Exploring Western Ghats : Part 6 : Munnar- Kochi- Vagamon

Exploring Western Ghats : Part 6 : Munnar- Kochi- Vagamon

Munnar / May 2 – May 6

On Monday morning, I started for Munnar. It’s 40 KMs drive from Marayoor. I was already getting hungry for the overdose of the famous tea gardens. I did get a glimpse of them yesterday while on my way to KDHP factory for a tour but that wasn’t enough. Stopped at the Lakkam Waterfall on my way. Lesser number of because of Monday but still significant. So, didn’t go for a bath but just clicked some pictures and moved on to Munnar. As I wasn’t too sure about the 3G coverage in Munnar so booked a real cheap hotel in city center but just for today. Turns out Munnar has mind blowing 3G coverage all around the city and at the outskirts as well if you don’t go too far.

Lakkam Waterfalls

Route Recap
Hyderabad – Chennai – Kodaikanal – Marayoor Munnar – Kochi – Vagamon – Thekkady – Munnar – Palakkad – Kalpetta (Wayanad) – Masinagudi – Ooty – Ananthpur (AP) – Hyderabad.

For previous part click here


Munnar

After reaching the hotel, had lunch at a Rajasthani restaurant. If you see the number of Rajasthani/Gujarati/Marwadi restaurants in the town, you can’t really tell it’s Kerela. Marwadis have owned this town completely As the hotel was reserved only for today, I started driving towards Kochi looking for a cheap hotel (remember I am lonely soul on the run) away from town but still with 3G coverage. 10 KMs out and couldn’t really find anything with good reviews. Either good hotel or no 3G. Then moved towards Chithirapuram, same scene plus potholed road spoiled it all. And to add to all these worries, the absence of food options. After driving for 2-3 hours, came back to the hotel and extended the stay till Friday. Room or hotel was not an issue but traffic noise was really bad. The only thing working in my favor was that I was not getting burnt in the Hyderabad heat. I guess that was the major reason for this trip anyways.

Pics will tell the rest of the story.

Crazy queue at Aravikulam National Park. Turns out people wait in this queue for 2-3 hours. If you are not a crowd lover, please stay away from this place like forever.

Tea Gardens on way to Top Station
Though eucalyptus, green cover matters.
View from Top Station
Way back from Top Station. Not recommended for elderly. Definitely not on a hot or a rainy day.

It was not a very happening week as such. Drove on the Top Station route twice. Rained every time. Couldn’t ask for more. As it was the last week of travel, I was getting worried about getting back to Hyderabad. My wife was scheduled to arrive in Hyderabad on Sunday. So, plan was to return to Hyderabad by the time she arrives. But the thoughts of Hyderabad heat were giving me nightmares. Called up wife and asked her to come to Kochi instead where I’ll pick here up and we won’t return to Hyderabad till summer ends. Well, she was getting fried in Ahmedabad weather and was very happy to hear this offer. I rerouted her flight to Kochi and now she was scheduled to arrive in Kochi at noon on Saturday. Perfect plan.

Kochi-Vagamon-Thekkady / May 7 – May 8

May 7, 2016

On Saturday morning, started for Kochi around 9:30 AM. The Munnar – Kochi highway is two lane road throughout. NHAI is a doing a really good job in reducing the blind spots and widening the roads near Munnar. On some of the sharper turns, the roads are almost 2.75-3 lanes. The till Kochi is in good condition and is green all the way. Reached Kochi airport around 1PM. I was driving all slow and taking breaks because I had time to kill and didn’t want to spend that at the airport. Pics and videos for the rest.

Periyaar Bridge. Somehow I find these types of bridge beautiful. Modern bridges are functional without any aesthetic appeal.

Kochi Airport

Kochi Airport now officially tops my favorite list. It feels like a resort. BTW if you spend 15 minutes in the sun here, you’ll know why this airport is run completely on solar energy.

