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Old 5th November 2011, 21:55   #1
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Default The JetŪ flies to Munnar: A 1000 km blast to God's own mountains

Okay, I've been hanging around the travelogues section for quite some time now as a reader, but this is my first travelogue posted on team-bhp. Hopefully, this will be the start of a new 'Jet' series of travelogues to come in future.

Most of you know that I'd purchased a Linea T-Jet in July this year. Those of you who went through the ownership review also knew it had not done much running. It had been 4 months since I got the car home, and still hadn't driven a distance which does justice to the T-Jet's capabilities and stance as a highway rocket. I had decided that the next trip would have to be in the car. During this Diwali holidays, my family of 3 (parents + myself) had planned to travel somewhere for 4 days. We didn't know where. But it would be by car. We scouted for places. Ooty, Coonoor, western ghats in Karnataka, Pondicherry, Goa, etc. We had done all that. So the search was still going on, when one of my colleagues suggested Munnar.

One of the main reasons for doing the trip was the drive itself. I desperately wanted to take the T-Jet for a blast through the hills, and what better place to do it than the majestic land of tea estates, Munnar, right in the heart of god's own country. The total distance to Munnar was 500km one way. After some research at tripadvisor a month before the drive, I zeroed in on Bracknell forest, Casa Del fauno and Olivebrook resort. Sadly, none of them were available. Finally I ended up booking at Aranyaka resorts (the only available well rated resort for our dates), I could attend to the minute details - the route plan, itinerary plan, etc later. For that I had BHPian ampere here on team-bhp Special thanks to ampere and a few others who helped plan the route.

There are 2 routes to Munnar

* Bangalore - Salem - Dindigul - Theni - Munnar
* Bangalore - Salem - Tiruppur - Udumalpet - Marayoor - Munnar

The latter route features new roads and is more motorable with a sedan. I initially wanted to do different routes for going and returning, but decided against it after advice here on T-BHP.

With the planning and waiting, time flew by gradually, and soon it was the eve of D-Day. Packing the clothes was my mother's department. My job was only to get the electronic stuff ready. I charged both batteries of my DSLR, emptied out and reformatted both the memory cards and stocked in all my lenses and filters into the backpack. All done! Meanwhile, I had forgotten about the car. A quick trip to the Shell station and she was filled to the brim with petrol. Call it aviation fuel if you like. That's how costly the petrol prices have become now. Over to the air pump, I checked air pressure in all 5 tyres including the spare one. The extra 5 minutes to fill the spare caused a huge queue of vehicles, some angry glares and shaking fists too. We Indians are impatient creatures, you see.

Post this, the Jet got a good bath in the garage. It was time to hit the sack. Or was it?
At around 11pm, I remembered my travel companion suddenly, in the middle of the night. The trip could not go on without it. That cursed MapMyIndia navigator, how many days had it been since I used it?
I found it in my table drawyer and switched it on, in vain. Tapping it a few times didn't help either. And so, at 12 am, I decided that an 'overnight' charging was what it needed. Something is better than nothing. I plugged it in and get back to bed. But wait, what about that GPS car charging unit?! I couldn't drive for 500 km without the cigarette lighter adaptor for the MMI. After hunting in the attic for half an hour, I finally found the cursed box which came with the GPS device, covered in an inch thick layer of dust. Never mind. All is well that ends well. We were all set to go.


Day 1 - The journey begins to reach the 'green paradise'

My mobile frantically played the alarm tone. 3 am. Time to freshen up and move out. The real dream was just about to start. The luggage loading into the boot took about 15 minutes and once the boot had swallowed all the bags and suitcases, it was time for mom to lock all the doors and shut the windows at home. The last thing she fancied was a stray diwali rocket coming into the house through an open window and setting some curtains on fire. Mothers have wild imaginations no doubt.

