|Top Station Idukki :|
Top Station too offers the usual sights and experience of rolling hills, verdant greenery, rows and rows of tea plantations but gains distinction for its matchless views of the Western Ghats. From here, one can capture the majestic Western Ghats in all its stupendous glory. Top Station is divided between Kerala and Tamil Nadu falling under the Idukki district of Kerala and Theni district of Tamil Nadu. It is about 41 km (an hour drive) from Munnar on the Munnar-Kodaikanal road.
To holistically enjoy this charming place, go trekking on the meandering roads or up the verdant tea plantations. Take short breaks to soak in the refreshing air and the breathtaking surroundings and listen to the chirping of the birds that come out of nowhere. Challenge yourself to a climb up the Observation Point because the view from the height of 1700 m is worth every effort and the pain. The craggy peaks of the Western Ghats is distinctly visible as well as the verdant misty plains of the Theni Valley and the flourishing manicured tea plantation below. The plantations here are among the highest in India. This area is Keralas prime tea growing region.
If you are lucky you might get to see rare flower Neelakurinji (Strobilanthus) in bloom. This flower flowers only once in 12 years and when it does it shows off covering the countryside with a carpet of blue and purple. Visitors throng the place to see this rare phenomenon. These flowers are the reasons why the Nilgiri Hills, which literally means the Blue Mountains, is so named. Top Station is one of the few places where the flower grows. The nearby Paliyan tribal people apparently used it to calculate their age. The Kurinjimala Sanctuary was created for preserving this threatened species of flower and the tribal settlements nearby. It is also home to some other threatened animal species such as elephant, gaur, Nilgiri tahr and deer. The planned Palani Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park falls at the western side.
Top Station is named after the now defunct railway station built for transporting tea from Munnar then to Kottagud by a ropeway and onwards to Bodinayakkanur. Top Station is the highest railway station on the Kundala Valley Railway. You can still see the ropeway station here while traces of the Kundala Valley Railway can be seen at the Munnar Tea Museum.
If you are there dont forget to take home locally grown spices such as cardamom, vanilla, pepper, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Also, there are plenty of tiny shacks where you can sample local tea.