Layered with lush green carpets of Tea plantations and humongous mountains, Munnar is definitely God’s own country, for nothing else can be more peaceful and more beautiful than this small town situated in the Western Ghats. Established in the 19th century during the British Rule, Munnar has developed a lot over the years. AW road trip to this hill station is what we had been planning for quite some time, and our desire was fulfilled when the long weekend of August arrived.
We booked a cab (for cab booking rates and other details, click here) and started at 3:00 AM. There are two routes for Munnar from Bangalore- first via Mysore and the other via Salem. The one that passes through the Tamil Nadu border is a better choice owing to the National highway and breath-taking sceneries. There are many toll booths and you might spend around 1000 bucks for a round trip, but still, it is worth.
After a long 10-hour drive, we reached Pollachi and had to take another route for Munnar as the Pollachi road was under construction. In a way, it was good because we got a chance to explore Udumalpet, a small village that is called the land of wind turbines. The pleasant wind combined with soulful music made our journey more entertaining.
We started the climb by 2:00 PM and were greeted by numerous waterfalls on the way. The biggest of them all was Lakkam Falls (yes, people are allowed to go in water and get drenched).
It is located in the Munnar-Marayoor route; the waterfall is surrounded by ‘Vaga trees’. Originating from the Eravikulam Plateau, the strong flow of the stream creates lots of cascades, but most of them are inaccessible. However, still the waterfall is a visual retreat for the tourists/ travellers. It is advisable to carry an extra pair of clothes because it is quite impossible to resist the temptation of getting down with your pants rolled up and splashing the cold water on your face.
We reached Munnar at 5:00 PM and check-in our hotel (Achu’s Inn- last minute booking consequence). But to our surprise, the service provided by the hotel was fantastic. Not only did the staff greet us very warmly but also took care of our smallest need. This hotel is still in the bud stage and it is evident that the people associated with it are working really hard to leave a mark. The rest of the evening was spent in searching for a good restaurant and exploring the city market.
**Recommendation: Saravana Bhavan, Munnar, offers delicious North Indian food
Waking up to the morning light and being greeted by a chilly breeze, we left for the Eastern side of Munnar by 9:00 AM. The itinerary for the day was as follows (and successfully accomplished it):
· Photo Point: A point from where the Hair-pin bends are very much visible, plenty scope for clicking pictures
· Mattupetty Dam: Huge lake/ dam with boating opportunities, excellent shopping opportunities (specially for jewellery, antics and tea)
**Recommendation: Instead of opting for boating here, go for speed boat ride in Ooty (Pykara Lake)
· Echo Point: Again plenty opportunities to click pictures; let the child in you shout out loud, for you will enjoy when the echo is heard
· Kundala Dam and Lake: This is more of a picnic spot. Pray that the weather is cool and shady and bingo! Do not miss the Bread- Omlette and the lemon tea sold by the local shop-keepers.
· Top Station: 9 km farther is Top Station that offers a splendid view of the valley and the surrounding hills. Pray that the weather is sunny so that some of the most beautiful pictures can be captured and memories treasured.
Tired but contended after our visit to these places, we called it a day and spent the evening in our hotel watching Game of Thrones.
Our third day was characterized by lazy morning and hot shower. We took a demo tour for tea preparation in the Lock Hart Factory. The tour guide (Mr. Ashok) briefed us about the three different kinds of tea manufactured in their factory- Black tea, Lemon tea and White tea, the latter being the best. The factory is not in the best shape but still one can get a chance to see the old machines working like new. The small cafeteria offers delicious Egg puffs and Samosas along with beverages (obviously tea). The location is apt for photography but the road that leads to the place is horrible. It was very difficult to drive on the mud patches and cross the numerous potholes.
**Demo tour ticket: 150 INR / person
Next on our list was Devikulam, another hill station, 5 km away from Munnar (well, not literally) in the Idukki District. It is believed that Goddess Sita bathed in Lake Devikulam. The water of the lake is believed to be rich in minerals and possesses curative properties. The road to devikulam is not only narrow but dangerous. Initially, you will find nothing interesting in the panoramas, but once away from the city life, it becomes magnificent. The lush green plantations and vast expanses of tea estates will blow your mind. After spending around an hour there, we headed to Lakkam falls, for the dip in the ice-cold water is something that cannot be missed.
Here are some tips and tricks that can be referred to when planning to explore Munnar:
Ø The weather is cold in Munnar during the month of August; carry one good woollen jacket
Ø Eravikulam National Park is a good option but you will have to stand in a long queue to get the chance. Keep atleast half a day to finish this
Ø Munnar offers great panoramas; travel by road lest you want to miss the gorgeous mountains
Overall, Munnar was a natural retreat from the busy work schedules that we normally have. We had a great time. Indeed, Munnar is the best hill station in South India so far.