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Old 19th October 2014, 13:02   #1
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Default Monsoon - To the Sky Cottage, Munnar

The travel ‘keeda’ (bug) which had been biting relentlessly thanks to tons of travelogues in teambhp, had grown bigger than ever. It was time to cool that itch. And it came that time of the year when all of us in ‘gelf’ visit our native. Schools were closed, the heat was unbearable and air fares at premium. Nevertheless, like everyone else, we too made it to The God’s Own Country.

I always envied those who make it to the mighty mountains frequently as if it was on their backyard. Although the long cherished dream of Juley Ladakh couldn’t materialise due to paucity of time and other family commitments, instead of butter chai, we settled for our own Munnar chai. So we embarked on a Kollam - Thekkady – Munnar – Thrissur – Kollam drive.

This can’t be termed as a travelogue, ‘cause there are no logs. We set off very early in the morning following Google maps, which froze somewhere after Ranny and upon restarting; it re-directed us through some narrow roads winding through rubber estates. After some ‘where are we?’ driving, finally we joined the Erumeli road and reached Thekkady by 12pm with one stop for breakfast in Peermadu.
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Valanjamkanam water falls
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View from Rose Garden Residency, Peermedu.

We checked in at the KTDC Periyar House. The place was quiet as it was offseason. It felt like nothing had changed for last quarter century. Everything looked the same since I last visited the place when I was a child. However, the rooms were decent, within budget and moreover inside a ‘Reserve’. Well don’t keep high hopes of spotting wildlife here unless you opt for the Lake Palace.

Post lunch, we collected our boating tickets, and walked to the boating area. The place was unexpectedly crowded. We should have taken the morning boating session to avoid crowd. After the ‘check-in’, we were seated in the boat with life jackets adorning us.
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Three for a company.
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Hardly a shelter from rain.
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Two on a twig.
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Hope monkey's could read that.

Boating was disappointing since all we managed to see was some deer and ducks. The cat remained elusive as always and the mighty mammoth did not show up.

Far more disappointing was the behavior of the new ‘entha bro’ (what’s up bro) generation and their pesky attitude. So much for God’s own country.

Back at hotel we walked around the peaceful surroundings while our daughter played in the small park. Monkeys were obedient this time I guess. After a buffet dinner, and another walk in the night enjoying the quietness of the forest, we retired for the day.

With nothing much to do in the morning, we woke up late, had breakfast and took a stroll again and by 10 am we checked out and left for Munnar.
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No. Its not the bridge to Tarbathia.

I did not entirely rely on Google maps for the route to Thekkady and directions were sought the old way. So we took the Nedumkandam – Udumbanchola - Poopara – Devikulam route and reached Munnar by 4pm. The roads were very good except for patches here and there and very scenic and involving to drive.
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Long winding roads to Munnar
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Tea estates everywhere
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The most beautiful scenery in the Thekkady - Munnar route.

We went to KFDC office which is located in the floriculture centre to book Sky Cottage. It wasn't pre-booked. The staffs were very helpful and the HoD explained us the features and the demerits of staying in Sky Cottage. It was predetermined that we will stay in Sky Cottage so nothing was going to turn us back. We booked it for the next day and checked in to Marthomma Retreat, a nice place run by Marthoma Church overlooking Munnar town. After a stroll in Munnar town, we called it a day.

We had chosen to skip Ramakkelmedu, Kanthalloor and Marayoor so next day morning was relaxed, had breakfast in Saravana Bhavan and headed to KDHP Tea Museum just to show our daughter the tea manufacturing process. Otherwise it is wise to skip.

From Tea Museum we returned to floriculture center and reported at the KFDC office.
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Flowers at floriculture center.

Our guide came a short while later and we left for Sky Cottage. On the way he asked if we want to go sightseeing. Although I was reluctant initially, later I agreed. So we drop in at the Echo point and the Top Station.
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Echo point panaroma
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View from Top station

From Top station we took the Koviloor – Vattavada – Kundala – Chunduvarai circuit. And the fun began there. It was the most scenic route of all.
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Koviloor panaorma
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Vattavada

Our guide’s plan was to take us to Sky Cottage by 4pm, but my numerous photo breaks and slow driving threw his plan out. Well, the estate road is nothing more than a trail. It looks like it was paved years ago and washed out by rain. But the beautiful view on either side was worth the effort.
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Somewhere in Chunduvarai estate
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The ride

By 6pm, we reached the Munnar – Topstation highway and proceeded towards Echo point from where we took the deviation into estate road towards Arivikad Tea Estate. The base camp of Sky Cottage is 7km from Echo Point out of which almost 5 km is of good paved estate road. The remaining 2 kms is through forest on roads paved of rock and one needs a vehicle with good ground clearance. 4x4 is not a must. Drive was scary and entirely relying on guide’s directions.

We reached base camp at around 8.30pm. It was cold, windy and raining. The caretakers had already set the camp fire and it was so good to treat ourselves to the warmth.
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Camp fire at base camp.

After a delicious (but spicy – we were told later than they make less spicy if requested ) dinner of Chappathi, chicken curry, rice, vegetable and dessert, which we ate out heart out, we began our half a km trek to Sky Cottage which is further up in the hills.

