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Old 1st November 2018, 15:16   #1
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Default Weekend drive to Munnar & Kotagiri! Mesmerizingly & bewitchingly beautiful

Prologue

My mother is here in town (Bangalore) and we wanted to take her out for a weekend retreat. Both Atul and I were tremendously busy with our office work that we hardly had time to spend with Mom. She has never been to Munnar and have heard a lot about the beauty of that place. Hence we decided to see if we could take her to Munnar over the weekend and spend some quality time as a family.

However, Atul was very apprehensive about traveling to Kerala after the natural calamity the state endured in the last couple of months. Though the state is now in the path of recovery and opening up to tourism once again, a lot of apprehensions have been doing the rounds about the current situation in Munnar and its accessibility for tourists to have a good time with not much hassle. There were many questions floating around and no one was in a state of providing proper guidance and answer. This finally led us to travel to Munnar and understand the situation all by ourselves.

This was also that time after 12 years, the monumental event of blooming of the Neelakurinji flowers all across the shola forests of the Western Ghats, mostly around Munnar and its valleys. These shrubs are purplish blue flower which only blooms once in 12 years in the lush hills of Munnar, providing a fascinating glamour. Hence, we left this was the great time to go explore Munnar and witness the experience of seeing these beautiful flowers, not something that we would like to miss out on.

Our plan was to drive in the week of 2nd Oct Tuesday, which was a national holiday and if we took Monday as leave, it would mean having four days to plan for this trip. We also clubbed in Kotagiri as one of the places to visit apart from Munnar, to go see the Kodanadu Viewpoint (have been there twice but someone recently told us that it has a splendid view off late and we should definitely go). Immediately, Atul and I logged into Goibibo app and booked our stay, 2 nights in Munnar and 1 night in Kotagiri. Hotels were filling up too soon for Munnar so we had to settle in for a stay in Chinnakanal, 21kms away from actual Munnar town. Got good hotel deals and booked our hotels eventually.

Some quick bytes from our drive:

Drivers: Atul and I
Car: Chevrolet Beat LT (O)
Dates: 29th Sep, 30th Sep, 1st Oct and 2nd Oct
Route taken: BTM > Salem > Dindigul > Theni > Chinnakanal > Munnar > Marayoor > Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary > Udumalpet > Annur > Mettupalayam > Kotagiri > Avinashi > Erode > Salem > BTM
Distance covered: 1400 kms approx.
Total expenditure (for three people) – Rs 21743 (Hotel – Rs 4696, Petrol – Rs 8178, Food – Rs 5009, Toll – Rs 820, Extra (parking, guide, jeep) – Rs 3040)

Last edited by Aditya : 25th November 2018 at 16:47. Reason: Expenditure part edited
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Old 19th November 2018, 21:44   #2
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Default Re: Munnar is still so mesmerizingly and bewitchingly beautiful – weekend drive to Munnar and Kotagi

Day 1 – 29/09/2018 (BTM to Chinnakanal – 520 kms)

Like any other ride/drive, we did most of our packing for the trip well in advance with just minor touch-ups towards the end of the day. Skiddy was already half way tank full so we agreed upon having a full tank on our way, whenever needed. Mom was also completely ready with packing, she took some snacks, biscuits, food items and other things required for the trip (it is always helpful to have Mothers around as they know exactly what is needed, how to pack stuff and be completely organized). All of us woke up around 4:30am in the morning, got ready, stuffed the luggage inside the car, locked the home and sharp by 5:30am we started our trip. It was a nice pleasant morning, sun yet to hit the ground and dense traffic even at that point of time. We rolled down our windows, enjoyed the cool breeze fluently flowing inside and devotional music playing in the background (thanks to FM 91.9 – we always play this frequency when we are on a drive early morning, just to help start with a soothing journey).

We took the elevated expressway in order to save time as traffic was piling up on the main road. We paid toll at the expressway and then at Attibele before we finally exited Karnataka border and entered Tamil Nadu. Until we reached Krishnagiri town, traffic was a bit dense with too many trucks and vehicles on the highway, even the toll booth at Krishnagiri had a long queue. Once this was done and we took the highway towards Salem, the number of vehicles became less and it was a smooth drive. We kept driving until we were some 20kms away from Salem town and stopped to have our breakfast, it was almost close to 8:45am. This is one of the regular place we halt for our breakfast, ordered idly vada, ghee masala dosa and pongal. Somehow the food today was not upto the expectations, it was served cold and had no taste at all. We gulped down the food, took cups of tea to finish the breakfast and started our drive once again. This time I took the wheel and let Atul relax for a while until we get ghat roads.

