"Long Weekend, Long Weekend!!! is here but where can I go that is not stomped by tourists ?" was exactly what was going on in my mind. After a lot of research, I came across a hill station called Idukki in the state of Kerala. The valley adjacent to the Cardamom hills, whose areas are sparsely populated.
Idukki is a district where nature creates spectacles with beauty and altitude. This second largest district in Kerela is a home for many forests, waterfalls, dams, wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations, hiking trails and spice gardens. As the high ranges and wooded valleys are encircled by three main rivers - Periyar, Thalayar and Thodupuzhayar, Idukki has many hyrdo-electric power stations and caters to 66% of the state's electricity.
The location of Idukki is such that it is at a driving distance from the famous hill stations like Munnar, Ponmudi, Thekkady and many more. If you have more than a weekend to spend here, you can explore these destinations too.
Idukki is situated at a distance of ~530 kms from Bangalore. Nearest airport is in Kochi located at a distance of 100 kms. Changanacherry in Kottayam is the nearest railway station which is 114 km away ,from here one has to take a bus to Idukki. There are no direct buses to Idukki ,one can reach the city by road on Government and private buses to Munnar. Regular buses run to Munnar at a starting price of ~900 INR. One can also drive down in their private vehicles or hire a taxi.
Once you reach Idukki you can commute in the local buses. The easiest form of transport is taxis or jeeps. You can rent them for a fixed price per day.
Where to stay:
From budget to mid-range hotels one can find plenty of accommodations in different parts of the district. The starting price of a good hotel is ~900 per night. If you are looking to have a laid back luxurious vacation, you have plenty of 5 star resort options as well. Idukki is a marvelous location because wherever you stay, it will overlook a valley, tea plantations and never ending horizon of hills.
Where to eat:
Local cuisine is something that one must try. Although both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is available, it is indeed a treat for the meat eaters as they have more options. Kerela parotta, beef curry, chicken biryani and mutton fry are some delicacies to try. The 'thattukadas' or small tea shops are places one might not generally wish to eat in but is so very tasty, it will leave your taste buds craving for more.
Distance from Bangalore - 530 kms by road.
Travel cost by Bus - AC Volvo from Bangalore will cost ~1200 INR.
Travel cost by car - ~6000 INR
Best time to visit - October to early May. Peak season is April and May.
Food cost - ~600 INR per day.
Transportation - Private vehicle or rented taxi.
Stay cost - ~900 per day, per room.
Places to visit - Idukki arch dam, Cheruthoni dam, Hill view park, Rajakkad, Ponmudi, Munnar, Mattuppetty dam, Echo point, Kundala dam lake and just drive around having tea, eating maggi.