This was a weird trip as far as planning is concerned. We did all the things which a pro traveler will never do. For starters, we took the wrong route, it should have been via somewhere in Kerala but we landed up in Coimbatore first and then started looking for a way to reach Munnar leading to longer travel.
After much haggling, we found a cabbie who was ready to take all 7 of us there for a price tolerable enough. The way we were stuffed in there along with our luggage was awesome! So finally we were anywhere near to reaching Munnar.
The climb uphill was long and the Poor Omni was struggling to make it. So the ascent was painfully slow. After some 2 hours, we reached the jungle area, the notice board said that there were tigers in the vicinity but all we found were some monkeys and a few beautiful and exotic birds. Slowly the tea gardens and some kind of very beautiful violet blue trees started appearing. Now we were feeling happy to be here!
By the time we reached Munnar, it was 10:00 AM, next started the hunt for a good place to stay. Unfortunately the cottage we had been recommended to had already been booked and the other home stays were too far from the town. Anyway, we dumped our luggage in the hotel and set out for “sightseeing” with our driver in a classy Mahindra Jeep. Now this was a vehicle made for mountains, open at all sides and ran awesome!
We went to see several “points” which included a tea garden and two dams. The tea garden site was very picturesque which vibrant green tea plantations swept across the mountain slopes like a green carpet. There were also shops selling various kinds of aromatic teas. We also happened to visit a beautiful garden known as the Blossom Park, beautiful flowers and other ornamental plants dotting the landscape. Next in line, we went to the Mattupetti Dam, which makes a huge lake in its catchment area. It was a good picnic spot and people were enjoying boating in the lake. Some more viewpoints later, we started for a place called The Top Station, which happens to be the highest point in Munnar. It was evening and we were pretty cold by then, but due to the long flight of stairs, we started getting sweaty in no point. Only when I came down all the way that I realized that I had been to this place before, that this was the summit of a particularly difficult trek which we undertook nearly one year back, then not knowing that we had reached Munnar all the way from Tamil Nadu!
Nights in Munnar are particularly cold; it’s always a good idea to keep some warm woolens handy.
Day 2 in Munnar started from travel via another set of tea estates. This time however, we were allowed to get inside and pose of photographs and have fun. So more photo shoots later, we continued driving and came to the jungles. As far as I remember, it was the Chinnar Wildlife Century. We decided to go on a small trek to a place where the guides said were some prehistoric rock paintings. So we hired the guys and started on the trail. The first curious things which we encountered were prehistoric megaliths- ancient graves made of stone chips. I had read about these in my 5th standard history book and a chance to see them was an exciting experience. After trekking for another km we came face to face with huge rocks. Beneath the rocks in the part sheltered from the elements of weather were the paintings made of red (Ferrous?) ink. We could figure our sketches of deer and cattle even after I don’t know how much time.
By this time we were pretty tired and needed refreshments. So the benevolent driver took us to a small waterfall knows as the Lakkam Waterfalls. It was of moderate height with water coming down from rocks up to 30 mts high. The water was ice cold! On the natural platform where the water fell from the rocks, there was a natural Jacuzzi- a round hole in the rock in which up to 3 people could enter at a time and enjoy the whirlpool. We had loads of fun there for a couple of hours, till our teeth started chattering.
The last stop was another dam, this one a bit older. The dam was so old that manual pulleys were installed at the top to open the doors. On the other side of the dam was a small pine forest and a lake in the catchment area of the dam. This lake was very scenic and the evening twilight made it strikingly beautiful…