next day we started a bit late. We started from the hostel and on the way, in between the forest area we saw the perfect place to cook ourselves oats. It was cold by then and making oats on the side of the road in a deep forest felt great adventure.

After having breakfast, we headed towards a small town/village called Manakulam. In Manakulam there is a waterfall called Kainagiri waterfall, the expectation level was low since it was a known fact by then that Kerala’s waterfalls are good only during rainy seasons. Still, we went there. The forest department officers were there. They charged us around ₹100 each. It was not too great but since we went early there, there was zero rush and we enjoyed the solitude over there. 

Kainagiri Falls

It was always a wish of mine to cut the tea leaves with the tool that those village ladies use. So next we went in search of a place where one of those tea plantation workers would give me that tool and I will learn how to cut the tea plants just for the experience. We went to a nearby plantation place and asked one lady but she said something in Malayalam and we managed to understand that she can’t give us the tool to us to cut the leaves. I was disappointed but the thought of “next time I will do it” kept me going.

Next, we searched for a place to cook maggie for ourselves. It was too hot by then and there was no shade that we could find. So we sat on a plane empty road in between the plantations and made ourselves some maggie and coffee and trust me it was super fun. Cooking in forests, between the plantations of tea was becoming our favorite activity to do.

Next, we went to Echo Point of Munnar. There was too much rush on the roads by then and the traffic was slow-moving. Here we got a realization that waking up early and covering places to visit in the morning is the best thing to do because it gets too crowdy during the day time in Munnar. The echo point was a lake where boating was done. Both of us were not interested in boating so we decide to sit and chill over there. After half an hour we got ourselves moving toward home and spent a relaxed evening at the Zostel.

17.01.2023 : Munnar – Suryanelli

The next morning was the day of checkout from Zostel. We did the packing and started the day. The next destination was one of a town in Munnar called Suryanelli (20 Km. from Munnar) where we planned to stay at Tentgram. Ishan was way too much missing idli and his wish got served in a hotel near Suryanelli where we stopped for breakfast. 

Breakfast with a view!

The expectation was not much with Tentgram because the name of the Hostel/Camp Site was not familiar. We were done with staying in a hostel and sleeping on bunk beds and therefore we asked Tentgram people if we can pitch our own tent at their property. They denied the request but suggested we stay in their tent. Since the place had good reviews, we agreed to the same and booked a tent. 

When we reached Tentgram and entered their premises, the energy was so positive at their place. Don’t know if was it the hospitality of their managers and caretakers or the overall ambiance, the place felt great. Ishan did the formalities of booking the tent and I was lost in the creativity of the place. The hostels, the library, the dining area everything was just too good. 

Ishan is very particular about the fuel management of the car and as he did not wanted to take any risk we went for refueling the diesel at an hour’s distance petrol pump.

When we returned, the lunch was ready. We had lunch and relaxed in the garden area of Tentgram. After this, we went to shoot a video in the lake nearby which was very beautiful. Since we got to know about Tentgram from a Vlog of an influencer, we also wanted to visit the village area and school nearby which was shown in the vlog but the Tentgram people told us that we cannot visit the village house at that time because of some reason and school was open and classes were going on and we cannot visit there as well. Likewise the wish of cutting the tea leaves, this wish also remained unfulfilled of mine.

In the evening time, we went to a hill to view the sunset. While returning the weather all of a sudden shifted and turned out to be very cold by then. We planned of cooking ourselves Dal-Rice for the first time on the trip. Ishan went to take permission of cooking from the manager because cooking for your own self is not allowed in Zostels. The manager not only agreed but showed us a small tea shop (Chai-Tapri) where we can cook which they were planning to open in near future.

The tea shop was very cute and the setting was perfect to cook some meals. He also lit up small lights there at the tea shop which gave a perfect feel. The atmosphere there at Tentgram during the evening was just so good and homely. When I was cooking and Ishan was helping me, all the staff people of the Tentgram came and visited us, they all were so curious about the stove, the gas container and also about dal rice. They also showed interest in eating dal rice which I could not fulfill that day but next time whenever I will visit Tentgram, Suryanelli I will surely make the staff people a good North Indian meal.

There was staying a group of ladies’ friends along with their children at the hostel. They lit up the bonfire and were dancing around it during the nighttime to Malayalam songs and it was so amazing to see them dance.

