Munnar would always be on the top when you think about a Kerala vacation. But have you really thought beyond the vast tea plantations and misty mornings? Meesha-puli-mala (Hill of the tiger's mustache in Malayalam) being the second highest peak and the highest stay in South India, is worth giving a shot while you are in Munnar and around, for the thick clouds that lay below you and the vast view with literally nothing higher than you.
How to book a stay?
Since it is a protected forest area, the only (legal) way to stay and trek to Meeshapulimala is through the Kerala Forest Development Corporation's program (which you can find here). They offer mainly three stay and trek options- Base Camp, Sky Cottage and Rhodo Mansion at three different altitudes.
We two opted for Rhodo Mansion as we are no experienced trekkers and definitely wanted to go for an easy-to-mild trekking wrapping up in 4-5 hours. We also wanted to see the thick clouds afloat before the sun rays disperse them by 9 to 10 am. Though Rhodo mansion was the costliest of the three, it is in fact reasonable considering an evening tea & snacks, dinner, next day breakfast, lunch, 1 night stay and a trekking guide all included in the program.
What to expect?
I have done Triund trek 2 years back and that is the only trekking experience in my book. I really am not fond of the whole 'trekking' thing but I was eagerly looking forward for the magnificent views from atop the hill with thick clouds all around & below us. The whole experience and the actual view indeed turned out to be way more magical and pristine than I had anticipated. It never really was disappointing at any moment throughout the 24 hrs we spent there.
Those who are more on the 'trekking' side could opt for Base camp as it is the lowest in altitude among the three options offering a longer trekking route to Meeshapulimala hill. We also heard from the guide that there are more routes around Meeshapulimala for those who want even more trekking. Also, the whole experience can be different in different times of the year - fogy with no view during peak winters, clear and perfect during shoulder season and hot, humid and cloudless during summer, so do your research properly.
How to reach?
The trip starts from the Kerala Forest Development Corporation's office in Munnar, hardly 15mins from the Munnar town within the Rose garden premises. You could catch an auto to reach there by 2 in the afternoon.
From the office, once you give the details, you would be provided with a jeep to reach the point of stay for which you have to pay an additional INR3000 up and down for a complete jeep. You are also allowed to take your own vehicle till a point about which you can discuss with the forest official at the office.