Munnar and Marayoor

One of the most beautiful places I have seen is a paradise called Munnar. So, when some of my friends suggested that we go for a trip to the place, I was more than happy to YES. I had been there just once before but I had already fallen in love with it, at first sight.

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Seven of us crammed into a Toyota Qualis on a Saturday night (Jan 7) and set off. We took the more scenic routes, all those extra miles where worth every bit. It was a surreal experience travelling through the winding mountain roads cutting through the thick fog that surrounded us. You couldn’t see anything five feet beyond! As we reached higher though, we were a bit worried about the fog, since it could blur out all that beautiful scenery. But god was kind to us and the fog cleared at the right time. We parked near a tea-plantation on the way and had a lot of fun walking amidst the tea plants down the steep slopes. The greenery around us was truly breathtaking. Only now can I understand why Kerala is in fact “God’s own Country”!

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We didn’t stay for long at Munnar town and headed to Rajamalai a part of the Eravikulam National Park. It was a short light trek up the mountains. Unlike my last visit, this time we were able to see the famous Nilgiri Thars… an endangered animal. Nothing special about them though, just wild goats! But again the view from the top was sensational. It also provided us with plenty of photo opportunities, and being the way we are, never missed one of them :) Oh, that old rusty shack, which inspired the title of this site during my last visit, still stood there.. neglected but brave! :D

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Our next stop was an unlikely tourist centre called Marayoor. It is famous for its sandalwood forests and notorious for its sandalwood smugglers. There we were lucky to enjoy the hospitality of two locals – Babuji and “Comrade” Johnson. One of them was the local committee secretary of the Communist Party and the other was an ardent Congress party worker. You can guess the fun we had listening to their never ending amusing arguments about Kerala politics! They had a small place at the edge of the forest where they helped us to cook some food for ourselves. Our stomachs’ full, we set off to Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.

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The road is such that it cuts 40kms through the forest. I was wondering what would have happened had our vehicle broken down somewhere there! Hmm. The forest has a huge population of Elephants and Tigers, but unfortunately we had to be satisfied with seeing a few peacocks, a lot of monkeys and two or three deers. We also encountered a crocodile reserve on the way and we succeded in gettting into trouble taking a few photographs there, when it was stated quite clearly that photography was disallowed! Anyway “somehow” we managed to pull out from that mess and headed straight to Pollachi and our way back home.

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The trip back was mostly filled with gossip and prank calls to friends who couldn’t make it ;) But one thing of note were the huge windmills by the side of the highway. Made for some nice picture postcards! Tuesday early morning after a brief stop over at Ranjith’s home in Alappuzha we were back in good old Trivandrum and then were those loooong zzzzs.

For the complete photo gallery, simply click here :).

How to get there?
From Trivandrum: The best route is to take the MC road to Ayur, then to Pathanamthitta, Pirmed, Thekkadi, Kallar, Devikolam and finally to Munnar. This seems to be the best option to me. Our return leg was from Marayoor to Udumalpettai, then Pollachi, Nenmara, Thrissur and then back to Trivandrum via NH 47. That was a (very) long route, but the drive through the forests was really exciting!
From Kochi: NH 49 via Muvattupuzha, but then you will miss the beauty of the Devikolam-Munnar road. One solution is to go to Devikolam just for the pleasure after reaching Munnar. But if you don’t want that, you can go to Thodupuzha from Muvattupuzha, then to Iddukki, Devikolam and Munnar. That route would cost you atleast 50km additional though.
From the North: From Bangalore via NH 209 to Coimbatore, Pollachi, Udumalaipetta, Chinnar, Marayoor and then to Munnar. Since you are coming down all this way you can also go to Thekkady via Devikolam and you wont miss the sight of all the tea-plantations :)
From outside India: Take a flight to Trivandrum or Kochi. Then as above. :D

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