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April 13, 2016 at 1:41 pm #903
A trip to Kerala. Most of the time I wonder why people love Kerala so much, but, I found out why when I went there. It’s a Paradise.. A Heavenly Paradise. I planned to get into Kerala. After a brief research on the destinations, hotels and attractions, of course dates (thank you IMs), I came up with a list of places where I can spend some time (not to jump from one place to another). I decided to give a week to it. I also invited two of my nature loving plus adventure loving friends. It was Sunday-Sunday trip, end week of August.
From Coimbatore, Topslip is the nearest hill station which extends to Parambikulam Tiger Reserve. We passed Malumichampatti and Kinathukadavu to reach Pollachi (nearest station to Topslip). Pollachi is much crowded city. The climate was pleasant. We had our breakfast of Idli, roast with sambar (a veg stew) and variety chutneys (coconut chutney, green chutney and red chutney) at hotel Gowri Krishna. We then moved towards Topslip.
The road from Pollachi to Sethumadai (base town of Topslip) is notable. We felt the chilly air and the isle of trees welcoming us. There started Anamalal range of hills. With those proudly standing hills we continued on our way. Arulmigu Masani Amman Temple was which attracted us with its history. Our driver told the Amman (deity) of the temple helps devotees to find out the person who have stolen their belongings. Sounds interesting isn’t it. We hit Vetaikkaran Pudur, which was famous for palace. Our driver also told us that many movies were shot here. This place is famous for cinema shootings. After an hour drive, we reached Sethumadai. It was a small town (say, looked more like a village). Our driver drove through lot of curves and mud road (very much narrow). We reached Anamalai Tiger Reseve, Pollachi Entrance. My driver went to the check post officer. My driver paid some amount and came back to drive inside. (the entry to Topslip stops by 4).
The road to Topslip gives you an amazing view. We drove a thick forest. We spotted some lion-tailed macaques and some exotic birds. The road was wet because of the rains. We reached a check post, where we got the permission to enter, after showing the receipt of payment we got at the entrance. There was a Reception of forest department. We went to ask him about the trekking/safari or other activities. He gave a long list of Jungle safari, elephant safari, bird watching, trekking (of three types: short, medium and long), eco trip and camp fire.
The elephant was scheduled at 11 am, which we found comfortable. They charged Rs. 800 for 4 persons (45 minutes). Riding an elephant was exceptional. In the beauty of jungle, we were like having royal ride. The guide kept saying that we could also spot tigers, but, say it a fortune or unfortunate we didn’t find even one. After our ride, we forwarded to forest canteen to have some refreshment. Then our elephant safari guide approached us and asked if we want to join the people who were ready to go for eco trip, as they wanted 25 persons for this trip and they lack some. The charge was Rs. 120 per person (seemed doable), so we joined them. After gathering 25 people , our van started going into the jungle. There were some children who started shouting. But, soon was silenced by the guide. With dark and deep forest at both sides, we moved to even darker part. We saw peacocks/peahens, some macaques, wild boars, white spotted deer, lot of birds of different species.
It was evening when, our driver insisted us to go back to the base, before it gets dark. So, we returned to the base and spend our night at Western Ghat Villas.
Drive to Valparai
The next morning after a typical south India breakfast, we started towards Valparai. There was a dam called ‘Aliyar’ at the foothills of Valparai. Around 40 kms before Valparai. We checked in. A quite big park welcomed us. Then, we climbed steps to reach the top, from where we saw a beautiful view of Nilgiri Ghats covered with mists at the bottom of which this beautiful dam was located. After spending some time we proceeded on. We had just drove 1 km when we were stopped by some monkeys. Actually, that was Monkey falls. We got out giving it a closer look. We bent under a tree and there was a beautiful falls. We neared the falls, hit by the drizzle. The water was chill, very chill. The falls was in between of the jungle, so you are surrounded by long densely clubbed trees. We then moved forward. The road became curvy. We went through many hair pin bends. They were in 40 in total. After climbing up some high, we stopped our vehicle at 20th bend. The view from this bend was breath taking. The wind was fast. We had to hold our clothes and ourselves tight.
