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Closer to the gods

 

KAVALAM SASIKUMAR | Issue Dated: August 29, 2010
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Closer to the gods Munnar is a known hill station, but it is named after three rivers – yes, Munnar owes its name to three mountain streams named Muthirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala, all 1800 ft above the sea level. One of the most coveted destinations in the South, you can enjoy boating, trekking, driving, sightseeing and wildlife spotting here. The misty canopy and the blue-and-green omniscience makes it a favourite honeymoon getaway too.

Munnar is located in the Idukki district of Kerala at a cool 5000-8000 feet above the sea level. Natural resplendence reigns in this region; other famous tourist attractions here include Thekkady, Periyar Tiger Reserve etc. The district is also the largest producer of spices like black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg etc in the state. Once the summer resort of the British in South India, the colonial history is evident in the beautiful architecture of buildings dating back to the days of the Raj. Even more plentiful are the tea plantation estates that pervade the entire canvas. More than 24,000 hectares of tea plantations over rolling hills and rising plateaus; the sight promises to stay with you long after you’ve moved on.

Trekking and mountain climbing enthusiasts go on to Anamudi, the highest peak in South India at 2,695 metres. The ‘water types’ will find Devikulam– only seven kilometres from Munnar – a sheer delight with its velvet lawns, gorgeous natural gardens, and peaceful mountain settings. The lake here is an ideal place for trout fishing. The Mattuppetti Dam, 13 km away from Munnar, is famous for boating and elephant safaris; also around is the highly specialised dairy farm – the Indo Swiss Live Stock Project. More than 100 varieties of high yielding cattle here, should you be interested in some bovine facts.

At Pothamedu, enjoy a panoramic view of the entire Munnar. Just 15 kms away from Munnar town is the Eravikulam National Park, flanked by the Anamudi Peak on one side and a deep vale on the other. The Nilgiri Tahr, a unique species endemic to this region, is least afraid of human presence and walks along with you in groups of 25 to 50, giving you ample photo opportunities. But be warned, while you click away the Tahr, don’t miss the rarest species of birds fluttering about. With more than 254 varieties of birds in the forest area, musical company is assured everywhere you go.

In addition to the plethora of rare and medicinal plants, here is a particularly famous resident; the Neelakurinji – a blue flower which flowers once in 12 years. Though they are quite abundant, you’ll have a tough time spotting one, for the local tribal folk who are also the forest guards are hesitant in pointing it out. They do so only on the condition that you don’t pluck it; they say it flourishes in no other part of the world. Book your trip for 2018 – that’s when the precious blossom will oblige us next. Until then make do with the fragrant sandalwood trees of Marayur, 40 kms from Munnar, and the Muniyara caves with Stone Age relics and murals. All in all, treats from the past, present and future… Closer to the gods DESTINATION DOSSIER

STEERING THE COURSE

Kochi International Airport to Munnar is 140 kms. The drive through thick woods is a treat in itself. For train travellers, the nearest railway stations are Kottayam and Ernakulam.

COSY CORNERS

One has the whole range of accommodation facilities available in Munnar town, including five star hotels, to choose from.

THE ‘SEASON’ED TRAVELLER GOES NOW

November to April is ideal, but if you like it nice and wet, any time is good…

‘SAVOUR’ FAIRE

Traditional Kerala fare is abundant. The resorts and hotels have other options too, in case the coconut oil gets to you!

GET TO WORK

A bath in the waterfalls – there are plenty around – is a must. Try trekking to Attukal waterfalls. Boating in Mattupetti River is relaxing. Don’t miss the Eravikulam National Park.

WHAT’S THE WORD

Malyalam, to feel at home. Considering the regular influx of tourists that the locals are used to, English is good to get around too.

KEEPSAKE COURTESIES

Load up on the locally grown tea leaves for yourselves and your friends. Natural cardamom from Anchunad Hills. Sandalwood from Marayur is a good idea.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017