"Gods Own Country" is the quote which is utilized by the kerala tourism dept to death. Whenever in kerala the chances of missing this quote is unheard of and i can guarantee at least 5-6 sightings a day. Even though I agree some places in Kerala are near to heaven , the commercialization of everything related to tourism makes sure that we pay through the nose to be part of this dreamland.
The combination of Monsoons, Onam and Kerala is an awesome combination not only in terms of nature's beauty but also in terms minimal tourist flow to these regions. "An Offer One Cant Refuse"(Said in true Don Corleone Style :P) is an appropriate phrase. We were 6 guys(Chandan, Jenny, PPR, Manju, Umesh and Myself) and had a total of 4 days at our disposal to explore this tiny Indian state.
On the night of 19th August 2010 we boarded a Rajahamsa bus for a 14 hr long and tiring journey to Ernakulam, our starting point and ending point of the trip. We had failed to get the more comfortable train tickets bcoz of the mad rush of keralites to get back home for festivities. We had planned a circular route comprising Ernakulam-Munnar-Thekkady-Allephey-Ernakulam.
Day 1 (20th Aug 2010)
We reached Ernakulam at around 10 in the morning against 7 am predicted by the KSRTC website. Heights of prediction. Visibly everyone was irritated. Also we had informed our taxi driver Sujoy that we would be reaching at 7, so he was waiting at that place since 6.30 in morning. As soon as we got down at the Ernakulam Bus Stand we headed for the nearest eatery to have some food before we continue our roadtrip but in different mode of transport all the way to Munnar. As we came out of Arya Bhavan having our breakfast the road were jampacked and I thought Bangalore traffic was worst of them all. Bangalore's spot surely has a serious competitor.
|Inner View Of A Waterfalls|
As we came out of the city limits the traffic density went down considerably and one would start experiencing the lush greenery surrounding in all the directions.The roads starts winding left and right smoothly. A perfect biking road. Well I could say almost perfect if not for huge ad posters of various jewelery chains, silk Saree chains having super hot female models. Simply eye catching and in short distracting for the drivers. We love our imperfections dont we :P .
As we start climbing the Munnar ghats , the density of the greenery notches up to a different level. Monsoons simply makes everything in this world so lively. There are a lots of water falls enroute flowing with full glory and there is something which are longer and flow with equal gusto, and these are the names of the same waterfalls. Nearly a mile long and serious tongue twisters. 4 stops and still I dont even remember one :P. At one falls enroute there is a path right inside the falls. Simply superb views one gets from behind the veil of water.
Before we reach Munnar we took a detour to Attukkad Waterfalls, supposedly the most impressive of all the waterfalls in Munnar. But thanks to heavy mist now engulfing the entire Munnar town we had to give this a miss. Finally at around 4 pm we reached Munnar and checked into the Springdale resorts nearly 7 kms from the town centre. A british era type of resort, a very cosy one. Spent the rest of the evening going for a walk around the resort.
Day 2 (21 Aug 2010)
The day dedicated for trekking and sightseeing. Anamudi the tallest peak of India apart from the Himalayan ranges was our prime attraction for the day. We had hoped and planned to climb all the way to the top at 2695 m. But we had some disappointment in store. We arrived at the Eravikulam National Park to catch a park bus to travel a considerable distance towards the peak. The views offered during this 10 mins bus ride was good with majestic views of the Anamudi Peak from a distance and surrounded by lots of greenery. The bus stops at a point where we have to start on foot.
Happy that the trek had finally started we started with much enthusiasm. This park is home to endangered Nilgiri Tahr an animal similiar to mountain goat. But as far as what I observed this park was not friendly to this innocent looking animals. If at all any Tahr is found most of the tourists would gang up on it simply scaring the animals. Not an ideal scene for discrete animal lovers. We moved up hoping for our elusive destination. But bang on our track we were stopped by the forest guard saying it was the final point for trek(if at all it is called so) and no one can move further and requires high level permission for the complete trek. Disappointed we returned back.
|Nilgiri Tahr Lamb|
By the time we returned back it started to pour. So already exhausted of the days quota of sightseeing we decided to return to our resort rooms to kill time till late evening when we had appointments for some authentic keralite ayurvedic massages. After relaxing a bit we returned back for the date with massages. Did some shopping for home made chocolates, spices, honey etc. We had divided the 6 guys into small groups of 3 with one going for Mantra Ayurvedic Centre and others going for Mayur Centre. I had been placed into the former and selected some Special Massage (1200 bucks) which includes some special head massage where oil is made to trickle on the head.
|Hawa Mein Udtha Jaaye- Echo Point|
Day 3 (22 Aug 2010)
|Periyar Wildlife Santuary|
Our driver had some contacts at the Periyar Reserve Forest and had stuct a deal of 3K for a safari Jeep as againt the standard rate of around 1.8K per head. So we decided to give the normally taken boat cruise along the Thekkady river a miss where the chances of animal sightings is much lesser.At first we are unaware regarding the type of the deal that had been struck between the forest contact and the driver , but as we got into the park the entire picture emerged. It so happened that the some of the forest officers had gone on a vacation due to Onam. So this left the lower forest guards to run an illegal business of their own. Also the route they are supposed to take was out of bounds for the tourists. So when I came to know abt this was feeling slightly guilty. After we entered the forest reserves we entered using a Mahindra Jeep for these rough roads. Also greasing the hands of the various officials who I guess didnt get their leaves approved :D.
We reached Allephey and went directly to our guest house Gowri Residency after having dinner enroute. The manager at Gowri Residence was actually acting as a middle man and set us up in a home stay next door called Snehadhara. This home stay was infact impressive. This was a 60 year bungalow with the rooms decorated as if to be the interiors of house boats, the iconic symbols of Kerala.
Day 4 (23 Aug 2010)
|Only thing missing is a gun and a cigarette :P|
The boat eventhough was a motorized one was pretty slow one. But we were not complaining and we were just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful view. The backwaters within the main town is quite smelly and repulsive , but as we enter the outskirts and rural areas we get to witness a beautiful canvas. It is infact aptly described as the Venice of the East since the entire backwaters had houses and villages on either side and the only differentiating factor is that instead of roads there were water canals. These backwaters are the backbone for the residents livelihood.
Similar to the popular quote which goes "A Picture is better than a thousand words", some of the snaps of the backwaters better describe the beauty of these backwaters than any word of mine could summarize it. The canal size varies between a 100 feet to a few feet to a never-ending lakes, it has it all. After roaming the backwaters for nearly 3 continuous hrs we were more than satisfied. Also one can avail a houseboat to roam around, a 5-star hotel on wheels.. sorry sails :P.. .. it has it all.. TV-.. AC... Sattelite connection... luxury rooms.... but guess the cost will be much more.
|House boat Crossing A Bridge : A La Venice :P|
Total Cost Per Person(Including Accomodation, Food, Massage, etc) -> 6.25K
Munnar -> http://www.springdaleresort.com/public/tariff.php
Allephey -> http://www.snehadhara.com/facilities.html