Then, when we were about to get into the car, we saw a Nilgiri Tahr, standing right above us. It was an adult so was big. We amazed by look of it. It stared at us and before we could click any picture of it, it hopped in to jungle.
Then, after a long drive, we reached outlet of Waterfall Tea Company. There was a parking at other side. We got out having a sip of tea. There were many types of tea ranged nearly 10-15. There was a small stream too. After a refreshing (much needed) tea we headed Valparai via Iyerpadi. We drove a series of tea estates. The place was much colder and staggeringly beautiful. green green all the way.
Then, we drove through a busy street of Valparai. We headed to our hotel- Green hill. A good hotel it was. Staffs were decent and handy.
We first visited Balaji Temple which took 15 minutes to reach. The temple was much silent and less crowded (actually only 2 or 3 people were there). We asked a man who was cleaning the premises, about the pooja timings. He told that it is pooja time and the poojari would be coming soon. We waited for 5 minutes when pooja came in a rush. We followed him to the pooja area. After an Aarti we sat down for a while. Then, we came to the premises of the temple where we again sat for some time. It was much calm and divine. The whole view was so great. The temple was surrounded by a dense forest so, it looked more beautiful.
Then, we headed to Nirar dam. Our driver warned us, it could take around 1 hour to reach there as it was in the opposite direction of Balaji Temple. We agreed though. We drove the blanket of tea estates of Valparai. we were fully into greeny tea estates and landscaped vistas.
It took 45 minutes to reach Nirar dam. The dam was big in length. It was rainy season so; we got to see some water in the dam. The sound of the waters thrilled us as well as scared us. He kept staring at the flow. We felt hungry after some time so drove back.
We drove through the same route. We saw a board of direction to Koolangal River. I asked others if they wanted to go there. they said ok. So, we drove towards Koolangal River. We saw a beautiful river flowing through peddles bed. The water was clear. We searched for any fish and found none. After taking lot of pics, we drove towards our hotel. But, when we reached Valparai main areas, we already were starving so, dropped at a local restaurant to have ‘Meals’. The food was tasted so good.
Then he headed towards our hotel and had a small nap. It was getting dark. We went outside the hotel and started inspecting the place. We asked our driver to take us to the shopping area in Valparai. He then, took us to the even busier street with an aisle of shops. He said that place have cheaper products. So, we bought some packets of tea (of different flavours) . The whole place was crowded. But, the city looked more beautiful in night. It was getting colder and colder so, we went back to our hotel. After a dinner of parottas, mutton kurma and chicken chilly, we went to sleep.
It was 7 o’clock when we started to Athirapally. On way we stopped at Sholayar dam. It was huge. The dam covered 6-7 kms of length. The flow of the water was heavy. There were two Sholaya dams. One is which we visited, called Upper Sholayar Dam and another one is Lower Sholayar dam, which lies in deep forest.
We entered into Kerala after paying at a check post near Malakkappara (border of Tamilnadu and Kerala). The initial road was very much broken and bad. The whole way was misty and colder . Then, we entered into the deep dark forest. It was bit scary. Along with was the river of Sholayar Reservoir. It was a beautiful view. I loved the way and its surrounding. It was wholly new experience for us, the city geeks.
Vazhachal & Charpa Falls
When we were just driving through the deep woods, we heard sound of water which thrilled us. After some minutes drive, we reached Vazhachal falls. It was amazing. We got off the vehicle but didn’t near it, as it was heavy flow. The experience was just speechless. Some, young buys were trying to do some ‘gymnastics’ but were stopped by the elders there. we moved forward
Then, after few minutes, we headed to Charpa falls. Another great falls. This was an awesome view. It also scared us with its roar. It was very close to the road, so, water was splashing on the road. There were some people (mostly young couples) taking pictures of the falls and themselves. After watching the people and the falls, we headed on.