Last edited by Dhar's : 6th November 2014 at 19:08.
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Old 6th November 2014, 19:27   #2
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Default Monsoon - To the Skycottage, Munnar

We packed a small backpack with only the required items, made sure the vehicle was parked safe, and followed the guide into the wild. I was so glad to carry a flash light. Just after the base camp compound, we crossed an electric fencing and were completely inside the forest.

Scaring is an understatement. Treading carefully, making no noise and listening to the sounds of forest, watching to see any movements on the ground, praying to the almighty, we walked. About 20mins of walk brought us to the Sky Cottage.

It’s a small house. The ground floor has a hall, a kitchen (not furnished) and a bathroom. We went upstairs to the bedroom. A room with all three sides of glass and a small area of glass roof as well. The glass roof is stained, so can’t see anything through it though. The washroom was mediocre and not upto standards. As the officers in KFDC had warned that there was no room heater and geyser. And it was freezing cold. However they provided us with blankets and sleeping bags.

WARNING!
This place is no way a star facility. If you need cozy rooms, LED TV’s, Jacuzzi or even hot water, this is not the place. The cottage badly requires maintenance. With no soul to see or hear in half a km, this is not for the faint heart either. This place is only for those who wish to be with nature. For those who seeks solitude, away from the concrete jungles. But you can't escape from facebook/twitter there. GSM coverage is available up there in Sky Cottage but not in base camp. So there is not way to contact anyone in base camp over phone.

Time to sleep and we laid the sleeping bags on the bed, slipped into it, and covered ourselves with blanket to keep warm. It was that cold. Wind was blowing with all its might and it felt that we were in midst of a storm. But thankfully, the cottage held strong.

Next day morning, we woke up late. The guide brought us morning tea. A trek to Meesapulimala was ruled out due to rain and the fact that we were late already. So we decided to stay in the cottage itself and roam around nearby.
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Inside Sky Cottage
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Sky cottage. It's near a cliff and the other side is a water fall.
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Water fall can be seen from the bed room as well.
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Forest behind the cottage
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Trail towards cottage
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The 'steps' to cottage
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A mini hydro-electric plant which powers the base camp and sky cottage.

By 10am, had our breakfast in the base camp and returned to the cottage. We spend some time around the cottage and by 1pm, packed up and returned to the base camp for lunch. The lunch was again delicious but spicy. After customary photo session, we returned to Munnar.
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Tea estates

We dropped the guide at Munnar and then proceeded to Thrissur to meet our friend and then returned home via Guruvayur.
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Road towards Cochin.

We had bought some ‘home made chocolates’ from one of the shops in Munnar. It was not as good as one would expect. The beautiful sceneries of vattavada – koviloor and sky cottage will be cherished for a lifetime.

Last edited by Dhar's : 6th November 2014 at 19:29.
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Old 7th November 2014, 12:30   #3
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Default re: Monsoon - To the Sky Cottage, Munnar

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 7th November 2014, 12:57   #4
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Default re: Monsoon - To the Sky Cottage, Munnar

Wow, nice photos. The rose garden residency - is it the one between kuttikkanam and peermade?

Have never heard about the sky cottage before - thanks for the pointer

--Anoop
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Old 7th November 2014, 22:08   #5
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Default Re: Monsoon - To the Sky Cottage, Munnar

Quote:
Originally Posted by theexperthand View Post
Wow, nice photos. The rose garden residency - is it the one between kuttikkanam and peermade?

Have never heard about the sky cottage before - thanks for the pointer

--Anoop
Thank you.

Yes, it is. While going towards Peermadu, on the right side perched on a cliff. Just good enough for a simple one menu breakfast.

The cottage is an eco tourism project by Kerala Forest Development Corporation Ltd.
http://munnar.kfdcecotourism.com/
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Old 12th December 2014, 01:24   #6
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Default Re: Monsoon - To the Sky Cottage, Munnar

These are some great pics from around Munnar .. however I thought its just a primer more should have been coming!!!

And yes .. the cottage option looks awesome, will definitely keep that on my note.
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Old 12th December 2014, 07:40   #7
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Default Re: Monsoon - To the Sky Cottage, Munnar

Beautiful travelogue, Munnar is a wonderful place to be. It's a blessing for us in case if we need a place to escape from heat & of course for a beautiful drive too.
Why you miss Vagamon ? You could then went to trissur via Todupuzha- Perumbavoor route.
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Old 14th December 2014, 00:00   #8
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Default Re: Monsoon - To the Sky Cottage, Munnar

Quote:
Originally Posted by deepv View Post
These are some great pics from around Munnar .. however I thought its just a primer more should have been coming!!!

And yes .. the cottage option looks awesome, will definitely keep that on my note.
Thanks deepv!
More photos were not possible due to rains.
KSFDC has come up with Rhoda Mansion in Rhodo valley. Might as well check that out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.ASG View Post
Beautiful travelogue, Munnar is a wonderful place to be. It's a blessing for us in case if we need a place to escape from heat & of course for a beautiful drive too.
Why you miss Vagamon ? You could then went to trissur via Todupuzha- Perumbavoor route.
Thanks Mr. ASG!
Including Vagamon in the itinerary meant one more day which was not possible due to other commitments. But would definitely make it some other time.
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