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Old 26th March 2010, 19:24   #16
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@ampere- You are right, I noticed them only after uploading, was too tired to change! Will try to improve this time. CM was good, this is my first visit to their Thekkady facility. The rooms were wonderful and the staff were really friendly and courteous and we had great personal attention. Maybe it was off-season should really check out how they handle it during full house.

@venki.bala- Thats great! didn't have a chance to have veg food in this trip. Will try it out next time.

@surprise,@ElantraGT,@nickatnite - Cant agree with you more! was a fantastic drive!

The alarm woke us up @5am sharp. We woke up to the familiar sound of rain that has been pouring nonstop since we checked into Thekkady yesterday. Oh boy! That familiar situation we have repeatedly faced time and again in all our trips! I dont know if it is just bad luck, but most of our trips have been the RIGHT PLACE WRONG TIME! ng

Anyway, we were not in any mood to complain. We just sat in the verandah for a few mins watching the rains at dawn pondering what to do - brave the rains and goto the lake or just stay back in the cozy room comfort. Oh what the heck we thought, we'll give it a shot! Besides, we are already up! Soon we were ready and left for the lake.

On the way we were thinking it should be easy today as there would not be much of a tourist turnout owing to the rains. We were wrong! We were at the checkpost by 5.45 am and there was a decent pile of cars and vans waiting for their turn to get the entry as the park opens up only at 6am. There were these small shops open early to lure the first batch of tourists. And we were one of them! LAMBU was very particular we hire a set of binoculars to make sure we donot miss any chance of sighting! I was not sure if it would make sense plus the binocular guy was demanding Rs.250 for the one hour ride. Ah, I should have brought my Dad's! But anyway, WISDOM comes only by experience, right? Since we were left with no choice, after some hard bargaining we settled for Rs.150 and got it.

We then entered PERIYAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY and the drive inside, although a short one, was really captivating and refreshing! We parked at the lake and we told CHOTU, our financier for the trip(He's come from New Zealand to spend for us, remember?!!) to go on the line and buy tickets. We were thrown some free advice on the air to get tickets on the upper deck.(Which is true, I admit) Meanwhile, Lambu and myself were checking out the view of the lake and the mist. Meanwhile, Chotu came back with the tickets complaining of the unruly crowd! We cheered him up and headed for the jetty. We got into the boat and climbed up the upper deck and took seats(just plastic chairs!!) There was a guide who was guiding(controlling actually!) the crowd to be seated and giving instructions. There was some delay as we were waiting for another boat to join us(This one was specially arranged for the residents of Aranya Nivas, wonderful property by KTDC this one, check out Aranya Nivas, Thekkady, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Hotels, Accommodation, Premium Jungle Lodge, KTDC, Kerala, India).

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The rains have now stopped clearing the mist. The boat ride commenced and soon we were greeted by some soul captivating scenery around us! Guyz I'm telling you, if you ever plan on visiting Thekkady, this early morning boat safari is THE BEST! I cant put it on words here but just check out some photos here of what I'm talking about.

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Isnt this where 'Jiya jale' was shot??

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There were quite a few rare birds(all the ones besides the daily life sighting of Crow, Sparrow, etc. are rare to me, bird enthusiasts forgive me please!) whose names I dont know and dont remember even if somebody tells me, some deer at a long sight were the wildlife we could view.

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Just about half a kilometer into the lake and we could see a small island and some footsteps leading to it. As we approached closer, we could see a small jetty there and some people waiting. The boat that came along with us went there to pick them up. Curious, I asked the guide and he said that is Lake Palace.(This one is also run by KTDC Lake Palace, Thekkady, Hotels, Accommodation, Premium Heritage Jungle Lodge, Idukki, Kerala, India). Next time I'm staying here with my wifey, I thought!

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The journey continued further deep into the forests and Lambu was really busy shooting the scenes.(All these pics at the lake are courtesy to him). I was trying to utilize the binoculars we rented to the maximum! There will be a sudden spur of whispers from the crowd and everybody will be looking at that direction hoping to spot something. After about half an hour, luck favored us as there were a bunch of elephants standing by the waters. That was also the spot where the boat made its U-turn and almost everybody onboard were leaning to one side to spot them and take pictures. (Just a note of caution here - I think this is the behavior that resulted in the boat capsize exactly a month after our trip as everybody tries to lean to one side causing the boat to loose its control while turning around, imagine during peak season when the boat is crowded, sad!) The boat halted there for sometime as the elephants were posing nicely for our photosession.

