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!
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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