This is the place which I could never forget. This falls lies on the road to Athirappally. The main attraction for tourists in Athirappally. It is also attracted by cine world people. The falls was a breathtaking experience. we could feel the drizzle from a great distance. There were many people. It was very huge. The sight of it was mind blowing. We were just staring at the falls, when our driver reminded we can even go closer to it. So, after getting the entry tickets we climbed down to reach the falls. Falls looked even majestic from close. The water was chill, of course, but still we wanted to jump into it. One of my friends sat and tried to touch the water in the flow to see the level of chillness, when another friend just pushed him. He fell into the water and started yelling. Everyone started looking at us. now, it was both of our turn to jump. I closed my eyes and nose and made a leap into water. Wooww.. the water was chill yeah…. Poor my friend (whom we pushed). After a small bathing in the chill chill water we came out and ran towards our vehicle, where we changed our clothes (we were shivering badly). But, it was a lifetime experience.
We then rushed to our hotel in Athirappally- Riverok Villa. Thank God, it was very near to the falls.
The place was in a large area with a magnificent view of the river. We directly ran to the eatery to have something hot. After our refreshing food and tea (yeah, I know people don’t have tea at lunch, but we were in need of one) we moved to rear part of the hotel. There was a park. We sat there for while to have the beautiful view of nature.
Then, after some time we moved out to enquire about some other place to visit in Athirappalli. Our driver told us about Thumboormuzhy river garden. So, we headed there. the garden was good. We walked section by section when we found a river flowing at the rear. It looked beautiful. we spend lot time there. then, when it was getting dark, we headed back to hotel. I liked the staff very much, they were really very polite, humble and always ready to help .
We had started early from Athirappalli. we drove through Malayattor, Kalady, Perumbavur, Kothamangalam, Oonukal, Karadippara to reach Munnar. We stopped at Kalady for our breakfast at Lakshmi Bhavan restaurant. Good vegetarian restaurant it was. The road to Munnar was good for sometime but, after Kalady the road became poor. We found it difficult to drive atleast for 6-7 kms. Then, the road became normal.
Then, we stopped at Neriamangalam to have a ‘chaya’ and ‘Vazhabajji’. Vazhabajji was a mixture of sweet and sour in taste. We could see Periyar river flowing at the deep from here. After the Neriamangalam bridge (at 5 kms) there were many cardamom plantations.
Then our next halt was Cheeyappara falls. we could see it was one of the famous falls in Kerala by the people there. with the aisle of vehicles we found a place to park ours. Then, we moved to the falls, where it was falling from a quite high height. With all that rush of people, we decided not to wait for long and moved forward. We drove through orange field, litchi field, rubber field and coconut fields.
It was 1 pm when we reached Munnar. we straight away headed to our hotel- Tea Valley Resort. It was located in the deep woods at one side and tea estate at another and at a bit height.
The entered the hotel. the person in the reception came to receive us. after all the formalities done, we hasted to our room. We wanted some warmth after all the travelling in the cold weather. We felt good in our room.
Munnar- day 1
Munnar is a beautiful place. One of the most visited in India by tourists all the over the world. It is part of Western Ghats mountain range. You can see tea plantations all over. The climate is so pleasant that it will make you fall in love with Munnar.
The first place we decided to go was Mattupetty dam. It is a beautiful dam. We climbed down to the river to have a closer look. The water flowed slowly. The whole panorama was excellent. We bought some fried peanuts and moved to our vehicle from where we headed to Echo point. It was very near to Mattupetty dam.
Echo point was another famous destination. People were shouting, screaming and playing all over. When we reached there were some young people. They were enjoying a lot. We stood in an open grassland (bank) at the river. We didn’t shout, though we were watching other people. After spending some time there we headed to Kundala Lake.
Kundala Lake give a perfect panoramic view. Ironically we loved the sun throughout the day. I think this place is more suitable for honeymooners and solo travellers. As, it was silent, less crowded and gave a lot of time to spend with nature. You could see eucalyptus and pine trees that surrounds the lake. we saw monkeys jumping tree to tree. Then, we moved for boating. We booked a pedal boat. We asked our driver if he wants to join and he said no. Well.. then, we went for boating. It was a great experience (I know, I know, I have said this before lot more times, but that was amazing, what else I can say). We pedalled through the beautiful lake with forest of eucalyptus one side and tea estates the other side. It was a pleasing view. After our 30 minutes boating we banked to our vehicle.
