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Kolukkumalai – Trip to World’s Highest Tea Plantation

Clouds at Kolukkumalai peak World's highest tea estate

Heading to Kolukkumalai

The unique little thing, Neelakurinji Flower, blooms only once in 12 years. And to witness it has always been a dream. So I was overjoyed when the chance actually came and the perfect place for it was Kolukkumalai, world’s highest tea plantation.

We began our journey from Kodungallur to Munnar at 4:00 am on a Saturday morning with our friends. Munnar, located at the Idukki district, stands at an elevation of 5200 feet above sea level. It is called the Kashmir of South India and is dotted with lush tea plantations. It was still dark outside, and there was a gentle drizzle as we drove through the city. Our destination, Kolukkumalai tea estate is situated around 35 km from Munnar, and lies at 7130 feet above sea level! Kolukkumalai is also famous for being the highest organic tea plantation in the world. This also said to give the tea a unique flavour.

The Munnar weather was just perfect – chilly and foggy. The best spots to visit in Munnar when you’re really short of time are the Madupetty Dam and Munnar Top Station.

Madipetty dam in Munnar on the way to Kolukkumalai
Madupetty Dam on the way to Munnar

The Madupetty Dam offers a picturesque view of the blue waters with the backdrop of beautiful green mountains. It’s a must visit spot when in Munnar!

Munnar Top station on the way to Kolukkumalai
Munnar Top Station

Top station is the highest point in Munnar and stands at an elevation of 1700 m! The view it offers is to die for, and evenings are pretty much foggy and beautiful! Munch on roasted sweetcorn on the cob – it’s amazing!

Suryanelli Town

We reached Suryanelli, where our stay was arranged at around 6:00 pm after our sight seeing in Munnar. Munnar to Suryanelli took around 2 hours to reach. The accommodation was simple and was arranged through our friend at a local home stay in Suryanelli. The owner also arranged Kolukkumalai Jeep safari, which are the only way to the top of Kolukkumalai, which costs Rs. 2000 per Jeep. Also note that each Jeep takes only 6 passengers at a time, not more. So if you plan a trip, please remember to book the Jeeps accordingly. After a dinner of masala dosas and warm cups of tea, we decided to rest for the night.

Kolukkumalai Jeep Safari

Our Jeeps were scheduled to pick us up at our accommodation at 4:00 am, and it was right on time! The ride to the top of Kolukkumalai was one of a kind. There are no proper roads built, so the path is rough. It’s the reason why you need Jeeps! After the most bumpiest ride ever, we reached the Kolukumalai sunrise point.

Sunrise view from Kolukkumalai Peak
Kolukkumalai Sunrise Point

The beauty of the sight we witnessed can’t be put into words to be honest. The splash of the most wonderful colors painted the skies as the sun peeked out of the clouds. After enjoying the view for a while, we decided to trek to Kolukkumalai peak.

Kolukkumalai Trek path
Kolukkumalai Trekking path

Since this journey is through the Kolukkumalai estate, additional Rs. 100 is charged per visitor. The Jeep will take you to a point, where they will wait till you finish your trek and return. It takes around 1.5 km to trek to the peak, and there comes another breathtaking view.

Kolukkumalai Trek path

Kolukkumalai Peak view point

Clouds at Kolukkumalai peak World's highest tea estate

A true foggy paradise, the peak literally takes us where the clouds are below us! This is where we set our eyes on the Neelakurinji for the first time. Though not large in number since they were already drying up, we were still lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this wonder. We’ll have to wait another 12 years to see them again!

Neelakurunji Flower at Kolukkumalai Peak
Kolukkumalai Jeep Safari Route
Kolukkumalai Jeep Safari Route

We had to return to our Jeep within an hour, and we made our way back to Suryanelli homestay. We bought the most orange crunchy baby carrots on the way down. They are definitely the yummiest I’ve tasted!

Kolukkumalai is one of the most exotic places we’ve visited and it’s beauty is simply divine. Avoid planning your trip around the monsoon season to witness the best of Kolukkumalai. And do remember to try some of that tea!


Watch our Kolukkumalai Travel Video

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Travel Tips

  • Kolukkumalai Jeep safari costs 2000 Indian Rupees per jeep. Each Jeep carries only 6 passengers. 
  • You can book Kolukkumalai jeep at the entrance of Suryanelli estate.
  • Shops and Restaurants in Suryanelli town close early so plan to have an early dinner.
  • Munnar to Suryanelli road tends to be prone to landslides, so better to avoid trips during monsoon season.
  • If you are looking for Homestay in a shoe string budget and Kolukkumalai Jeep safari ping us in Instagram @ourbackpacktales.

How to reach Kolukkumalai ?

  • Nearest Town – Suryanelli (30kms from Munnar)
  • Nearest Railway Station – Alwaye (140kms)
  • Nearest Airport – Cochin International Airport (137kms)

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