We departed Bangalore by 4.30am finally. The plan was to stop for breakfast at Salem (210km), lunch at Udumalpet (390km) and reach Munnar by 4pm. After passing through the Electronic city expressway, the Hosur and Krishnagiri toll gates, our first break was near Dharmapuri around 170km from Bangalore. The rain gods decided not to make the journey so pleasant for us. A deluge of early morning rainfall on the route to Salem created a small traffic jam of trucks, in the curvy roads of the Golden Quadrilateral expressway. Of course, the just-washed black car became brown after the rain, much to my dismay, but that is a different issue. After this stretch, the next 40km passed quickly and we stopped for breakfast at Annapoorna hotel near the Salem bypass road by 8am.


Stopping for a breather before Salem
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Second set of eyes through satellites above the earth
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Post breakfast, the Jet gunned down the remaining distance to Udumalpet in 2 more hours. 100kmph was literally crawling pace for the jet, but I could not bring myself to push it harder than that, since I had 2 near misses with pesky stray dogs crossing the GQ expressway suddenly. Cruising at this relaxed pace, we were at Udumalpet by around 11.30am, 1.5 hours ahead of planned time. I refuelled to full tank capacity and we had an early lunch at a place called Balaji mess which served some TN style meals. Apparently this was the only veg. hotel in Udumalpet - Munnar highway. The food was bad, but I managed to push some morsels down my throat, at least to keep hunger at bay.


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Even the state highways of TN are fantastic. Something other states should emulate
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Post lunch was where the challenge began. Udumalpet's road network is so ridiculous that the entry to the Munnar highway is a one-way! First time ever, that I have seen a highway entry being a one-way! MMI GPS navigator didn't know about this one way, so we ended up going around in circles and asking a few locals to help us get back on track without breaking any rules. It didn't take us long to figure out that the place is supposed to be pronounced as "Moon-aar" here and not "Munn-ar" as was assumed. So remember, we were now going to Mooonaaar, not to Munnar.

The first 30km were cakewalk stretches with freshly laid out tarmac, gobbled up with ease. We came to the first forest reserve checkpost. A forest official with a veerappan style moustache looked at me from top to bottom and asked where I am from and what I have in the car. After confirming that I wasn't carrying elephant tusks, crocodile teeth and leopard skins, he let me go after making an entry about the passing vehicle. We came across 3 more checkposts before entering Periyar forest reserve, and each time I had to alight, sign in the register and open the boot for checking. Once past these, I was into the jungles. These forest officer babus expect you to bribe them and fund their coffees and meals, be wary!



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The forest roads begin!
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The jet takes a final breather before I begin the ghat section ascent. The mammoth mountains of Munnar can be seen in the distance
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Soon after entering the sanctuary, the road quality deteriorated to rattling levels. There was just 1 lane of tarred road. If another vehicle came from the opposite direction, one had to get down into the gravel to make way. With the TN buses, obviously I was the guy who had to make way every time a bigger vehicle came by. And so the next 20 km passed with some bit of see sawing between tarmac and gravel. Remember the golden rule, if you are driving on TN's highways and you don't make way for TN buses, you will appear in the next day's newspaper in the obituary section.


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Thankfully the jet was taking the bad roads very well without scraping the underbelly anywhere. We stopped once for a break and some pictures. After this, ironically I saw plenty of boards asking us not to stop the vehicle and/or get down since this was an elephant crossing zone and they could attack if provoked. So, unfortunately, unintentionally, we had halted inside the no-stopping zone inside the sanctuary. Fortunately for us, no elephants or godzillas attacked us. Soon we came to the forest exit checkpost by 2 pm. The no-stop zone was over and the steep part of the Ghat section was about to begin.


Unintentional stopping at a no-stop elephant crossing zone. Notice how narrow the roads are in the forest. Buses from the opposite side will mow you down if you don't get down into the gravel!
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Slowly and pleasantly, the scenery started to change from thick jungles to slightly hilly terrain. I was alternating between 2nd and 3rd gears through the ghats. 2nd gear was for potholed stretches, 3rd gear otherwise.

As a new owner of the T-Jet who hadn't yet fully experienced the true brilliance of this machine, I would say - In the T-Jet, the 3rd gear is not just called the '3rd gear'. It is called 'the Afterburner'.

