The next day we somehow managed to get up real early and we set off at 5:30 am for a walk around the town of Devikulam. I must say, it is a really beautiful town. I just loved it. I would love to upload more photos of it in the blog, but that would make this too long. As we walked admiring the beauty and simplicity around us we came across a church perched on top of a small hill with steps leading to it. We climbed up and this was truly a heavenly experience. With the first rays of the early morning sun hitting us through the trees at this wonderous church , made the experience truly holy and heavenly. It was a different feeling all together to bask in those enchanting rays and watch the mist slowly fade away among the hills and tress, clearing up to reveal a beautiful town. This is a feeling that will remain imprinted at the back of my head no matter what. What a beautiful way to start the day!
Then we went on forward and into the town. The town appeared to be built during the british colonial times. This can be easily inferred from the architecture of the buildings here with those huge brick like shapes and signature british style and colors. We saw a couple of cute little pussies on the way. They really were adorable and were hiding by the house of some advocate. It was very calm, tranquil and soothing to walk through the town and finally arrive at Rajalakshmi for breakfast. I had never had Appam before, and I must say it is quite good and you must try it. After a heavy breakfast and some refreshing tea we headed back to the hotel to freshen up.
We got ready to go surprisingly fast, and got to the auto waiting for us outside. The auto guy turned out to be a real helpful and pleasant-mannered guide, Munnar- If you wanna hire an auto you hire it here. We first went through the beautiful roads absorbing all the enchanting views around us. Then we stopped on the way to look at a tree infested with honey bee hives. The driver told us that it wild bee honey was famous in Munnar and these hives were set up within 6 months of extracting honey from the earlier ones. But I wonder why the bees would want to build their hive in the same place their friends got incinerated ? After about half an hour on the auto again we reached Matupatty dam. It was beautiful but too picture perfect for me. I generally don’t fall into love with mainstream places that much, so I din’t really enjoy it as much as I had enjoyed my walk in the morning.
Again back onto the auto we stopped at a place called photo point. I never understood the point of naming a place photo point when travellers and tourists are not allowed to shoot photos there. Apparently you had to pay to actually take photos over there and the price would be reasonable only if you were shooting a movie. This again looked very artificial to me. As we went a little forward we stopped by the Indo-swiss farm. We could’nt go in as we needed recommendation and influence. So all we could do was go close to the fence and watch the beautiful cows graze and enjoy the tranquil beauty and wish we had done something to get inside the farm and have a bit of that beautiful cheese which I had been dreaming about.
We went on to echo point. Again I could feel the same artificial beauty(I mighta repeated it a couple o times :P) but then on the plus side we did have a great breakfast – bread omelette and maggi noodles. We also tried cinamon,masala and lemon teas. They were bad here maybe except the masala tea. So my recommendation – maggi noodles and bread omelette.The onward journey to the other boathouse was really good. The views (especially near chundavurrai tea estate) along the road were wonderous and I really loved it. You could just stare out of the auto and get lost in your own thoughts. Ah!….How delightful it was !….
Next on the list was Kundala lake where we wanted to do some boating. More than the lake I loved the huge trees around it. I wish they’d maintain it better, then it would have been even better. The Kundala dam was damn narrow with space for only one vehicle to fit across its width at a time. I wanted to try out the row boat and my friends preferred the peddle boat. My choice was voted out and so we did get on to the pedal boat. It was a leisurely afternoon and I almost fell asleep on it. We saw quite a few ducks and just lazed around in our seats on the boat when we were’nt watching them…..Oh!…we were also pedaling (stating the obvious). Then we got back to the auto where we had o make a choice between the Tata tea museum and Top slip due to lack of time. We chose the Tata tea museum as we could’nt miss that….I definetely don’t regret this choice!….it was totally worth it!
Now it was time for the long trip back. We did do some constructive work on our way. We got into a tea garden for the view and the true feel of being in Munnar. It was great. We also bought around a litre of honey for Rs80 thanks to our helpful auto driver, saw lots of trees being chopped and later found out that they were the ones used to make papper, ate passion fruits(awesome!) and fresh carrots before we stopped by an elephant camp. I really wish I paid and took the elephant ride through the tea garden. So hope none of you miss it and start regretting it like me. Then we went on back to the city and to the Tata tea museum.
