Posts in "Kerala"

Green Paradise – Wayanad

There comes an age when you realize you haven’t traveled with your parents much. With you growing old, you realize they are also growing old. So one fine day you decide to take them on a trip with you and see the world through their eyes. My mother came to visit me first time in Bangalore after my wedding and I wanted to make this trip memorable for her. All thanks to the long weekend which gave us a chance, all three of us decided (Ishan, Mumma, and Me) to go on a road trip together to Wayanad district of Kerala which has its own beauty secrets in the form of cascading waterfalls, pristine rivers, misty mountains, splendid forests, and widespread tea plantations. Trust me, it was a real fun trip. After this trip, I realized I have two pretty good entertaining travel partners, my mother and my husband except for the fact they both like to sleep a lot and very early in the evening :p

Day 1 – 12.08.2022

It was a Friday, we left for Mysore in the morning so that we can spend the whole day there and give ourselves a bit of relaxation. If we go straight it’s a 6 hours journey from Bangalore to Wayanad. Also, Mysore is our routine pit stop because it’s my Nani’s (Grand-Parents) home there. Most of the tourist places from Bangalore have a route where Mysore comes in between so we get a chance to meet our relatives there as well as refuel ourselves with the great food that we get at Nani’s place. 

A quick recommendation I would like to give here to all of you is to give a try to Mysore’s very famous Mylari Dosa at Hotel Original Vinayaka Mylari. The Benne Dosa is quite different here from the dosa that we eat usually in Bangalore and places nearby. It’s soft and smooth and melts in the mouth like butter.

Day 2 – 13.08.2022

The next day, we thought of starting early in the morning because we opted for the route via Gundlepet and Bandipur National Park. The animal species is visible essentially during the morning time there, thereafter the traffic starts on the road. But this time, the plan to start early flopped and we started at around 8 AM. 

If I were to define the three of us as co-passengers (Ishan, Mumma, and me), we were quite cordial. We talked a lot, we talked about various diverse topics and we sang a lot during the course of our journey. Where one minute there was some serious business idea being discussed, the next minute, Oo Antavava was being sung by us.

The Gundlepet and Bandipur National Park area is lush green. It is a dense forest where the road is covered from both sides with tall same-sized trees that looked like a canopy literally. 

At around 11 AM, we reached Sulthan Bathery. Sulthan Bathery is a mountainous region in the Wayanad region of Kerala. Our stay was in Manthanavady, another 42 KM ride from Sulthan Bathery. One thing to note over here is in Wayanad, every location is far distant from the other location. So plan your trip accordingly. If you are going there for a weekend trip you might not be able to cover whole Wayanad reason being the locations are distant such that you can cover at max 2 locations in a day if you wish to enjoy the trip.

Somewhere in the middle, we saw many cars parked and there was a breakfast place there. In Kerala, it is hard to find idli and dosa for breakfast, unlike in Karanataka where even in the smallest of villages one can find tasty idlis for the breakfast. We got to eat appam with moong daal there and must say the meal was new for the taste buds.

Appam

We reached Manthanavady at around 12 – 12.15 PM and started looking for our homestay. The homestay was good enough to provide three of us a shelter since it was a long weekend and there was no good place left for us to book even before 15 days of the weekend. The homestay had one single room, a living room, and a shed outside. It was a very sweet and special trip that brought the three of us to live together and talk about whatnot!

Homestay

We got ready and started for our first location. On this trip, the itinerary and the plan did not work out. We planned to go to Banasura Hill first which was 18.5 KM from our place which is 45 minutes approximately. As we reached there, the forest officer said it is only open from morning 8 AM-10 AM, and after a point, the car can not go upwards the hill. It was steep trekking after a point of almost 8-9 KM. The hill was looking very beautiful from where we saw it. Entirely covered in clouds and one could only imagine how beautiful the view must have been from the top. We thought of going there the next day early in the morning. My mother also was very excited to trek an 8 KM steep mountain but I was a little skeptical about whether it will be good for her to climb this much!?

Anyways, we started from there for the next destination that we planned, Banasura Sagar Dam which was 10 KM that is 30 minutes away from the first stop. It was around 3.30-4 PM and when we reached there we got to know the Dam is also closed. Again there was a disappointment. The disappointment was there because our three-day itinerary was planned to cover all these areas in three days and each place that we went to had gotten closed before 3 PM and our whole day got wasted.

Keeping our spirits high, we started for our final location Banasura Meenumuthy Waterfalls which is 13 KM away from the dam. Luckily, this place was open till 6 PM and we finally got a place to chill after a full day’s journey in the car. The waterfall is densely covered with trees. There are also present some cozy homestays near the waterfall with a location and view to die for. The waterfall was beautiful. My mother is obsessed with lakes, waterfalls, and rivers. She says she doesn’t like oceans. It has always been hard to keep her away from waterbodies whenever we go to a tourist place. She sees the water and instantly she wants to jump in it, no matter how is the water and how deep it is. Nowadays she has started to behave herself a bit by being a bit scared of water and enjoying it with safety. God, I thank that person who talked some sense into her! All in all, we had a good gala time at the waterfall.

