Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Planning a trip to Kerala -III: Munnar

Our next destination was Munnar, a hill station approximately 150 km from Cochin. A few kilometers out of Cochin, you start getting the first glimpse of rubber plantations in the area. The climb is not stiff and your comfort is doubled by the feel of the cool weather on your way up the hill. On the way we stopped at a roadside restaurant named Farm Yard. The place is beautifully landscaped and decorated to give you a feel of real farm. The place was not crowded and so you can spend few moments of blissful solitude. After a 3-hour drive we had arrived at Munnar. Kumar, the driver took us to a hotel named Sree Narayana Annexe. The charges were Rs.950 plus taxes for a double room. It was a good hotel but we found no accommodation there as two big groups in busses had checked in just before we reach. We settled for a nearby lodge that was more of a kind of private home. We paid Rs.600/- for a double room. Foreign tourists prefer this kind of accommodation. But we took food in the restaurant of Sree Narayana Annexe. Talking about food I have to make special mention of curry leaves. They will be everywhere – from cutlets to aloo parantha to dal to anything you get to eat.

Next morning we started our local sightseeing at around 9 am. Once we started climbing, tea gardens started appearing. The lush green bushes of tea were laid like carpets on the hill. We had seen many tea gardens in Assam. But this sight of tea gardens was quite unique. You cannot stop getting down to have a photograph amidst the gardens. First we went to Madupetty dam. It had a big reservoir surrounded by hills. What we found quite interesting is that mango was sold here in February. We devoured those tasty February mangoes. Many small kids were also strawberry and nice fresh carrots. Speedboat cruise of the reservoir are operated from the other side of the dam. Two kinds of boats were available – speed boat and one large boat for big groups. The place was crowded and one has to stand in long queues for your turn. I paid Rs.200/- for a 15-minute speedboat ride. Ride was fun. But you can feel the pollution caused in the tank by the spilled oils from the boats. This reminded me of such a boat trip in Chennai, on way to Mahabalipuram. The water there was full of kerosene mixture smell.

After the boat ride, we proceeded further up the hill. There is spot called Echo Point few kilometers up. People were found letting out all kind of yell to here the echo getting reflected from surrounding hills. Further up the hill, there was another dam but we found the reservoir there dry. Both the dams are on the same river. This completed our Munnar local sightseeing. We came back to hotel for lunch.

After lunch and a siesta, we set out for our next destination Thekkady. This road out from Munnar, unfolded before us another spectacle of magnificent tea gardens clad hills. In the horizon there were never ending hills all covered by carpets of tea bushes. It was an unforgettable sight. Munnar is the HQ of Tata Tea Ltd. All the gardens there belong to Tata Tea. Initially I thought of skipping Munnar. But I took the wise advice of must go to Munnar and traveling on this road I felt what I would have missed. It was an unforgettable sight.

A little further down, we start getting the spice plantations. This is Spice County. Kerala is famous for spices and colonizers came here in search of spice. First we saw the Black Pepper plants grown at home by the villagers residing along the road. Then we found stretches of cardamom plantations for several kilometers along the road. We got down to pick up some fresh cardamom and black pepper from trees.

This completed our Munnar trip. What was unique to Munnar were the tea gardens clad hills. This is what people come here to see. The climate here is also quite different from Cochin. We had to buy summer attires in Cochin to cope with the rising mercury even in February. We had started with warm clothes from Assam which were useful in Kolkata as well. But Cochin was hot beyond our expectations. Munnar was in contrast was much cooler and pleasant. As always, at the end I am giving you the phone numbers you may need.

Hotel Sree Narayana Annexe, Munnar : Phone – 04865 –232022/ 232033

1 comment:

Meanderingvac said...

Such a captivating tourist destination. Get a chance to view neelakurinji bloomed everywhere. A must visit hillstation . For more tour packages and destinations please visit MeanderingVacations.