Having ridden/driven on this highway for endless times, it seems to be quite boring now. So I didn’t quite really enjoy the drive and to keep myself engaged we spoke on different topics, kept munching on snacks, listening to music and equally being alert on the highway (never know what or who may come on my way). Atul had some quick power nap as well so that he is fresh by the time it is his turn to drive. We kept moving ahead and it was almost time for us to tank up Skiddy. We got inside a HP petrol bunk, filled petrol and after a bio break, resumed our drive. By 12:45pm we reached Dindigul and had to take diversion to enter the Chennai Theni highway. After a while, when we have had crossed the Batlagundu by-pass and moving towards Theni, we decided to make a quick pit-stop at a road side and have some juice/tea. The weather was quite sultry with sunlight being too harsh and the wind blowing incessantly was too warm. Mom and I had some buttermilk while Atul had some sugarcane juice. After resting for a while, clicking some pictures and taking bio breaks we continued with our drive.

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The journey continued until we just crossed Theni and stopped for our lunch. This was a local dhaba by the highway and still serving food. We ordered non-veg thali, one veg thali along with some mutton pepper dry. The food was deliciously awesome and had the true authentic Tamil taste. As usual, we ended food with tea. Around 4pm we started once again, and this time it was Atul who took to the wheel again, we had another 65kms to reach our stay at Chinnakanal.

It was from Munthal that the actual forest area and ghat roads started. The drive was pleasant now with temperature dropping a bit and the landscape changing to beautiful forest trees, colorful wild flowers, chirping of birds on tall trees and marvelous snaking ghat roads. A few kilometers ahead we reached the Tamil Nadu – Kerala border at Bodi Methu and we were stopped to show all the papers by the policemen/guards. Surprisingly, these guys didn’t want to see any papers, saw our KA registration license plate and demanded to pay Rs 100. Apparently, all KA cars need to pay Rs 100 in order to enter Kerala. Atul didn’t want to pick up any fight or even argue with these so called government servants, he paid the amount and we resumed our drive. A drive for some more time, we reached the spot from where one could see the ghat roads cut through the mountains and help facilitate commute to and fro from Munnar. We stopped here for a while to click some pictures and enjoy the view in front of us.

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Once again Google Maps fooled us by trying to provide us the shortest route possible and this created a lot of confusion. Instead of taking the main road, Bodi Methu Suryanelli road, we took some interior village road and ended up having lot of issues. The road was in super bad condition post the flood scene, narrow ways, construction work happening everywhere (we had to stop for some 10-15 mins at a place where the road was blocked) and materials dumped right on the road. At places it was very difficult for two vehicles to cross each other from opposite ends. Nonetheless, it was not a great drive, but somehow we managed and at one spot re-connected with the main road. It came as a great relief as we were not very far away from the stay, may be some 10-15kms away. We also wanted to reach hotel earlier, until we have some day light left in order to avoid unnecessary encounters with wild animals like elephants and bison since we were crossing dense forest area and the areas were very sparsely populated.

Thankfully there was still some light left and we reached our stay Bethel Varkis at around 6pm. This place is a very well-maintained, tourist heritage wood house in Chinnakanal. From the mountain peaks surrounding this cottage, the area is dense with lush green trees, bushes, flowers and tiny ponds and water fountains, accessed only by a private road. The layout is unique with the outstanding landscape of natural pebble masonry in the interiors as well as exteriors. We booked this place via Goibibo, a Rock Suite room as they call it, for two nights and three people the total cost was Rs 3291. I really liked our room, it was right next to a small artificial pond and overseeing the mountain ranges covered with fog. The climate was calmative and enchanting at the same time.

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Atul completed all the check-in formalities, while Mom and I pulled out all the luggage for the boot of the car. We settled inside our room and requested the manager if he could serve some hot tea. The guy was a very well-mannered person, always wore a smiling face and happy to help all the time. While we relaxed and enjoyed the surroundings of the cottage, within some 10 mins we got piping hot tea. Had it with the snacks we had. The feeling of sipping tea and getting indulged with the natural beauty is just so blissful.

With time passing by so soon, it was already 7:15pm in the evening and Atul wanted to check on dinner availability. The manager informed us that the main cook has gone for leave and the restaurant wouldn’t be able to serve us food at night, he however pointed us to some of the nearby places which would still be open and serve food. He profoundly apologized for not having able to provide dinner and promised to make sure we get our breakfast and dinner the next day. Though we didn’t want to step outside but since we all were hungry and the guy was so polite in his behavior and insisted us to have our dinner, we obliged. He also advised us to take the car while we are going out, though the place was 5 mins walking distance.