Banasura Meenumuthy Waterfall

As we started from there, we were hungry. In Kerala, it is hard to find good vegetarian restaurants. Much harder than Thailand. I googled some veg restaurants and found one on the way to Manthanavady by the name Mandi Restaurant. Ishan wanted us to eat Kerala Parotha over there for the first time and it was so amazing and soft. Wow! We got good north Indian food over there. And by the time we started from Mandi Restaurant, it was already late evening. On the way to the homestay, we bought banana chips, regular chips, bread and butter as we were not sure what will we get to eat the next day morning. 

As we reached home, I was in a full mood to have fun. I was thinking we will play some music and do a bonfire. My two mates for the trip were thinking quite the opposite of what I was thinking as in their mind only one thing was running and that was SLEEP. I am usually always disappointed by my mother’s desire to sleep all the time but fate got me my husband who also likes to sleep. A LOT. Anyways, they both slept at 9 and I was wide awake till 4 AM. I have no idea what was not making me sleep! Was it the insects present in the homestay, was it the lizard above or was it the disappointment that why both my mates have slept so early?

Day 3 – 14.08.2022

The day started early as we were known to the fact that places are open in Wayanad for a short duration of time during the day. The plan was to go to Chembra peak first. Chembra peak is the highest peak of the Wayanad district and a picturesque location in a true sense. As a backup plan for eating breakfast, we were having bread and jam with us. Ishan was missing Idli and wanted to eat South Indian breakfast. On the way, he saw hotel Oshin. We thought we can try asking for veg breakfast there and as we entered the hotel, there was a buffet system breakfast arrangement and a wide variety of south Indian breakfast. That day was the day when I declared South Indian breakfast items such as idli, dosa and uttapam as comfort food. We paid 350 rupees for one person and had unlimited breakfast and it was good. 

After starting from the hotel, on the way to Chembra peak, we saw a huge tea garden. The tea garden was everywhere till your eyes could stretch. We went inside the tea garden and it felt amazing to be between fresh tea leaves and plants. The location was very picturesque. 

Tea Plantation

Started from there after having a good photo session. When we reached the place from where the Chembra peak mountain starts, some local people stopped us saying, the road is not there and only 4X4 vehicles can go and you have to buy a ticket for going up and sit in our car. As we were already having a Thar which is 4X4, we told them we’ll go on our own. The locals said, only a professional driver can drive who knows the basics of off-roading. Thankfully, Ishan knows very well the 4X4 driving and he is an expert in handling off-roading obstacles. He said I will manage and we started to climb the mountain. I made Mumma sit in front because the jerks are difficult to handle for passengers sitting backseats in Thar. She was very excited as unexpectedly she got to do off-roading. We thought the mountain track will not be so slashy and dangerous but it was all of these against our expectations. We were trying to avoid the off-roading thing with Mumma but she was so thrilled to experience this sport. The track was such that at a time only a single vehicle can move across the road, no two vehicles can bypass each other and it was hell dangerous but yes Ishan did it, Mumma loved it and I also thoroughly enjoyed the trail.

In between there was a stream of water and water was so pristine clear in that stream that I couldn’t stop me from lying down and tasting mountain water.

After moving a bit more ahead, we realized we are on the wrong track and we lost our way to Chembra Peak and now we are on our way to Glass Bridge 900 Kandi Wayanad. It is the only glass bridge in Southern India. We thought to explore the place as we were almost up there at the top. The ticket price for a single entry here is rupees 200. The bridge is in the sky and made up of glass and you get to walk on it one by one. The scenic beauty is par max beautiful there. 

Glass Bridge

There is a park over there at the top. We enjoyed a lot playing with love birds. Ishan and I also played a bit of cricket and I won all the games played between us :p Sorry but no sorry Ishan :p

Then after as we were coming down the hill, we saw another small water stream and I drank water that was directly coming down from the mountains. It was pristine clear and the experience of drinking that sweet and cold water of mountains was satisfying.

We got stuck in a huge traffic jam on the hill after getting down from the glass bridge mountain trail. We started for Soochipara waterfall and reached there in about 30 minutes. The time was past 4 PM then and the fall got closed when we reached there. This is the major setback we felt while traveling in Wayanad. Every place is so distant from one another that when you reach the second place for the day it’s time for it to close. 

We really wanted to spend this evening nicely because it was our last evening in Wayanad. We started searching for some good hotels and properties that give coffee tours within their premises but surprisingly none of the property owners agreed to the same as coffee tours in such hotels are only for the people residing within the hotel.

After a lot of searching, we got a place that the tea vendor at Sochipara falls suggested to us. The place was Love valley. As we reached love valley, we found a serene and peaceful property located in total solace called Aatreya. We thought to take a chance and ask inside if visitors are allowed to sit and enjoy the valley view inside. The owner was a very friendly person. He agreed and also asked us for tea and snacks. We sat in front of the valley and ordered banana pakoras there. It’s a famous Kerala snack.