Slot her into 3rd gear and the jet pulls from 30kmph all the way to 120kmph in 7-8 seconds flat, with the acceleration of a mad bull on steroids. I rarely had to downshift in the hills. I thoroughly enjoyed 'flying' the car all the way up the ghats. Handling was rock solid through the curves. Turn after turn was gobbled up with ease. The steering feedback was something I enjoyed the most, I knew exactly what each turn, each stretch of tarmac had to offer me. In a nutshell, this was the most enjoyable drive I have ever done in a car. The jet will definitely become my long term travel steed from now on.


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Anyway, coming back to the travelogue, halfway up the hills in sector 1, clouds started to appear from nowhere and in a minute, it started raining heavily. And so, with the fog lamps and headlamps on, and some foot-tapping Beatles' music playing in the background, we completed the first section of the ghats, after which it stopped raining and cleared up in a while.


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After a couple of breaks to take some snaps of the awe-inspiring landscape, we departed to the halfway point through the ghats, called Marayoor. This place has a one-of-its-kind-in-the-world Sandalwood forest zone. The highway passes through this sandalwood forest and needless to say, it is a no-stopping zone as well. The entire stretch of the sandalwood forest is secured on both sides with electric fences and wired up with CCTVs to prevent miscreants from trying anything untoward. Just passing through this place sent shivers down our spines. It was really eerie and spooky. There was an unusual silence which was quite staggering. There were no birds and no animals in sight. The whole forest was dark, full of sandalwood trees, a deathly silence and nothing else. Nice place to shoot daytime horror movies, if you ask me.


Passing through Marayoor's sandalwood forests
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After passing through the sandalwood forests, we were now into the second and final stage of the ghat section ascent to Munnar, incidentally it was the steeper section with much worse roads than what we covered till then. Plenty of small waterfalls with crystal clear, ice cold water trickled down in between the rocks and greenery, truly presenting a visual delight. We stopped for another break at one such waterfall and proceeded.



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Tiny waterfalls dotted the roads at places
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There were 20 kms more left for Munnar, and we were running a bit behind schedule with the watch reading 3.30 pm. The landscape soon started changing into lush green tea estates and valleys, the turns became steeper and the roads narrower. The last few kilometres of roads were quite bad with plenty of nasty potholes and I had to weave in and out of them since the T-Jet is quite a low car. I wasn't complaining about the loss in pace, because the scenery was so heavenly. We saw at least 15-20 more pretty waterfalls along the greenery dotted roads. The second section was definitely more picturesque than the first one. We wanted to reach Munnar quickly so we stopped at just one more place, a valley of some kind but with a stream and a lake in the clearing, manifesting as a very pretty sight.



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Approaching Munnar
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A picturesque clearing with a lake and a valley in the background
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We reached Munnar by 4.15 pm and stopped at Royal Retreat hotel in the main town for a tea/coffee break. There was very limited connectivity for Airtel in Munnar. Very good. Vacations are anyway meant for getting out of reach. The estate resort owner had messaged me the directions to the place beforehand, so there was no "hello", "we are here", "where are you?" nonsense calls. We had to travel beyond Munnar town along the same highway for 5 km and enter Pallivasal tea estate (owned by Tata tea) on our left. Thanks to my MapMyIndia navigator, we detected it on the maps from far away and followed his sms directions to reach the resort by around 5 pm. The MMI even had the interior estate roads in its database. Brilliant!

Even after the 500km ordeal, nobody was tired even one bit, driver (me) included. The leather sofa seats in the jet are extremely plush and comfortable. My earlier Hyundai Accent used to give me cramps after 300-350km.


Destination reached - Munnar town
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Mr. Akbar, the guy in charge of taking care of the guests at Aranyaka resort, led us from the parking area to our cottage. After having a hot cup of fresh tea and munching on some lip smacking pakoras, my parents settled down in the front porch to take in the views of the surrounding scenery, while I walked around the place to explore the surroundings in whatever little daylight was left. There were 4 cottages in this place, named after 4 rivers. Ours was called Yamuna. Not that it mattered. All 4 cottages, and the resort itself is situated on the slope of a hill, almost on the top.

