Munnar in Monsoon 3 - Lovely lakes and stunning Top Station!

Munnar is mindblowingly beautiful. Especially in Monsoon. You would have possibly read the our tryst with this beautiful place in these posts.

Munnar in Monsoon1 - Going gaga over the ghats!

Munnar in Monsoon 2 - Mesmerised at first sight!

Our exploration in Munnar continues. We drove through the rain to reach Camelia resorts, our home for next two days. Reaching Camelia is not an easy task with last one KM being a drive up the hill at 60 degrees! It is so steep that there is a sign before the climb advising the driver to change into first gear.

The rains continued and really poured through the night. We went to bed hoping to get a clear weather next day.

Hot cup of tea was god sent on a chilly and misty morning. The rain did recede but it continued to drizzle. The resort was totally enveloped in mist. It was like a white blanket spread across the woods. We had no fixed agenda today. Our idea was to drive around as much as possible in the hills. When you are in Munnar, you have three roads to drive around and explore. The first one is towards Top Station, the second towards Eravikulam and Udumalpet, the third towards Chinnakanal and Bodinayakkanur and fourth towards Kochi. We had come through Bodi and Chinnakanal and were to go to Kochi next day. Thus, we decided to explore and drive towards Mattupetty and Top Station.

It continued to drizzle even as we left Camelia after breakfast. Thankfully, it was not raining heavily. But overnight rain had ensured the small streams were fed and waterfalls rejuvenated. Driving through the town - after customary shopping of teas in Kannan Devan Tea stores - we hit the highway. Leaving behind the concrete structures, we were now in green country. 

It is a pleasure to drive on these roads. Let us take you through a pictorial Odyssey to the two lakes and top station......because, everything in Munnar is visually spectacular!

Please click on the pictures to see them in original size.

Camelia Resort - On top of a small hill
The last night rain had brought life to many unnamed waterfalls on the way. We could see water falls like this on our way throughout the drive.
As we left town and entered the valley, this was the first sight. A small church perched on a high ground surrounded by greenery.
From now onwards, the drive was a sheer pleasure. winding road in excellent condition, green vistas, unnamed water falls.........
We stopped at this point. Everyone does. For a photo opportunity with the green background. This is aptly named " Photo Point". One can pose like a "tea picker" with a basket for a small fee! 

This stretch is stunning. Flanked by very tall eucalyptus trees, we had to stop for a photo op. You can't blame us........
After one stunning vista to another. We now encountered these beautiful meadows. Very rare in Munnar which is full of tea gardens. We could not go inside as it was fenced.

Mattupetty reservoir and lake. The setting was spectacular. Clear water surrounded by small hills. Clouds caressing mountains. It started drizzling when we parked and started walking to jetty.
We opted for a speed boat ride and it was a thrilling experience.
When mist cleared, we could see the spectacular mountain landscape
Tall eucalyptus trees on the banks of lake enhance the beauty of the landscape and also provide a blue tinge to it.
As we leave the lake after drinking a well brewed cup of the in the shack, the landscape turns better. We now start climbing.
The Landscape gets more prettier with tea gardens and mountains as we climb to Top station
Kundala is a pretty lake. Surrounded by small hills. 
Paddle boats in the lake. We did not get down here for boating. 
The landscape got prettier as we moved up to Top Station. A panoramic shot of the road to Top Station.
It continued to be cloudy. Luckily there was no rain. 
The undulating gardens of tea enhanced the beauty of the landscape.
One gets the first glimpse of what is in store in Top Station at the Tamil Nadu - Kerala border. You will see telescopes mounted to see the extensive valleys of Top Station. Even without telescope, you will be able to see panoramic view of the valley. 
As you walk down the steps to view point, the first question you ask is which is that house on the hill on the other side? We too asked. This is the Kollakkumalai te estate the highest tea estate in the world!
The 360 degree view of Top Station is stunning indeed. The valley, the gorges, the peaks, the sholas, the water falls........everything here make you exclaim "wow". It is that wow feeling you get when you get here. Check out the following pictures.....




The valley of Theni district can be seen from the view point.

We left Top Station after a lunch of maggi and scrambled egss in a shack. We now wanted to drive on   Udumalpet road which we had heard had some stunning vistas. Driving back to Munnar, we indulged in shopping for spices, banana chips. It started drizzling even as we turned towards Udumalpet. First few KMs were not telling us what would be in store. Soon we were treated with some spectacular vistas. This was possibly one of the best drives in Munnar, especially in monsoon. 
A lovely unnamed water falls just before the entry gate to Eravikulam national park. It was inside the forest and there was no chance of going there. This is the zoomed shot. 
This is how it looks from the road.