Aatreya Resort

The people residing at the property were going for a tea plantation tour on the hill nearby. He asked us and we thought we should also go for it. My mother and my husband had a very intellectual discussion while climbing the hill over some common interest area topic. They feel I don’t get involved in discussions but they think wrong. I like to listen sometimes to the things I have zero idea about and I was doing the same there. Mumma was having some trouble climbing up because in due course of time she lost the practice of trekking. Still slowly at her own pace, she climbed up and the view from the top was amazing. Tea plantations were there everywhere. We also spotted some 5-6 small little waterfalls on the mountain in front. As it started getting dark, we all came down to the property and left at around 6.30.

While coming back again we stopped at Oshin hotel where we stopped in the morning to have dinner as it was the only known option available. We were tired this day. Very tired. So as soon as we reached our homestay we all slept and thankfully I also got some peaceful sleep.

Day 4 – 15.08.2022

The final day in Wayanad was Independence Day. The day started beautifully as there were school kids and teachers on the roads all dressed up for the event in their respective schools. The vibe there was all patriotic, everywhere there was flag hosting and in the car also we were playing all patriotic songs and were singing them with all josh like a full patriot. We were thinking of which place to cover since we were having time till 2 PM and then after the plan was to leave for Mysore. Trekking was not an option because we were done with trekking the day before. We just wanted to go to a calm place and Banasura Sagar Dam seemed the only option for that mood. 

Banasura Sagar Dam is the largest dam in India and the second largest in Asia. It has a great picturesque beauty view and its beauty enhances by the chain of mountains on the backdrop. The place is quite chill and calm.

Banasura Sagar Dam

We just reserved a bench for ourselves and were seated and talking for like 2-3 hours. There were several Savan Ke Jhule on the backside of the dam area. We went there and enjoyed them as well. You readers must be thinking do these people leave anything while traveling!? But yes this is the way we are. We like to explore any place to the maximum possible so that while coming back home there should be a feeling of accomplishment. The dam has a long road-like stretch where visitors come for walking purposes. We found a bench there and the wind there was so relaxing that all three of us involuntarily closed our eyes and took a nap meanwhile.

Bansura Sagar Dam

We started from there, had our final lunch at Mandi restaurant, packed our luggage, and left for Mysore. While coming back we opted for another route where comes Nagarhole Tiger Reserve was in between. The Tiger Reserve was so huge that the appreciation of the beauty of the forest did not make us realize it when did we reach Mysore. In the Tiger Reserve, due to the huge traffic load, one cannot spot a tiger during the daytime, that is for sure but you can surely spot deer and swamp dear (Barahsingha) on the way. While exiting the forest we also spotted elephants who were taking bath and enjoying their own world.

At around 6.30, we reached Mysore. Our beautiful and small trip got over. Wayanad totally contributes to justifying Kerala’s title, God’s Own Country.

This trip will always be very dear to me because lucky are those who get to go on a trip with their favorite humans and I am one of them, fortunately. Hope to go on such backpacking trips more often and explore Incredible India.

Alleppey Beyond its Houseboats

Canoe Ride

Alleppey is a city known for its houseboats, its backwaters, and its rustic feeling. But it has a lot more to offer, the canoe rides, the best-in-class museum experiences, the luxurious hotel resorts, the culture, the lagoons, the greenery, the lakes and canals that are parallel to the Arabian sea. Although Alleppey was not on the list initially but when we were leaving Alleppey, there was a feeling of fulfillment. So here’s a story of an unplanned trip turning into a beautiful memory of two backpackers!

19.01. 2023

After coming down from Kolukkumalai, we collected our luggage and started our journey toward the second leg of the trip- ALLEPPEY. Alleppey is 193 km (5 hours 30 minutes) from Suryanelli, Munnar and Kochi comes in between the route. Though Kochi was never in the plan but it was coming in between the route and we thought of having lunch there. Kochi came 1 hour before Alleppey. We reached there at around 4 pm and searched for a cafe at Fort Kochi lane. Cafe Kashi came off as the most artistic and beautiful cafe and we went there for lunch. In Kochi, the Biennale art festival 2023 was going on at that time and Kashi Art Cafe showcases art galleries during the Biennale festival. After this, we also went to the location where the Biennale festival was going on but couldn’t find the exact location and as it was already late in the evening we thought of quickly having a look at the very famous Kochi Fishing Nets.

IMG_5176

We started from Kochi at around 6.30 pm and reached AllepPey by 7.30. Very Important to mention here that the weather changed 360 degrees for us. In the morning all we wanted was to immerse our heads inside the shawls and jackets and in the evening, it was steaming hot in Kochi and Alleppey. 

The plan to go to Alleppey was impromptu and so we decided to book an Airbnb on the go while we were traveling to Alleppey. We did not think much at that time and booked a very basic stay near Alleppey beach. It was very basic but truly worth the price as the owner was a very sweet person living downstairs and he managed the Airbnb property very systematically. He suggested us a cafe nearby to have dinner because it was late by then.

