The mountains have healed me in the times when I have been low, when nothing seems to be working out and when I need an escape from life. Being in South India, I cannot rush to the Himalayas often, but there is one hill station in my vicinity which treats me no less than how Himalayas would do. Munnar is my dearest escape in South and I had taken its resort yet again.
Munnar by an overnight bus from Bangalore
After the deadly Kerala floods, on a long weekend I set out to Munnar with a friend. We took an overnight bus and when I woke up in the state of Kerala, all I saw was the rolling hills packed with tea estates. I was glued to the bus window on my upper sleeper berth and resisted myself from tumbling down to the bottom of the bus multiple times. But alas! Another sudden brake and I lost my balance and toppled over to the hit the floor of the bus. Few people sneaked out of the curtains of their berths to witness almost a bomb drop. Embarrassed me gathered myself and climbed up to my berth quickly, saying I am all fine and as if nothing happened. Oh yes, my back still hurts.
We reached Munnar bus stand and got in an auto to reach our host resort Munnar Tea Country resort. A 10 km drive through the hill roads took us to the resort. After a warm welcome, we retired to our Valley View Villa to gorge upon some splendid views and rest for a while. It was a duplex villa with bedroom at the first floor and sitting area and kitchenette on the ground floor. We freshened up and hit the restaurant for amazing Kerala delicacies. That fish tawa fry was beyond words indeed.
Not following the touristy trail in Munnar
The auto guy who had dropped us at the resort had agreed to take us around for the next 2 days. He came just in time when we had finished hogging lunch but this time got his car. I had been to Munnar before, so had no plans of visiting the tourist spots of the hill station. Instead, we asked him to show us the places where we won’t find tourists. He started driving towards a waterfall which needed a small hike to reach till there. But the nature has its own plans and the sky looked overcasted with rain soaked clouds, thus we dropped the plan of a hike. The driver stopped the car at another waterfall right on the main road where we posed and clicked a few pictures. We knew it was about to be a massive downpour, so we headed back and looked for a good coffee place. Coffee is all you need on a day when it’s a pretty place, magnificent weather and all you want to do is soak all the positive vibes in. The driver knew a road side cafe in Karadiparra which had stupendous views from it’s balcony over looking a gorgeous valley. It was a small cafe cum restaurant with delicious coffee. The views from this cafe were beyond comparison of the likes of view points which are generally visited by tourists. We had a good time sipping coffee, treating our eyes to the scintillating views of the valley and ears to the heavy rainfall while talking about life and spending some great times. Late evening afterwards was spent dancing and munching on lipsmacking food in the sitting area of our villa.
Next morning was a calm one and we were awake early. I opened the curtains while still lying in my bed to adore the lush greenery outside. I wished all my morning views to be like that. While lazing in the bed, the melancholy of the birds kept me entertained before my stomach started calling for some food. We got ready marched towards the restaurant and filled our plates with as much food as it can accommodate. I wonder if my appetite goes another notch up in hills. We picked up a table from where the entire mountainous landscape was seen and gobbled the food in hurry to set out in search of Neelakurinji.
What is Neelakurinji in Munnar?
Neelakurinji is a purple blue shade flower which blooms only once in twelve years in the shola forest of western ghats in South India. Where do you think Nilgiri mountains ( blue mountains) got their name from! The flowers turn the entire valley blue during their year of bloom and is definitely a sight to behold. Quite a few states in South India are bestowed with the grace of blooming Neelakurinji and I picked my favorite hill town of South India, Munnar.
Our drive drove us towards Top Station, a popular view point in Munnar saying that few days back some tourists witnessed bloomed Neelakurinji there. Upon reaching there, we started our hike down towards the view point dreaming to enjoy the spectacle. On our way, we spoke to a few people and all of them told us there is not even a single flower on the way. It was a very misty day and so ofcourse, we knew we won’t be ale to enjoy even the views hence we turned back and drove back. The driver was more disappointed than us, so he asked a few locals on our way back and woah, a local agreed to show us the blooming Neelakurinji ofcourse at a fees.
Search for Neelakurinji ended in Munnar
A 4X4 jeep took us through the muddy trail into a village in the middle of a huge tea estate in Yellapetty. We started hiking our way up amidst the magnificent tea estates where the locals were doing their things and kids having a time of their life with cute kittens. It was relatively easy walk till the time we were in tea estate but once we reached to higher altitude, it was a muddy slushy path into the forest. We kept hiking for around 2 kms , also hopping through a stretch to avoid getting bitten by leeches. The blue colored flowers started unveiling themselves through the mist and I was ecstatic to say the least. I had started clicking pictures by now when the guide told me that there’s more and I was elated beyond words. The path ended into a view point called as Suicide point by locals as its the edge of the cliff. The cliff was covered with the Neelakurinji and sadly the mist too. I did not dare walk down the cliff to click some good shots of the bloom but our guide also a local of the village did that for me. The cliff indeed looked out of the world and something which I had never seen before sorts. I mean imagine all I could see was shades of blue and purple on the entire edge of the cliff. The sight made me feel it was all worth the hype and the efforts it took to reach that point.
Secret Spots In Munnar
It was only afternoon and we had started driving back, that’s when my friend Vrinda spotted a pretty stream flowing in between the meadows. In no time, we were off the car and began our hunt of the pathway leading to the stream. With little help from locals, we figured out a not so well laid route to the gushing stream. The pebbles lined meandering stream was so inviting that we could hardly resist and spent around three hours by the stream. Dipped our feet in water, let go off our hair ties, jumped and talked our heart out while gazing at the most perfect scenery just like I used to sketch during school times.
I had to show my friend my secret spot from my last visit to Munnar and took her to a lake where there were hardly any people. The huge trees outlined the mud road towards the lake and we followed the trail. We sat by the emerald colored lake for sometime and shot plenty of pictures. It was totally my best vacation with a girl friend as we were in no rush to reach anywhere or make small talks. That’s when I realized how comforting is to travel with like minded people. On that note, we headed to our resort which was a indeed a treat for my tired body.
Where to Stay in Munnar – Munnar Tea Country Resort
The resort Munnar Tea Country Resort has all the facilities to pamper one on a vacation. From an authentic Kerala spa to club room to kids playing area, it caters to all sorts of tourists. The location of the resort is just appropriate by not being in the crowded center of town and not too far from tourist attractions. The part which impressed me was the amazing restaurant location and the delicious organic food it served. The resort also boasts of more than 100 varieties of plants for landscaping the resort. With various category of rooms to choose from, one can pick according to the budget and occasion. With a lovely amphitheater, one can host small get together at the resort itself. Also, I can not miss to compliment their inclusion point of view by making few rooms wheel chair friendly.
Kerala is all safe to travel now and recuperating very well from the loss it has suffered. I hope that we break the inhibitions of safety and contribute in reviving the tourism of the state.
Kerala is as awesome as it has always been!