Our Munnar trip finally happened. This post narrates our 3 nights, 2 days Chennai-Munnar road trip in scorpio.
Munnar is about 580kms from Chennai by shortest distance. A deviation towards Salem to pickup Bangalore team added another 50 kms. During the trip I didn’t take much photos, as I focused my attention on enjoying the drive in hilly terrain.
We left from Chennai at 8PM on Friday. Took GST road to reach Salem by about 2.15AM. We’d to head to Salem Junction and we managed that with some help from locals. Bangalore team had reached by 2 AM and they ended up waiting for about half an hour. From Salem we took Tirupur, Udumalapettai road. At about 6 AM were crossing Tirupur, the T-shirt capital of India. The city was very active with several shops open, understandably because factory workers were about to begin their morning shift. We didn’t have a formal breakfast stop, had some food which we had with us. We crossed Udumalaipettai and began our uphill drive. The roads were not good and narrow, but still drivable.
As we neared the interstate border, I’d to get down, write down the name, vehicle details etc in a checkpost register. The first checkpost inspector didn’t ask for any money. Next there was a road to left which would have taken us to Amaravati Reservoir. We opted to skip it and head straight. There was another checkpost just 10 meters from the previous post, which was understandable, if it belonged to Kerala. Here I had to repeat the exercise. The check-post guy asked for 20 Rs, which I paid. We proceeded further to Chinar wildlife sanctuary. All it had was hundreds of monkeys. There’s a small dormitory and rest room here. There were 3 other check-posts within 100 meters from each other. Here also I’d to make all the entry one more time. I was asked for coffee money again, but I refused. When I asked for receipt the response was “Did you get the receipt at first checkpost, like that give to us also”. I refused and went back to the vehicle, reluctantly they opened the gate. I asked “How many more check posts you’ve got still till Munnar?” All I got back was a smile.
While driving further we did spot a Sambar deer and few Langur monkeys. We passed through Marayur town, which was popular for sandalwood plantations and other trees. But the forests were fenced, so we could see it only from the vehicle. With couple of stops for photos we reached Munnar town by about 11 AM. Next half an hour was spent in finding a mechanic shop to fix the horn. We also debated whether to go for breakfast or skip it. We were approached by few people who offered accommodation, guide service etc. We said No as we had our plans. Horn fixed, we called the homestay to keep the food ready. The shade was another 14 kms from Munnar town towards Kochi.
By about 3PM we started the afternoon drive towards Top Station. On the way we stopped at Carmelagiri elephant camp. The camp had 2-3 elephants and a 20 minute ride would cost Rs 350 per person. There was a long queue of tourists waiting for the elephant ride. We moved on. Visited couple of dams- Mattupetty dam and Kundale lake. We skipped boat ride at Mattupetty dam and also skipped Echo point, which was crowded. Our destination was to reach Top Station by sunset time. Top station is a private property who charge Rs 15 per head entry fee. It is a set of 2 view points, connected by not so good steps. View is fine, but not great. We wanted to stop and have tea by the roadside, but we’d postponed this activity. While returning back it was beginning to get dark and all roadside shops had closed. We stopped at Echo point, tested if it really works and returned to city.
I wasn't much impressed with Munnar as such. May be high expectation was the culprit. If you've been to Wayanad/Valparai, then you've seen Munnar. There's nothing too unique about this place compared to other hill stations in South India. May be there's more to Munnar and I shouldn't be judgmental after a brief 2 day visit, but this is what I felt.
I had good adventure trying to park the Scorpio inside a narrow lane in front of Saravana Bhavan. We had dinner, did some shopping and returned to The Shade. Sandeep’s birthday was celebrated and I hit the bed after 26 hours of continuous driving. Another day long drive was to be enjoyed the next day.
Read Day 2 write up