20.01.2023

The next day was not planned very perfectly but this is what is the true fun of a road trip. Your plan changes very frequently. We were not having a proper plan and we searched for places to visit in Alleppey and Kottayam topped the list. We went downstairs and the Airbnb owner asked us about our plan for the day. He told us that there is not much to do in Kottayam instead we should go to Kumarkom. And guess what he was right! Still, we went to Kottayam because we had plenty of time and we thought we should go there without thinking much. Kottayam is famous for its geographical location where paddy farming is done 2-4 feet below sea level. Other than this there was nothing much to see in Kottayam. As soon as we realized it we came back to Kumarakom which has very famous and India’s biggest lake, Vembanad lake. Yes! It’s the same lake where the snake boat race happens in August.

Vembanad lake

We decided not to struggle much and went to a lake-side property chain of Zuri. Have had coffee over there and went to the lake view side of the hotel from where Vembanad lake was visible. The lake looked so beautiful from this property. It’s a widespread lake just like a sea without waves. The cottages present in the hotel property are lake view and it is just the place for anybody who is planning to come to Alleppey for a luxurious trip. We sat near the lake for about an hour and spotted beautiful houseboats passing in front of us. After this, we had lunch in the restaurant and then went to the Artefacts shop present on the property. There were some amazing souvenirs, kathakali paintings and other stuff present for sale at the shop but were quite expensive. All in all, Zuri was a luxurious experience on a hard-core backpacking trip.

Next, we went to an Art Museum in Kumarakom. The Art Museum had a ticket of ₹ 80 per person. The first floor had an antique collection of wall clocks, spoons, serving spoons, paan daan, and many other things which reminded me of my grandmother who had many of those things kept preserved with her. The ground floor of the museum was a souvenir shop. Ishan liked a boat over there, a big boat but in my opinion, it did not look like a boat and more like a Nike logo. Where I was liking all the small miniature boats, Ishan was liking big boats. We came to the conclusion of not buying anything in a hurry.

Next, we went to the Coir museum where everything is made up of coir and the technique of peeling, breaking, making ropes of it, putting it in a machine, and making beautiful showcase items out of it is explained. There is also one shop in the museum where one can buy all such coir-made items.

After this, we went to Marari beach which was said to be the only beautiful beach in Alleppey. Watching the sunset was a daily routine for us by then and it continued that day as well. After watching the sunset we went to the Airbnb, took some rest, and decided to go to have dinner at the same cafe nearby that the Airbnb owner had suggested. After dinner, the plan was to go to Ishan’s friend’s home who lives in Alleppey but I slept before even thinking of going there. Yes, it was a hectic and tiring day because of the harsh sun.

21.01.2023

This day, we went Canoeing. Canoe is basically a narrow boat that can be moved through the water by using a small piece of wood. There were options for a boat tour through shikara boat, houseboat, and canoe boat in Alleppey. The reason why we chose the canoe was, it was way too cheaper than the other options, and secondly, canoe tours are famous for village tour reason being canoe is a small boat that can go to narrow streams of backwaters where shikara and other boats can’t go. We wanted to see the village life of people living beside the shores of the backwaters which is why we chose the canoe ride. It cost us around ₹1000 per person including breakfast and lunch in a village home. The price also included a ferry ride from Alleppey city to the village from where the Canoe starts. 

We started from our homestay at around 8 in the morning and reached the pier from where we had to catch the ferry. The ferry tour was of 45 minutes. Ferry is a common source of transport in Alleppey. It is mainly used by people who go to villages nearby for farming. On our way to the village, we saw beautiful houseboats. We thought of coming back to Alleppey sometime with a budget for a luxurious trip.

We reached the village at 9.30, there our tour guide took us to a tiny cute village home and the people living there served us breakfast. We had a couple of foreigners as co-travelers with us that day for a canoe ride. All of us had an amazing breakfast and started the journey.

As soon as we sat down in the canoe, Ishan slept and the reason behind this was the canoe was moving very slowly and the wind was also blowing very slowly which put my husband to sleep. I was so curious all the time that I did not left a chance to capture a single moment of the village life and of the people living there. One thing to note here is in Kerala, all the houses, in villages as well are made up of concrete cement, and well-painted. No house is left unconstructed or is not painted. This shows the prosperity of the state even in the villages. We were in a boat and both sides were surrounded by village houses. There was parked a boat in front of each and every house there. It looked like a car parked in front of houses in urban areas. The canoe passed through very narrow streams of water and it was incredible to see all that village life while sitting inside the boat. 

After half an hour our boat got stuck in between common water hyacinth plants growing in the backwater area of the village. Our boat captain tried to move the boat with the help of a rope for a very long time but gave up after he got to know that the water species are spread 4 km ahead. It was no sense to go ahead and hence we came backward. 

He took us to another direction of the village where we saw ducks swimming inside the water, people playing in the water, women washing clothes near the water, and many such beautiful rustic views. The boat tour got over at 2 pm. It lasted for 4 hours which was quite sufficient time to feel the village life. We came back to the tiny home where we had our breakfast, had lunch over there, and waited for our ferry to come and take us to the city. The ferry came at 3.30 pm and we reached home in 1 hour.