The place is so high that clouds pass by this place, and when that happens, the place is intermittently fogged up during the cloud phase. It felt weird at first but we would soon get used to it in the next few days. The entire hill is covered with tea plantations with a road which runs all the way to the bottom of the hill in 3 km. At the bottom was a viewing point for a popular waterfalls called Athukkad falls. I made a mental note to trek down to the bottom sometime in the next few days.


Now, the resort has a very small network of staff. There is one Mr. Akbar who handles housekeeping, room service, does a waiter's job and also doubles up as a trekking guide if need be. There was a chef resident at the place who, as expected, takes care of the cooking. There are a couple of guys who work as bell boys and as housekeeping staff, and there is a manager who handles reception of guests, payments, bookings of cabs, etc. All in all, a fantastic resort within a tea estate with superb customer service and all the staff going about the duties with smiles on their faces.

Enough said about the resort. Day 1 was coming to a close. We were initially the only occupants in the resort, but by 8pm there were 2 more Innova cabs coming in and soon, the other 3 cottages were occupied too. There was a Gujrati family of 2 couples with some kids and there was an American couple with kids at another cottage.

After a piping hot dinner at 8 pm, we spent some time at the balcony and took a short walk within the resort, watching the night turn foggy. Temperatures dipped to around 14-15 degrees by 10pm, after which we retired to our cottage and hit the sack.

Last edited by KarthikK : 5th December 2011 at 23:30.
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Old 5th December 2011, 00:41   #2
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Default Re: The Jet flies to Munnar: A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

Day 2 - More of Munnar - Devikulam valley, more viewpoints, Lockheart gap


I woke up early at around 6am, went for a short walk all by myself and returned to the resort after a few pictures. Seeing the black car covered in muck and slush was irritating. I saw a couple of cab drivers in the parking lot washing their cars and couldn't think of anything better to do. Finally, after a hot cup of tea I went to the resort staff room, borrowed a hose pipe and an old cloth and spent half an hour washing the car to get it gleaming again. Job done.


Our Kerala architecture-styled cottage
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The parking lot at Aranyaka resort
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The resort is situated bang in the middle of Tata tea estate
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Layers of green
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Some sights of the surrounding panorama
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A closer look at the tea leaves in the morning dew
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Taking a walk around the estate
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View from our cottage balcony
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Water from Athukkad waterfalls, forming a stream
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Jeep trails, proudly going where no car has gone before!
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By 8 am, the 3 of us were ready to leave. Breakfast was being served in the restaurant section. We had a Kerala cuisine specialty called 'Puttu Kadala', an idli-like rice-based dish with coconut gratings, to be eaten with a spicy channa gravy. Post the delicious breakfast, we headed out to Devikulam valley by 9 am, one of the 2 routes to be explored alongside Munnar.


Bad roads greeted us as soon as we broke off from the town and entered the Devikulam valley route. Covering 10km took us almost an hour. In stretches, half the road had fallen away and one side of the traffic had to wait while the other side passed by on the narrow stretch. We stopped at a couple of places to explore the surrounding tea estates and take in the views. There was this one fantastic place where I literally dropped anchor for the next half an hour near Devikulam. A panorama of tea plantation hills surrounded us on almost all sides, looking like a carpet of green. Devikulam valley was definitely one of the most beautiful places I have visited till date.


On the way to Devikulam
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Green carpets
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One of the many viewpoints at Devikulam
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The plethora of potholes on the road accompanied us all the way till Lockheart gap, one of the highest points in South India, where we stopped for a short break and some pictures. After a hot cup of tea and some Bhel puri in the fog, we retraced our path to Devikulam, where I took some more pictures and proceeded. Just after Devikulam, we spotted a decent looking resort out of nowhere, bang in the middle of the jungle. It was called Las Palmas resort if I remember correctly. We had some decent lunch there, and came back to the estate route.