Around 8pm we got ready, took the car and drove down the street to reach the food place which was just 2 mins from our stay. It was a small outlet which served very minimal food items, not very fancy, already crowded and almost over with most of the stuff in their menu. Somehow we got a table and quickly ordered our food before it gets over. We took paratha, chicken curry, chick-pea curry and omelet. Luckily, we were almost the last people to have got some food. People stepping in after us had to return back as there was nothing left. Done with food, we returned back to the car and drove till the stay. The weather was pleasant, clear starry sky, mild breeze and fresh fragrance of flowers lingering all over the place. We spent some time on the lawn of the hotel and around 9:45pm, we decided to go to our room and retire for the day. Meanwhile, the manager provided us with an extra bed as well.

It was 10pm in the night and all three of us slept peacefully, snoozing away amidst the beautiful night.
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Old 20th November 2018, 22:17   #3
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Default Re: Munnar is still so mesmerizingly and bewitchingly beautiful – weekend drive to Munnar and Kotagi

Day 2 – 30/09/2018 (Chinnakanal – Munnar – Top Station – Munnar – Chinnakanal - 115 kms)

It was definitely a good night’s sleep and all three of us didn’t even realize we overslept, it was almost 8:30am in the morning. Atul was the first one to get up, followed by Mom and then me. The weather outside was so congenial with deem rays of sun piercing through the fog and clouds, misty damp grass, gentle blow of morning breeze and melodious sound made by so many birds flying around. The manager came to inform us that breakfast is ready and we can have it as soon as we are ready. All of us freshened up and went to the dining area for food. Puri sabji, idly, sambar and coconut chutney was served, though I personally didn’t like the food so much yet had to fill up the stomach. For a change, we ordered three cups of coffee this time after we were done with food.

As mentioned earlier, our main motive to come to Munnar this time was to experience the blooming of Neelakurinji in the valleys, the hotel manager assured us that he would arrange a jeep for us to go to the peak of Kolukkumalai and see the flowers, however, being a very busy Saturday, there were no jeep available for us and it was quite late, the best time to visit the place would be early morning. So we agreed on going there the next day. For today our plan was to visit in and around Munnar and go to Top Station. I have been to Top Station almost close to three times and not a single time I have seen how the view point looks like, it would always be engulfed with dense fog and rain clouds. Wanted to try my luck and see what I can view today.

All of us took shower, got ready and took minimal stuff for the drive and left hotel at around 9:45am. The road leading towards Munnar town was in utterly horrible condition, with crater sized potholes and rough patchy surface all along. Once a blissful road to travel on had completely changed due to floods. There were construction materials dumped on both sides of the road and hence, in some sections the road gets too narrow, making it difficult for two vehicles to cross at a time. There were large cranes, construction trucks and drilling machines everywhere and we had to be very careful while driving. But the good part is that the government is keeping no stone unturned and working relentlessly to get Munnar up and running for tourism. All these construction works assure us that Munnar roads will be heaven to ride/drive once again. However, despite being completely shaken by floods, the natural beauty of this place is just unmatched and surreal. The view of widely spread Anayirankal lake amidst tea plantations is just so splendid and breathtaking. In no way, any natural calamity can degrade the beauty of Mother Nature. We stopped at many places to click pictures and enjoy the landscape. One such location was the beautiful Periyakanal waterfalls on the way to Munnar town.

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Parts of the road leading to Munnar were closed due to construction work, so we had to take some interior roads to reach Munnar town. Being a Sunday, there were ample number of vehicles and tourists flocking in and around the town, mostly at all major tourist spots like the Lockhart Tea Plantation, Elephant Park, Botanical Gardens, Mattupetty Dam, Echo Point, etc. This created a lot of traffic at these major junctions with people parking cars and buses with no order at all. Maximum people hovered around the dam section and even I took advantage of the situation and clicked some pictures. On moving few kilometers ahead, we could spot two wild elephants grazing along the green grasslands, happily enjoying their food. We stopped the car at a safe distance and clicked some pictures.