Evening time we kept relaxed and planned to go to Taj Hotel & Resort- Kumarakom for dinner which was an hour’s drive from Alleppey. Here’s a tip for backpackers, if you want to travel cheap but need a touch of luxury in your trip you can plan date nights to such resorts and have a coffee or lunch, or dinner date over there. If you order one vegetable and chapati you would not be charged more than ₹1500 for two people and this way you can take a feel of the beautiful resorts at such touristic locations.

Taj Kumarakom was beautiful. When we reached there, a beautiful lady was performing Mohiniattam, the folk dance of Kerala. She was totally a vision. We ordered our very favorite palak paneer and chapati at the dining restaurant for dinner. After dinner, we took a property tour, the Vembanad lake was not visible at night. After a while, as we were tired we went back home and slept.

The next morning was the checkout day from Alleppey. We packed our bags again and got ourselves moving again toward the mountains. In between, Ishan wanted to meet his classmate from college living in Alleppey. We went to his home and honestly, we were craving home-cooked food (especially dosa and idli) by then. Don’t know if Artificial Intelligence works in the human case also but he already asked his mom and wife to prepare breakfast for us and trust me the breakfast was so delicious. The way they served us and treated us was so welcoming. I really enjoyed visiting them. After chit-chatting with them for an hour we started for our next destination-Vagamon.

Munnar… The Kashmir of Kerala!

Face to face with Jaguar

Kerala was on our list for a long time. We wanted to complete Kerala in a go and for that, a long stretch of holidays was required. Kerala being a huge state requires almost half a month to finish off all the bucket list items. We decided January to be the month for going there after the chaos of the new year celebrations because we wanted our trip to be free from overpriced hotel rates and too much crowd. 

The preparations started almost 30 days before the trip where firstly the itinerary was finalized in such a way that trip consisted of diversity. It was planned in a way that the locations were a mixture of mountains, beaches and backwaters. Thereafter, hotels, Airbnb, and campsites were finalized. Here also we tried to keep a put of diversity in such a way that we stayed in hostels, camps, hotels and Airbnb. Then came the most tedious task of the trips all the time- shopping. We ordered online the clothes then tried them and exchanged them if any of them was not of perfect size. We also spend a whole day fixing up minor things in the Thar so that our road trip goes off smoothly. And lastly, we tried something new this time, we also purchased a cooking gas stove, butane Cannes, utensils to cook and groceries.

So welcome to this Blog which covers an adventurous road trip featuring Kerala.

13.01.2023: Bangalore – Erode – Munnar

We started from Bangalore at 8.30 pm thinking of hitting Erode (our stay location for the night) by 2 am. Like always exiting Bangalore and that too on a Friday evening is a task. But almost in an hour, we were able to exit Bangalore. We were extremely excited for this trip because what we were going to do was the first time in our lives. A 17 days road trip!!!

For me and Ishan, road trips are never boring because we keep on listening to songs, I keep on talking all the time, and he keeps on thinking of some future business ideas all the time. We took a coffee break at a roadside restaurant in Tamil Nadu and started again.

Erode came at around 2 am exactly as we predicted. The hotel was fine but there were mosquitos who did not let us sleep for a minute and after an hour of getting tortured by them, we thought of leaving early for Munnar.

We started at 4.30 in the morning for Munnar. Of course, it was tiring because we were sleep deprived. We stopped the car so many times to take a rest, and have tea just to gain that required energy to reach Munnar. Hats off to Ishan who was driving relentlessly in such a condition.

Welcome to Kerala!
Cheerful Ishan after driving the Thar for 16 hours 😉

By the time we reached Munnar, I was sick. I was having a bad headache, was dizzy and very low on energy.

Our stay was booked at Zostel, Munnar. We checked in there at 12 pm all tired and ready to sleep as soon as we saw the bed. We booked a 6-bed dorm there. This was our first time in any hostel and we booked it because firstly we wanted to keep the essence of the trip as a backpacking trip and secondly, we wanted diversity in our stay locations this time.

The thought behind booking the mixed dorm was there would be a mixed crowd of women and men within the dorm but this was clearly not the case in Zostel Munnar. In our dorm, there were all men. But overall the atmosphere of the hostel was good, it was aesthetically very good, well planned and most importantly the food that you get served in Zostel is very good.

14.01.2023

After sleeping for almost 3-4 hours we woke up at 4 in the evening, had Zostel’s very delicious and filling veg sandwich and went for a walk to nearby tea plantations. Zostel Munnar is located on a steep mountain, it’s so steep that walking on that mountain is very difficult.

We planned of keeping the first day a bit chill and relaxed as we had a very long trip ahead and there was no sense in exerting ourselves that day.

We came to the hostel and planned to make coffee on our gas stove first time. It felt so exciting to cook ourselves on the road trip. It’s some next-level fun. The coffee was great. After having coffee we went to have dinner on the first floor and there we started to plan for the next day’s itinerary.

While Ishan was planning the itinerary, I coincidently met a college friend and it was so much fun catching up with him there at Zostel after 7 years.

Zostel evenings are all about fun, dance and parties because people from various locations come there who are on their solo travel and for them, it’s a nice place to catch up with one another and make friends while traveling. 