Conquering lockheart gap
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Lockheart Gap viewpoint, one of the highest points in Munnar
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A HDR image of the T-Jet
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We stopped at the town at a shop for homemade chocolates, spices, handicrafts, etc and then visited one more place called Chithirapuram, another green carpet area along the return route. This place was just 2 km from our resort entrance road so it didn't take long to snap a few pictures and get back. We were back to the safe confines of our resort by 4 pm. Meanwhile the evening skies had opened up to reveal a deep blue colour, contrasting brilliantly with the greenery around. The sunlight lit up the entire place producing fantastic hues all around the place. The camera was at work again.


The picturesque tea plantations at Chithirapuram
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The blue skies and the sunlight creating magical images in the evening
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With a heavy dinner and some homemade wine to wash it down, day 2 came to a close.

Last edited by KarthikK : 5th December 2011 at 23:31.
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Old 5th December 2011, 01:32   #3
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Default Re: The Jet flies to Munnar : A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

Day 3 - Completing Munnar - the stereotypical tourist-haunted spots - Matupetty dam, Echo point, Kundale lake, Top Station, Tata tea museum, British church, Pothamedu viewpoint

I woke up early by around 5.30am, took along the camera bag and went out for a 3 km hike down to Athukkad waterfalls alone. It was just about to become dawn, luckily I managed to capture the early morning in all its glory here inside pallivasal.

A strange looking bird chirping merrily
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Hairpins along the descent route from Pallivasal estate to Athukkad falls
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The road runs along in hairpins while descending to the falls. For walkers, there are stone steps bypassing the hairpins and directly climbing down through the tea plantation . The steps were quite steep and were infested with leeches so I was a bit wary of standing too long at any single place while amidst the plants. After a half hour walk, I was at the bottom of the valley overlooking Athukkad waterfalls. This was the white falls that was visible from our cottage balcony all along. It was quite a powerful waterfall with water coming through in massive force, raising plumes of mist into the surrounding air. The water then flowed down the valley, amidst boulders and into a stream. Nonetheless it was a beautiful sight to behold. I was all alone down there, not a single soul in sight. Just the waterfall's gushing sound, the misty air, and the fragrance of being amidst greenery. The sound of chirping birds here and there filled the morning air. Ah, the simpler pleasures of life.

Athukkad waterfalls in full glory
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The left stream of the falls, this was the part visible from our cottage
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Water from Athukkad falls, flowing downhill
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While I was on the bridge, the cloud invasion happened again. This time it was even more mind-boggling. In minutes, even before I saw it coming, it had engulfed the place completely. I could hardly see anything even 5 metres away. Being engulfed in clouds and getting blinded was fun. After 10 minutes of the dense fog and mist, the cloud started to move away and the foggy landscape slowly cleared up to reveal the sky. I couldn't resist capturing the magnificent sights of the departing mist down at the valley.


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Cloud invasion!
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Departing clouds cause a temporary 'clear' phase at the valley
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Soon it was time to go back up the hill, I had to climb 3 km uphill which seemed a daunting task on those steep steps. To make things worse, I hadn't brought a water bottle along either. Along the way, I spotted 2 fabulous waterfalls playing hide and seek with the greenery, and couldn't resist getting down into them to take a couple of snaps. Any deviation from the tarred road was enough to send people scurrying back due to the astounding amount of leeches amongst the plants. The greenery was infested with these pests and the moment I entered the soil near the waterfall, they were ready to begin the attack. Thankfully, I was armed with salt powder to combat it. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Time to appreciate the pretty little waterfalls.


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A waterfall in a clearing
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Taking shortcuts through the steep tea plantations
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A view from the bottom of the valley, looking up
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Yet another waterfall in yet another clearing
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After the 3+3 km hike, huffing and puffing up the steep incline, I managed to reach the resort and freshened up. We then headed down to the restaurant for breakfast. It was another Kerala speciality - Oothappam with chutney and sagu. We thoroughly enjoyed breakfast and proceeded to embark on the day's programme. Now the third day was different. I wasn't going to like all of it. There were 4-5 places which were tourist hot spots. Nothing much to see. Just places hyped up and crowded by all tourists. The typical 'see-pollute-make noise-commercialize it' kind of places. The resort manager warned us not to take our car because parking was very haphazard in these crowded places and private cars were a hassle. I decided to play it safe and opted for a cab to take us to this route and bring us back in the evening. It proved to be a good decision, because we had to stop later for shopping in the local town market, and the cab driver could park elsewhere and wait in the meanwhile.

