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It was beginning of April and our next sport was Munnar. From Kumarkom we traveled north till Thiruvankulam and then took right on NH 49 to reach Munnar. On the way we saw a huge pile of sea shells, I used to collect them as a kid and had around 40 of them. So not missing the opportunity we got down from the car got some pictures taken. They are added in colors for luster. I wonder how they are collected in such a huge quantity. We visited Vaikom Mahadeva (Thekkan Kashi / Southern varanasi) temple; an 11th century temple spread over 8 acres. It has tall walls covering up an huge square area, inside there were walls covering smaller square area and had rows and rows of diyas covering up all the inside walls. These thousands of diyas must be looking magnificent when they are lit up. We had darshan and on the way out saw an mother and child sitting in one side of an huge balance and other side had bananas (apparently for donation)
From there we reached Thiruvankulam around 11 AM and took right turn on NH 49. We saw plantations of various spices, rubber, coco and pineapple. On the way we stopped for beautiful Valara (42 km from Munnar) and Kallar (19 km from Munnar) water falls. At both places you can reach and play in water. As it was cold we dipped our toes in water and headed back. Apart from these falls there are many places on the road where you can see that an small water stream will be flowing down in the rainy seasons; but again in those time it will be colder and you can see beauty of waterfalls but cannot get drenched in it.
We reached Munnar and checked in Archana Residency; hotel on banks of one of the three rivers (Munnar means 3 rivers). Standard room that we booked was relatively smaller but was very clean and very well decorated. In Munnar sightseeing is basically done in four directions; Mattupetty dam, Coimbatore, Cochin and Thekkadi. We hurried through lunch and started journey in Coimbatore direction. I was thinking that as we started by 2:30 we have lot of time in day to cover the various places; little did I know that it gets darker by 5:30 and that entrance time for almost all attractions (boating, parks, reserve forests) ends at 5:00 PM itself.
We reached Eravikulam national park, Rajamalai at around 3:30. This park is having South India’s highest peak; Anai Mudi at 2695 meters from sea level. Half of the worlds population of rare Nilgiri Tahr (mountain goat) is found here.
After standing in long queue for about one hour, near the ticket window (hidden behind queue) was small notice “NO ANIMALS SIGHTING AT PRESENT”. I made up my mind to visit the park anyways as it is the natural habitat of the animals in forest that is major draw for me :-(. On the steep way up to park you get to see the valleys and hills with beautiful tea plantations and forest.
After getting down from the bus we climbed on well kept winding road uphill; there were some people who claimed to see Nilgiri Thar at far distance above the green patch having rock on left side of it… we either did not have as good sight or mostly imagination to see the same. This park also offers trekking till Anai Mudi.
Even though I did not get to see the Thar; it is an good place to stretch your legs have a walk and enjoy the picturesque valley.
By the time we returned from the park it was around 5:30 and it was already getting dark. We headed towards Munnar and visited the Pothmedu View point (Near Tea Valley resort, around 6 KM from Munnar in Kochi direction). Here one can see rows and rows of mountain ranges as far as the sight can go and tea plantations.
It must be an great view with more light. We had dinner at Hotel Sarvana bhavan (idli, dosa etc.) and had stroll in the Munnar market. In an street side eatery we also got to see the way Kerala Parothas are made. I always used to wonder how those Parothas have so many layers.
Our driver and hotel reception staff told us that it will be foggy all over at morning and that we should start by 9 AM only. Regardless we decided to start by 8 AM. Next day there was little rain in the morning and there was no fog at 6 AM itself. We got up early and had stroll crossing the river and walking inside an tea estate having small stream of water.
We started in Mattupetty / Madupetty dam direction and visited Photo point. We had fresh,from the farm carrots; unlike orange carrots we get in Bangalore these were quite sweet. After that we spent little time at Jungle Honey Bee Nest; an tree having numerous honey bee nests and an person selling honey below it. We skipped Mattupetty dam boating (it was not started) and stopped by the Indo-Swiss cattle project. I had an impression that one can visit the place; at entrance gate I was greeted by a board “THIS IS A CATTLE BREEDING FARM AND NOT A TOURIST PLACE”. Hills covered with lush grass make surroundings of this place beautiful. No wonder there is a film shooting spot next; having lush green lawns, tall trees, green mountain ranges and Mattupetty dam water. Next we went to echo point; this place is near water and you can here an echo due to shape of the nearby hills. After shouting heart fully and hearing echo we left that place. Wife was not much interested in doing that as she hardly needs an echo point to do the same.