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Around 2pm we reached Top Station and once again to my sheer bad luck, the entire place was covered with dense thick fog. While approaching the spot, the weather changed completely from mild sunny daylight to gloomy cloudy atmosphere. Apparently, Top Station is significant because of its historic transshipment location, delivering Kannan Devan tea from Munnar and Madupatty to here by railway and then down by ropeway to Kottagudi. Being the highest point in Munnar, this place is located right on the Kerala Tamil Nadu border providing a panoramic view of the Western Ghats (which I have never experienced in my life). There were hundreds of vehicles parked all along both sides of the road, somehow we managed to get one spot to park Skiddy. I was totally disappointed on having not able to see anything, we didn’t even attempt to walk down the view point as it completely made no sense to walk all the way up and see nothing apart from the fog. We decided to have our lunch as we were famished to the core. Not many options to eat here, only couple of make shift restaurant and only one decent hotel. We inquired in one of these place and they were serving only boiled Kerala rice along with fish, I don’t eat either of them. The only option left out was a place serving chicken biriyani and some veg thalis. It was super crowded and we had to wait for some 15 mins to get our table. While we were waiting, Atul also met one of his fellow Versys rider who was visiting Munnar along with their other friends (Benelli 600 GT and some other bikes).

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Once we got our table, we ordered two chicken biriyanis, an omelet and one veg thali (Mom wanted to eat something light). The food quantity was too little for a single person to consume, may be they were running out of quantity, thanks to the huge rush. Somehow we completed our food as soon as possible as the place was getting overtly crowded, paid the bill and decided to head back. On our way we saw a small hut selling piping hot tea and maggi. Both Atul and I couldn’t resist and hence stopped for a quick break before we headed towards Munnar. Ordered a veg maggi and three cups of tea. The maggi was deliciously awesome and perfect for a foggy cold weather like this one. We went for another round of tea. Finally, it was close to 3:45pm and that’s when we decided to head back towards our hotel.

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The return journey was pretty much the same, with little lesser traffic encounters this time. The wild elephants were still grazing on those grasslands and playing with the mud. We stopped at couple of places to click pictures and enjoy the dusk time – a layer of fog flew all along the vastly spread tea estates and added to the picturesque scenery of the environment. Around 6pm we reached our hotel room. By now all of us were totally exhausted and wanted to relax for a while, before we go out for dinner. While we all freshened up, we requested the hotel guy to provide us some coffee. Atul also confirmed with him on the jeep trip for the next day to Kolukkumalai. Apparently, there was another family who wanted to go there and they wanted to check with us if we could club along with them, this way the total amount would also be split up. We agreed as this was a win-win situation for both the parties involved. When the coffee came, we had it along with the snacks and relaxed on the balcony, enjoying the evening clear sky and silence of the mountains.

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Around 8pm all three of us took the car and headed out for dinner. Today we wanted to go a little further and look for some other place to have food. A decent restaurant, some 1km away from the stay was open and looked like they were serving good food, guess the name was ‘Salt and Pepper’. It was crowded but we got a table for three. Ordered paratha, dal fry, chicken biriyani and egg masala. Food was really good and not heavy on pocket at all. For a change we also had some ice cream to end as desserts.

By 9pm we were already inside our hotel room. By the way, I forgot to mention that this cottage has limited area for parking, at a time, a maximum of 3-4 small cars could be parked. When we parked, apart from Skiddy there was an i10 and an Innova, leaving no space left for any more cars. Nonetheless, we have to get up early the next morning, so after getting all things ready for morning, we all went to sleep around 10pm.
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Old 21st November 2018, 22:59   #4
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Default Re: Munnar is still so mesmerizingly and bewitchingly beautiful – weekend drive to Munnar and Kotagi

Day 3 (First to Kolukkumalai via Jeep, then from Chinnakanal to Kotagiri – 245kms)

It was the alarm clock that woke all three of us around 4am. As per the manager, the jeep would come around 4:30am and we have to be ready before that. He gave us the phone number previous night itself, so that in case of any change in plan we can inform him accordingly. Before Atul could make a call, the driver himself called to inform that his jeep had a puncture and he is fixing it, it would be around 5am that he will pick us up from the hotel. This gave us some more time to get ready. Meanwhile, Atul tried calling the other party as well, but there was no response from them. Sharp around 5am the driver came and we hopped into the jeep. While Atul made a last attempt to call the other folks, the driver also told us that it would be difficult to carry 7-8 people on the jeep as the road up towards the peak is extremely bad and would be very uncomfortable for so many of us. With no response from them once again, we informed the manager and he asked us to carry on with our plan.

Weather was pretty chill at this point of time and while we drove towards the Suryanelli town, the total distance to reach the peak was almost close to 14-15kms. We could see hundreds of jeeps on our way, all carrying people towards the Neelakurinji area. I guess no one would like to miss this once every 12 years’ experience, who knows what would happen during that long 12 years of wait. After some 9kms we reached the Suryanelli Lower base of Kolukkumalai peak. Though I always thought Kolukkumalai is in Kerala, it was a revelation this time that it is actually towards the Tamil Nadu side of the border. Few meters ahead and we reached the main office from where we need to take permits to go up the peak. We filled in a form with details of all three of us, paid a fee of Rs 300 (entry ticket was 100 per person) and proceeded further. Apart from this we had finalized Rs 2500 to be given to the jeep driver.

