By Sreejith Kamalanayanan
I have visited Munnar on many occasions; the hill station, though beautiful, is not a virgin terrain. Over trodden might be the exact word that best fits the green hills of Munnar. The idea of visiting Munnar one more time seemed bad to me.
It was raining and I had doubts about having a good trip as Munnar was reported to be drenched in rain. I have never had the experience of visiting the beloved hill station during the off-season. The searing political climate set off by the ongoing drama over the issue of land encroachment allegedly done the ‘resort mafia’ added fuel to my confusion.
Against all odds, my mind finally succumbed to the charm of Munnar. On a fine early morning, I set off to Munnar in a rented car in the company of people I know very well. I started my journey from Aluva and sped through Kothamangalam-Adimaly route to reach Munnar. It took me barely three and half hours to reach Munnar from Aluva.
Munnar welcomed me with lovely drizzles.The chilling breeze and the drizzle made every tourist long for the warmth of sweaters.Yet, this is only mild compared to the freezing cold weather we can normally experience in Munnar during on-season. I checked into a budget hotel in Mattupetty.
I fixed the nearby Kundla Dam as the first spot for sightseeing. On the way to the dam, I bought an umbrella from a street-side vendor for Rs. 100. It was a cute-looking umbrella with polka dot design but overpriced given its inferior quality.
Kundla dam is a perfect spot near Mattupetty to hang out with friends or family. But I saw very little water in the dam that day. There is a much greener terrain in the area near the dam which is perfect for photo shoots.
I saw local photographers speaking Tamil and Malayalam (with a Tamil accent) roaming around. “Time for photos!”You pose, they click and in a few minutes, the hard copies of the photos will be delivered.
There is also an opportunity for horse riding and shopping around the area. You can also try pedal boating at Kundla dam. The rain was still there and my umbrella didn’t seem strong enough to carry the wind. The dusk was approaching and I called it a day.
The next day I went to Rajamalai, where the famous Eravikulam National Park is situated. Eravikulam is Kerala’s first national park and is home to the rare Nilgiri tahr, a species closely related to the ‘sheep’ family. It is popularly known in Kerala as ‘Varayaadu’.
The Eravikulam national park is worth visiting with your family or friends. During the season you may experience heavy rush; the queue at the ticket counter will be too long. But this time, as it was not the season, the rush was minimal and it was not difficult to get the tickets.
A bus came down to pick the visitors from the ticket counter to the top of the hill. At the top, there is a facility for refreshments. The bus stops here and the visitors need to continue their journey up the mountain on foot.
Blue sky and the green surroundings would keep you from feeling the pangs of long walking. I was lucky this time as I was able to spot the rare and beautiful Nilgiri Tahr multiple time throughout the journey upwards.
Tahrs were grazing the green meadows. I saw tourists stop by and take selfies with the poor creature. The tahrs appeared a bit scared but they didn’t run away. You are not supposed to touch them, as the warning signs in the park say, but people, especially those from North India, posed with the tahrs and touched them.
It was afternoon and hunger prompted me to return to the spot where buses halt. The bus came and carried the visitors down to the base of the mountain. Though I bid adieu to Rajamalai, the rain, the green, and the tahrs stay still fresh in my ever green memory.