Friday, October 12, 2012

Chennai- Munnar Roadtrip: Day 2

Read about Day 1 writeup here

Day 2 began in a lazy mode. If we’d got up early, we could have driven towards Idukki and explore dams and falls around Idukki. But no one was interested, hence this plan was abandoned. By 8.30 we went for a quick walk inside the spice plantation run by our home stay (The shade) owner. We saw cardamom, pepper and many other spices. A  small stream at the end of his plantation allowed us to have a quick refresh. Breakfast took some more time and we were out by about 10.30AM

We had thoughts of visiting Hydel Park. Previous day I’d noticed that this place appeared to be empty with no tourist activity at all. Due to rain and lack of interest, we skipped this place. Passing through Munnar town, we headed to Tea Museum. Tea Museum is a minuscule tea factory, where machines are operated purely for tourist demo purposes. We were shown a video on how tea industry grew over the decades in the high lands, we saw some age old equipments  type writers, telephone exchange, calculator etc. Then we were told how the tea leaves are dried, how to make a good tea, different varieties of the tea etc. Next, we saw the processing of tea leaves- how they are dried, separated and eventually packed. Factory had a shopping area selling varieties of teas and related products.

Entry fee was Rs 75 per head and camera fees extra. We were entitled for a cup of tea as a part of this ticket, but the tea given to us was a machine tea taken from a vending machine, which was totally taste less. There’s also a counter which sells t shirts and mugs with custom photos printed on them. Price ranges from 200 Rs to 400 Rs.
It was close to noon and we commenced our return journey. A 600 kms of long drive was ahead of us. We took the Devikulam, Bodi- Theni route for the return journey. This route was in excellent condition and had only 2 check posts, wherein we weren’t asked for any money. This route is highly recommended to reach Munnar from TN. The Udumalaipettai-Chinnar-Marayur route is best avoided, unless you’re particular about exploring different routes.

We stopped at few places for photographs and roadside snacks. My original plan had Kurusu Malai in it, but the homestay owner advised us against it. According to him, Kurusu Malai will be a half day program and we’ve to rent 4x4 jeeps to go up. Since we didn’t have that much time, we had to skip this place. Devikulam has lots of scenic views-Weather was very cold. We took few stops for photos and snacks- hot butta in a chilling atmosphere is really refreshing. We passed through the some beautiful waterfalls- this one, close to Club Mahindra resort was beautiful. We stopped for some pics.Light rains deterred me from taking too many pics. Also enjoyed Masala Kaju- Cashew nut soaked in masala- Rs 40 for 100 grams- fresh and tasty. A 100 gms cashew nut costs Rs 100+ in a city supermarket and most of the times it won’t be fresh. My mouth gets watery each time I think of that Masala cashew.
It was lunch time. I thought of exploring the few resorts nearby. We drove into Club Mahindra resort and enquired about lunch. Buffet lunch at Club Mahindra was priced at Rs 600+ taxes per person. We didn’t have enough justifications to spend that much and hence left the place. Sterlings Munnar resort was nearby, we drove in. Here the buffet lunch was Rs 360 nett. A quick poll and we decided to give it a miss. (we eventually had lunch at Saravana Bhavan in Theni for Rs 50 per person). These resorts are some 18kms from town and those who stay here will have to spend extra money on cab rides to explore places around.  
Anayirankall Dam was on the way to Bodi. But somewhere we missed a turn and google maps showed us that we’re moving away from the dam. We could have gone back, but no one was keen on seeing another dam, so we moved on. As we crossed Kerala border, we were on the edge of the hill and we could feel the high power cold wind trying to push us off the cliff.
Several hairpin bends later, we were down at the plains and cruised towards Theni. We couldn’t find any decent budget vegetarian hotels between Munnar and Theni.  (Apart from Club Mahindra and Sterling Munnar, we crossed another small resort by the roadside between Bodi and Theni, but as I was cruising at high speed, noticed it late and chose not to stop and go back) Saravana Bhavan in Theni came to our rescue. We emptied their last few plate of meals at 3.30 PM.

Rest of the trip was highway cruising towards Salem. Road was good all the way, except for minor stretches where four laning was in progress. With one break, we reached Salem by about 8 PM, 4 hours ahead of 11.50 PM bus the Bangalore team was scheduled to take. With nothing much to do, we killed time having an elaborate dinner. We could have explored that dam or visited some other place. (Or you could have driven little slower- someone added)

At about 11.30 PM we left for Chennai- with no maps and no people on the streets, had some trouble finding our way out of Salem town. Took couple of power naps to mitigate sleeplessness and reached Chennai by 7AM. That marked the end of 1500 km/2 days/3 nights Chennai-Munnar road trip.

Indian Gaur at Valparai * Moon at Valparai *


R Niranjan Das said...

Those falls look wonderful. Nice post.