The roads we were entering now is a private one and after a while, they turned out to be extremely bumpy and jerky. Actually, there are no roads at all, ways cut through the mountains, covered with stones, pebbles and due to rain, heavy fog, and some sections have become totally muddy, slushy and filled with knee deep wet lose ground. I have never experienced such a horrid ride ever with each bones inside my body crying and pleading me to give up, jump out of this damn jeep and rather walk. Our driver looked like a skilled one and he was maneuvering tactically on those bad roads, overtaking slow drivers and trying to make our ride less bumpy, but for me this was no less than a roller-coaster ride (even a rollercoaster ride has smooth tracks, but this one was torture to another level). Atul, Mom and I hold on tightly to whatever possible, praying all Lords to make us reach the peak safely, in one piece. At times, we all felt that with each bumps, one bone would crack inside our body. Couple of years back, Atul and I rode halfway towards the Kolukkumalai peak on our Duke 390. That off road experience was nothing in front of this.

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Nonetheless, despite the horrendous experience, we did take some moments to enjoy the view outside. Though sunrays were yet to hit earth, with mild dawn light, we could see that the entire area is covered with lush green carpet of tea plantations. Kolukkumalai is known to be the highest tea plantations in the world, undoubtedly one of the world’s most scenic destinations. Apparently, this time-tested tea factory still sticks to the orthodox (handmade) methods of tea processing, practiced since the colonial era. The houses of the estate employees nestle among the undulating tea gardens, encircled by high altitude shola forests and the majestic mountains of Munnar. This breathtaking terrain offers a spectacular view of misty black hills fading into the distance. The aroma of tea lingers all over the atmosphere and may be this was what kicking us to stick on that irritating jeep and keep moving ahead until we reach the peak. While we drove upwards, the Sun slowly started to say hello to all of us and we were almost close to the main entry gate of the topmost peak. While the driver submitted our form in the counter, we enjoyed the Sunrise sharp at 6:20am, the Sun trying hard to cut through the clouds and fog, forcing itself on Mother Earth.

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Though the excitement was quite high, but somehow we got to know that we are not going to get a magnificent view of the valley below and the flowers blooming, the blanket of fog was very thick and nothing was visible from that height. A few more kilometers and we came to a spot from where we have to walk to reach the hilltop and view the flowers. All the jeeps have been lined up, people got down, took to their feet and strolled towards the viewpoint. The climb wasn’t difficult with well laid roads and proper surface to walk on them. The view of the mountains, fog hovering here and there, tea estates all across, golden color of morning Sun and the cool atmosphere, it all felt so fictional yet beautiful. Mom had little problem climbing up the trek, mostly due to higher altitude and lack of sufficient oxygen. Atul and I made sure she is ok and could climb at her own pace.

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Most people we met on our way up and theirs down, were quite disappointed as they could hardly see the spread of Neelakurinji across the valley from the peak, there was a thick blanket of fog engulfing the entire place which dropped down visibility to almost zero. A climb of 15 mins and we were on top of the peak by 7am. As usual there was fog everywhere and we could see the flowers blooming along the edges of the hilltop. The valley down where the Neelakurinji were blooming across the entire spread was not visible at all. I was greatly disappointed as the image I had in my mind was of these flowers spreaded across the valley and it would be a rare sight to cherish. Well, they say something is better than nothing, we clicked some pictures of the Neelakurinji available in the vicinity, spent some time here, took selfies and decided to head back towards our jeep.

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For a quick fact, Neelakurinji are bluish purple colored flowers which predominantly grows on the Western Ghats. If seen properly, the hills of Munnar gets bathed in a dreamy shades of blue and blooms once in 12 years, and surely is a sight to behold. An endless stretch of rolling hills carpeted with these flowers welcomes the visitors. The literal meaning of the flower is Neela in local parlance translates to the color blue and Kurinji is the local name for the flower. This stellar phenomenon can be witnessed between the months of August and October when the flower blooms in all its glory unleashing a visual extravaganza.

