Thursday, 21 June 2012

Romancing Kerala on Our Honeymoon: Cochin to Munnar (Part I)

MunnarWe took a morning flight from Delhi on a foggy winter morning and after a 3 hour flight (a hopping one via Hyderabad); we landed late after noon in sunny Cochin. We quite liked the weather there, sunny & breezy; totally lifted our spirits and made us feel relaxed. The tour agent had arranged a car with driver throughout the trip and both were waiting for us at the airport.
Power House WaterfallsSince we were on our honeymoon and wanted a more intimate experience, the travel agent had suggested putting us up in a Vacation home. We had promptly agreed to the suggestion and so put up at the Adams Wood House, a homestay in Cochin. The Adams Wood House (Adams Homestay Cochin) is a Boutique Homestay with 4 beautiful rooms, located in Fort Cochin. It is a friendly, clean, comfortable and safe accommodation in Fort Cochin (Fort Kochi), Kerala. The host, Mr. Firoz, has more than 18 years of experience in hospitality industry.
Leaving our luggage at our vacation home and quick change of clothes, we headed for the Cherai Beach to spend our evening together chatting up amidst the sound of splashing waves and setting sun. We came back to our vacation home, after having a sumptuous dinner at one of the beachside shacks!! It was indeed an intimate experience for us to have the whole holiday home to ourselves and we quite enjoyed being alone!!!!
The next day, we got ready early to travel to Munnar, which was a 3-4 hour journey via car. The journey to Munnar from Cochin was a lovely one, the scenery was quite interesting and the landscape gradually changed from plain to hilly terrain. We also stopped quite frequently on the way to take photographs and our agreeable driver obliged us happily each time.
We were greeted by lush green tea plantations on hills entering into Munnar and I was so excited on catching their glimpse for the first time!!!…It was my first real experience of tea plantations and I was completely astounded by the striking loveliness of the green hills.
Munnar is one of the most popular hill-resort towns in Kerala and in southern India. It is located on the Western Ghats, situated in the Idukki district of Kerala state. It is famous for its tea estates and the world famous nilgiri tea is produced here. In Munnar, we had a two day stay and opted to board at Carpe Diem, which is a beautiful villa, run by a non profit organisation called the Carpe Diem Education Trust. This lovely cottage offers luxury, privacy, mountain views and charm.
Munnar is a visual delight wherever one looks; the gorgeous skies, continuously transforming from sunny to cloudy and back to sunny is a marvellous sight. The stunningly beautiful tea gardens are rejuvenating to the eyes and soul.
MunnarMunnarBesides the tea gardens and spice plantations, which are omnipresent, there are a number of interesting places one can visit in Munnar. We visited the following places during our 2 day stay:
Mattupetty - Located about 13 km from Munnar Town, is Mattupetty. Lying at a height of 1700 meters above sea level, Mattupetty is known for its storage masonry dam and the beautiful lake, which offers pleasurable boat rides, enabling one to enjoy the surrounding hills and landscape. We had the most thrilling speed boat ride of our lives at the Matupetty Lake. The highlight of the ride was the driver taking our pics while steering the boat with his legs, his confidence was admirable!!!…we were too scared out of our wits but still managed quite good poses for him!!
MattupettyThere is also a famous dairy farm run by the Indo-Swiss Livestock Project, where one would come across different high yielding breeds of cows. We did not venture inside the farm, however, while driving along the road, could see swiss cows grazing on the adjacent grasslands. It looked a scene straight out of Switzerland tourism ad!!
Eravikulam National Park
Located about 15 km from Munnar, this park is famous for its endangered inhabitant – the Nilgiri Tahr. Spread over an area of 97 km2, this park is also home to several species of rare butterflies, animals and birds. A great place for trekking, the park offers a magnificent view of the tea plantations and also the rolling hills caressed by blankets of mists. The park becomes a hot destination when the hill slopes here get covered in a carpet of blue, resulting from the flowering of Neelakurinji., which blooms once in twelve years!! The last time it bloomed was in 2006, so we missed this sight!!!
Eravikulam National ParkWhile inside the Eravikulam National Park, one can also glimpse the Anamudi Peak, which is Kerala’s highest mountain and the highest Indian mountain south of the Himalayan range. We had a nice view of the peak driving up and down the National Park. It was quite chilly driving upto the National Park, but when we reached there, the lovely views just took our breath away. There was a Forest office run tea & souvenir shop at the entrance to the park and we quickly bought ourselves two hots cups of elaichi tea and proceeded to roam inside the park. The park is quite well managed and though we did catch a glimpse of the famous Nilgiri Tahir, we enjoyed our time there nonetheless!!
Chinnakanal - Near the town of Munnar is Chinnakanal and the waterfalls here, popularly known as Power House Waterfalls, cascade down a steep rock 2000m above sea level. The spot is enriched with the scenic view of the Western Ghat ranges.
ChinnakanalTop Station – Top Station, which is about 27 km from Munnar is at a height of 1700 m above sea level. It is the highest point on the Munnar-Kodaikanal road and offers a panoramic view of the neighbouring Tamil Nadu state.
Tea Museum - If one is a tea aficionado, then a visit to the Tea Museum is must. Taking account of the legacy of nilgiri tea and to preserve and showcase some of the exquisite and interesting aspects on the genesis and growth of tea plantations in Kerala’s high ranges, a museum exclusively for tea was opened some years ago by Tata Tea in Munnar. There is a live demonstration of the journey of tea leaf from the garden, when its plucked to the moment its packed according to its quality in various packages. The different types of teas, their characters and how they react in hot water was a very useful lesson for me and also my husband. The museum is located at the Nallathanni Estate of Tata Tea in Munnar.
Other than these places, we stopped at every scenic location along the beautiful winding roads and relished the beautiful scenery.
It was an amazing two days at Munnar and we did not want to leave this beautiful place, but our driver assured us that Thekkday was equally beautiful in its own way and we would not be disappointed going there. So, we packed our bags again and started for Thekkday from Munnar early morning of Day 4.


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