Discovering the joys of Munnar

Guest writer and photographer, Anu Shankar discovers the joys of Munnar and shares the experience of her trip with us.

The trip was driven by an impulse – a desire to get out the city and go somewhere – anywhere! Poring over maps and trying to get some accommodation arranged turned out to be an exercise in futility. “It is the season, Ma’am and all rooms are full” was the refrain we heard again and again. There was a faint trace of mockery in the tone too, as if they wondered about our sanity in trying to arrange rooms at the last minute, at such a time! But the desire to travel was too strong to ignore, and we finally headed out, our destination unknown. For the first time, our trip was completely devoid of plans.

We were at Coimbatore, at my sister-in-law’s place, an unplanned visit in itself, and an unexpected holiday had found us all with some spare time we hadn’t bargained for. We started off, thinking of visiting the hill temple of Palani, but the board ‘Munnar – 100Km’ seemed to beckon, and our decision was finally made. We would head out to Munnar, in spite of the season, and try our luck. Something would surely work out!

Windmills lined the road on both sides as we approached the Amaravathi dam.

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With no fixed plan in mind, the only idea was to have fun, so we stopped at the dam for a little while.

While the dam was nice, more fun was the crocodile park, where my son exclaimed over the huge number of crocodiles, their length, and above all, the size of their teeth!

As we approached Munnar, the scene changed… the plains gave way to the mountains; and fields of corn and rice made way for tea plantations…. But above all, peeping through between the hills were waterfalls!

There were lots of monkeys all along the route, but this family was one which caught our eye!

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As we climbed higher, the weather cooled, the clouds gathered, and the fog made its appearance…

It looked like it would begin to rain, so we hurried to look for a place to spend the night. There was a sense of Déjà vu as we heard the same refrain once more “Sorry! No rooms!” At last, a young chap at a travel agency came to our help. Would we mind living at a small hotel? It was clean! He affirmed. We looked at each other and decided to give it a try. The ‘small hotel’ turned out to be a house converted into a hotel with rooms added to the main wing. The rooms were clean and looked comfortable enough. We only had to stay a day, after all. Besides, it looked so beautiful, the fog covering the surroundings, making us feel we were all alone in Munnar!

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The next morning, we started our exploration…. Once again without direction, simply driving where the fancy took us! The fog was still there, and the mountains seemed to be covered by the clouds….

We were now closer to the waterfalls we had seen on the way, and they looked all the more beautiful, appearing as they did, suddenly, as the clouds parted!

The tea gardens were now a hub of activity, the workers picking the young leaves…

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We arrived at the Matupetty dam, which was filled with tourists. There was such a long queue for the boat ride that we gave up the idea and concentrated instead on enjoying the view from the relative peace on the dam!

We headed next to Top Station, 1900m above sea level. The place is known for the view it offers of the neighbouring state of Tamilnadu, but it was too cloudy, and we despaired of any view!. Even as we waited, the clouds parted, showing us an even more beautiful sight – that of the shola forest carpeting the mountains and valleys as far as we could see!

And headed towards Kundalay dam, hoping to try our luck with the boating there…

The boat house was once again full, but while returning, we were rewarded with a sight of an elephant in the wild!

The fog was as thick as ever as we walked along the path leading to the Attukkal Falls.

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The falls looked especially magical in the haze of the fog and mist…and the roar of water drowned our voices and made conversation impossible! But what was the need for conversation, faced as we were with nature in all her glory?

As we bid goodbye to Munnar, leaving the tea plantation covered hills behind, we looked back once more, promising ourselves “We will be back once more!”

Physicist by education, home-maker by choice, Anu Shankar is above all, a traveller at heart… She is always on a journey… either discovering new places in India, or finding her way among the most challenging journey of all – bringing up her 8 year old son. Her blog is called “A Wandering Mind”, which describes her perfectly, for her thoughts wander all the time, seeking new journeys, and new destinations.

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