It took us some 15 mins to reach our jeep driver, we hopped into the vehicle and got ourselves ready for the most intolerable ride. While the descend starts we took quick bio break, enquired if we can get some tea from the nearby store, no luck, we agreed to come down. Once again, the bone shattering ride started and we just couldn’t wait for it to get over. With prayers and tolerance, we finally completed half way through the journey and the jeep guy stopped us at a beautiful location, for us to click pictures, enjoy the vast spread of tea estates and mountain ranges running in the distance. The disappointment of not able to witness Neelakurinji properly was a bit redeemed by this site. It was splendidly marvelous and peaceful. A 20 mins break and we resumed the drive again, this time non-stop to reach our stay by 9am. The manager informed us that we can have our breakfast right away, since it is already prepared. The menu was same puri, sabji, idly, coconut chutney and some sambar. We had tea today, as after the horrid ride, tea was definitely needed to relax and energize our mind and body. After food, we went to our room, did packing, and took shower, get luggage loaded on Skiddy while Atul completed any hotel formalities left out.

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10:30am and we hit the roads to our next destination today, towards Kotagiri. Our exit was again via Munnar town followed by reserve forests like Eravikulam National Park (Neelakurinji can be seen from the hill top of this national park as well). Also this park is famous for housing the Goat Nilgiri Tahr, a highly endangered species. I wanted to have a quick look inside the park but this would mean reaching Kotagiri quite late and having to cross reserve forests at night. With a hope to come again later, we kept driving ahead crossing Kannan Devan Hills and Marayoor town just before entering Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. We didn’t realize time and it was almost 1:45pm in the afternoon. Not sure if we would get any better place to have our lunch, we decided to take a quick halt at the Marayoor town, looked for a decent place to have lunch. Came across this family restaurant, we got in, ordered chicken biriyani, paratha, chicken curry and as usual some tea. Finishing our food quickly and doing some quick shopping from the nearby shop for banana chips and fruits, around 2:30pm we resumed the drive again.

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Just after crossing Marayoor, we entered the famous Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, well known for its eco-tourism trekking activities and habitat to endangered species like Giant Grizzled Squirrel. The roads through this stretch was peaceful with less traffic and full of lush green vegetation. Soon post the sanctuary we entered Tamil Nadu state and from here on it started with plain highway roads. We had another 170kms left to reach Kotagiri and our stay. With no breaks at all, we crossed Udumalpet, Palladam and Karanampettai to head towards Annur and then for Mettupalayam. From Mettupalayam we took the Mettupalayam Kotagiri road which was a stretch of 30kms.

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Around 6:30pm we reached Kotagiri and in some next 15 mins we reached our stay, Dream Nest Resort. This was a very normal budget hotel right in the heart of Kotagiri town, overseeing distance mountain ranges and well spread across tea plantations, but properly managed, soft spoken hotel staff and at the vicinity of some local restaurant (we paid Rs 855 for a night for three people). While Mom and I unloaded bags from the boot, Atul finished all the check in formalities and got the room keys. Got settled inside the room, relaxed for a while and checked with the hotel guy if we get some food for dinner. With no in-house restaurant present, the guy requested us to walk down the road for 5mins and there would be this nice place serving food.

Around 8:30pm, we took a stroll towards the restaurant. It was a decent place, not very crowded, located on a silent road. We got our table and with no delay, ordered our food, rotis, dal fry, mutton pepper dry and a chicken biriyani. Food was well prepared, not too spicy and not heavy on pocket as well. Done with food, we quickly headed back to our room (the hotel guy had warned us about Bisons roaming around the town during evenings and nights).

Did some quick packing for the tomorrow’s drive back home, it was 10pm when all three of us hit the sack and called it a day!
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Old 24th November 2018, 00:18   #5
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Default Re: Munnar is still so mesmerizingly and bewitchingly beautiful – weekend drive to Munnar and Kotagi

Day 4 (Kotagiri – Kodanadu Viewpoint - BTM – 425 kms)

Yet another beautiful morning, with mild Sunlight, fog covering distant mountains and breezy surroundings. Three of us woke up around 7:30am and our plan for the day was to visit the Kodanadu viewpoint, some 18kms from our stay, before heading out for home. Without much delay we took shower, got ready, and did all packing and loaded Skiddy with the bags. While we did all these, we ordered for three cups of tea at the hotel reception, which we had along with some snacks. There was nothing to finish off with the check-out formalities and by 9am we left the hotel for the viewpoint.

The drive via Kotagiri Kodanadu road is blissfully satisfying, the scenic landscape on both sides of the highway is simply mesmerizing. Green spread-out tea plantations all over the hills, ranges of mountains layering over one another, tall swanky mountain trees and small colorful vibrant villages. The roads were absolutely spotless, clean and beautifully laid. Another special thing about Kodanadu is that it is the home of former AIADMK chief and chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Late Ms. Jayalalithaa. One will be completely awe-struck by the natural beauty of the place and would not even realize how the distance got covered, and the viewpoint has already arrived. The best part of Kodanadu is that it is very less crowded giving us enough space and time to explore around, mostly, by ourselves, or few people here and there. After paying a parking fee of Rs 20, and pulling out some cash from the nearby ATM for the rest of the trip, we started walking towards the flight of stairs which leads towards the viewpoint.