The cab arrived by 9 am. The driver introduced himself as Mr. Arun. He was a friendly young chap, pretty knowledgeable about the town and the tourist spots. After a little chat with him in Tamil, he completely opened up and started chattering about the places in Munnar. We reached Matupetty dam by 10.30am. It was an overcrowded place just like any other dam in south India. There was nothing much to see here, so we headed to the next place.

Symmetric tree arrangements within a plantation
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This tree had hundreds of beehives! Ouch!
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Eucalyptus forests on the way to Matupetty dam
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At Matupetty dam
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A panoramic view at Matupetty dam
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Deforestation! On the way to Echo point.
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Last edited by KarthikK : 5th December 2011 at 23:32.
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Old 5th December 2011, 01:39   #4
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Default Re: The Jet flies to Munnar: A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

My next stop was at Echo Point, a kind of lake with a thick forest visible on the other side. There is a natural echo phenomenon here and needless to say, loads of tourists were trying to scream out things and listen to the echoes coming back at them. We didn't spend too much time here, except for a couple of screams and some pictures to take back.

At Echo point
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We proceeded next to Kundale lake. Here it started pouring cats and dogs and we couldn't spend much time, apart from stopping for a cup of hot masala chai. The age old machinery which was used to control the dam's water gates, are still visible, although it isn't being used anymore.


Captured what appears to be a 2-headed horse
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Serene waters at Kundale lake
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Age-old dam machinery still present at Kundale lake
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The last stop on this road was Top Station, the place which produces the world's finest tea. It was a high altitude place and was supposed to give a good view, but unfortunately the rain showed no signs of stopping. It was raining so heavily, that we couldn't even get out of the car at Top Station.

Bird's eye view of vegetable plantations
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A cow grazes in the rain, at an idyllic village near Top station.
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This is all that was visible at Top station
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After the visits on the Top Station route, we got back to Munnar town by 1 pm. The roads were silky smooth along the top station route, in stark contrast to the other roads around Munnar. Obviously, the road maintenance authorities only cater to that section of tourism which visits those stereotyped places in hordes, and they ignore the rest of the (more scenic) routes. Sigh!

Lunch at Munnar was completed at one 'Hotel Srininvas veg.' the only decent looking one at the town shopping centre. After lunch, Arun took us to Tata's tea museum a kilometre from the town. It was crowded with tourists. We had to purchase tickets, after which we were directed to a room where they were showing some informative documentary about Munnar's legacy in the tea-making industry and life of the workers in Munnar's tea plantations. After this, one person, a guide there took us to the factory's machinery and showed us how tea leaves are cut up, processed, powdered and dried to make tea powder. He also explained how tea is categorized into different grades and price points


Entering the crowded Tata Tea museum
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A mock assembly line at the museum
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And the finished tea being loaded into sacks for transportation
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View of a part of Munnar town from the tea museum
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After the museum visit, we went to visit a 70 year old church set up by the British babus here in the pre-independence era. It is located on a small hillock near the town. The church is now a historical sightseeing spot. We took a few pictures there and proceeded to our last sightseeing spot - Pothamedu view point. This road was a slight deviation from our return route and it climbed the adjacent mountain of the one on which our resort was located. It was hardly 2 km away. The view was again, breathtakingly beautiful. We spent half an hour at Pothamedu viewpoint, before deciding to wind up the visits for the day. It was half past 4. We bade goodbye to Arun and thanked him for showing us so many places, some that were not even in our initial plan.

The british era church is now a tourist hotspot
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Another bird's eye view of Munnar town
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Pictures at Pothamedu view point
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The hill resort was going through a cloud phase again when we returned. Everything was foggy that whole evening. I had nothing better to do so I walked out in the fog again, to try and find out what it is like to get lost in the mist. Here are a few pictures that I took in the eerie mist that evening.