15.01.2023

The next day morning we started from Zostel at 5 AM because we wanted to see the sunrise from Chokramundi Peak. The whole hostel was sleeping when we started. We followed the google map and it took us to some unknown place and there was no peak visible there.

Thankfully we saw two bikers coming from the top and they told us there is nothing at the top Chokramundi viewpoint is somewhere else and we were misguided. Google maps sometimes play around with you :p We took a U-turn and followed the bikers and reached the actual location.

There was a viewpoint on the road known as Lockhart Gap and the view was so beautiful from there that we couldn’t stop ourselves from sitting there for a while and making ourselves a cup of coffee. By then preparing coffee on roads became our newfound love.

Chokramundi Peak was 15 minutes or maybe half an hour trek from Lockhart Gap and we were so in love with the view that we canceled the plan of trekking and enjoyed at the Lockhart Gap view point only. The clouds looked like a blanket over the mountains from there and it was just wow.

Lockhart Gap View Point Gap Road

We also covered the Gap road (the most famous road of Munnar). It’s famous because it’s a very shiny, pretty, clean and well-maintained road. After this at a very short distance, there is Chinnakanal Waterfall, we went there but it was not like as shown in the pictures on google maybe because the season was not rainy and we went there during the complete off-season. 

After this we went to the Elephant viewpoint. The natural beauty of tea plantations was so beautiful there. The Elephant viewpoint is surrounded by tea plantations of the Tata group. When we reached there it was 8.50 am and the viewpoint opens at 9 am.

All of a sudden we sensed a rush in the air. The people behind us were running here and there and they were speaking something in Malayalam. We could not understand what was going on until Ishan asked a man and he replied RUN RUN!! There is an elephant coming to this side. We were confused about what to do. Should we be seated in the car? Should we get down and get inside the viewpoint park? Or should we take the car along with us inside the park because chances were high that if the elephant came there he could destroy everything including the car. I was so scared that I ran away inside the park without thinking of Ishan and the car. Ishan started searching for me and then he saw me standing far away in the park and laughed and till now he makes fun of my selfishness of running away without thinking about anything and anybody. All in all the elephant view was fun because we saw a raw elephant roaming around and swimming in the river from one shore to another.

Elephant View Point

Next, we went to a very famous off-roading spot nearby called Mullanthandu Kurishumala. We thought it to be an average off-roading spot but it was one hell of a difficult trail. We tried going up to the top but there was not a single jeep there nor a single tourist and therefore we decided of skipping the idea of going up alone because if by any chance we get stuck it would be difficult to get rescued and come back. My husband was so disappointed while coming back that he pinned the location on his phone and planned of coming there again with his offroading friends in Bangalore.

It was afternoon already and in Munnar what happens is during the day time it becomes too much hot and during evening time it’s cold there. It was too hot and we planned of coming back to the hostel.

On the way, we saw Ripple Waterfall. It was not on the list because it was not looking very great in the pictures but because it came in between we went there. The waterfall was not good again because of the off-season. We came to Zostel after this and went to the canteen for lunch.

In the evening went to a hidden waterfall. It’s promoted by Zostel only and they have also prepared a cue card for it which mentions the instructions while you go down to the waterfall. It was a bit suspense for us as we went down the hill the waterfall was not coming only. We went through cardamom plantations and then after a long wait, the waterfall sound was audible. There the offroading started and it was a good one, trust me! There was a house and a boy living in that village house showed us the waterfall. He also insisted we stay there in the camp but it was all alone there and too scary and hence we denied and went back up because it was already dark and the way up the hill was challenging.

Cue Card to Hidden Waterfall

16.01.2023

The next day we started a bit late. We started from the hostel and on the way, in between the forest area we saw the perfect place to cook ourselves oats. It was cold by then and making oats on the side of the road in a deep forest felt great adventure.

After having breakfast, we headed towards a small town/village called Manakulam. In Manakulam there is a waterfall called Kainagiri waterfall, the expectation level was low since it was a known fact by then that Kerala’s waterfalls are good only during rainy seasons. Still, we went there. The forest department officers were there. They charged us around ₹100 each. It was not too great but since we went early there, there was zero rush and we enjoyed the solitude over there. 

Kainagiri Falls

It was always a wish of mine to cut the tea leaves with the tool that those village ladies use. So next we went in search of a place where one of those tea plantation workers would give me that tool and I will learn how to cut the tea plants just for the experience. We went to a nearby plantation place and asked one lady but she said something in Malayalam and we managed to understand that she can’t give us the tool to us to cut the leaves. I was disappointed but the thought of “next time I will do it” kept me going.

Next, we searched for a place to cook maggie for ourselves. It was too hot by then and there was no shade that we could find. So we sat on a plane empty road in between the plantations and made ourselves some maggie and coffee and trust me it was super fun. Cooking in forests, between the plantations of tea was becoming our favorite activity to do.

Next, we went to Echo Point of Munnar. There was too much rush on the roads by then and the traffic was slow-moving. Here we got a realization that waking up early and covering places to visit in the morning is the best thing to do because it gets too crowdy during the day time in Munnar. The echo point was a lake where boating was done. Both of us were not interested in boating so we decide to sit and chill over there. After half an hour we got ourselves moving toward home and spent a relaxed evening at the Zostel.