This is the landscape you see when you drive on this road. Streams in the foreground and mountains with waterfalls in the background....


Can you spot the waterfalls in this picture??
Close up shot of the same waterfalls

We must have driven around 20 KMs. It turned out to be the best drive of the day. As the night set in we turned back to drive to Camelia. It started raining now after sparing us for the day. Lucky us!

Travel Tips

a) The two lakes and Top Station can be comfortably covered as a day trip. Make sure you carry packed lunch or make do with Maggi and egg as we did.

b) Mattupetty has two options - Speed boat and Larger traditional safari boat. Speed boat accommodates 5. You have to pay for one boat whether you are group of 5 or 1. The charges are Rs 400 for 30 minutes. It is worth the money. The experience is definitely thrilling. The other option of traditional larger boat is cheaper and slower. The people who manage this place are absolutely fantastic and make sure that you wear life jacket properly and are polite. if you are likely to get scared at the stunts done by boat man, please tell him not to do it. There are no paddle boats here.

c) Kundala lake has paddle boats. You can hire one and paddle away to your satisfaction. We did not see any other type of boat here.

d) During season, be prepared to wait for your turn which may be anywhere between 45 minutes to 1 Hour.

e) "Photo point" is a good place to take picture. As you drive around you will find more scenic places than this!

f) Drive safely and leisurely. Munnar has to be savoured thus. The roads are winding though there are very few hair pin curves as such.

g) The banks of the lakes are good picnic spots to spread a sheet and enjoy.

h) Don't try and jump over the meadows you have seen in the blog. This is the elephant corridor and you may be surprised by big ones.

i) Top station requires quite a walk down hill to the view point. It is a good climb on the way back. There are no paths for wheel chairs. You need to buy a ticket for entry.

j) The best place to buy teas and spices is at Kannan Devan flagship stores in Munnar town. You will be amazed to see the choice of flavoured tea here.

k) Munnar town is small. We did not venture out to eat out. But there must be some good restaurants.

l) Earavikulam national park is well managed. They have safaris and guided treks. One can get the details from their lovely website

Eravikulam National Park.

During peak season, one has to wait in the long queue for Safari 

m) Even if you are not planning to use Udumalpet road to enter Munnar, please make sure you drive for 20-30 KMs on this road like we did. It is breathtakingly beautiful.

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Skywatch Friday - Sunset over the city!

We were experimenting our skills in a photography workshop few years back. We were trying all the tricks and it was fun to experiment with the camera.

It was sunset time and our instructor wanted us to capture the setting sun in different modes. we went to terrace of the building in West Bengaluru. It was a winter evening and sky was clear albeit with some clouds. 

What we achieved surprised us then. When we were browsing old pictures, we got a chance to see them again. We thought of sharing it with you all on this Friday......

Please click on the pictures to see them in larger size.

We never thought the sunset would be beautiful in cities. We were lucky on that day.

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14 Things to do in winter in India you haven't done before!

Winter in India is the best season to explore this lovely country. It is also the time when kids have holidays during Christmas. We were going through some travel magazines this month which did list some places one should go in the winter. We started thinking whether we can list some off beat destinations/activities you can do this winter. Here is our list. Some done by us, some told by friends and some in our bucket list. Read, plan and explore this winter....

1 Beach treks in Karnataka

Winter and beaches are made for each other. If you don't want to just laze around and are game for a bit of adventure, you can try these lovely beach treks. 

Half Moon beach
Travel Tip - You can find all details on beach treks in this post in this blog.

Four beach treks in Karnataka you must do!

2 Caving in Andhra Pradesh

You can do this only in winter. Andhra Pradesh has some lovely cave formations. Explore Belum and Yaganti near Kurnool or Borra caves near Vishakhapatnam.

Yaganti Caves (Photo Courtesy - Lovell D'souza )
Travel tips - Make Kurnool/Nandyal as base to explore Belum and Yaganti. Vizag is the best place to make base for exploring Borra caves. Other attractions around Kurnool are temples in Alampur, canyons of Oravakallu etc.

You can also read the following post on our journeys in Rayalaseema in this post

3 Surfing in South India

Come and surf here in South India. The nascent sports has really picked up in last few years. You have options to go for surfing in Pondicherry or Mulki (near Mangalore) or Kodi Bengere (near Udupi). Of these, the location of Bengere is just a class apart. A Jutland between a river and sea with fabulous beach thrown in. Do you need anything more?

