Kochi: Domestic and international tourists are arriving in large numbers to Munnar, which is touted as Kerala's Ooty, as temperatures in this Western Ghat region have been falling drastically since Christmas.
A thick blanket of fog covers the tea estates and the mountain ranges till the sun comes out. A tranquil and cool atmosphere persists throughout the day though the fog vanishes at the fall of sunrays.
The mercury has dropped to three degree Celsius at Chenduvara while that in Munnar town it is around seven degrees Celsius in the morning and they hover around 20-23 degree Celsius by noon.
"Tourists are visiting the hill station in large numbers to enjoy icy winds and the scent of lustrous green tea plants. The mercury has come down to four to five degree Celsius in the mornings and late evenings and we expect it to dip further by next week," said Jayan P Vij, Idukki District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) Secretary, under whose jurisdiction Munnar comes.
The visitors have a lot to choose from when it comes to experiencing nature's bliss-boating at Munnar or Mattupetty; fog-covered hills like Rajamala or Eravikulam national park having the largest population of Nilgiri Tahr, Kundala and Echo Point.
The authorities have extended opening of Devikulam Gap road, a short route to reach the tourist destination from neighbouring States like Tamil Nadu, till January 6 in view of the rush, before carrying out the road widening works.
The foreign tourists too are dropping in to enjoy the chilly climate. Hotels and home stays in Munnar are almost fully booked since Christmas.
"We're daily getting enquiries on conducted tours to the hill station. We've procured a new 23-seater luxury bus and will deploy the same from Kochi for conducted tours from next week onwards," said S Vijayakumar, Ernakulam DTPC Secretary.
"Vehicles are driven at very slow speed with lights on at dusks and dawns when fog envelops the region. Foreign tourists mainly depend on Pius Nagar service (that leaves Kochi by 1.15 pm) to reach the town to spend a night there," said Jinz, the crew of the popular service operated by the state-run Kerala State Road Transport Corporation.
However, snowfall is yet to be experienced in Munnar or near-by high points this season.
"We thought of coming to Munnar as part of the New year trip and to experience the cool clime. The weather here is rejuvenating," said Karthik Narayan, a medical professional from Chennai.