17.01.2023 : Munnar – Suryanelli

The next morning was the day of checkout from Zostel. We did the packing and started the day. The next destination was one of a town in Munnar called Suryanelli (20 Km. from Munnar) where we planned to stay at Tentgram. Ishan was way too much missing idli and his wish got served in a hotel near Suryanelli where we stopped for breakfast. 

Breakfast with a view!

The expectation was not much with Tentgram because the name of the Hostel/Camp Site was not familiar. We were done with staying in a hostel and sleeping on bunk beds and therefore we asked Tentgram people if we can pitch our own tent at their property. They denied the request but suggested we stay in their tent. Since the place had good reviews, we agreed to the same and booked a tent. 

When we reached Tentgram and entered their premises, the energy was so positive at their place. Don’t know if was it the hospitality of their managers and caretakers or the overall ambiance, the place felt great. Ishan did the formalities of booking the tent and I was lost in the creativity of the place. The hostels, the library, the dining area everything was just too good. 

Ishan is very particular about the fuel management of the car and as he did not wanted to take any risk we went for refueling the diesel at an hour’s distance petrol pump.

When we returned, the lunch was ready. We had lunch and relaxed in the garden area of Tentgram. After this, we went to shoot a video in the lake nearby which was very beautiful. Since we got to know about Tentgram from a Vlog of an influencer, we also wanted to visit the village area and school nearby which was shown in the vlog but the Tentgram people told us that we cannot visit the village house at that time because of some reason and school was open and classes were going on and we cannot visit there as well. Likewise the wish of cutting the tea leaves, this wish also remained unfulfilled of mine.

In the evening time, we went to a hill to view the sunset. While returning the weather all of a sudden shifted and turned out to be very cold by then. We planned of cooking ourselves Dal-Rice for the first time on the trip. Ishan went to take permission of cooking from the manager because cooking for your own self is not allowed in Zostels. The manager not only agreed but showed us a small tea shop (Chai-Tapri) where we can cook which they were planning to open in near future.

The tea shop was very cute and the setting was perfect to cook some meals. He also lit up small lights there at the tea shop which gave a perfect feel. The atmosphere there at Tentgram during the evening was just so good and homely. When I was cooking and Ishan was helping me, all the staff people of the Tentgram came and visited us, they all were so curious about the stove, the gas container and also about dal rice. They also showed interest in eating dal rice which I could not fulfill that day but next time whenever I will visit Tentgram, Suryanelli I will surely make the staff people a good North Indian meal.

There was staying a group of ladies’ friends along with their children at the hostel. They lit up the bonfire and were dancing around it during the nighttime to Malayalam songs and it was so amazing to see them dance.

After having dinner we also went to the bonfire place and chit-chatted with other hostelites. The temperature there was going low and it was so cold there that we went inside our tent to sleep early. Believe me, during the night, the wind was blowing so furiously that I could hear the noise of the wind very clearly. I was shivering because of the cold all night and couldn’t sleep well because of it but truly it was an experience to sleep in a tent in that cold.

18.01.2023 : Suryanelli – Kolukkumalai

The next morning, I woke up early and went outside to sit in some sunshine. I woke up Ishan also because I did not wanted him to miss such a beautiful morning. The sunshine felt like a blessing from God that morning. We had breakfast and began to plan for the coming days of the trip.

Our plan for the coming four days was not very concrete and as we had seen so many sunsets and sunrise by then we were not too sure about going to Thekkady because it was again all about the viewpoints and we had already seen too many of them. The people staying at Tentgram suggested us to go to Allepey for 2 days and we thought about it for a bit of time and came to the conclusion that it is a good idea. This way some more diversity will also add up to our trip. And Allepey after Kolukkumalai became our new next destination.

At around 4 pm we left Tentgram for Kolukkumalai and leaving that place was so difficult. That was a little paradise between Munnar and Kolukkumalai. The people, the staff, the atmosphere, the hospitality and the welcoming nature of everyone present over there were amazing and the least I can say about Tentgram is when I was leaving that place my heart was full. 

Ishan was from starting had the wish to stay up at the top of the Kolukkumalai. At the top, there is only one campsite known as the Jaguar campsite. The challenge with these people is they do not pick up calls for booking purposes. Well! God knows the reason. Maybe they work on a pre-booking purpose. So we met a friend in Munnar Zostel and he told us about this campsite called Camp Tea Forest situated at 7000+ feet altitude but not exactly at the top of Kolukkumalai mountain. We thought of booking this camp just for having an experience of how it feels to stay at 7000+ altitude overnight and start the trek from there.

People who want to go to Kolukkumalai but don’t want to stay up can book the jeep tour from where they are staying as well. The jeep will pick them up from where they are staying at 3 am in the morning and by 6 am they will be at the top of the hill.

Kolukkumalai top camp stay

19.01.2023

In our case, we woke up at 4 am and after having tea, started the trek. It was an hour-long trek and we had a family of 6 cousins who were our fellow trekkers. It was pitch dark when we started and extremely cold. But the difficulty level in trekking helped us to forget about the cold totally. On a scale of 10, I would rate it to be 7 on the difficulty level. Well! I am not the right person to give the rating because I am completely a noob when it comes to trekking and honestly, I don’t like it much. With the help of the phone’s torchlight, we climbed up the hill.