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Soon they started their way back into the forests as they should have got bored looking at us and we continued our journey back to the jetty. Nothing interesting on the way back happened than we just came to the lower deck and stood by the railings close to the water enjoying the breeze and slight drizzle.
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We were back to the jetty and soon were out of the reserve returning our binoculars and back at the resort at 9am. We were mighty hungry and so headed straight to the restaurant for some heavy breakfast! had the usual South Indian fare of idly, dosa, etc and some continental stuff. And we were back to the room and managed to catch some sleep we missed last night.

continued in next post as I ran out of space for more pictures-
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Old 26th March 2010, 19:58   #17
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NOTE to the MODS - Please post this one after my other submission or will lose order.

We woke up around noon, got ready and headed to the reception to inquire our next attraction. Since the tourist planner of the resort was busy guiding somebody already, we thought of asking the beautiful lady at the reception instead of waiting. The receptionist suggested Ramakkalmedu and was all praise for the scenery and view. He then got us directions from the tourist planner in the resort. We had a light lunch and started out of the resort.

We made the turn towards Munnar and form thereon we just blindly followed the directions given by the resort guy(honestly I neither remember them now, nor can I redo the stretch without guidance) and had to make few turns and with the help of local people, we could make it to Ramakkalmedu in about 2hours(I think the distance was about 40km). We parked the car where we saw some vehicles were already parked and looked around. We could spot some people atop a peak and could see some structure there. So we headed for it. It was an easy trek up and we could sense the wind currents getting stronger and stronger! Finally we were up there and felt like the wind will carry us away.

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The view from top-

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We keep finding churches!!

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The windmills -

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And...the 3 IDIOTS!!!

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After clicking some, we found a bunch of rocks by the edge of the cliff and picked a seat there and spent some silent time there sinking in the view and the breeze. Fortunately, rains favored us by not showing up!

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We then decided to leave as we wanted to get back before it gets dark. We really didn't think we could find our way back so we asked the local tea shop of any other easy way to Thekkady and he suggested to take the Puliyamala route. As Puliyamala is enroute Munnar to Thekkady, once we reach Puliyamala, then we do not have to bother making any turns. The other reason is the tank was already close to empty and we did not want to be caught in the middle of nowhere with wildlife for our company! The tea shop guy also suggested that the nearest gas station was in Puliyamala only. We were hoping that it will last until then and headed for it (Early Swift owners know that there is NO FUEL WARNING INDICATOR in it, so if you are not cautious, you will end up with a dry tank!). As soon as we entered Puliyamala, we found the first gas station and I just filled up partially as I did not want to take risk with the quality of fuel. There was this Swaraj Mazda truck that was also filling up and I just inquired him the route to Kumuly. He said he is headed there and asked us to follow him. We did for about 15 odd kms and man, he seemed to know the route and was really keeping a good pace inspite of being a truck. But there was an uphill and he had to slow down so he just let me pass(good guy huh!) telling me to keep it straight on the road. We reached vandanmedu junction and decided to stop for the Kerala Kattanchaya! Having some egg puff for company, it was simply great for the weather! The road conditions were excellent with newly laid tarmac and so I just took it easy and there was a lot of discussions/chat all the way back until we reached Kumuly and then to the resort.

Puliyamala to Kumuly -

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The Swift resting at the resort parking lot -

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I called to check if the massage therapist was available, and he was. So went for the massage and had a good whole body one for about an hour and half.
We then had some good quality time among us catching up a lot of nostalgic moments from college. Dinner followed late by about 10pm. The restaurant was all for us as everybody have retired by then. We took a walk in the slight drizzle after dinner and then settled back in the room tired and happy for the day.


And that is MISSION ACCOMPLISHED - DAY 2!

The rest is next...
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Old 26th March 2010, 19:59   #18
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Very nice. Reminds me of my last Kabini water ride. Just that I did not see any elephants.

Good to hear CM was great. What are their charges?
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Old 26th March 2010, 20:05   #19
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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Very nice. Reminds me of my last Kabini water ride. Just that I did not see any elephants.

Good to hear CM was great. What are their charges?
Yeah they decide when to show up, don't they?!

I'm a member so I didn't have to pay any. But nivalink says they charge about Rs5500/night.
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Old 27th March 2010, 20:09   #20
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Okay Day 3 dawned and Lambu said, “It’s the last day of the trip!” Yeah true, nobody likes THE LAST DAY and I’m no exception. But I had other plans when I started thinking how to make this day LOOOONNNNNG! I kept the thought to myself and we got ready to pack and leave.

Came out for breakfast and had a brief photo session in the resort premises(Some of which I’ve already posted in my Day 1 post).

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We then asked CHOTU, our financier, to settle the restaurant bills at the reception, while me and Lambu went back to the room to pick up our luggage and see if we have left anything. Soon we were at the reception and bid farewell to the courteous staff members at CM and left the place.