After having dinner we also went to the bonfire place and chit-chatted with other hostelites. The temperature there was going low and it was so cold there that we went inside our tent to sleep early. Believe me, during the night, the wind was blowing so furiously that I could hear the noise of the wind very clearly. I was shivering because of the cold all night and couldn’t sleep well because of it but truly it was an experience to sleep in a tent in that cold.

18.01.2023 : Suryanelli – Kolukkumalai

The next morning, I woke up early and went outside to sit in some sunshine. I woke up Ishan also because I did not wanted him to miss such a beautiful morning. The sunshine felt like a blessing from God that morning. We had breakfast and began to plan for the coming days of the trip.

Our plan for the coming four days was not very concrete and as we had seen so many sunsets and sunrise by then we were not too sure about going to Thekkady because it was again all about the viewpoints and we had already seen too many of them. The people staying at Tentgram suggested us to go to Allepey for 2 days and we thought about it for a bit of time and came to the conclusion that it is a good idea. This way some more diversity will also add up to our trip. And Allepey after Kolukkumalai became our new next destination.

At around 4 pm we left Tentgram for Kolukkumalai and leaving that place was so difficult. That was a little paradise between Munnar and Kolukkumalai. The people, the staff, the atmosphere, the hospitality and the welcoming nature of everyone present over there were amazing and the least I can say about Tentgram is when I was leaving that place my heart was full. 

Ishan was from starting had the wish to stay up at the top of the Kolukkumalai. At the top, there is only one campsite known as the Jaguar campsite. The challenge with these people is they do not pick up calls for booking purposes. Well! God knows the reason. Maybe they work on a pre-booking purpose. So we met a friend in Munnar Zostel and he told us about this campsite called Camp Tea Forest situated at 7000+ feet altitude but not exactly at the top of Kolukkumalai mountain. We thought of booking this camp just for having an experience of how it feels to stay at 7000+ altitude overnight and start the trek from there.

People who want to go to Kolukkumalai but don’t want to stay up can book the jeep tour from where they are staying as well. The jeep will pick them up from where they are staying at 3 am in the morning and by 6 am they will be at the top of the hill.

Kolukkumalai top camp stay


In our case, we woke up at 4 am and after having tea, started the trek. It was an hour-long trek and we had a family of 6 cousins who were our fellow trekkers. It was pitch dark when we started and extremely cold. But the difficulty level in trekking helped us to forget about the cold totally. On a scale of 10, I would rate it to be 7 on the difficulty level. Well! I am not the right person to give the rating because I am completely a noob when it comes to trekking and honestly, I don’t like it much. With the help of the phone’s torchlight, we climbed up the hill.

The stars were visible at that time and the whole of the sky was filled with them and it was a view to remember. It was steep in some places but the willingness to see beauty at the top kept us going.

We reached the top by 6 am and sunrise was about to happen at 6.40 am. We all settled down and honestly, words can’t justify the beauty of that place. The sky was yellow and orange. The mountain in front had a peak that was sharp like a needle and clouds were below us spread over like a warm blanket protecting the mountains from the wind. And a few minutes later the wait got over and the sunrise happened and it was mesmerizing.

I would really recommend if anybody is going to Munnar this place is must go. Our trekking head was a bit in a hurry to go down and he made a rush to move quickly though we all wanted to spend time there.

Face to face with Jaguar

At the top, there is a Jaguar faced rock which is spectacular and I had my Instagram moment over there by getting inside the crowd and taking a picture quickly with the Jaguar. 

We got down and had an authentic Keralite breakfast which included, Pattu (rice ball) and chickpeas curry. It was so cold that washing hands was difficult there. But the hot breakfast served was amazing. After half an hour our jeep came to pick us up and take us down. One thing to note over here is at Kolukkumalai trek, an individual is not allowed to take his own vehicle/jeep. The reason behind this is it’s a complete off-roading trek and a normal vehicle meant for roads will not be able to go up.

The camp people did not allow Ishan to take his Thar as well hence we kept it in Suryanelli only in camp parking. Although while going up we realized that the difficulty level was moderate and we could have gone easily with our own vehicle.

Next time maybe when we will go there with our offroading friends we will make this happen.