The stars were visible at that time and the whole of the sky was filled with them and it was a view to remember. It was steep in some places but the willingness to see beauty at the top kept us going.

We reached the top by 6 am and sunrise was about to happen at 6.40 am. We all settled down and honestly, words can’t justify the beauty of that place. The sky was yellow and orange. The mountain in front had a peak that was sharp like a needle and clouds were below us spread over like a warm blanket protecting the mountains from the wind. And a few minutes later the wait got over and the sunrise happened and it was mesmerizing.

I would really recommend if anybody is going to Munnar this place is must go. Our trekking head was a bit in a hurry to go down and he made a rush to move quickly though we all wanted to spend time there.

Face to face with Jaguar

At the top, there is a Jaguar faced rock which is spectacular and I had my Instagram moment over there by getting inside the crowd and taking a picture quickly with the Jaguar. 

We got down and had an authentic Keralite breakfast which included, Pattu (rice ball) and chickpeas curry. It was so cold that washing hands was difficult there. But the hot breakfast served was amazing. After half an hour our jeep came to pick us up and take us down. One thing to note over here is at Kolukkumalai trek, an individual is not allowed to take his own vehicle/jeep. The reason behind this is it’s a complete off-roading trek and a normal vehicle meant for roads will not be able to go up.

The camp people did not allow Ishan to take his Thar as well hence we kept it in Suryanelli only in camp parking. Although while going up we realized that the difficulty level was moderate and we could have gone easily with our own vehicle.

Next time maybe when we will go there with our offroading friends we will make this happen.

Munnar, Suryanelli and Kolukkumalai are scenic destinations in Kerala. I visited in the winter months, but honestly, this place is amazing year-round with amazing weather. Honestly, this part of the trip is especially the closest to my heart. I hope you enjoyed reading the first part of the Kerala trip blog and if you did, please hit the like button, and leave a comment.

Here is a sneak peek of how we planned our Munnar trip.

6 Day Munnar Trip Itinerary

DateDayCityComments
13.01.20231TravelBangalore- Erode
14.01.20232Erode- MunnarLocal sightseeing of Tea Plantations
15.01.20233MunnarChokramundi Peak, Lockhart Gap, Gap Road, Chinnakal Waterfall, Elephant Viewpoint, Mullanthandu Kurishumala, Ripple Waterfall and Hidden Waterfall
16.01.20234ManakulamKainagiri Waterfall and Echo Point
17.01.20235SuryanelliTentgram
18.01.20236KolukkumalaiStay at tent at the top
19.01.20237KolukkumalaiSunrise Trek

Hotel Details

Sr. No.City/ TownCommentsHotel URL
1.MunnarBook mixed dorm only if interestred in staying with others otherwise rooms are good.http://bit.ly/40LQt3k
2.SuryanelliBook Tent https://bit.ly/3Y8Xklr
3.KolukkumalaiBook Tent at the tophttp://bit.ly/40ynfVp

Restaurants in Munnar where you can get good vegetarian food

Sr. No.LocationNameLink
1. MunnarZostel, Munnarhttp://bit.ly/40LQt3k

Items good to have for Munnar Trip

Sr. No.ItemQuantity/TravellerPrice URL
1.Water proof phone pouch1299https://amzn.to/3QV7suI
2.Power Bank11049https://amzn.to/3Aq2dfv
3.Quechua bag1199https://bit.ly/3Kr6LXn
4.Travel Sling Bag1599https://bit.ly/3AtmCQL
5.Rain Coat1599https://bit.ly/3pORRAL
6. Gas Stove and Butane13099https://bit.ly/3DOE9Fv

Must have Medicines for Munnar Trip

Sr. No. SymptomMedicineQuantity
1.FeverDolo1 strip
2.Allergy tabletAllegra1 strip
3.Mosquito BiteOdomos1 tube
4.AcidityEno/ Aciloc4-5 packets/ 1 strip

Itinerary Planning Checklist

Sr. No.Task
1.Finalize Road Route
2. Finalize Itinerary
3. Book Hotels/ Airbnb/ Campsite
4. Buy Clothes
5. Car Service
6.Fuel refill of car and air check for tyres

Few tips for Munnar Trip

Sr. No.ForCategoryTip
1. BothCarry 1-1 pair of sleepers and sport shoes with you.
2. BothBook your saloon for the services 1 day before the travel to make sure you look really good when you start.
3.BothFinish off hotel booking 30 days before the travel to get the best deals on hotels.
4. BothFinish packing at least 3 days before the travel.
5.BothFinish shopping at least 10 days before the travel, there might be some items ordered online that would need return and exchange, last moment orders will not be useful in case it misfits.
6. BothInstead of booking hotel in advance at a small town place (Erode), book hotel on the way where you see a proper hotel where you can rest atleast and safety is also taken care of.
7. BothCar servicing should be done atleast a week before the trip.