- Water Colored Landscape of Munnar – God’s own art
- Tea and Other Exotics of Munnar
- Nilgiri Tahr on the wild ramp of Rajamalai National Park, Munnar
- Boat Safari in Periyar Lake @ Thekkady
- Nature-walk in Thekaddy
- A visit to the kingdom of spices in Kumily
- Backwater cruise from Kottayam to Alleppey
- Enticing Munroe Island
- Flavour of local ferry in Kollam
Lord Parshuram threw the axe
and the sea gave way to a strip of land
thus formed the green kaleidoscopic – God’s own country Kerala.
Geographically Kerala is separated from rest of India by the massive Western Ghats and it enjoys an extensive coastal line formed by the Arabian Sea. The rugged, steep, wild and forested Western Ghats sheltered Kerala from mainland invaders and the long coastal line provided it maritime contact with the outside world, thus flourished Kerala’s unique traditions and identity.
This land of noble and generous “King Mahabali” is generous in its offering for the tourists too. It has palmed fringed beaches, tranquil hill stations, emerald-green backwaters, expressive dance arts, rejuvenating Ayurvedic treatments, moist evergreen forests and abundant varieties of Flora and Fauna.
In Kerala, the colors we noticed in abundance were Green, Green, Green and occasional Blue. It is a keralite tradition not to build houses taller than the surrounding trees and hence wherever one lives the abundant greenery always surrounds him and even the blue color of sky is visible only in glimpses.
Though we planned our Kerala trip and booked train tickets well in advance, we didn’t finalize the visit to Munnar. We were in dilemma. Should we travel from Kochin to Munnar and make our trip hectic or we stay and visit Kochin only? We were going to Kochin also for the first time, and Munnar was around five hours bus journey from Kochin, so we decided to give it a skip.
My friend Ram Narayanan is from Kochin. I shared with him my dilemma and the subsequent decision. He changed the whole plan. His suggestion was, “You must visit Munnar”. And like most people feel about their native places he said, “There is not much to be seen in Kochin anyway; it’s a distant competitor to Munnar’s charm and beauty”. So the decision was taken for us.
Kochin Bus Stand is adjacent to the Railway Station. As we came out of the railway station, a private bus was ready for Munnar. There were no glasses on the windows of the bus. The first feeling was, “Oh no! we have to travel in this “khatara”. I usually feel nauseating on serpentine hilly roads, seeing the condition of that bus I felt that I had to undergo nightmare till we reach Munnar. In contrast to my initial feelings, the road journey to Munnar was scenic and having open windows was the best part. It presented unhindered views of the beautiful landscape. As we left Kochin behind, we moved from the sultry and humid Kochin weather to fresh, crispy and pleasantly cold weather of Munnar.
We finalized Munnar quite late, so were not able to book the accommodation and felt the wrath of going to this popular destination in the peak season without any booking. After initial hassles, luckily we got a room in one hotel for one night and another room in nearby hotel for the next night
The word Munnar is formed by joining two words “Munnu” and “aar”. Munnu in both Tamil and Malayalam Language means three and aar means river/stream. Munnar is situated on confluence of three mountain streams Muthirappazha, Nallathanni and Kundala. During British rule, Scots developed it for tea plantation. Today Munnar is the commercial center of some of the highest tea growing estates. Initial settlers to this place were Tamil laborers who were brought here for cultivation of tea and coffee and this is one of the reasons that inspite being in Kerala, Tamil is also widely spoken in Munnar.
That day our morning half was lost in travel to Munnar and then we lost precious hours in the search of a decent accommodation. It was already late afternoon. We hired an auto rickshaw and decided to explore the Cochin direction. The auto took us through the rustic pathways of this sloppy mountainous town, driving us through the ups and downs of its quaint surroundings. Just one kilometer outside Munnar and we were among the carefully manicured hills that rolled down from sky up to our legs. It had rained only a day before, so the tea-leaves were devoid of dirt and dust, and the lush green slopes of mountains resembled a beautiful painting done in watercolor with pristine blue sky in the background. We were awestruck by its sparkling beauty.
Kerala is blessed with two monsoons in a year – the southwest monsoon that last from June to August and Northeast Monsoon that last from October to November. Together these two monsoons cast a spell over the greenery of Kerala. Good rainfall over the year ensures numerous waterfalls in Munnar and around. The deafening sound of these garrulous cascade and the beauty around them soaked us in. Luckily, there were less tourists around all the waterfalls we visited and we could enjoy them at peace and leisure.
We were thoroughly enjoying the auto rickshaw ride through the green, serene and peaceful hills, but soon started to feel the itch to walk among those green labyrinths. From morning we were in the vehicles, first in the bus and then in the auto. Exploring a town only on vehicle does not satisfies our taste of travelling and gives a feeling of incompleteness. So, we requested the driver to take us to a dense tea plantation where we could walk in the estate.
He dropped us at this beautiful place and told us that he would be waiting at the Sunset point. As we started to walk, I found myself humming melodious song of Aandhi movie, penned by Gulzaar.
कहाँ से चले, कहाँ के लिए, यह खबर नही थी मगर, कोई भी सिरा जहाँ जा मिला, वन्हि तुम मिलोगे मगर …
A crude English translation will be
“From where I started, and where I wanted to go,
I was not sure,
But I was sure, wherever my path will lead,
I will find you there.”
Walking in that tea estate was like walking in a dreamland. We crossed smiling women laborers returning home after day’s hard work. As we moved up towards the sunset point, we saw the sun playing hide and seek among the leaves of the tall trees around. At the top we ordered tea and sipped the gingerly nectar looking at the reddish ball vanishing down in the hill crested horizon.
The final destination of the day was the Blossom Park. The park had many varieties of exotic flowers. It was our first trip with a digital camera, and the beautiful surroundings gave us a good photographic opportunity.
I wish, I could write the name of these beautiful flowers – Things to do – Post retirement.
With this visual treat we ended our first day in Munnar and I would also like to end the first part of this post on Munnar. In this post, from Munnar we moved towards Cochin direction , in the next article we would explore the Mattupetty and Coimbatore directions.