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Weekend drive to Munnar & Kotagiri! Mesmerizingly & bewitchingly beautiful-561.jpg
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Kodanadu viewpoint is one of the main attraction in Nilgiris, not yet polluted by the typical tourists. This place enjoys a climatic advantage over Ooty because it is protected by the mountain ranges from the onslaught of the south-west monsoon. It is one of the most scenic spots in the Nilgiris with scintillating views, tall and dense pine forests, and waterfall at a distance, beautiful green tea estates and a pleasant nip in the air. I can spend a whole day here without even getting bored for a single moment and enjoying the frames in front of my eyes. I have been here thrice, once the view was quite vivid with clear blue sky and the entire viewpoint opened up, second time it was covered under a blanket of fog and nothing could be seen. Today was a mix of both the experiences, a clear blue sky along with floating fog and huge round cotton balls of clouds. Yet this was so heart-satisfyingly beautiful that one can’t complain at all. The distant land covered by the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu was completely hazed out by fog but the roars of the water falling from the cliff (of the waterfall) could be easily heard. Chirping of tiny birds was melodious too and added background music to the situation. We spent some one hour here, clicking pictures, taking time lapses, selfies, enjoying the view and finally before leaving we enjoyed some piping hot tea from the nearby stall with some munchies.

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It was 10:30am that we came out from the viewpoint and hit the roads again to drive towards home. The route we were taking was the usual one via Mettupalayam, Annur, and Avinashi and then hit the highway towards Salem. Driving for almost 20kms we came across this café called Silver Tip which is a chain of restaurants and hotels run by a family. Parked our car, got inside to have some quick food before we actually start our drive for home. This place, as mentioned, is on the Mettupalayam Kotagiri road, a perfect location to shop, refresh and have some nice tea/coffee while exiting or entering Kotagiri town. The café serves varieties of cakes, brownies, tea, coffee, mouth-watering light meals and snacks. They have cottage style homestay as well designed with utmost attention to make customer feel at home, these are located just behind the café. We ordered some veg sandwich, bread omelet, chicken fried rice, hot chocolate, chocolate brownies and coffee. After food, we also did some quick shopping of hair oils, handmade soaps, massage oils, etc. By 11:30am it was time for us to get started with the drive once again and a finally goodbye to Kotagiri. Just before leaving the town, we decided to do a quick pit stop and get skiddy tanked up for the remaining part of the journey.

Weekend drive to Munnar & Kotagiri! Mesmerizingly & bewitchingly beautiful-556.jpg
Weekend drive to Munnar & Kotagiri! Mesmerizingly & bewitchingly beautiful-559.jpg

After finishing off with the ghat roads, we entered the town of Mettupalayam, followed by Annur and then Avinashi. Eventually around 2pm we touched the Salem-Kochi highway. The remaining part of the drive was totally uneventful with Atul and I taking the wheel in turns. We agreed on taking lesser breaks and stop only when we are totally famished and need to take food break. Within a span of next two hours we reached Salem town, being a Sunday evening with the returning traffic towards Bangalore, we were bound to get some traffic while exiting the town. Nonetheless, by 5:30pm we reached Thoppur and I had the urge to eat/drink something very badly. Luckily we were crossing the Thoppur A2B and decided to take a halt there.

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The place was crowded till the last table and we had to wait for some 10-15 mins to get one empty, while Atul purchased the food and tea coupons. We ordered ghee masala dosa, idly vada, paddu, tea and a glass of watermelon juice. Finished our food quickly, we embarked on our last leg of journey towards BTM. There was a huge piled up of traffic near the Krishnagiri toll gate and it took almost 20mins for us to cross the booth. In no time we crossed Tamil Nadu and entered Karnataka via Attibele. As usual, Bangalore traffic ensured we lose a lot of time. Eventually around 8:45pm we were home, parking our car.

One more beautiful trip comes to an end, with so many memories to cherish and treasures for life. One thing I learnt from this trip - nature creates magical beauty around us, at times it also shows it’s wrath towards us in the form of natural calamities, yet it itself bounces back together with more power and making the surroundings even more beautiful. Same was the case with Munnar and Kerala as a whole – despite what happened here couple of months back, apart from some hiccups, the natural beauty is still intact and mesmerizingly splendid.