Our next destination was Top Station. It was home to the highest tea plantations of India. Once we reached the end point, we saw the panoramic view of the sublime Western Ghats and the alluring valley of Theni district. This area is also famous for the exceptional view of the flowers called “Neelakurinji” flowers. Neelakurunji, which blooms in every 12 years. This flower makes the hills look in blue colour. Last time, it bloomed in 2006. There are frequent buses between Munnar and Top Station (its better not to visit Top station between June to October as the roads become slippery). For some time the whole place gave a clear view. When, the misty clouds covered the mountains and gave another breathtaking view. He kept taking pictures at all angles. Spending some time there, when the climate changed to even a colder one, we started shivering and decided to go back.
We had lunch at Kundala lake of bread omelette and coffee. This was not an ideal lunch, but, we were starving and wanted to feed our stomach. This was the option.
Evening 6.00 was the time when we reached Munnar. We again had a tea at a local tea stall. Then, we asked our driver about the trekking in Munnar. he said he knows a guy, who conducts trekking, camping and other outdoor/adventure activities. Our driver made us to talk to him. When we were convinced with his rates and the places, we reserved our last day for trekking with him.
We headed to our hotel, on way which, we had to stop at a petrol bunk. When our driver was busy in filling the tank we slipped to a nearby spice shop. There was wide range of spices and of course chocolates. My friends bought cardamoms, cloves and cinnamons whereas I bought chocolates, lot of chocolates (dark, milky, with fruit and nut, mixed).
When our called us, we ran back to our vehicle from where we moved to our hotel, had lunch of chicken fried rice, grilled fish and butter chicken. With that heavy dinner we went back to our room. We first talked about the experiences we had then, uploaded the photos and went to sleep.
Munnar- Day 2
The next morning we got up late. I checked out my cell phone, where I saw miss calls of our driver. I called him and said to be ready by 11, meanwhile we had our breakfast and reach the parking area.
We then headed to Eravikulam National Park.
But, on the way we stopped for Tea Museum. It was located on Nallathanni Estate. It was set up Tata tea. This museum earnestly displays the growth of Munnar tea estates. The role of technology was an important part of the growth. We went through each section and noting the details in the tea processing. The process included plucking the leaves, then, leaving it for oxidation (where the leaves change their colour), then withering (removes the excess water from the leaves) and at last drying the leaves in the fryer (this is the most important part as it decides the taste of the tea). At the end we were offered tea for tasting which were of various flavours.
Then, we moved to our next destination Eravikulam National Park (where we decided to spend most of the time). We went to the entrance, where a big board with ‘Kerala Forest & Wildlife Department, Eravikulam National Park, Entry fees’ welcomed us. we reached the reception where we found the Government has revised the rates and elevated it to Rs. 95 from Rs. 15, earlier. We bought the tickets and waited for our van to come. After 10 minutes, our safari van came. We all boarded (there were 20 of us). The van moved into the park. At first it was a jungle, then, we were given a big open area of hills and mountains, grasslands. We all started following our guide, listening to what he says. He gave us some instructions like be together, do not go to the end point, do not throw waste etc. Then, he started giving information about the park and the animals. The park was home Nilgiri Tahr (it was actually established for protecting Nilgiri Tahr). We started walking around the park. We had a beautiful range of hills and their panoramic view in front of us. We spotted some Nilgiri Tahr grazing the grass. They were in a group. It was great to see them. we started staring at them. when those realized us they hopped towards the inner part. We moved forward and gave the view a look again. It was tiring walking so much but, as we were into the nature and enjoying, the tireness didn’t show up. Then, we saw a gaur, some deer, wild squirrel and peacocks. After some time, our van arrived and we all were taken back to the entrance.
It was time to head back to our hotel to have a good shower, then a delicious dinner of Naan, mutton curry, fried chicken and some coffee at the end. Then, to the bed.
Munnar Day 3
The next day we decided to go Pothamedu Viewpoint. Our driver told us that there won’t be any eateries on the way so we better pack food. So, we ordered food from our hotel restaurant (after our breakfast done) and packed and took.
