Journey from Kochi to Munnar
This article is written by Soma Das, a chartered accountant based in Kolkata and a friend. She also owns the copyright of the photographs.
Episode 1 (Day 1 &2)
Well, I don't think there could be any off-season for Kerala! Every season must be having its own beauty and colour. But planning a trip to Kerala in the rains had always been my wish! I would agree that one needs to be bit lucky to travel during the rains. And yes, this time I got lucky (after two failed attempts to plan in last 2 years). Although the sun mostly hid from us but the hide and seek with the rains and clouds was perfect for my friend, Madhumita and I. I strongly felt that Mother Nature conspired and helped us get absorbed in the beauty of this beautiful state with multiple shades of green, blue, white and grey. She painted it on the canvas for us.
I personally do not believe in meticulous planning of my trips. Get adequate general knowledge, keep some loose ends. It might add on to the thrill, but be sure that you could pull yourself out of any given situation and not get worried.
So on day 1 before disembarking the flight at Kochi, I asked my friend a favour. She arranged for a car for us and little did we know then that we were about to get introduced to an amazing guy, Prince Xavier. He definitely made our entire trip joyous.
The steady tempo for our trip just got set. It was a very relaxing day for me (as I had travelled by road almost 900 kms in my previous 3 days before reaching Kochi). We roamed around Fort Kochi. We saw the large Chinese fishing nets but as we reached in the afternoon we couldn't see those work. We saw a 400 years old church, St. Francis Church, where Vasco da Gama was initially buried, although after 14 years his remains were taken to Lisbon. Moving on, we quickly ate our lunch at a road side shop (Pizza Italia) suggested by Prince, Currymean fish fry (sea fish popular in Kerala) and prawn curry with Kerala porotta and a super tasty iced tea with honey to drink. Don't get surprised with our choice of food in an Italian food joint. The food was tasty and we wanted to try something local. We ferried down the river from Fort Kochi to Ernakulum with our car and it cost us only Rs. 35/-- a different experience for us. The roads around Ernakulum, after we crossed the boat jetty point, were peaceful. The air was so fresh! We went to see a lighthouse but unfortunately on every Monday it remains closed. There's a small and quiet beach in front of the lighthouse-our first beach rendezvous. I am not much of a beach lover, although turquoise blue sea water attracts me more, but Madhumita got excited seeing the large waves breaking on her feet. She was child-like and running around and giggling loud. But she had a motive. I enjoyed watching her chase the water with her arms spread and taking the large waves boldly and breaking with her arms. The sea water spoiled her MI band but she gave a damn to that. I enjoyed the sound of madness of the water and watched her breaking the waves. The vastness of the sea made me motionless for a while. I sank into the depth of my subconscious mind, it smartly relayed to me - relax! You are doing all right. Life is always great and beautiful. It's the journey that matters before the wishes are fulfilled. Keep dreaming. She shouted 'Are you serious? Don't you wanna come in with me?'
It was Prince's idea to take us there as we couldn't enjoy on the Fort Kochi beach due to the recent restrictions for heavy rains. The day hushed with our visit to LuLu Mall, India's largest shopping mall spreading over 17 acres. The owner, Yusuff Ali M.A., named it after his daughter, LuLu. I realised people from different religion could co-exist peacefully and smiling. After we got back to my friend's place in Orange Park, we geared up for journey to Munnar and Thekkady.
On day 2, we left for Munnar (Idukki district) at around 7.30 a.m., charged up to witness the hill station which every person who has visited has said it to be beautiful. Statistically, Idukki accounts for 12.9% of the area of Kerala. We first crossed the Cheeyappara waterfall. We posed in front of the waterfall and got each other trapped in our phones. By this time, the heaviness of my subconscious mind from the previous day had settled in. I felt much better.
We asked a kind man to click us together. He took the impromptu job so seriously that he clicked us almost from every possible angle. We had to stop him in the middle. He smiled at us. Madhumita got excited to see big family of monkeys around the waterfall. And I hope that soon she gets one such big family (of humans) for herself. The beautiful weather enthralled me.
We moved on and our next stop was Munnar Spices. I hoped that my friend would ask us to move on and by-pass this stop, but we paid Rs. 100 per person and roamed in the plantation. The guide showed us various plants used for medicinal purposes. I kept nodding my head and she kept asking questions to the guide. I wouldn't be surprised if she plants few medicinal trees at her flat back home. Madhumita bought 3 bottles of fat burning medicines but we are not sure of the results yet. We got to wait for another 3 months to learn about the end results. Jokes apart, by this time the sky was clear and sunny. The white clouds in the blue sky were busy making its own formations. They played around in huge blue space. Some were steady, heavy, got stagnant and some flew past fast. !
We crossed Valara waterfall and then stopped at Karadippara view point and grabbed a cup of coffee. A cosy coffee joint with an owner generous enough to serve us tea, coffee and dosa (in a self-serviced shop) to seemingly lazy ladies from Kolkata. He was glad to learn that we were from Kolkata. He pronounced "Kolkataa" "Calcultta" "Kalkatta" and served our drinks and food. Never to forget, Bengal and Kerala has (had) close ties for decades. Our next destination was famous Eravikulum National Park. That 1 km walk in the national park was breathtakingly beautiful with mountain goats grazing the lush green fields. The breeze was cool. We sat on cemented fence and ate cashews - in a way enjoying the picturesque view, careless and carefree.
We left for Suryanalli in search of Munnar Pramic, almost 34 kms from the national park. We stayed in tent there surrounded by an absolute tranquillity. The view from there covered hills with forests, tea plantations and valleys. We reached around 5.30 in the evening.