Making our way back to our resort at Pallivasal tea estate
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Foggy evening at Aranyaka
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Turning into an Eerie place at dusk in the fog
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That night, the resort staff had organized a small fireworks show for the guests since it was Diwali. It was fun watching and lighting crackers 500km away from civilization, in the middle of this place. We had a light dinner that night and went to bed by 10 pm, since we had to drive back home the next day. The Munnar trip was over, well.. almost.

Last edited by KarthikK : 5th December 2011 at 23:33.
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Old 5th December 2011, 19:36   #5
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Default Re: The Jet flies to Munnar: A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

Day 4 - Making our way back from Heaven to earth


We were sorry that the trip was coming to an end. The fourth and final day was here. With a heavy heart, we packed up everything and I loaded it into the boot with some help from the bellboy at the resort. We requested for an early breakfast at 8am and walked in to the restaurant. There was some uber-delicious Appam with veg stew, another lip smacking Kerala delicacy. This place was a treat for foodies like us. We couldn't resist asking for extra helpings of the appam-stew.


The jet ready to takeoff for the return journey
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After settling the bill, filling up feedback forms and bidding goodbyes, we departed from Aranyaka by around 8.45 am on Friday. On the way out of the plantation, we stopped at the estate tea factory outlet and picked up some fresh tea packets


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But for a couple of stops at scenic viewpoints and waterfalls along the way, the return journey was otherwise uneventful. Of course, the sandalwood forests of Marayoor were mystical as usual, and warranted for a picture stop again. The ghat sections were completely clear of traffic at that time, since no one travels through from TN to Munnar during breakfast time (owing to the lack of eateries on that stretch). After 2 hours of driving, we were back on the plains. After those relentless forest checkpost stops, we were back at Udumalpet by 12 noon. I tanked up the car's fuel to suffice for the return journey, which was around 370km from Udumalpet to Bangalore.


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Treading through the sandalwood forests of Marayoor
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Udumalpet to Tiruppur was an uneventful drive again, with fantastic roads even on state highways. TN highway authorities definitely deserve a kudos for the the upkeep of all the highway roads in the state. The roads are flawless, not only the expressways and national highways but even the interior state highways. After a suggestion from MMI navigator on places to eat along the route, we zeroed in on A2B (Adyar Anand Bhavan) in Tiruppur and had our lunch there. It was a really hot afternoon. By the time we departed Tiruppur, it was around 2 pm. From Tiruppur, we took a bypass through the city to hit NH47, the Salem-Coimbatore Golden Quadrilateral expressway stretch, at exactly the same point where we had broken off on tuesday when going to Munnar.


Pitstop for lunch at A2B, Tiruppur
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Once we reached the expressway, the drive was boring on the flat out, straight expressway roads, in fact I would term it 'sleep inducing'. I maintained a constant speed of 100-110kmph throughout till Salem. Around evening time, we could see grey clouds closing in on us from the west. After Salem, the rain gods unleashed their fury. There was really heavy rain and I reduced speeds to safer confines of 60-70kmph. We stopped at another A2B after Salem, by around 6 pm. After this evening snack cum supper cum dinner, we resumed our journey in the rains. From my observation, the Golden Quadrilateral expressway is not well designed for rain water drainage. A lot of stagnant water tends to accumulate towards the right and left extremes of the expressway roads. Hitting that water at speeds is irritating because there is a sudden loss of grip and a sudden deceleration in the car. I kept my eyes glued to watch for water logged stretches and maintained position on the centre of the road as much as possible.

Krishnagiri bypass was through by 7 pm, after which the rains stopped and I could resume my initial pace. By 7.30 pm, Hosur was through and soon we were at the Karnataka border toll gate. We took the electronic city expressway again and reached Silk board by 8 pm. From Silk board signal, our house was a mere 3 km away. By 8.15 pm, we made our way through the cumbersome city traffic and got back to home sweet home.

