Two weekends ago, I was reading this amazing blog on Munnar by an Indian travel writer. I can’t really say it was the blog that pulled me to this place or the gorgeous pictures, but I knew in that exact moment that I had to visit Munnar. This time I did not want to waste any time convincing my friends to come along. In two weeks I was out, ready to capture the beauty of Munnar all by myself. Pitch-dark roads, heavy rains, and a bumpy ride greeted me and kept me alert this whole time. This is how my first encounter with monsoon in Munnar began!
Lush green tea plantations, secret waterfalls, and windy lanes are how I would want to describe Munnar. Located in the Western Ghats mountain range in Kerala, Munnar is an epitome of beauty. Every picture that you have ever seen of Munnar does justice to its beauty.
My bumpy ride to the hotel lasted for another two hours. Upon reaching the hotel, the ferocious sound of winds put me to sleep every night. The trees swaying outside my window sounded like a waterfall. The rains never stopped. The relentless rainfall and the lack of sunshine did get to me at some point, but seeing the landscape, painted in green, shining and looking dewy once the rains stopped, reminded me of why exactly the monsoons are so amazing. Another note about the rains in Kerala- they are always gentle, even when heavy. The drops of water are so thick, it feels like standing under a waterfall. The prickling rainfall of the north is completely different. I finally understood what it meant to be in the tropics!
I booked a car rental in Munnar for the sightseeing. On my first day in Munnar, I decided to visit the Matupetty Dam, Top Station and tried the elephant safari at Carmelagiri National Park. Situated at a height of 1700 meters, Matupetty Dam can be a perfect spot for a quiet picnic with the family. However, for solo travelers like myself, there is not much one can see or explore here. After spending half an hour at the dam clicking pictures, I decided to visit Top Station. I had heard a lot about Top Station from my friends who have traveled the length and breadth of Munnar. While the trek up to the highest point was difficult, it gave me a natural high and I felt gloriously carefree! Finally, I ended my first day with an elephant safari at the Carmelagiri National Park. This was the highlight of my first day. The place is always crowded. When you sit on the giant mammal, you will realize that we are nothing but a very tiny creation of God. Elephants are the nicest! Gently swaying on the back of Laila, our elephant, left me so mesmerized and in love with her. Feeding her sugarcane and pineapples, was the closest I have come around an elephant. My sweetest takeaway from this trip has to be meeting Laila.
The second day started off with some amazing breakfast and filter coffee. I was secretly hoping for some warm sunlight to sneak through the low hanging clouds. The blanket of white clouds swaying over the tea estates would occasionally clear up and give you a glimpse of the infinite greenery this resort town holds within itself.
For my second day, I decided to get on a bicycle and explore Munnar at its finest and most gorgeous. Cycling through the rocky roads with the wind in my hair, I wanted to soak in all of it, as long as I could. The freshness in the air, lush greenery and helpful locals leave you awestruck. There is no place like Munnar!
Sita Devi Lake:
For the third day, my guide had been planning something grand. The first two days were good but did not really leave me content and satisfied. There is another side to Munnar which one should not miss out on, and now we were to explore its beauty in the truest sense of the term. We started after breakfast. The first stop was Sita Devi Lake. Legend has it, that Goddess Sita bathed in this lake. This makes it quite sacred. Also, if we start counting the number of lakes Sita Devi has bathed in, we would be forced to conclude that she was quite a prolific traveller. #Wanderlust #travelgoals
Also known as the Devikulam Lake, this sparkling water body is in a secluded corner, far from the crowded pockets of Munnar. The fresh aroma of lemongrass surrounded by hills and tall trees, this lake is exactly how you’d imagined lakes in your drawing text-books. A visit to the lake requires special permission from the Tata Tea Estate Officer. The hike to the lake starts in Chinnakanal. Perfect for beginners, this hike can be easily covered in an hour.
Kolukkumalai Tea Estate:
The tea estates are a symbol of Munnar. While these estates have cut down major portions of the thick dense forest to make way for tea plantations, their aesthetics add to the beauty of Munnar. At 8000 ft, Kolukkumalai is the highest tea estate in the world. You must have heard of bad roads, but the jeep trail which takes you to the estate is backbreaking. Keeping the bumpy ride in mind, I would still say the view is worth the pain. Once on the highest point, you can see the beautiful hills and villages of Tamil Nadu. The tea plantation has been standing here since the 1930s and relies on age-old methods to make some of the finest tea in the world. All of the produce is exported. The commercialization of tea has deprived Indians of the tea made here. However, we can try their tea while exploring the tea estate. It definitely tastes divine, but so would the tea from a roadside stall given how cold it is at 8000 ft altitude. Visiting this place was quite fascinating. If you never have seen tea plantations, this is one place you should not miss out on. The view and the arrangement of the estate will leave you mesmerized.
Regarded as the second highest peak of Kerala, Meesapulimala gets its name from the 8 hills that are spread around it. Mesmerized at how serene this place looked, I realized Meesapulima is a trekker’s paradise. The wind up here is too cold and hurts the ear. I sat here to enjoy my book with a beautiful view. At sunset, this place shines with orange glitter. The white clouds float like balloons in the air. Occasionally it starts drizzling and makes this rocky terrain damp and terribly cold. With a beautiful sunset, I ended my day and my Munnar trip.
The cold wind escapes the tiny space in the window and makes the room cold again. The sound of trees swaying didn’t stop and the rains that kept me company, for the most part, became my dear friends.