Pothamedu viewpoint was just near to our hotel (we had kept this to the third day so that we could give some time and planned to bathe in Attukkad so that we can reach hotel easily) The path to Pothamedu curvy and we kept falling on each other. At some places roads were bad too. But, once we reach there the whole paradise was in front of us. It was the perfect place to have a view of all tea estates and mountains. Pothamedu made the day amazing. We could see clouds evreywhere. The climate was very much chill. The clouds were changing their path and their shape. It was great seeing that. We stayed there for some time.
Then, we moved to our next destination Attukkad waterfalls. We drove a long route around the hills on Bisonvalley Road and then on NH49 .This falls was another beautiful place. We jumped into the flow of the river as we decided. The water was nerve wrenchingly chill. We were shivering, but, was enjoying. We shouted as loud as we could. One of my friends boarded the bank as he couldn’t stay for longer and was finishing our lunch. We all came to the bank and had our lunch, which made us feel better. I must say it was life time experience (and I do not recommend this for kids and elders, and people with serious health problems).
We then, rushed back to our hotel, changed our clothes, had a hot tea and came to lobby to relax.
Munnar Day 4
It was our trekking day. The guy (name was Augustine) called us and asked us to get ready. We got ready for the trek. We packed our bag according to the list given by Augustine, which included some snacks, extra clothes, first aid kit and basic trekking kit. Then, he arrived in a short while by a jeep (meanwhile we had our breakfast). It was a 6 hours mountain trekking to Chokarmudy/Chokramudy. We went through Anachal and Kunchithanny. We reached the gap road, which was 16 kms from Munnar. We saw a huge mountain range in front of us. Then, leaving our vehicle we started walking and thus, our trekking started. The whole sceneries in front of us were breathtaking. The gap road was the initial stage of Chokramudi. We were walking step by step towards the peak. We walked through a narrow path. The path was of rocks and mud road. Augustin kept giving us the information. Then, we reached the base of Chokramudi. There was wide grassland. Augustine was very much informative. We climbed up slowly and gradually going high. Then, we were hit by a steep way which made us to be more careful and climbing even harder. We had to take each step carefully. We saw some flowering and asked Augustine their names. It was the most thrilling experience. Then, we walked into a densely covered forest called Shola. We were warned by Augustine about the dangerous animals and venomous plants in the forest So, we were more careful and cautious. There were mist surrounding which made the trekkimng thrilling and scaring. After that we were at the large open area again. With a long walk we reached Chokramudi peak. The view from this place was breath taking. We all were reaching the poit to capture the moment. The credit goes to our driver and Augustin. He felt amazing and shouted like crazy. We heard back our voices which made the feel even thrilling.
With spending time there, we walked back to the base (gap road) with even more careful steps and slowly and steadily. No one was hurt. No one seemed tired (though all were).
We that we reached our hotel after giving thanks to Augustine.
Our hotel people have arranged a camp fire that night. We enjoyed the camp fire. We were served some of the signature delicacies of the hotel, which were so delicious. We sang song and danced on our tunes. We were having utmost entertainment.
The next day it was our time to climb down to our home, to tell stories to everyone.
• Coimbatore to Topslip: 2 hrs and 22 mins (78.5 kms)
• Topslip to Valparai: 1 hr 48 min (66 kms)
• Valparai to Athirapally: 2 hrs (82 kms)
• Athirapally to Munnar: 3 hrs 50 mins (139 kms)
Elephant Safari at Topslip: Rs. 800 for 4 persons (45 minutes)
Eco Van trip: Rs. 120 per head (only when there are 25 persons)
Kundala lake- Pedal Boat – Rs 100 for 3 persons. All rides are of 30 minutes each
Eravikulam National Park Entry Fee: Indian Rs. 95, Children Rs. 65, Foreigners Rs.370
Athirapally falls Entry fee: Rs. 15 per head
Trekking Chokramudy: Rs. 1050 per head, for 20 people group Rs. 350 per head.
April 27, 2016 at 4:50 am #1048
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