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An alternate travel route to Munnar

Even before all these social media induced travelling sprees, Kerala has always been a traveller’s paradise. The question of “why” is always there, but those who visited Kerala at the right times had the best experience of their lifetime. Hill stations with endless tea plantations, sugar sand beaches, emerald backwaters, and dense rainforests. Kerala has something for everyone. Munnar, Alleppey, Wayanad, Kovalam, etc. are some of the well known places, and there are well defined travel routes to these places. But in this article , I am going to share a travel itinerary that includes Munnar, Athirapally Water Falls, and Valparai. Let’s call it an alternate travel route to Munnar.

Most common travel route to Munnar.

Let’s talk about the most obvious routes. If you are coming from outside Kerala, you will most probably land at Kochi International Airport or travel to Ernakulam Railway Station. Most of the travel routes start from Kochi on NH 85. It is a 3–4hour journey. 

If you have plans for Alleppey, then first you can travel to Alleppey, stay there for a day or two, and then head to Munnar via a scenic route via Kottayam. It will take 4 hours and a little more during the monsoon.

The above two are the most travelled routes and the most common ones. Now, I have an alternate route that covers a lot more amazing places and trust me, you will never regret it.

An alternate travel route to Munnar

Kochi-Athirapally Waterfalls-Vazhachal Waterfalls – Sholayar Forest- Valparai-Marayoor-Munnar-Alleppey-Kochi 

Route Map

This may sound like a lot of days. But you can cover it in 4 days or more if you want to do it slowly.  This route covers some of the most beautiful  places in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

I have travelled along these routes and it is still one of the best road trips that I have done.

Kochi to Athirapally

For those who have no idea about the Athirapally waterfalls, they are the most beautiful waterfalls in Kerala. It is also the largest waterfall in Kerala and is also nicknamed “The Niagara of South India”. 

Athirapally waterfalls
Athirapally waterfalls

This place has been the location for countless movies that include Bahubali.

Athirapally falls are located 75 kilometres from Kochi. The Kerala tourism department is in charge of this location. To enter, you must have a ticket. Keep all your plastic bags and water bottles in your car. Because this is a plastic-free zone and you are not permitted to bring any with you.

From the ticket counter, the waterfall is a short trek away. You will definitely enjoy this trek through the dense woods and at some point you will be able to see the waterfall from far-away. 

Athirapally waterfalls from far
travel route to Munnar

During rainy seasons, tourists are not allowed to go near the waterfall. 

Also, stay away from the monkeys.

 I must say the first view of the waterfall is truly magical. It will gradually reveal itself between the canopies as you travel down the narrow path. When we finally make our way down the slope, you will be able to see the majestic beauty in all of its raw ferocity.

During the summer season, you may not find it appealing. But during the monsoon and after, you will see the real face. You will be scared to move near the waterfall. This is a must-visit place if you are travelling to Kerala.

Vazhachal Waterfall

This is a small waterfall at about 5 Kms from Athirapally. Vazhachal is situated in the western edge of the sholayar forest range. It is famous for its wild beauty and home to many endangered species of birds and animals. 

Vazhachal Waterfalls- Sholayar Forest

You can spend both the waterfalls for about 3 to 4 hours. If you want to take it slowly, you can book a nice heritage resort or hotel near to this place and enjoy your tropical serenity.

The entry gate to the Sholayar Forest is a few metres from the Vazhachal parking space. From here you will enter the Sholayar Forest. You need to pay a nominal fee for entry and it is managed by the forest department. 

Sholayar Forest

Sholayar is a tropical evergreen and deciduous forest that borders Kerala with Tamil Nadu. It is home to some endangered species that include Kerala’s state bird, the great hornbill.

Driving through these dense forests is a once in a lifetime experience. Unlike the forest in most parts of northern India, these forests are evergreen throughout the year. In some parts the canopies hide the sun and it’s always evening. Shades of dark green everywhere. 

It is very important that you enter early during the day so that you can cross it before sunset. 

On the way you will be able to see the Sholayar reservoir and it is a perfect view point.

Sholayar Forest to Valparai

After crossing the Sholayar Forest, you will reach the Tamil Nadu border. From there is a steep climb, and you will have to travel on one of the dangerous roads. The roads are extremely narrow, with a deep gorge on the sides. Drive through this area only if you are an experienced driver.

If you start from Kochi in the early morning from Kochi, you will reach Valparai by evening. That includes your time in both the waterfalls as well.


Entry to Valparari

Valparai is a small town surrounded by forests and hills. Started as a coffee plantation, Valparai had a history of colonial plantations that included coffee and tea. Even though tourism has its share of revenue, the majority of the population still depends on plantation crops.


This “seventh heaven” is where you can see how wildlife coexists with urban life. Sightings of leopards and wild elephants in the town are common here and are part of life. The town is surrounded by scenic hills covered in tea crops. Combined with the small lakes and beautiful valleys, this place is a perfect vacation spot.