Just out of the resort, I threw my idea – “Guys, What do you say we take the route to Munnar from here and then to Erode? we get to spend more time and I promise you that the scenery will be fantastic, What do you say?” I just did not believe I said this, having fully known the distance involved! But I DID!

Lambu was excited hearing the word “MUNNAR” and since he’s never been there was all game for it! Chotu didn’t care much as he was engaged in continuous phone calls with his folks back home discussing something important.

So I made the left turn to Munnar and there was this board – Munnar 103km. Lambu got cautious and asked me how long it will take. It was 10am then, so I answered we should be there at about 12-12.30max. Then he asked how long is it to Erode from there and I said it should take about 5 hours. He was convinced as he thought we’ll still make it to Erode by 5-6.

Well, he had his reasons to worry because he had to take a bus to Salem once reaching Erode and then a KPN from Salem to Bangalore leaving at 11.30pm.

So all set for a beautiful drive! Just a crazy thought crossed my mind that “I hope there is no flat tire “. I did not say it out loud as I did not want to freak him out. The road was fantastic till we reached Puliyamala.

And then we took a diversion to Anayirankal. The road conditions were not great with lots of potholes and with rain frequenting, it was proving to be even harder. But the scenery was top class! I knew the drive would be good, but wow! Basically little or no traffic and the travel through scenic chilly rainy kerala ghat sections – priceless!

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It was getting colder and colder as I had to frequently puff my hands with hot air from my mouth every now and then as my hands will freeze upon holding the steering.
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We reached Anayirankal by 1145 and joined the Madurai-Cochin NH49 route to Munnar. There was some decent traffic and soon we were behind a brand new VW Jetta. I initially thought of passing him, but being a natural admirer of beauty, I just stayed behind him watching this black beauty on wheels!

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to be continued in next post..
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Old 27th March 2010, 21:34   #21
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Soon the scenery turned all green as we were amidst tea estates and Lambu was too excited like a kid and was enjoying it totally. I just kept my eyes on wheels as the road stretches were narrow and with rains and slush, it was slippery. The Pirelli on my SWIFT had done about 38k and were not that great when it comes to mud and slush.

Tea Country-

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The Jetta in front of me was driving too cautious as he would brake to almost halt whenever there is an oncoming vehicle. It was irritating to follow him as I use very less braking generally. So Reality got over Fantasy and I passed him.

We went past the Club Mahindra Munnar at Chinnakanal and stopped at the Periyakanal waterfalls. Because of the rains, the water currents were heavy and there was a decent crowd. We stopped to take pictures and the time was already 12.20pm. Lambu asked me, “How long is Munnar from here?” I said ”Not far”!! He said “Okay so what we are late only by 30mins or so?”!! I did not answer that and just focused on my driving.

Club Mahindra Munnar -

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Water everywhere-

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Periyakanal Falls-

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Happy to be part of-

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Soon we were at this narrow stretch where only one vehicle can pass at a time. I’m sure fellow travelers who’ve been to Munnar would definitely know this stretch. (I remember in one of my previous trips to Munnar in a Bolero, a friend mine was driving and we just came across a transport corporation bus descending head on at this point. We had already stopped and this bus had to slam on his brakes and it slowed and slowed and finally came to a screeching halt just inches before our Bolero! We then backed up to a broader stretch and let him pass)

There was heavy mist covering the roads and everywhere beyond this point and the visibility was minimal. Thrilling!

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We passed through a Tea factory owned by TATA(Well most of them in Munnar infact).

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We were at Munnar at 1pm. It was pouring heavily. We just stopped at the marketplace for some shopping (Spices, Tea and the BEST Strawberry Jam!!) to show our family that we care! I know a Jeep driver there whom I used to hire every time I visit CM Munnar. I went and enquired for him at the jeep stand in the marketplace. All I remember was his name. So I asked “Is Ravi around?” I got back a question- “Which Ravi?” and then they referred to a couple of different number plates of the vehicles both Ravis drive. I had no clue so I resorted to explaining them his physique. Seeming to have identified, they said – “He’s gone on a line, Sir. What is the matter, Sir?” (Taxi lingo for trip – line). I said “Nothing, I just know him” and left the place at about 1.15.

To be continued in the next post..
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Old 28th March 2010, 12:06   #22
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You never get tired of Munnar. The shots look even better during the drizzle. On top of it the Munnar/Udumalpetai drive is awesome from a scenic beauty standpoint ! You just enjoy the falls falling through a distant glory in the background of egg headed tea gardens !

Amazing !
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Old 28th March 2010, 16:17   #23
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ah you just brought back some good old memories of college days my friend, had gone there with few friends at college summer break, thekkedy and munnar were some good days we spent.
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Old 30th March 2010, 13:57   #24
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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
You never get tired of Munnar. The shots look even better during the drizzle. On top of it the Munnar/Udumalpetai drive is awesome from a scenic beauty standpoint ! You just enjoy the falls falling through a distant glory in the background of egg headed tea gardens !