Next was Kundalay dam, beautiful lake is formed by the dam and one can do boating as well. We had tasty Maggi at hotel M.M.M.; it also offered BRAD AMBLED, FRIDE RICE & BANI POORI. Kids were doing the horse riding as well.
Out last spot was Top station; for which we had to travel 2-3 Km inside Tamilnadu. There is an Tamilnadu welcome board and just after you cross it car speed has to be dropped from 40 Km/H to less than 10 due to poor roads. I had taken the good roads for granted. I must say everywhere we traveled in Kerala the roads were superb and well maintained. The hilly roads were narrower but one can travel with good speed on them. Coming back to top station; one has to walk about one Km to reach entrance of top station. From there one has to take zig-zag and downhills steps for half Km to enjoy different views. This place offers panoramic views of the nearby hills. These rocky hills are covered by forest for most part. Not much of tea plantations here.
I think the best views of tea plantations are in Eravikulam national park and on the way to top view station. The view of multiple valleys completely covered by tea plantations is breathtaking.
On our return we had speed boat ride at Mattupetty dam. The speed boat driver moves the boat fast, sways it to the left and right and turns around in small circles making it an nice experience. Here one can enjoy the views of water, lush greenery, tall hills, plantations all at once.
Near Munnar we visited the flower garden. The garden has beautiful variety of flowers and like everything in Munnar is on hill slope. If you have to choose in this garden and Blossom park I would suggest to skip Blossom park. We reached Munnar around 2:30; had lunch and left by 3:00 PM. There are so many things that can be done here; Munnar needs at least full 3 days of stay to enjoy it fully.
On the way back we visited one more view point; took 10 Km diversion to visit Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple; here goddess Rajarajeswari is worshiped as Saraswathy in the morning, Lakshmi at noon and Durga in the evening. The huge temple complex has various another deities. We reached Ernakulam KSRTC bus stand by 6:30. It took us 3 hours to travel from Munnar to Ernakulam as we had an good driver and traffic was less due to vacation (good Friday). We boarded the KSRTC volvo for night journey till Bangalore. Not sure it was the driver &/or the roads; it was not comfortable journey compared to that of Pune-Bangalore Volvo. For me nothing beats the comfort of train.
One distinct advantage of Kerala is that you can get to beaches, backwaters, historical temples, hill stations within hours of travel and all of them look like they are from nowhere but God’s Own Country.
I have not travelled myself as per these; but I would have definately made better plan with this info and did at least one trekking. If you do these things I am all ears.
Neelakurunji flow season comes once in 12 years. In August-October Eravikulam National Park is blanketed in blue color. This would be a good time to visit.
One can travel from Bangalore to Comibatore in Kanyakumari Express or other trains or private buses and then travel to Munnar covering the various points on the way.
While returning back one can travel down from Munnar – Thekkadi – Madurai and then catch the big transport to come to Bangalore.
There are buses directly from Banagalore to Munnar. These are air suspension buses and leave in evening and reach in morning.
One can hire taxi or auto at munnar; at least taxi seemed to be expensive than hiring vehicle full @ Ernakulam or Coimbatore or may be Munnar itself.
Anai Mudi is ideal for trekking. Government has sanctioned Gouldsbury trail trekking program in memory of J C Gouldsbury (general manager of Kannan Devan Tea Company and a keen wildlife enthusiast). There is also an Lukkom Log house in the wilderness. Following is contact info for both, got it from poster @ Eravikulam national park
Forest Information Center
Wildlife Warden’s office
Munnar P. O. 685 621
Tel / Fax 04865 231587
E:Mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
For more details and contact number visit the park website http://www.eravikulam.org/
If you fancy stayhing in treehouse do trekking at chinnar wildlife sanctuary; for details visit http://www.chinnar.org/html/ecotourism.htm/
Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC) has various Eco-Tourism options like trekking and stay at camps; for details visit : http://www.keralafdc.org/eco-tourism.asp
Various adventures like trekking, rock climbing, tent camping, para gliding and night trekking are arranged by http://www.edelweissadventures.com/
Following are the things that can be covered in 4 directions of Munnar