When 3 generations travel together, you are bound to get few challenges as your journey advances! That's when all your parental instincts, family ties and the shedload of patience you had developed by practicing yoga, meditation, positive thinking etc. etc. comes to the fore.
So all you new mothers and fathers be prepared to have a pit stop every now and then whilst you are zipping up and down, winding around the hills of Munnar. Yup, you got it right - motion sickness ( for the hill and mountain dwellers, may not be a problem) may set in. We ensured that our sonny was given the all popular anti vomit(!) pill before starting the journey, and packed all available 'dadima, nanima ke nuskhe' ( granny's cures). I am not too sure about the pills as sonny still retched, but granny's cures definitely worked! Take it that, one day you will look back at these pit stops and somehow they won't look that bad. In fact they will make memories that you'll be fond of talking about and sharing your 'nuskhas' with other parents! Ahem! Like I am doing here. :-). Well lucky if you are a backpacking couple or a solo traveller, you can straightaway get into the sightseeing part of the trip to this beautiful land of Kerala! But hey ho, I ain't complaining, I had my fair share of backpacking!
One of these twists and turns brought us to the spot which gives the best all round view of the valleys and the green hills that are sometimes sunny and at times misty. We clicked as many photographs there as we could, with our Nikon, attached with the --mm lens that came along with it! If you are a bollywood movie buff don't be surprised if you suddenly find yourself humming. I did too, maybe?!
Although, I come from the land of tea - Assam and have seen many tea plantations but the sights and smells of Munnar is an experience. I am sure my friend and colleague who grew up in this beautiful part of the world would agree. I remember her telling us to visit Munnar and I regret not doing it earlier!
Another place to visit is the Tea Museum. If you are interested in the history of tea in Munnar, technology through the generations, processing of tea etc. this is the place to be. It has an entry fee both for adults and children. They even have tea tasting sessions if you are willing to test your tea taste buds, albeit it comes with a fee.
After a day of sightseeing, boating and feasting on local food, we called it a day in Munnar as we had an early start following morning.
Enroute to Thekkady
Next morning we started our drive to Thekkady at around 7am covering a distance of 110kms in 3.5 hours, through Cardamom Hills. As the name suggests we drove through scenic hill routes with cardamom plantations, which was a very nouvelle experience for us. We had not seen a cardamom plant before, let alone miles and miles of cardamom fields!
Thekkady is a famous town in Idukki district, known for the Periyar National Park. Located near the Tamil Nadu border, it is also famous for its natural spices, such as cardamom, black pepper, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, ginger, clove, allspice, vanilla to name a few!!
After freshening up at the resort in Thekkady, we headed for a Spice Garden tour. I really didn't know what to expect! What are you thinking at this point?Yes, if you have not been to Kerala you may not have any idea. It is more like your kitchen garden but magnify it by few hundred acres and instead of your seasonal vegetables plant all the Indian spices that you have in your kitchen cupboard!! We were welcomed with fresh 'masala chai' with spices from the garden. One of the friendly staff guided us through the various plants, trees and seeds around the garden. It took us about 2 hours to complete the tour of this amazing place. I have put a few snapshots amongst the many that we saw...We relaxed in this little tree house with some cookies and fresh juices.
Before leaving, we bought spices from their shop which was beautifully stocked, ( sorry should've clicked the interior of the shop). We also bought an Ayurvedic massage oil which is good for the muscles and joints. All in all, it was a very refreshing and eye opening visit. Some of the herbs, plants and trees are common to many places in the rest of India but others are not. It is also a great learning medium for kids and adults alike!
Periyar National Park
We spent the afternoon at the Periyar National Park & Tiger Reserve, which is a natural dwelling for many different wild animals, birds and plants.
It is a habitat for tigers, elephants, barking deer, sambar deer and the elusive nilgiri tahr which is a local to the Nilgiri hills of Western ghats and many more. The periyar lake is a man made reservoir built in 1895 when a dam was made. It meanders through the green hills and is the water source for all life in the area throughout the year. We enjoyed a boat cruise on this lake whilst spotting Elephants atop the hill, buffaloes and sambar deer coming for a drink at the lake, birds nesting on top of dead trunks right in the middle of the lake. The boat cruise is really in demand and you will have to queue up, also the top deck gives a real good view!
The cool breeze of the Periyar lake, the sights and the natural environment gave a sense of satisfaction and I thought was a great value for the time and money we put into this trip.
Stay with me for the final destination and the ultimate highlight of our holiday in this Southern part of India. See you next time.