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1300 km road trip to Munnar in our 14-year-old Ford Fiesta 1.6L

The Fiesta performed flawlessly throughout the journey. Cruised at 120kmph for hours on our wonderful highways.

BHPian DocwithFiesta recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

The best way to refresh your mind is by visiting a hill station, and that was exactly what we needed.

After some back-and-forth discussions, we decided to go on a trip to Munnar, also known as the Kashmir of South India.

Now there are multiple ways to go to Munnar: by train(to the nearest station, and then by cab), by bus, by cab directly from home, or by our own car. It was a no-brainer that we were going by our own car.

We decided to go during the long Pongal weekend, beginning our journey on Sunday, the 14th of January.

I quickly sent the car for its 90,000 km service, on Thursday (11th of January), which was due, and advised them to thoroughly inspect the car and give a detailed report about the condition. The car was perfectly fine and was delivered back on Saturday, ready to begin a 1000+ kilometer road trip on Sunday.

We chose the Dindigul-Theni route and Maps showed a distance of 590 kilometers from our home to the hotel, which was 10 kilometers from Munnar.

We planned to start by 5:30 am, expecting to reach the hotel by 5:30 pm including stopping for breakfast and lunch.

We started at 5:50 am, on the morning of Bhogi Pongal and as expected the roads were covered with smog, which reduced our pace by a bit, but not much.

The initial 2 hours of driving was difficult, but we made it through. By 8 am, as we crossed Chengalpattu, the smog started to clear away, and we could increase our pace a bit.

My mom made breakfast and lunch the previous day so that we spent minimum time stopping for food.

We made our first stop at 9 am, for breakfast and a cup of tea, at a place named Dosa Spot/ Tea Bar, about 160 kilometers from home. They very kindly allowed us to have our homemade breakfast at their place, along with a cup of tea for each of us purchased from them.

After a 20-minute breakfast stop, we resumed our journey, and by this time the roads were perfectly clear of smog and we maintained a constant speed of 120kmph on our wonderful highways.

Traffic was minimal, which helped us maintain such speed for hours together.

The next 350 kilometers were pretty much smooth sailing.

Our next stop was at around 2 pm, on the Dindigul-Theni highway, right before the ascent, where we stopped for a fuel refill. Had lunch in the car, by the road, and quickly started again, now ready for the interesting and thrilling part of the journey: the hill climbing!

At the petrol station

Beginning of the ascent

The climbing part can be divided into two: the first part in Tamil Nadu and the second part in Kerala. The Tamil Nadu part is about 20 kilometers long and the Kerala part is about 40 kilometers.

The Tamil Nadu part is rather narrow and steep, as in the above picture, while the Kerala part is much wider and less steep.

It took us about two and a half hours to climb to Munnar, including stopping for some photos on the way.

The famous Gap Road

We reached the hotel by 5:30 pm, and that ended our first day. We chose Moonline Resort for our stay, as Maps showed very reassuring views from the rooms and it was a pretty good hotel as well.

Also, it was not very far from Munnar town, about 30 minutes (10 kilometers) or so.

The hotel was good, the views were mind-boggling, and we could see the Sunrise from our room itself.

Before the journey, I ordered a tyre inflator and a puncture repair kit, just in case we ran out of air on the way. Little did I know, the following morning after reaching Munnar I would be greeted by an almost flat tyre. The tyre inflator did its job in 3 mins, and we were good to go. Sigh!

At the hotel

We visited Pothamedu View Point first and were not impressed by the place, as there was nothing special over there. Disappointed, we continued to drive beyond Pothamedu viewpoint in search of a scenic location, but as we continued to drive, the wilderness kept on increasing and after 3kms of driving, we decided to turn back for our own good.

On the way to Pothamedu viewpoint

We then visited the Rose Garden, which was nice. The entry fee was Rs. 50, and it is a good place if you like flowers, especially roses.

We then proceeded to Photo Point, which was truly a wonderful place to take photos, as the name suggests. There were a lot of tourists there, and we were lucky to find a parking spot.

One shall find numerous photographers ready with their DSLRs and photo printers, at Photo Point. We had our own DSLR, and hence we didn't require their service.

Photo point

We explored the place a little more, and on the way found a Ripple Tea outlet, where we had their tea, and bought tea leaves as well. Ripple Tea owns the majority of tea gardens in Munnar. We then headed back to our hotel for lunch and ended the day.

The next day was the returning day. We had our breakfast, and by 8:50 am, started our return journey. Stopped multiple times at Gap Road, to click the perfect pictures, which did consume a lot of our time, but was well worth it.

We took a good 3 hours to cover the 60-kilometer descent.

Stopped for another full tank of petrol, and Nitrogen top-up at an Indian Oil pump on Theni highway. There are numerous petrol pumps on this stretch and Nitrogen is available at almost every alternate pump.

We then took a 2 km detour to stop for lunch on the Salem-Madurai Highway. Quickly had lunch and resumed our journey at 2:30 pm.

This time around, we wanted to take it slow and decided to cruise at a speed of 100kmph, which quickly got boring and we occasionally did 120kmph.

Our next stop was at a Tea Time outlet in Villipuram, at 5:45 pm. After a 15-minute stop, we resumed our journey and reached home at exactly 9 pm.

The Fiesta performed flawlessly throughout the journey. Cruised at 120kmph for hours on our wonderful highways, and climbed 4800 feet without overheating. We never felt a lack of power, never felt a lack of comfort, never did the car complain a bit. It was easy to keep up with most modern cars. I had no intention to compete or race with other cars on the highway, so didn't push the car hard.

Although the ABS light lit up just before reaching our hotel, I don't think there's any problem with the ABS system, as the car did not show any such symptom upon braking hard, and made the 600 km return journey without any problem.

At the end of the trip

  • Total distance covered: 1270 kilometers.
  • Total fuel consumed: Two and a half tanks (almost) i.e. 102 litres
  • Average mileage: ~12.5 kmpl.

Munnar is truly a wonderful place and must definitely be present on everybody's must-visit list. The roads to Munnar, from Chennai, are truly wonderful, and there are no reasons to not go by car.

The initial 20 kms of ascent is a little sketchy, and one must be careful during that time. The rest 40 kms is absolutely amazing.

It took 12 hours for us, both ways.

Also, do carry basic medicines with you, as during such long journeys, you never know when you may fall sick.

Thank you

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