Remember it’s a weekend, so internet is of no real use and we need to run away from the crowd. Hence, we go Vagamon. We took the regular Muvathupuzza-Thodupuzza-Kanjar-Vagamon route. We were just falling in love in Kerela. Smooth roads, tastefully designed mansions and bungalows all along the way (especially around Thodupuzza). Only drawback of the entire route is that it’s crazy humid. All is well as long as your stay in your car. The last leg of this route (Kanjar-Vagamon) is a narrow village road and quite steep but all green and scenic. It’s even better around sunset. Pics ahead.

Kochi Airport
Real deep and steep valley on the side of the road from Kochi to Vagamon
Too much green, Vagamon
Sun gods trying to bless us, Vagamon
Free rainbows all over the place
Soooooo need a 4×4, felt like climbing this.
Gotta swim on that. Vagamon, Kerala, India.
Sun never feels this good back home in Hyderabad
Our stay, if we had a lot of money
Our room with our current financial status
Our house, if we had a lot of money and then some extra
Lovely sunset at Vagamon

May 8, 2016
Beautiful Sunday morning. A little warmer than Munnar but there is no crowd here.

We spotted this lovely bird family at the guest house. Hungry kids in the morning are difficult to handle.

We were totally clueless about what to visit and do. So, we hit the road in main Vagamon town direction to visit some places. We got lost in the greenery and next thing we know is we ended up on some random route to Thekkady.

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We ended up taking this route. Which is not even a major road. But we didn’t mind it and continued further to Thekkady.

A sample of the road we took

Oh BTW, Thekkady is a horrible place to visit on weekends and that too in peak season. If you live in Bangalore and want to experience Thekkady, please visit Silkboard Junction at peak traffic time. A million cars and buses packed up at the entrance to the lake and a zillion speed breakers on just 2-3KM road. Oh and steep entrance fee of 140/- for car and just two passengers. On seeing the cars, we immediately took a U turn and ran away from that place like crazy.

We had lunch at Grand Thekkady in the town and started for Vagamon via NH-220 (new NH-183/Kottayam highway). Beautiful road. Smooth, green and being widened. Same approach here like road outside Munnar. Blind spots being removed/reduced. This turned out to be a much better road than the village roads we took earlier. Tea gardens all the way. Pics ahead.

Beautiful Tea Gardens on Vagamon-Thekkady Route
Beautiful Church on Vagamon-Thekkady Route
Looks like a US Army cemetery but it’s just a tea garden work in progress

We reached Vagamon around evening. Pleasant weather. We wanted to go to the suicide point (just for a visit) but there was some scuffle in progress. So, we proceeded further to Tea Lake Boating point which we missed earlier in the day as it was hot back then. It’s sort of a virtual lake among the tea gardens but really nice place if weather is favorable. Paddle boats, kayaking etc. No motor boats though. It’s not large enough to ride a motor boat. We went for the paddle boat (200/- for two if I remember correctly). It was fun.

Vagamon Lake

By the time we were done with boating, there were dark clouds building up. A heavy rain was evident.

Brace yourself

It was at that time, this amazing idea struck my wife. We must go for Kayaking. I rushed to the ticket counter to get the tickets while wife rushed with camera and stuff to store them in the car so that nothing gets spoiled in the rain. I asked for the tickets and the person there pointed towards the clouds and shouted maḻa, maḻa, maḻa. maḻa means rain in Malayalam. He was surprised that I still wanted the tickets.

By the time I returned with tickets, it already started drizzling. People aborted the rest of their boating plans and immediately rushed to their vehicles. We wore the life jackets quickly and in no time we were back in the lake, this time on a Kayak with no roof. The next 20 minutes we spent kayaking will be cherished for life. It rained like crazy and we had all the lake to ourselves. Too bad that we couldn’t capture any of those moments but as they say, the best moments are to be lived and not to be captured (I am not sure who said that though).

We got drenched like crazy, drove back to our home-stay and that’s all for the Vagamon.

To be Continued ….

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One thought on “Exploring Western Ghats : Part 6 : Munnar- Kochi- Vagamon

  1. Hi! Were trying to sort out our trip to the Western Ghats.. we can either start frim Bangalore or Kochi (were landing in Kochi). And probably have at least 4 days for it.. any tips? Is it too short, where should we start, what should we see. Thanks!

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