Travel Tip - You can read all details on surfing in this post in this blog

4 Scuba on West coast

If you can not go to Bali or Thailand or Andamans, don't worry. You have options closer home. Netrani Island near Murudeshwar and Goa are great places to go for snorkeling and Scuba diving. Of course, winters are the best season with great weather and clear waters. We did it in Netrani and it was mind blowing experience

Yours truly Under water in Netrani!
Travel tip - You can check out details on Scuba diving in the link given above. Also you can also read our scuba diving experience in Netrani Island here in this blog

5 Explore history in Bundelkhand

Bundelkhand? Where is it? Did we hear this question?

Yes. many are not aware of the treasures of Bundelkhand. If we tell you that Khajuraho is in Bundelkhand region, you would be surprised. But there are many such gems in the regions - Deogarh, Gyraspur, Mahoba, Chhattarpur, Orchha........

Travel tip - Combine this with your trip to Khajuraho. Make Jhansi/Orchha as base and explore the places as day trips. Check out this post on our blog 

6 Count tigers in Simlipal in Odisha

We know you have been to Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh or Bandipur chasing tigers. Simlipal? An unspoilt wilderness with waterfalls, rivers and forests beckons you. Yes, there are 80 tigers too.

Barehipani Waterfall
Travel tip - You can find all details about the park here 

7 Five unexplored beaches

India has a coastline 7500 KMs of which means it also has hidden, unexplored beaches as well. We know you have vacationed in Goa or Kovalam or Pondy. Why not look at these unexplored beaches?

The beach at Baindoor
Travel tip - Check out details on some of the unexplored beaches in this post on this blog 

8 Drive in snow in Himachal Pradesh

If you love snow and don't mind winter cold, then here is an option to enjoy the white drive in Himachal Pradesh. It will be stunningly beautiful.

Mall Road, Shimla (Photo Courtesy - Shobit Sharma )
Travel tip - Reach Shimla/Kufri, then start your "White drive" onto Manali via Mandi. Drive safe as Winter fog will be very heavy all over the region. Be prepared for some sudden snowfall in those parts and keep a couple of days for dislocations.

9 Christmas in Aizawl

This is real fun. One week of festivities. Aizawl is a one of the loveliest hill station in the north east India and Mizos are very hospitable. Christmas is the best time to mingle with Mizos and live the spirit of yuletide.

Travel tip - Aizawl is well connected by air to major Indian cities. For more on exploring Aizawl, please check out this link below.

Exploring Aizawl

10 Camel safari in Barmer

Move over Jaisalmer. Welcome to Barmer. This is in the heart of Thar desert. The dunes are alluring. The best place to go for a camel Safari.

Travel Tip - Sanchal Fort is the only decent accommodation in Barmer. The hotel will organise the safari to sand dunes of Magabar. The website of the hotel is

Sanchal fort - A haveli in the desert!

11 River cruise on Chambal

You can not do this in summer when mercury reaches 48 degrees. The morning cruise on Chambal is soothing. If you can't get up in the morning then opt for afternoon safari with sunset cruise. The bird life is fantastic. You will get a chance to see endangered Gharials sunbathing on the banks of the river.

Sunset on Chambal river (Photo Courtesy - Paul Ian Holt )

Travel tip - The best option to explore Chambal is through Chambal Safaris. Check out more details here

12 Sky watching in Kutch

If you have done sky watching in Ladakh, you would love this as well. Winter skies in Kutch are spectacular. Weather is chilly. Sit around the fire and look at the sky at night. Or get up early to see spectacular sunrise. Or ride a camel into beautiful sunset. 

Morning colours of the sky at sunrise in Kutch
Travel tip - You will get lot of information on Kutch on the web. Our recommendation is to stay in the fantastic rural set up in Sham-e-sarhad village resort in Hodka and explore the region. Check out more details here.

Sham-e-sarhad Village resort, Hodka

13 Drive on Coast road in Maharashtra

The drive on Maharashtra State  Highway 4 is just out of the world. The drive through Konkan coast takes you to breathtaking cliffs overlooking the sea, mighty sea side forts and of course unexplored beaches. Go for it!

Travel tip - This is a scenic drive which also involves ferry crossing. Take detours and explore the beaches on the route.

14 Check out winged visitors in Point Calimere

Kodikkarai or Point Calimere is at the nose of Coromandel coast in Tamil Nadu. Starting October, the sea front of Kodikkarai and its backwater lakes are filled with winged visitors from outside the country. They remain till end of January.

Travel Tip - Kodikkarai can be easily reached by road and the rail services. The accommodation options are in Vedaranyam which is 10 KMs from Kodikkarai. For more details check out this nice web site by the Forest Department

Point Calimere Wild life Sanctuary

This was our list. Plan now and go and check out these places this winter. Have you made your own list for venturing out this winter? Why don't you share it with us? 

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