Munnar: Patchwork of Green (Part I)
Munnar: Patchwork of Green by Sudha Mehta
It is green, lush, verdant. It is serene, pristine and untouched (at least in parts).
Munnar is the perfect little gem of a summer getaway. A part of the extensive and far-flung Western Ghats, Munnar is in the Idukki district of Kerala and the region is better known locally as the Kannan Devan Hills. The layers of mountains that form the horizon are an amazing patchwork of large-scale tea gardens, interspersed with grasslands and dense Shola forests.
To begin with, just the drive to Munnar is quite a delight –150 km from Cochin airport. About an hour into the drive, the gentle Ghat road begins. The natural splendor typical of Kerala surrounds you and the landscape undulates and sways in the most picturesque manner as you pass through charming towns.
As you make your way up, you will pass waterfalls crashing into brilliant pools of water, valleys, meadows abutted by spice plantations. The air smells sweet, and humid with the fragrances of cardamom, coffee, and pepper.
Many visits to Kerala are obviously warranted – it is a gem, truly God’s own country. But going to visit those lovely mountains is nearly spiritual. If you are contemplative, want to commune with nature and walk mile upon mile surrounded by indescribable beauty – Munnar is the place for you.
But it does not exempt you from being loud, boisterous, social and full of fun either.
After the devastating floods that Kerala suffered last year, it is quite natural that the roads are bad, and people, although polite and courteous, are a bit standoffish.
The choices for stay range from economical to high end – from Airbnb to guest houses to five-star hotels. Deshadan Mountain Resort is called Cliff View hotel and falls somewhere in the higher range and hugs the side of a cliff in Pothumedu, Munnar. The views are spectacular, the rooms comfortably appointed, the food very good and the staff charming and helpful.
There are many places to visit, to drive around in the neighborhood and enjoy, but if you are on short summer break, it will be best to focus on a few things to enjoy (the second part of this series will help you plan your itinerary).
In the meanwhile, close your eyes imagine every word in the thesaurus for the color green and let it fill your senses. That’s what a visit to Munnar feels like – a dip the pool of verdure.
(Sudha Mehta is a writer and documentary filmmaker, she was also an ex-editor of popular news daily.)
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