A fantastic vacation had come to an end. We finally managed to tour Munnar the way we planned to. With that, it is now time to get back to the mundane city life once again, until the next opportunity to travel comes along.


Total distance covered = 1009km
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Fuel efficiency over the entire distance = 13.2 kmpl with A/C perpetually on!
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FE over individual stretches were as follows - Straights on the expressway - cruising at ~100kmph = 16.7 kmpl, In the ghat section = 14.5 kmpl


Average speed = 41 kmph including stops, hairpins, checkposts and expressways
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Total time spent in the car = 24 hours, 16 minutes
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Camera used = Nikon D5000, Lenses - 10-24mm wide angle, 18-55mm stock lens, 55-200mm telephoto zoom

Thanks for taking the time to read this travelogue. Hope it wasn't boring! Any suggestions are welcome

Last edited by KarthikK : 5th December 2011 at 23:34.
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Old 6th December 2011, 11:38   #6
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Default Re: The Jetflies to Munnar: A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

Thread moved here from Assembly line. Thanks for sharing the travelogue with us
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Old 6th December 2011, 12:05   #7
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Default Re: The Jetflies to Munnar: A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

Excellent write up and great pictures. I really liked the greenery set of pictures along with the waterfalls. Munnar has always been a paradise for travellers.

Thanks for bringing it on
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Old 6th December 2011, 12:07   #8
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Thumbs up Re: The Jetflies to Munnar: A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

Captain Karthik, Thanks for the wonderful flight.

It was a crisp travelogue with some fantastic snaps and the icing on the Cake is the Linea T-Jet. The FIAT's loves the twisties

My 5 stars added. Eagerly waiting for more flights in future

The rating is yet to reflect. Mod's pls check.

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Old 6th December 2011, 12:18   #9
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Default Re: The Jetflies to Munnar: A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

These are some of the stunning visuals I have seen in recent times anywhere.
Your photography skills are aptly supported by Nikon.
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Old 6th December 2011, 12:20   #10
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Default Re: The Jetflies to Munnar: A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

Awesome Review of your trip Karthik.

Its only Fair that you let the Jet Loose on thos Ghats that it was build for
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Old 6th December 2011, 13:05   #11
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Default Re: The Jetflies to Munnar: A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

Excellent pictures.Thoroughly enjoyed your writing and those lovely set of pictures.
Black linea looks awesome in front of those greeneries.
Most of the pics look like HDR? Are these HDR or you used some post processing?
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Old 6th December 2011, 13:26   #12
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Default Re: The Jetflies to Munnar: A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

Karthik,

So finally you completed that first elusive long drive! Great.
Nice snaps esp of the clouds at echo point.
The T-Jet must have really flown on the highway. The testimony is you reaching Udumalpet one and half hours earlier than planned!


Also I thought you must have taken the Perundurai-Kangeyam-Dharapuram-Udumalpet road.

- Did you break from NH47 at Chengenpalli or at Avinashi on your way to Tiruppur?
- How was Tiruppur town to cross? (I am told there many one ways and narrow roads in the town)
- I assume you must have taken Tiruppur-Palladam-Udumalpet road. How was Palladam-Udumalpet section? Last I heard it was very good.
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Old 6th December 2011, 15:32   #13
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Default Re: The Jetflies to Munnar: A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

Hi Karthik,

Short and sweet TL with excellent snaps!! Looks like we should make a visit in Jan/Feb to enjoy the mist!!
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Old 6th December 2011, 16:02   #14
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Default Re: The Jetflies to Munnar: A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

Excellent photography man!! I liked the natural vivid colours and the continuity of the waterfalls. Excellent travelogue accompanied by even better photography. Rated 5 stars
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Old 6th December 2011, 16:06   #15
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Default Re: The Jetflies to Munnar: A 1000km blast to god's own mountains

nice travelogue. reminded me of my honeymoon at Munnar.

I wish, there was the ability to "like" or "rate" individual pics. I just loved (I would have put 10 v's in the lo'v'ed if there was no restriction on posting rules) the side shot of your Linea, totally droolworthy!
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