We hurried into the museum as it was almost time for it to close. There we had a good cup of complimentary cinnamon tea. Then we went in to watch the documentary on the history of the Tea companies in Munnar. It was pretty good.(Except for the actors) The museum was great with a collection of antiques from the british times, everything from telephones and old typewriters to animal trophies. We were then shown and explained the manufacturing process of tea. One thing you should not miss here is buying the white tea and black tea. I had white tea and its just exquisite!….you should definitely try it!
Once we were back at the hotel it was time to take a bath and go back to Rajalakshmi for some good hot dinner. It was a fun night with all of us going crazy for no reason. We finally got back to the hotel to get up at 6 the next morning and move on to the Cochin side.
I’m starting off with my most recent travel destination Munnar. Its a brilliant place though I did not expect it to be. Well, I had started off my journey with two other friends from my college. A last minute decision as we could not go to Silent Valley. It took us 5 hours to reach there and we had to switch buses at Udumalapet. We started off late….nothing out of the ordinary……and got into the most crowded bus that I had ever got onto in my life. Sweaty and damning my luck I was out of that pit and reached Ukkadam bus stand . We barely managed to get onto the Udumalapet bus on time. After these preliminary glitches the rest of our journey was eventful. The wind mills on the way to Udumalapet are something you must not miss. I just loved them.
Then we got onto the Munnar bus at Udumalapet. This took us through the Anamalai tiger reserve and the Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary. The was pretty sunny and the views were good but not brilliant till we reached Marayoor. Here we bought a couple of peculiar fruits(I think they were berries) and an avacado without actually knowing it was an avacado. From here the journey was filled with sights and sounds of tea gardens and streams creeping their way throught the hills and ending up as water-falls. They were beautiful sights.
One of the best experiences to the nose as far as I am concerned is when the mild fragrance of tea engulfs it as you are passing by a tea factory. This is exactly the experience you will have when you are around half an hour away from Munnar. After this brilliant experience we arrived at Munnar town which appeared to be lost in its own frenzy. Not quite what I had expected judging by the tranquil journey we had had. The thing that struck me first when we went to the tourist office just by the bus stop was that this was a place full of friendly people. Honestly speaking,this is the place with the best auto drivers out of all the places I’ve been to India. They are the best and cheapest guides you could get. We went by auto to our restaurant at Devikulam called Autumn trees, it was 7kms away fro town. We encountered some beautiful sights on our way there from which I realised why this places was so popular.
After all the beautiful sights it was time to bargain for a price at the hotel. We did get a the room at a reasonable price. The hotel was’nt that great(it was clean though which was all that mattered) but the location was good. So we decided to go for a walk after having a cup of tea at the tea stall by the highway. As expected the tea was brilliant, the best tea I had had in my life ( Hav’nt visited Assam yet!) and I mentally made a note to drink tea at this place for all the three days we were here.
The walk was quite a treat. We enjoyed it as went along the highway due to the beautiful surroundings which were so laid back and also due to mild weather. As we kept going we noticed a small path by the side of the highway which lead down to a beautiful lake. The lake was enchanting enough for us to go down by the slushy, muddy and slippery path. When we reached the lake it was just an amazing experience which I shall not forget for years to come. The lake was just beautiful and was tempting us to take a dip. We resisted that temptation as we knew we were better off on land than in unknown waters.
We just could’nt take our eyes off the lake, but it was getting dark and we had to leave. So we slowly trudged up the path and made our way back to the highway. To our surprise we discovered that there were leeches all over our shoes. One of my friends did provide us with some entertainment by jumping up and down with his shoes in his hands. He was repulsed by the leeches and when he saw that a small leech had clung on to his calf he pulled it off and started running back to the hotel. My other friend and I had cleared off all the leeches off our shoes and walked back to the hotel and had a good laugh about the leech-phobic friend of mine.
Once we had got back to the hotel it took us some time to get ourselves spic and span and double check for leeches in our shoes. After all the tidying up we decided to walk a bit into town and have dinner at a small hotel called Rajalakshmi which was suggested to us by the receptionist. It was a shabby little place with tables and chairs all cramped up in a small space. The food, I would’nt say was exceptional but it was good and very very affordable which reduced the overall expense of our trip by quite a margin. The people here were as friendly as ever and we had a good time eating and chatting up at the table. While going back we sat down on low clearance wall and talked some more and tried blowing the fog to make it look like we were smoking. I loved doing this ever since I was a kid and this time was no exception. After a night full of maniacal fun we retired to the hotel and slept quite early so that we could get up in time to go down the Mattupatty side of Munnar.