India, a country rich in culture and geography, never fails to surprise its explorers with awe-inspiring landscapes and breathtaking natural wonders. One such gem is Munnar, a serene hill station nestled in the Western Ghats of Kerala. Known for its expansive tea gardens, rolling hills, and exotic wildlife, Munnar attracts millions of tourists every year. Today, let’s shed light on one of its lesser-known, yet enthralling, attractions – the Phantom Head Trek.
WHERE IS MUNNAR
Munnar is nestled amidst the picturesque Western Ghats in the state of Kerala, India. Located at an elevation of approximately 1,600 meters above sea level, Munnar captivates visitors with its breathtaking landscapes, rolling hills, and lush green tea plantations. This idyllic hill station is renowned for its cool climate, serene atmosphere, and abundant natural beauty, making it a haven for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike.
MY EXPERIENCE TREKKING IN MUNNAR
Hiking in India is a thought which had never crossed my adventurous mind. But, here I found myself at 5 am sitting outside my tent at the foot of Phantom Head. Our guide appeared out of the darkness with a torch and we began our hiking experience in Kerala.
The dark morning sky offered little guidance as we followed the beam of our guides torch. Traditional Indian music blasted throughout the neighboring village as a 24-hour celebration continued on into the early hours of the morning. The March weather was mildly chilly but had us throwing off our jackets after the first few steps.
The short hike covers an intense ascent of 400 meters. Beginning at 1500 meters above sea-level the hike reaches an altitude of almost 2000 meters. The air was thin and I was panting throughout the journey. No matter what type of hiker you are, this will be an achievable hike considering it’s short distance.
The climb up the mountain was more of a mission than a scenic route. Every now and again I peered towards the stairs, pinching myself like usual to make sure I knew I wasn’t living in a dream.
After almost forty minutes we reached the summit. A huge cross sat atop the mountain and a herd of cows slept beneath it. We may have woken the cows as we scurried towards the orange haze that was glowing like the end of a campfire. Check out this post for a full two-week India Itinerary full of adventures.
The glow continued to intensify until the sun broke through at around 630am. We explored the ledges, the outcrops and the cliff edges throughout the morning. A huge lake stretches as far as the eyes can see.
The name of the lake translates to “Elephants come down”. Which is precisely what they do at this lake. This is how phenomenal the landscapes and views are in this region and how wild the terrain really is.
I never imagined myself atop a mountain in India but here I was looking out over plains, lakes, forests and villages. That is the beauty of this journey I am on. At the end of each month, I look back on the previous 30 days and can’t believe how I ended up visiting all of these places and having so many amazing experiences.
Here are a few more snaps from this short but epic hike we decided to do twice in one day!
HOW TO GET TO MUNNAR
To reach the beautiful hill station of Munnar, there are several transportation options available:
- By Air: The nearest airport to Munnar is Cochin International Airport, located approximately 110 kilometers away. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to Munnar. The scenic drive takes around 3 to 4 hours, offering breathtaking views of the countryside.
- By Train: The closest railway station to Munnar is Aluva Railway Station, situated about 110 kilometers away. From Aluva, you can hire a cab or take a bus to Munnar. Another option is Ernakulam Junction Railway Station, which is well-connected to major cities in India. From there, you can avail of taxi or bus services to Munnar.
- By Road: Munnar is well-connected to various cities in Kerala and neighboring states through a network of well-maintained roads. You can drive to Munnar from cities like Kochi, Coimbatore, and Madurai. Private taxis and shared cabs are also available for hire. Additionally, state-run and private buses operate regular services to Munnar from major towns and cities.
It is important to note that the roads leading to Munnar involve steep slopes and hairpin bends, so it is advisable to drive cautiously and be prepared for a slightly challenging but incredibly scenic journey.