March 2019
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Munnar woo tourists with sub-zero temperature
Munnar: With broken roads and landslide carved mountains, this hill station had been a mute reminder of the deadly August floods in Kerala, the worst in a century, which ravaged the state. But Kerala''s Munnar, fondly called the ''Kashmir of the South'' by travel buffs, has once again turned out to be a paradise for tourists, thanks to the unexpected chilly weather and snow. Located 1,600 meters above sea level, the tourist town was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British government in South India.

The mercury level has plunged to minus degree Celsius in the last few days, spreading a blanket of snow across its lush greenery and tea plantations, which has wooed a large number of holidayers, both domestic as well as foreigners. The photos of snow-sprinkled grasslands and reports of the frozen climate of the place have gone viral on the social media also in no time. For the last eight days, the mercury level has gone down to below zero degree Celsius. It was -2 degree Celsius at the tea plantations and zero degree Celsius at the town area Tuesday, according to the weather report.

Local people said it was very rare for the frozen climate to last for over a week. Seeking to tap the opportunity thrown in by the unexpected weather conditions, Kerala Tourism had updated its Twitter handle with information and photos of the cool weather. "We can''t get enough of this rather unexpected, but dreamy Munnar weather. We can''t get enough of this rather unexpected, but dreamy Munnar weather," one of the tweets said.

The chilly weather has also given renewed energy to the tourism sector, which had faced the brunt of the deluge that had ravaged Munnar in August last year. Hoteliers, home-stays and resorts are receiving good bookings due to the sudden inflow of tourists. However, the unexpected snowfall has caused extensive damage to tea plants, local people said. Wildlife photographer Praveen Muraleedharan said that the minus degree temperature at high altitudes and deep forests of Munnar was common during December end and the first week of January.

"This may not be a positive sign. It is due to drastic climate change. We need to conduct proper research into it. Unfortunately, many are marketing the phenomenon in Munnar as a snow-fall destination in Kerala," he told PTI. Located in the biodiversity hot spot of the Western Ghats, Munnar is a sought-after tourist destination, known for its vast tea plantations, pristine valleys and scenic mountains and exotic flora and fauna.

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