If you are planning for a tour to Munnar, most probably you might have already figured out that Munnar doesn’t have a Airport or Railway station. So the only means of public transportation to Munnar is bus services operated by the state governments as well as private operators. Since the recent years has seen a steady flow of tourists to Munnar from the southern cities, there are bus services connecting the southern cities to Munnar now. In fact, there are daily direct bus services from Bangalore to Munnar.
If your plan is to go to Ernakulam and from there go to Munnar, you could either book a taxi from Ernakulam to Munnar or if you are the kind of person who enjoy going off the beaten paths, you could catch a local bus to Munnar.
First, I will try to list the advantages and disadvantages traveling by bus from Ernakulam to Munnar.
OK, good stuff first. The advantages.
- Cost. The cost per person for the Ernakulam/Kochi to Munnar bus ticket can be as low as INR 95, or maximum INR 130. (Taxi cabs will charge you upwards of INR 1800)
- Travel like a local. Buses are the main mode of transportation in Kerala hence if you like to travel like the locals, bus is the way to go.
- Your environmental impact is minimized. (less CO2 footprint per person for bus)
- Buses will enter each and every town bus stations en route thus you get to see more places and local people.
Now the disadvantages.
- You can’t pre-book seats on the local buses. Often the buses are crowded and you get a seat only if you reach much earlier than the departure time.
- The local bus schedules are not available online. You will have to reach the bus station and enquire about the buses to Munnar.
- You get to see the scenery on the way to Munnar, but you cannot ask them to stop at something you find interesting, nor do they stop anywhere for sight-seeing.
- Usually the taxi cabs drop you at your hotel at Munnar within 3 hours, but the bus will take 5 hours or even more than that.
So where is the bus station in Ernakulam?
First I will talk about the KSRTC bus station, which is the state run transport corporation. The KSRTC bus station in Ernakulam is near to the South Railway Station.
If you are coming to Ernakulam from any other place by state run buses of Kerala, Tamil Nadu or Karnataka chances are that they will drop you at the KSRTC bus station. If you are coming to Ernakulam by train and your train has stop at ‘Ernakulam South Railway Station’ (Ernakulam Junction, as the railways call it) then the KSRTC station is within a kilometer. Prepaid auto rickshaws available in the south railway station. From anywhere in Ernakulam you could catch a ‘autorikshaw’ and ask him to take you to KSRTC station.
How is the frequency of buses from Ernaklulam KSRTC station to Munnar?
From the KSRTC bus station the frequency of buses to Munnar is low. Once you reach the KSRTC station you can approach the inquiry counter there and check with the officer about the next schedule to Munnar. Usually there are buses every 1 hour in the morning. When I was writing this article, the bus timings from Ernakulam KSRTC station to Munnar was as given below.
5:10 AM, 6 AM, 6:15 AM, 7:30 AM, 8:15 AM, 9:45 AM, 12 Noon, 12:45 PM, 1:45 PM, 3 PM, 4:50 PM, 5:45 PM
Note: Don’t take this as a confirmed timing from KSRTC. Always check with KSRTC inquiry or contact the inquiry office at the bus station.
KSRTC Ernakulam inquiry/contact numbers 0484 2372033 and 0484 2360531
What if there are no buses to Munnar in another 2 hours or so?
Ok, in that case you could ask for buses towards a place by name “Adimali”. Any bus to Munnar will be going via this place and if there is no bus to Munnar you could ask about the next bus to “Adimali”. From Adimali to Munnar is 30 kilometers and from Adimali there are buses to Munnar every 30 minutes.
Well, there is no bus to Adimali either. Now what?
If there are no buses to Munnar or Adimali in the next 2 hours, you could try for private buses. There are lots of private buses operating in the Ernakulam Munnar route and the ticket rate is also same as KSRTC. (The private bus charges are also regulated by the state government). However, you will have to go to “Vyttila Mobility Hub” which is the bus station for the private buses. The Vyttila mobility hub is approximately 5 kilometers from the KSRTC bus station. You could catch an autorikshaw to go to the mobility hub.
The same rule applies there as well. If there is no bus to Munnar right now, you could ask for buses to Adimali. From “Adimali” there are buses to Munnar every 30 minutes..
Ok, anything more?
Near to Ernakulam there is a place by name Aluva and there are lots of buses plying between Aluva and Munnar. In fact, whether you catch a bus from Ernakulam or Aluva, the major portion of your journey will be in the Aluva Munnar Road (AM Road). If you are coming by train from Bangalore or Chennai, you could get down at Aluva (AWY) and catch a bus to Munnar. There are two bus stations in Aluva. One is the state run KSRTC bus station which is just 100 meters from the Railway station and the next one is the Aluva municipal bus station where you will see the private buses to Munnar. From the KSRTC bus station the frequency of Munnar buses will be very low. But from the private bus station there will be Munnar bound buses every 30 minutes or so in the morning.