Most people feel that a trip to Munnar involves considerable expenses. However, it is possible to tour the hill station by spending a mere Rs 500 if one resorts to commute by the KSRTC bus. With this amount, one can also visit Koviloor, a picturesque spot near Munnar.
The trip starts from north Paravur in Ernakulam district. A bus leaves for Munnar from here at 6.50 am and reaches the hill station by 11.10 am. The bus fare is Rs 97. The bus takes the Aluva, Perumbavoor, Kothamangalam, and Adimali route to Munnar. After Adimali, the bus takes a deviation to the right at a stop named Erattukhanam and passes by Anachal, travelling 12 km off the main route. Not many visitors to Munnar have seen this road. It is an experience that only KSRTC bus passengers are fortunate to enjoy.
This is a path flanked by stunning scenery. At a place called Randam Mile (Second Mile), beautiful tea gardens come into view. The KSRTC bus provides a vantage spot to relish the sights. Incidentally, most of the passengers in the bus are foreign tourists, drawn by the low ticket fare and landscape.
The bus winds up the trip at the Munnar bus stand and it makes a stop in Munnar town also. If passengers get down at Munnar town, they can find connections to travel to several tourist attractions in the area, including Echo Point, Mattuppetty, Mattuppetty Dam and boating. Along the highway a park awaits travellers. Meanwhile, there is a Hydel Park in the town too. During January a flower show is held in Munnar.
Auto fares to nearby places range between Rs 80 and 100. Regular jeep service is available to Mattuppetty. Buses also ply at certain hours. While a bus ticket is priced at Rs 25, the jeeps charge Rs 30 for the trip. The auto-rickshaw fare to Eravikulam national park is Rs 150.
Another interesting spot nearby is Koviloor, where a number of organic vegetable gardens and strawberry farms thrive. It is connected by bus to Munnar. At 12.05 noon, a private bus starts from Munnar to Koviloor. Koviloor is the last stop while Top Station and Pambadumshola can be reached along the route. At Koviloor, lucky travellers will be greeted with the sights of wild elephants.
Another bonus of visiting the place is the chance to buy organic vegetables at cheap rates. Grown abundantly in the area, these vegetables are priced between Rs 100 to 150 here while they cost Rs 1000 to 1200 in cities. The main crop here is butter beans, which is a tasty vegetable rarely seen in city markets. It is available at Rs 100 per kg.
Koviloor is 45 km from Munnar and the bus to the place travels along the top of the Mattuppetty Dam. From the bus, the boat club, Echo Point and acres of tea gardens can be seen. Enjoying this scenery, passengers can reach the check-post of the Pambadumshola National Park via Ellapetty. Koviloor is 9 km from this point. The place has a feel of Tamil Nadu and right across is Kodaikanal.
Hotels in Koviloor charge cheap rates and allow guests to cook food in the room. This helps travellers save money. Buses starting from Koviloor are few and far between but every 30 minutes jeep services are available. Jeep rate is moderate and the journey to Munnar takes about 90 minutes. Spending 1 to 2 hours in Koviloor, travellers can head back to Munnar and visit the Hydel Park.
Things to note
There are only 3 hotels in Koviloor. All dishes served have a Tamil taste but are cheap. Strawberry costing Rs 800 to 1000 per kg is available here at Rs 250, that too the organic variety. At Rs 380, the freshest strawberry wine in Kerala can be bought from Koviloor.
KSRTC conducts bus services from 7 districts – Alappuzha, Kottayam, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Idukki and Palakkad – to Munnar. More information is available from the Munnar KSRTC bus stand. Phone number: 04865230201.
The last bus from Munnar to Ernakulam starts at 7 pm. Meanwhile, the last bus to Thiruvananthapuram leaves at 9 pm. This is also the last service of the day downhill. Travelers to Ernakulam can board this bus and get down at Kothamangalam, from where they can catch another bus to their destination.
The bus fare to Munnar from Kodungallur is Rs 111, Paravur Rs 97, Aluva Rs 86, Perumbvur Rs 76, and Kothamangalam Rs 64.