Kerala: Places to Explore

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Munnar

On the drive from Thekkady to Munnar, a good road winds through lofty forests as well as spice and tea plantations. The town of Munnar itself is small and unattractive. However, most of the land around it is owned by the Tata tea company and a few smaller concerns, resulting in a kind of unspoiled hill station, with hundreds of acres of tea, coffee, and cardamom plantations amid hills, lakes, streams, and waterfalls. During your visit you can tour these plantations; arrange trekking, rock-climbing, paragliding, and river trips; or just sit on your hotel balcony with a cup of tea, taking in the scenery.

Most lodgings can arrange a tea plantation tour, where you can walk through the steeply pitched, dense green hedges, and see how the leaf is processed. (Historically, the dregs of the batch get shipped to America, although this has been changing in recent years.) Cardamom plantations are just this side of heaven. The shade-loving spice needs plenty of forest cover, so a walk through a plantation feels like a stroll in the woods, complete with dappled sunlight, mountain streams, and birdsong. It's quite cool here, so you don't need to find a hotel with air-conditioning.

Elsewhere in Central Kerala

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