Hello readers! Hope all of you are enjoying your holidays.
I hope my first article of Travel PitStops series – April ignited your travel souls.
Here I am with my 2nd article of the Monthly Travel Pitstops Series with 2 new cool destinations to think on. (Trust me, its scorching heat across the country, I am travelling too!) But still there are a lot of places on our beautiful globe to satisfy your travel buds and make you wear winter clothes (atleast a jacket or 2).
One such natural destination to visit in the southern part of our country is Munnar. Situated in the beautiful state of Kerala at an altitude of 1500 metres above sea-level, this place is comfortably a summer-escapade. The lush green covers of forests and tea plantations will enthral you. This place used to be a hangout for the British elite in erstwhile days of British Raj.
Munnar is also known by the name ‘Kashmir of South India’!
(In Pic Above: Fresh-looking Tea Plantations in the hills of Munnar)
How to Travel?
The nearest airport is Cochin (110 kms north-west) & nearest railway station is Ernakulam Jn (130 kms westwards, Station Code: ERS). After reaching the nearest points, one can travel by road and enjoy the scenic elevated road trip towards the forests where the traveller will be greeted by fresh air and nature treat.
What to do & visit?
Munnar is blessed with abundant flora and fauna that mesmerizes the nature lovers. A blue-coloured flower named Neelakurinji (Neela means blue, kurinji means flower) blooms every 12 years. (The next bloom turning hills blue, is this year from July to October, so don’t miss!).
The altitude of Munnar allows tourists to do trekking at the south-india’s highest peak, Anamudi, at a height of 2700 metres. The peak is situated inside Eravikulam National Park. The park is spread across 95 sq kms of area and houses some rare animals and birds.
Tourists can visit Mattupetty (13 kms from Munnar) to see the dam and lake and enjoy swift boating.
One can also visit Chinnakanal, where water falls from 2000 metres and they are also known as Power House Waterfalls. To visit fresh tea plantations, visit Anayirangal (22 kms from Munnar). Also visit Anayirangal Dam, surrounded by tea plantations and superb forests.
A visit to the Tea Museum in Nallathanni estate is a must. It showcases rich heritage and legacy of tea plantation over the years, with evolvement of machinery and methods of cultivation.
Munnar is commercially known for its tea-plantation, significantly operated by corporate giant Tata.
Tip: Being a hill station, take your sports shoe, as you might have to do a lot of walking!
Clothing: Carry light layers to protect from breezy evenings which get a little cold by night.
Temperatures: Range from 15oC to 22oC
Fact: This place got its name from the confluence of 3 rivers: Muthirappuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala
Remember, in our childhood days, we used to hear stories about Changez Khan. Decades later the iconic name has not been forgotten. A Mongolian ruler, who found the largest empire (his empire extended over 33 Mn sq kms) in history is actually spelt as Chinggis Khan!
(In Pic Above: The 130 feet tall Chinggis Khan statue in the outskirts of capital city Ulaanbaatar)
This picturesque destination is sandwiched between Russia in North and China in East, West and South. It is world’s second largest landlocked country. Mongolia is also one of the world’s least densely populated country!
The major religion is Buddhism while widely spoken language is Mongolian. Many Mongolians still live a nomadic way of lifestyle which has evolved over history. They stay in ‘gers’, a compact-portable camp house made of wood and leather. The whole equipment can be carried on just 3 camels!
How to Travel?
The national domestic airlines fly to other cities within the country and are well-connected with the capital Ulaanbaatar. Aero-Mongolia, MIAT Mongolian Airlines are few of the domestic airline operators.
The capital city has direct connections with Asian peers while they have transit connections from other parts of the world through hub and spoke model. MIAT Mongolian provides its services from India too.
What to do & visit?
Mongolia offers a variety of adventure activities owing to its rugged landscapes and untouched waterfronts. Horse Riding, Mountain Trekking, Camel Trekking, Wildlife watching and Hiking are a few activities. Road-tripping Gobi Desert in the south is a spectacle not to be missed. It is a cold desert with vegetation and sand.
Khovsgul Lake in the north is one serene place to visit. A calm quaint natural treat, ideal for staying and camping. The lake can be reached from the town of Murun. Gorkhi Terelj National Park north-east of the capital city is a dense expanse of virgin forests.
The major cities of Mongolia are Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet, Murun and Darkhan. Due to 250 cloud-free days in a year, Mongolia is also known as the ‘Land of Blue Skies’!
Naadam festival is one of the most celebrated events in Mongolia which happens in July. (This year it is being held from 11th to 15th July). The event includes 3 main sports: Horse Racing, Wrestling and Archery.
Tip: Buy maps of Mongolia from Map Centre near Gandan Monastery
Clothing: Keep winter clothing like jackets, woollens, gloves as it gets really chilly after evening.
Temperatures: Range from -0.3oC to 15oC (Amazing)
Currency: Mongolian Tugrik (1 MNT = INR 0.03 approx. at the time of writing)
Driving: Right side of the road, Left hand drive
Visa: Check visa rules & fee for your country here! It may vary depending on the type of passport you hold.
Fact: The capital city of Ulaanbaatar is home to approx. 45% of the country’s population!
Guys, this is all about this month’s Travel PitStops Series.
Let me know your thoughts about the blog. If you want me to add any other details going forward in this series, just comment below & don’t forget to subscribe! Kindly share with people who are intending to travel to these destinations.
If you are travelling to any of these destinations, i would love to hear your experiences and stories.
Want to know about other travel destination? Read about Travel PitStops April edition