Until I return with yet another travel story of ours…stay safe stay happy!
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Old 25th November 2018, 10:23   #6
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Thread moved to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!

Last edited by GTO : 25th November 2018 at 10:24. Reason: Bump
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Old 25th November 2018, 11:53   #7
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Default Re: Weekend drive to Munnar & Kotagiri! Mesmerizingly & bewitchingly beautiful

Nandita,

Thank you for yet another detailed travelogue filled with excellent photographs. You have a flair for the camera. I like your spunky, lively, carefree style. Didn't realize you also drove on 4-wheels. Ooops. Look forward to more.

Narayan

Last edited by V.Narayan : 25th November 2018 at 11:55.
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Old 25th November 2018, 12:22   #8
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Default Re: Weekend drive to Munnar & Kotagiri! Mesmerizingly & bewitchingly beautiful

Great travelogue with fabulous pictures. Reminded me of our own trip to Munnar three years back (unfortunately by rented Innovas from Kochi - too far from Bombay). We stayed near Chinakanal too - at a small privately owned place called Neelakurunji Plantation Bungalow. Top station was cloudy as you mentioned. We skipped the Kulukumalai trip as we didn’t think my in laws who were with us could make it - after seeing your pics on road conditions, I am glad we did so.
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Old 25th November 2018, 17:49   #9
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Default Re: Weekend drive to Munnar & Kotagiri! Mesmerizingly & bewitchingly beautiful

Another fun to read travelogue with lovely pictures of sights I have never seen before. It reminds me so much of Ooty and Wellington (in TN) that I stayed in when my father was posted there. Thank you for sharing and look forward to reading about your next holiday.
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Old 25th November 2018, 18:29   #10
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Default Re: Weekend drive to Munnar & Kotagiri! Mesmerizingly & bewitchingly beautiful

Great travelogue.
But one observation:- hardly the footwear for walking on trails.

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 25th November 2018, 20:10   #11
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Default Re: Weekend drive to Munnar & Kotagiri! Mesmerizingly & bewitchingly beautiful

Excellent travelogue!! Though Kolukkumalai is one of the scariest drives I have experienced, it is worth doing it. Kodanadu viewpoint will be my next weekend getaway. Relocated to Coimbatore sometime back and feel bad already for not visiting the place. Again, appreciate for sharing the travelogue.
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Old 25th November 2018, 20:58   #12
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Default Re: Weekend drive to Munnar & Kotagiri! Mesmerizingly & bewitchingly beautiful

Great pics, nice compact trip.

Just FYI, that 100 bucks the cops take is pure bogus, was it the TN or KL cops asking this time? Same scene last time i crossed that checkpost, a stern question immediatly got the cop gingerly smiling and asking for some cash to buy tea.. LOL..
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Old 26th November 2018, 10:21   #13
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Default Re: Weekend drive to Munnar & Kotagiri! Mesmerizingly & bewitchingly beautiful

Kerala is nowhere near recovered from the excess rain that lashed the state over 3 months ago. It will take another year atleast, by which time, I hope the state is better prepared to handle such emergencies. Relief fund for farmers are all stuck in red tape.

A word of advise. Never, ever, walk in a tea plantation, or any plantation for that matter with bare foot wear. The last thing you want is a reptile bite that can ruin your holiday. Please wear ankle boots. Yes; you are not going to like it but better be safe than to be stuck in a hospital ward.

Lovely report and pictures.
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Old 26th November 2018, 15:56   #14
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Default Re: Weekend drive to Munnar & Kotagiri! Mesmerizingly & bewitchingly beautiful

A great travelogue with some awesome pics. I had a doubt earlier, whether Munnar can be explored in 4 days where 2 days are only driving to and fro from Bangalore, but I think I can plan now!
Cheers!
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Old 27th November 2018, 08:40   #15
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Default Re: Munnar is still so mesmerizingly and bewitchingly beautiful – weekend drive to Munnar and Kotagi

Quote:
Originally Posted by nandita_bayan21 View Post
Day 3 (First to Kolukkumalai via Jeep, then from Chinnakanal to Kotagiri – 245kms)

Few meters ahead and we reached the main office from where we need to take permits to go up the peak. We filled in a form with details of all three of us, paid a fee of Rs 300 (entry ticket was 100 per person) and proceeded further. Apart from this we had finalized Rs 2500 to be given to the jeep driver.
Is it not too high to charge Rs 2500 for 15 kms(one way) ride?
Or are these fares common for the people to visit the place?
By the way, super snaps. I loved every bit of it.
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