This article will help you plan a one-day trip to Munnar and Koviloor on a tight budget.
It all starts from picking the ideal mode of transportation to Munnar from your destination and for our budget the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses are the best choice. The state-owned transport corporation runs buses to Munnar from all major cities in Kerala – districts, schedule and fares given at the end of this article.
From North Paravur to Munnar
The bus to Munnar arrives at the KSRTC stand in North Paravur at 6.50am. A ticket to Munnar will cost Rs 97 for a ticket to Munnar. That bus will reach Munnar at 11am.
The bus from North Paravur crosses Aluva, Perumbavoor, Kothamangalam and Adimali to reach Munnar. After Adimali, the bus turns right from Iruttukanam and takes a 12-km stretch on the Anachal route. Only those traveling by bus take this beautiful route, which is the Munnar Bypass. Reach Randam-mile and you are blessed with great views of tea plantations.
Though avoided by local tourists, KSRTC buses are the first preference of foreigners. There are two reasons for this; first, it costs less. Second, the Aanachal route is very scenic.
Chalk out your trip in advance and decide on your last stop at Munnar accordingly, the bus stops at Munnar town before ending its journey at the Munnar bus stand. If one gets down in the town, there are many places nearby which are ideal for sightseeing.
From the town, Eco Point, Mattupetti, Mattupetti dam and boating can be covered easily. Besides, there is a park on the highway and a Hydel Park within the town.
If the visit is in January, one can also enjoy the flower show. An auto will cover all nearby places for Rs 80 or Rs 100.
If one intends to go to Mattupetti, a jeep service is available and at sometimes bus too. The jeep travel will cost Rs 30, while the bus will take you to Mattupetti for Rs 25. Traveling by auto from Munnar town to Eravikulam National Park will cost Rs 150.
One can also opt to visit Koviloor by bus. This place is famous for its organic vegetable farms and strawberry plantations.
A private bus begins its journey to Koviloor at 12:05pm. From there, one can visit Top Station or Pampadum Shola National Park.
In Koviloor, if you are lucky enough you can spot elephants in the forest opposite the town. The organic vegetables grown here are sold for Rs 1,000 or Rs 1,200 in cities. But in Koviloor, they cost only Rs 100 to Rs 150.
One of the most popular vegetable sold here is butter beans, which is rarely available in Kerala. A tasty vegetable, you can buy it for Rs100 per kg in Koviloor.
Koviloor is 45 km away from Munnar. On its way, the bus passes above Mattupetti dam, providing views of Eco Point, boat club and a vast expanse of tea plantations.
While taking in these views, one reaches a check post at Pampadum Shola. From here, Koviloor is 9km away. It is a small but beautiful town, which resembles a Tamil Nadu town. On the other side of Koviloor is Kodaikanal.
Here, one can opt to cook one's own meal at a minimal cost in some private hotels. Very few bus services are available on the return leg. But jeep service is available every half-an-hour at very low fares.
The journey by jeep takes about one-and-a-half hours. If one spends about one or two hours in Koviloor, then one can visit the Hydel Park in Munnar town.
The last bus from Munnar to Tiruvananthapuram is at 9pm. This is the last bus which leaves the hill station. Those who want to go to Ernakulam can get off at Kothamangalam and take another bus to the city.
There are only three hotels in Koviloor. Though the food will have a distinct Tamil Nadu flavor, it costs low. The organic strawberry which costs Rs800 to Rs 1,000 per kg in cities costs only Rs 250 here.
Strawberry wine is also available for Rs 380. Such fresh wine is very rare in Kerala.
At present, there are KSRTC bus services from seven districts -- Alappuzha, Kottayam, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Idukki and Palakkad -- to Munnar. For more info on KSRTC bus services, call 048 65230201.
The last bus from Munnar to Ernakulam leaves at 7pm. From Kodungallur, the bus charge is Rs 131, from Paravur it is Rs 97, Aluva Rs 86, Perumbavoor Rs 76 and Kothamangalam Rs 64.
(Fares as at the time of publishing this article)