Amazing !
Yes with constant drizzling and misty tea gardens around you, it was a sight to behold! Yes Munnar-Udumalpet drive is awesome but Munnar-Thekkady is even better! You should definitely try it!
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Old 30th March 2010, 14:00   #25
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ah you just brought back some good old memories of college days my friend, had gone there with few friends at college summer break, thekkedy and munnar were some good days we spent.
YES those NOSTALGIC moments! The only hay days of our otherwise monotonous lifestyle! And once you move into the family life, it becomes extremely difficult to plan trips with your friends. How many ever trips I make, this one will remain close to my heart for that reason!
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Old 30th March 2010, 14:53   #26
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Hey Luvurride, I am not able to see the photos in the post#22. Do you mind reuploading them?
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Old 31st March 2010, 00:51   #27
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@ElantraGT here you go...

MODS - This is a repost of my #22 with pictures reloaded.

Rains were not stopping and soon we were passing Eravikulam National Park, famous for Nilgiri Tahr. (It is a variety of deer, but it looks like a goat and local name is ‘Varai Aadu’. Aadu-Goat) It is one of the endangered species and is hence raised in this protected environment. The drive up there in their bus and the walk to the top is an out of the world experience! We could not do it this time as were hard pressed for time. So we continued our journey.

Some pictures form the road-

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Soon the rains slowed down and I pumped up to catch up with time. My right leg ankle showed some strain of continuous driving in the ghats.(Its been almost 150kms).

We passed through Marayoor which has a large natural Sandalwood forest, heavily protected with fencing. There was this Zen who kept up pace with us in this stretch.

It was already close to 2.45pm and Lambu was suspicious! I don’t balme him as we were still driving in the mountains and yet to see some solid plain terrain! He then asked, “Are we still in Kerala?” I said “Yes”. He asked, “When do we get into Tamilnadu?” I said, “Don’t worry buddy, you’ll know when you see it!” We were soon at Chinnar at the checkpost. After the customary entry in their notebook with details, we proceeded. Spotting the dry landscape, Lambu said, “So we are in Tamilnadu now, huh?!” I said, “I told you you’ll know! You are absolutely correct!!”

A view from the road of a distant waterfall-

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We then got to the foothills by around 3.45pm and reached Udumalpet at 4.20pm. So much for a dirve, but I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it!

We had skipped lunch as we had a heavy breakfast and didn’t want to lose time. Now, 430 was kind of odd to have lunch or dinner. So we had some tendercoconuts and proceeded to Dharapuram.

Udumalpet to Dharapuram is about 45 kms and the road was moderate. So we reached Dharapuram by 5.20, entered the by pass and were at the Kangeyam road. This stretch is very straight but I noticed they’ve laid a lot of speed bumps through it.

Entered Kangeyam at 6pm and our stomachs were literally crying out loud! We stopped at a small local joint as Lambu in particular and all of us in general are really fond of South Indian Parottas with Chalna/Kuruma. Relished a great dinner and left for Erode at 6.30. I love this stretch as it is a good tar with trees lined on both sides, plus my house is on that road! We were back at my house by 7.15pm and soon they left to drop Lambu at the bus stand. SO WE HAD DONE ABOUT 200 ODD KMS of HARDCORE MOUNTAIN DRIVING!!

I had my inlaws visiting that evening and since they were already there when we arrived, didn’t get much of a chance to recoup the great drive we just then had taken!

But it did sink in the next day – Long drive, Exotic place, Moody weather and Friends for company - the feeling was simply GREAT!

That’s it my dear friends, I’ve tried to put together my first ever post in this forum and a travelogue! I hope it was atleast half interesting to read through!
CHEERS!!
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Old 31st March 2010, 00:57   #28
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look at that zoom photo of the waterfalls. What did you carry? Digital SLR with a huge zoom lens or the hubble telescope?
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Old 31st March 2010, 02:04   #29
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look at that zoom photo of the waterfalls. What did you carry? Digital SLR with a huge zoom lens or the hubble telescope?
It was the Lumix FZ35(my friend's) but with just the stock zoom. Yeah we were amazed at the quality too after taking this picture in zoom.
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Old 31st March 2010, 06:24   #30
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Nice snaps of the fall. Amazing zoom. Also the wet snaps look good.
Munnar to Udumalpet is like one wanting to stop every now and then to take snaps.
It really slows you down.

If you are going the opposite way to Munnar, then there is a constraint.
One needs to reach the top before dark and hence cant afford to stop every now and then.
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