Munnar – Where you are one with Nature
|Munnar – 1 “Munnar is breathtakingly beautiful and is an idyllic tourist destination in God’s own Country. You will just fall in love with the unending expanse of tea plantations, pristine valleys and mountains not to speak of the aroma of spices that waft your senses…” went on my friends who visited Munnar more than once.A thought did run in my mind that sometimes much-hyped hill stations tend to disappoint you, but not wanting to miss an opportunity when it was presented, I set out to visit the hill station along with my husband and decided to form my own opinion about this summer resort of British India.We boarded the Alleppey Express which left Chennai at 9.15 p.m. reaching Ernakulam Junction (Ernakulam Town precedes this) next morning at 9 a.m.We drove to Munnar almost immediately, covering a distance of 133 km. in three-and-a-half hours. We appeared to carry the warm weather of Chennai with us as the afternoon heat was quite sharp.We checked into the KTDC hotel, Tea County, and immediately fell in love with the surroundings. The view from our little balcony was just breathtaking, the distant Western Ghats with little patches of greenery alongside the road lead to a cluster of houses with sloping roofs, one of them, a three-storied building had a shocking colour of lavender and rust!
We were just in time for lunch: Since the vegetarian fare was rather limited, we ordered rotis and ‘bhendi jaipuri’ and soon realised our folly when it arrived, because it was fried bhendi pakodas!
Next morning, after breakfast we headed to the Mattupetty lake and dam, a distance of 13 km.
What caught my attention was the row of shops selling little trinkets and home-made chocolates (I noticed every spot we visited boasted of such shops). It is a very picturesque sight which reminded me of the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, with the flowing lake down below and thick vegetation at the other end of the dam .However, the difference was there was plenty of vehicular traffic and one has to be careful while walking over the narrow bridge. Though the place offered horse and elephant riding besides boating we could only find a few stationary horses.
From here we proceeded to Echo Point, another scenic spot where nature is at its best with the rising mountains appearing to vie with the greenish blue waters of the reservoir with patches of greenery sandwiched in-between. But the high point here is the sheer experience of our own voice coming back to us from the distant mountains!
If you howl northwards from the roadside against the reservoir, you get an echo. But if you stand beside the reservoir, the echo is louder and clearer, the experience is really ecstatic and romantic as well. We met a couple who had come from Mumbai and when I spoke of my experience the gentleman was convinced of this natural phenomenon only after he tried it himself.
We watched with a little envy young tourists/honeymooners happily peddling away in their boats in a vast expanse of water but we didn’t want to risk it ourselves not being used to self-peddling.
“The last for today is a visit to the Top Station,” announced our grumpy driver who, we noticed, had proved a wet blanket right from the time he received us at Ernakulam station.
Top Station gets its name as it is the main abode to the highest tea plantations of India. It is located on the borders of Kerela, (Idukki district of Kerela) and Tamil Nadu (Theni district).
It is situated at an altitude of 1,700 metres and reaching this place is quite arduous, especially the last 2-3 km when you have to zigzag your way through the bumpy stretch that doesn’t qualify to be a road.
Once you are there you should be adventurous enough to make a descent consisting of three levels trying to balance yourself over the uneven muddy, sloping surface. If you succeed in your attempt, you are literally one with Nature, we were told by the locals, who, at the same time, warned us not to venture beyond the first level.
We were wise enough to follow their advice as we found making it to the first level itself was quite hazardous considering the difficulty in getting a foothold on the uneven ground even as we were pushing away small pebbles which came our way.
But we were happy with the effort when we saw Nature’s bounty unfolding in front of our own eyes. I managed to take some pictures of the marvellous scenery.
N. Meera Raghavendra Rao