You can stay in Valparai for a day or two. Explore the place, try local food and enjoy the calmness of nature at its peak.

Valparai to Munnar 

You need to  climb downhill towards Pollachi first. Now, this ride is very unique. There are almost 40 hairpin bends here and driving here is so fun.

At some point you can get a view of the Aliyar Dam. There is another treat waiting at the foothills. It is called the Monkey falls. 

Munnar in reality is very close to Valparai. The majestic Anamali mountain stood in the way, and you had to travel around it.. Throughout the journey you will see the Anamalai hills that resemble an elephant and hence got the name. It is more beautiful when you drive close to Munnar.

Monkey Falls

This is on the side of Valparai-Pollachi highway. During summers you may not find much water here, but this place gives you an experience of a waterfall deep in the jungle.

travel route to MunnarMonkey Falls
Monkey Falls

After crossing the Aliyar Dam, you will enter into plains with a lot of coconut tree plantations on both the sides. You will find a lot of local vendors selling tender coconut here and it is a must try.

A little more driving and you will find the topography changing again and a forest check post ahead. From here you will enter the Anamalai Tiger reserve forest. This is not dense and green like the sholayar forest in the start. But once you move towards the Kerala border, it again gets thicker.

Once you cross the Kerala border, you will enter the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and then Marayoor. Marayoor is very famous for its sandalwood forest. There was a time, this place was notorious for its sandalwood smuggling. Now things have changed a lot.


After crossing the Kerala border, it will take another 2 hours to reach Munnar town. On the way you will be able to see the  famous Eravikulam National park.

An alternate travel route to Munnar

Spending time here depends on you. You can travel all day and cover almost all the places. You can stay at a treehouse for a week, enjoy the vast green tea plantations, and still make it your most memorable journey.

How to travel around Munnar

Munnar town is the centre and there are 4 main roads radiating from there to many amazing places. You might have reached the town from one of these roads only.  So if you are planning to take the road, plan in such a way that you can cover all those places along that way.


This makes the Munnar town the most suitable place to find your stays. This is for those of you who want to explore the corners of Munnar.

But if you come here to enjoy the peace and serenity of the western ghats,  find a nice home stay, resort or a tree house away from the town. You can easily find your stays on airbnb, oyo or any other booking website that suits you.

You can easily get private taxis to travel around here. There is public transport as well. But the frequency to the tourist attractions was very limited. 

Places to see in Munnar

Here are some of the best places to see in Munnar. I am not going into much detail here in this article as I don’t want it to be super lengthy. 

Top Station : A secluded location far away from the town. You need to take a small hike down to the view point. 

Trek route to the Top Station
Trek route to the Top Station

Mattupetty Dam : You can do a lot of activities here that include boating, horse riding, shooting, shopping and many more.

travel route to Munnar
Boating near Mattupetty Dam

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary : Famous for its forest trekking and experiencing wildlife closely.

Lakkam Waterfalls : A small waterfall in the wilderness. Best place to click for your instagram feed. 

travel route to Munnar
Lakkam Waterfalls

Echo Point : Located along the Mattupetty Dam reservoir. Guss why its called the Echo point 😛

Tea Museum : You can find the history and process of tea here. Must go place for a retrophile.

Meesapulimala : Trek to Meesapulimala is a lifetime experience. It is the second highest peak in western ghats. 

Kolukkumalai Tea Estate: To experience the adventurous jeep rides

Kundala Lake : On the way to the Top station to have a great boating experience.

Eravikulam National Park : A must go place in Munnar. Ticket costs around 200INR and a bus from the entrance will take you to the park. Famous for Nilgiri tahr and Neelakurinji.

travel route to Munnar
Way to the Eravikulam National Park
Neelakurinji Flowers


Once you have the best experiences in Munnar, it is time to take the road to our next location. Munnar to Alleppey is a long 4 hour journey. I suggest starting in the afternoon so that you can check in your hotel for the night and start exploring Alleppey fresh.

The road will take you through some of the best villages and picturestic routes. You enter Alleppey from the east though Kuttand. 

travel route to Munnar

Alleppey is another marvel of Kerala. You need to spend a day or two in Alleppey to explore the backwaters and beaches.

Read my Detailed Travel Guide to visiting Alleppey for a detailed travel guide to visit Alleppey.


It usually takes 1 hour to travel from Alleppey to Kochi by train and a little more if you travel by road. But it will take at least 2.5 hours to the airport from Alleppey. Alternatively you can choose Trivandrum International Airport, which is at a 4 hours distance.

If you are taking Trivandrum International Airport, then it opens to another detailed travel route with much more to explore.

This article is all about an alternate route to Munnar. This covers a lot of places and needs at least 5 days’ minimum. But your plan is just to spend Munnar and get the most out of it, you can take major routes that I have mentioned in the starting. I would definitely suggest not to rush though these routes as these included some of the best places to visit in kerala.

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travel route to Munnar

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