If you are one of the avid readers of my blog, you would probably be wondering how many times have I been to Kerala. After having covered almost all the tourist destinations in Kerala, I definitely don't have any second thoughts before proclaiming it as 'God's Own Country'. The trip to Munnar was jinxed so many times and I don't really have a concrete explanation for any of that. A trip to Munnar at the beginning of the year fills me up with such wanderlust vibes and I cannot help but agree that it indeed was a great idea to explore Munnar with some of my most charming friends. We all shared the same opinion about this plan and we were done booking the tickets after a mere 10 minutes discussion. They trusted me to decide upon the itinerary.
The rolling hills around Munnar, South India's largest tea-growing region, are carpeted in emerald-green tea plantations contoured, clipped and sculpted like ornamental hedges. Munnar town in itself, however, is a scruffy, traffic-clogged administration center, unlike any North-Indian hill station. But wander just a few miles out of town and you'll be engulfed by a sea of thousands of shades of green.
Over the course of the next few days that I spent with my friends, I came to know they have traveled to a lot of international destinations and I am not even close to their numbers. I realized that I still have a long way to go and that filled me with a sudden surge of excitement about the future.
Once we arrived at our destination, a travel guide approached us with a pamphlet comprising an itinerary covering about 30 places in Munnar. Renting a bike wasn't an option for us because nobody except me knew how to ride one. However, I would suggest that you rent a bike if possible and visit the top 5 places that I am going to recommend towards the end of this article. We decided to rent a taxi to explore the places as mentioned in the pamphlet. The tariff that we agreed on did cover the price of transportation to and from our Hotel, The Edge Munnar, in order to avoid any unnecessary hassle.
Our room came with a panoramic view of the valley. However, we didn't want to waste too much of our time at the hotel. So after a short break of an hour at the hotel, we headed off to tick off all the places from our list that lie towards Cochin. Blossom Park, Pothamedu View Point, Cardamom, Coffee & Pepper plantations, Sengulam Dam, Athukkad Waterfalls, spice gardens as well as elephant rides are some of the tourist attractions that lie on this route.
We decided to skip some of these. While we were in Munnar, we were strongly recommended for a visit to the Tea Garden Estates. The low mountain scenery is magnificent - you're often up above the clouds watching veils of mist clinging to the mountain tops.
We reached the spice plantations, where our guide took us around the plantation telling us about the benefits of various spices for which Kerala is globally famous. At the end, we were taken to a 100 years old Rudraksha tree. It is believed that if you wish for something beneath this tree, your wish is bound to come true. I don't believe in superstitions but I did take my time to carefully choose a wish as well as to grace their belief.
Afterwards, we clicked a few shots at the Sengulam Dam. We asked our driver to take us to the tea gardens where I finally got my DSLR out hoping to capture even a bit of the magic of Munnar in my photographs. After all, these Tea garden estates are the highlight of Munnar.
Having visited Kerala so many times, I had missed out on watching the Kalarippayattu (Martial Arts) show every single time. I made sure to not miss it this time. I must say, I was indeed very intimidated by the fight. Towards the end, many spectators were called to participate in their acts and I ended up being one of them too. Needless to say, I didn't volunteer for it. The playful banter between me and one of my friends made me fell into the trap. At this same Centre Kalarikshetra, Kathakali happens around 5pm and Kalarippayattu at 6pm.
The day ended with some great music and chilled Kingfishers that our host got for us from the Local Kerala Beverages.
The next day, we decided to explore the tourist attractions in Munnar which were The Echo Point, Mattupatty Dam, Jungle Honey Bee Nest, Top Station viewpoint and (Photo Point) Tea garden. These places were towards the Mattupatty direction. We straight up went to the Echo Point where we were greeted by tourist shouting out loud to hear the echo of their voice. That looked pretty lame to us and so we didn't. On our way up we saw Mattupatty Dam. I recalled seeing some of these amazing tea garden estates on Lonely Planet and a few other travel pages. Seeing our eagerness, our driver took us to the private Grahams Land Maduparti Tea Estate. Tourists are not allowed into this area if not accompanied by a local. This was undoubtedly the most beautiful of all the tea estates.
We still had plenty of time before boarding the bus and were considering a visit to the famous Mount Carmel Church. Meanwhile, we grabbed some lunch at the Silver Spoon Restaurant. The day being a Sunday, we realized that the Holy Mass would be scheduled around 4 in the evening. With our bag packs and trolley, we dropped the idea of going to the church.
The evening turned duskier, the temperature started falling and we left Munnar with our hearts full of sweet memories. The trek to Top Station viewpoint and Lockhart Gap remains un-ticked on the list! Sometime in the near future, I will get back to Munnar on a cruiser. The entire valley of Munnar is adorned with heavenly beauty. Visit once and you'll know why exactly I feel that one trip to this heaven called Munnar can never be enough.
Top 5 Places to go for;
Tea Garden Top station viewpoint. Mattupetty Dam Lock Heart Gap Kalarikshetra
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