12noon – 11th june 2009
N Experienced a feeling of excitement for the ensuing maiden voyage to Munnar cocktailed with trepidation about successfully collecting and packing paraphernalia mostly called out by M, but alas a few of them are also imagined by M which N would get to know enroute when the item’s purpose is born 🙂
At 3 pm the Safari commenced with the first tentative steps encumbered with M, N & O. DICOR is sufficiently warmed up beyond Hosur by 4pm, the Safari shedded its elephant garb charging away headlong leaving behind unsuspecting defeated vehicles. The up-to-time sunny disposition turned cloudy and lashed the sprinting Safari with a deluge of water before MNOS (M,N,O & Safari) accost Krishnagiri at 1545hrs and immediately halt to pay Rs.25/- at the toll booth.
Dharmapuri (123km) whizzed past at 5pm and 3×3 NH7 was impeccable. When one looked at the speedo mostly showing speeds above 120+ KMPM and the tranquility MN&O were tranquil never feeling a single vibration. Toll vasuul really happened. MNO shelled out another Rs.48/- just after Dharmapuri and were wondering whether it would be, pay and use all through. Out of nowhere, circuitous ghats appeared coupled with speed breakers slowing down the entourage. Due to prior knowledge of the highway-widening/construction-NH7 upto Salem and a little beyond from here, MNOS test waters of SH20 at Thoppur and ramble along to Mettur (180km-1800hrs) briefly glancing Mecheri enroute.
The Mettur dam walls, one of the largest dams in India looming ahead MNO took a 15minute peat-puja+chai stop. On exiting Mettur the scenery on the right was of a long mountain covered in greenery with the setting SUN creating a collage of colours in the visible skyline. The remnants of the claustrophobic metro existence endured back home on a day-in and day-out basis dissolved without a trace. Arrived at Bhavani (221km) famous for Sangameswarar Temple located at the confluence of river Cauvery & Bhavani which draws a large number of Pilgrims throughout the year, at 1907hrs to reconnect with our long lost friend NH7.
At Avinashi (276km-2006hrs) on the NH7, MNO swung left into Tiruppur and called it quits for the day. Export surplus garments, excellent chettinad food and deep slumber kept MNO busy the rest of the night.
On Day2 at 0730hrs the tripmeter reading 291km the Safari sprang to life munched away the 15 odd kilometers to Palladam. Suddenly one could see wind mills randomly lined up on either side upto the end of the horizon. Breakfast was voraciously gobbled at Udumelpet (351km) from 0840 hrs to 0910 hrs though it was pathetic.
Anamalai Tiger reserve checkpost in Pollachi (366km) at 9.35 barred our way to note the MNOS details in a register and took Rs.25 as the disgusting ‘maamul’. The reasonably straight highway road was accompanied on either side by undulating plains with dry bush which slowly but steadily altered into greener winding ghat sections. MNO were lucky to spot a fawn by the road side trying to apply the road crossing techniques. At one of the spots from the road MNO could spot a huge water fall down in the valley. Sign boards stated that one must not stop and get off vehicles in this part of the forest. M&N wondered how they would react if a tiger signaled for a lift in the Safari by the roadside. They were sure O would be pleased with Tiger for company. On spotting a deserted coconut water shop in the middle of a thick jungle M&N concluded that this was a decoy setup by the tiger to grab innocent visitors.
Marayoor (390km-1026hrs) whizzed past and the first tea estates were spotted. From here to Munnar M&O frequently stopped to picture the orderly tea plantations. It was amazing to gaze at slopes covered with tea bushes ranging from 1.5 feet to 3 feet. The color of the tea leaves ranged from yellowish green leaves to dark green leaves. All the bushes in a slope were almost of the same height give or take a few inches.
MNOS crawled into Munnar town by 1130hrs and drove into the resort about 15 kms away by 1230hrs. The last 3 kms was a steep climb in one lane mud paths with a sheer drop on one side and the mountain face on the other side. At some of the points the climbing gradient felt like it was 60degrees and one felt that if the Safari stopped mid way for any reason, one would have to come back to the base of the gradient and attempt to climb all the way up. The Safari groaned and creaked in the first gear most of the way in the last mile.
The resort was right up there in the clouds. Weather makeover every 30minutes was a given. Clouds would engulf the resort reducing the visibility to 10mts and leaving people wet if one spent more than 30minutes in the open and suddenly metamorphose into a resplendent sun lit place basking the entire valley and the nearby mountains laden with all the surreal greenery.
The stay at the resort for 3 nights and 4 days was extremely soothing and peaceful. The days were spent in lazily sauntering around the tea estate of the resort or crawling around in the Safari in Munnar or to some nearby tourist attraction. Managed to speed boat in the Mattupetty lake driven more by stuntman than a boatman who impressed everyone with crazy high speed twists and turns. On the far shore MNO spotted Bison’s gazing peacefully.
On an other day MNOS drove to top station 40km from Munnar only to be deprived the pleasure of a fantastic view by O who refused to leave the Safari and walk / be-prammed / be-godhidly-carried the last 50mts to the point.
The visit to the tea museum lasted all of 20minutes before O decided that he had other interesting pursuits resulting in immediate abandonment and appeasement of O.
All the nights were spent in the company of Russian spirits, which warmed the souls of M&N and they never felt the cold nights.
With a rich haul of Munnar tea varieties, Honey, spices, home made chocolates MNOS started back on day5 from Munnar town at 13.30hrs and reached Bangalore at 2345hrs via the same route thoroughly refreshed and energetic for onslaught of the monotonous Bangalore life!
The trip table for the journey is as follows
||OOR, Jail road
||Take right towards SH 20
||Took a tea break here for 15 mins
||Take left on SH 166
|Night Halt at Hotel Mariam
||Take right on SH19
||Had breakfast break here for 30 mins started back at 9:10
|Pollachi Tiger Reserve Check post
||Take right in front of Kurunji gift shop on Letcmi Road
The return journey