Munnar, Suryanelli and Kolukkumalai are scenic destinations in Kerala. I visited in the winter months, but honestly, this place is amazing year-round with amazing weather. Honestly, this part of the trip is especially the closest to my heart. I hope you enjoyed reading the first part of the Kerala trip blog and if you did, please hit the like button, and leave a comment.

Here is a sneak peek of how we planned our Munnar trip.

6 Day Munnar Trip Itinerary

13.01.20231TravelBangalore- Erode
14.01.20232Erode- MunnarLocal sightseeing of Tea Plantations
15.01.20233MunnarChokramundi Peak, Lockhart Gap, Gap Road, Chinnakal Waterfall, Elephant Viewpoint, Mullanthandu Kurishumala, Ripple Waterfall and Hidden Waterfall
16.01.20234ManakulamKainagiri Waterfall and Echo Point
18.01.20236KolukkumalaiStay at tent at the top
19.01.20237KolukkumalaiSunrise Trek

Hotel Details

Sr. No.City/ TownCommentsHotel URL
1.MunnarBook mixed dorm only if interestred in staying with others otherwise rooms are good.
2.SuryanelliBook Tent
3.KolukkumalaiBook Tent at the top

Restaurants in Munnar where you can get good vegetarian food

Sr. No.LocationNameLink
1. MunnarZostel, Munnar

Items good to have for Munnar Trip

Sr. No.ItemQuantity/TravellerPrice URL
1.Water proof phone pouch1299
2.Power Bank11049
3.Quechua bag1199
4.Travel Sling Bag1599
5.Rain Coat1599
6. Gas Stove and Butane13099

Must have Medicines for Munnar Trip

Sr. No. SymptomMedicineQuantity
1.FeverDolo1 strip
2.Allergy tabletAllegra1 strip
3.Mosquito BiteOdomos1 tube
4.AcidityEno/ Aciloc4-5 packets/ 1 strip

Itinerary Planning Checklist

Sr. No.Task
1.Finalize Road Route
2. Finalize Itinerary
3. Book Hotels/ Airbnb/ Campsite
4. Buy Clothes
5. Car Service
6.Fuel refill of car and air check for tyres

Few tips for Munnar Trip

Sr. No.ForCategoryTip
1. BothCarry 1-1 pair of sleepers and sport shoes with you.
2. BothBook your saloon for the services 1 day before the travel to make sure you look really good when you start.
3.BothFinish off hotel booking 30 days before the travel to get the best deals on hotels.
4. BothFinish packing at least 3 days before the travel.
5.BothFinish shopping at least 10 days before the travel, there might be some items ordered online that would need return and exchange, last moment orders will not be useful in case it misfits.
6. BothInstead of booking hotel in advance at a small town place (Erode), book hotel on the way where you see a proper hotel where you can rest atleast and safety is also taken care of.
7. BothCar servicing should be done atleast a week before the trip.

2 Comments Munnar… The Kashmir of Kerala!

  1. Dr Mamta Ojha

    Khyati after reading your blog i myself have come into the adventure mode.
    I actually could feel the beauty of the places mentiond. I especially liked the line when you ran to a hideout being scared of an elephant without thinking of Ishan because i have always felt that you keep yourself last on the list of priority and always think of others first. It was really funny.
    Now the urge to visit kerala has been building up inside me and i can feel the desperation being built in me to visit the place.
    The visuals in the blog match your discriptions and i felt happy that i could actually see the places in the form of short videos.
    Yeah I too liked Tentgram and the view of you two making coffee, oats and noodles is totally inspiring… I too would want to do that.
    The sunrises are so beautiful.. Both of you are travel maniac because getting up early in the morning at 3 a. m and 4 a. m is not at all an easy thing.
    My fav photo is where you two are sitting on chair and i suppose it is sunset time. I was looking for some music with the videos.
    And yeah you did a good thing when you made a chart of the places you visited at the end because i was getting confused about the names and also their order of visit.
    In the shopping list you have written every small thing mentioning their prices and also given the link to their purchase.
    Thanks for this informative, Educative and Entertaining Blog. It was a good read.

    Prof(Dr) Mamta Ojha
    Institute of Journalism and Mass Communication.
    Sage University, Indore


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