Chasing the monsoons — Chennai, Munnar, Valparai

Day 0: Destination Munnar. We had few choices of routes, however chose the route as follows:
Chennai — Thindivanam — Ulundurpet — Perambalur — Thuraiyur — Musiri — Karur — Aravakurichi — Dharapuram — Udumalpet — Chinnar — Marayoor — Munnar — Suryaneli (Club Mahindra)

Started from Chennai at 04:30 AM and reached Munnar around 04:00 PM with couple of breaks. Club Mahindra, Munnar is a beautiful property set amidst picturesque surroundings. After settling in, stepped out for a walk and enjoyed the drizzle.
Called it a day.

Thru Chinnar wildlife sanctuary
Marayoor Forests
Club Mahindra Munnar

That was day 0. Having been to Munnar few times before, we were not too keen on visiting the regular touristy spots and had to plan the next day. A good friend, suggested if we could do a circuit drive since we had time and we were more than willing to do that. So that was the plan for the next day, drive through some beautiful country roads in the rain.

Day 1: Had a nice breakfast at a nearby joint, and I wanted to pass through Munnar town just like that and we went towards Mattupetty dam and little further down. Came back to Munnar town and decided to do the circuit drive. Hence covered the following places:

Munnar town — Pallivasal (Chitrapuram power house) — Pottankadu — Bison Valley Poopara road — Suryanelli

It was very different driving through an unknown land, raining all through, fresh and green everywhere. The Bison valley — Poopara stretch was absolutely brilliant, passing through plantations. Another day that was spent worthwhile.

Passing through the Lockhart Gap
Circuit drive route
A straight road in a hilly terrain

So that was the day of driving through beautiful terrains.

Day 2: This day wasn’t planned again. We didn’t know what to do. Kolukkumalai was a destination I read about in some blog couple of weeks before the vacation. However it was also mentioned that the place is approachable only by a jeep. I also came across cab drivers selling this place in front of the resort. I did read that it was supposed to be a worth visiting place, but we weren’t very sure if we really wanted to do it in this trip.

Just went for a late breakfast still contemplating on where to go and post food, we decided why not drive till the point where the jeep trip actually starts. Thanks to GPS, we just drove appx 4 kms and reached a place where a signboard read Kolukkumalai.

Wanting to check if there are any options for Jeeps, we bumped in to someone who actually does jeep trips and he asked us for Rs 1100 for the trip to the peak. It sounded reasonable to us and hence we parked the car right where we stopped and hopped on to the jeep. The distance to Kolukkumalai peak was one way 18 Kms. It definitely was pretty exciting having read so much about the place. I will let pictures speak the rest.

The cheerful driver who showed us all the places with a lot of patience
Inside the worlds highest organic tea factory

It was a marvel walking through the tea factory and I was awed at the machinery and the technology that was used even before we understood the term “Technology”. This factory started operating in the year 1946 as per the person who was working there. This is the only place where they do not use chemical sprays on the tea leaves while cultivating since most of it is being exported. The methodology used to make tea dust is also a very orthodox method compared to the modern innovations. Phew!!!!

I did read that this would be a back crunching journey, but never knew till I woke up the next day that the trip would actually be a limb breaking one!!!! I thought I was perfectly fine with the off roading experience, little did I realize I would rather wake up with severe body pain.

It is believed that this place should be visited for sunrise, as the sun rises from the misty mountains and the clouds below actually look like water. Next time when I plan this, I will make sure to plan a spa for the evening :)

Nevertheless, a trip which is worth every penny. The view from the peak is astounding for sure. The driver also stopped at a point and took us on a small trek to view the peak. This completed our trip at Munnar

Day 3: It was an extraordinary time we had at Munnar and we had to say goodbye to the place of course to come again with many more unusual things to do.

Started around 7:30 AM from the resort, and the next destination was Valparai. There were two routes one via Tamil Nadu which would have been a faster drive, and the other via Kerala passing through Athirapally waterfalls. Knowing it is the monsoon, we were pretty sure about the water level at the falls and wanted to do the longer route via Kerala and through the forest.

Same friend had suggested another interesting route to reach Athirapally without touching through the conventional route and I must admit, it was worth a try.

The route taken was
Munnar — Adimali — Neriyamangalam — Kothamangalam — Perumbavoor — Aimury — Malayatoor — Plantation road — Vettilappara — Athirampally — Valparai

Since we started very early we stopped for a brunch at a nice hotel at Kothamangalam. This place is right opposite ICICI bank and diagonally opposite Indianoil bunk on the highway. The hotel is called Cloud 9. Very good place for a stopover with very neat bathroom facility.
Beautiful route to drive through, passed through Athirapally and went via the forest to Valparai.

Drive through plantation road
View of Athirapally falls from the road

Most of the pictures of this day were of the waterfalls and the different roads we passed through. Hence sharing a limited number. Reached Valparai around evening and called it a day.

Day 4: The owner of the place where we stay is a good friend and we always look through for some interesting things to do or places to visit while in Valparai. This place has something to offer everytime we visit. I can’t stop falling in love with this place. Many people ask me why Valparai everytime, I do not have words to explain.

Well for people who look for commercial places, then I would definitely not recommend Valparai. This is a very quaint little village and its a forest in itself. Do not look for Valparai if you want party or move around in the nights. This is a destiny only for nature lovers. The whole town becomes quiet post 07:00 PM not because people want to sleep early, but for the fear of wild animal movement. The place has to be felt by being there and cannot be explained in words.

So this day, we planned a drive to Akkamalai, one of the places in Valparai. The grass lands lie ahead of Akkamalai, however it is not allowed for visitors again to protect wildlife and for safety of visitors.

Frank suggested we do a drive inside Manompalli forest and I was pretty excited. The last two trips I was looking to get inside this place, I was told we couldn’t due to Maoists movement. So the idea was to take some stuff to cook inside the guest house in the forest.

The sheer thrill of going inside another dense forest in itself is a great feel. So we went inside, (Of course permission was acquired prior to going), the cook made prepared some light lunch for us and we enjoyed thoroughly being in the midst of dense jungle, where you don’t find human inhabitants, no sound, no pollution no mobile network.

It was silent, the only sounds you could hear was the sound of the fresh water around, sound of the cicadas and other insects in the jungle. This place is supposed to be a good sight for fresh water crocs, however we couldn’t spot any.

Most of the pictures of this day were of the waterfalls and the different roads we passed through. Hence sharing a limited number. Reached Valparai around evening and called it a day.

Fresh water deep inside the forest and this is where there are many crocs found
Manompalli Forest Guest House
The trench surrounding the guest house to prevent elephants from entering

This place again is supposed to give a chill during the nights as nothing around you is visible and you cannot even see if an animal comes around you. Looking forward to staying overnight at Manompalli. More reasons I have to go to Valparai again and again.

Day 5: Since the previous day couldn’t go as planned, we did a short drive till Akkamalai. The roads were pretty bad and narrow but the drive was good.

We were back by noon and were resting when impromptu it was decided we would buy food and drink and drive to Sakthi Thalanar. The moment the place name was uttered, I jumped with joy. Sakthi thalanar is best visited during monsoon only. Sadly we tried visiting the same place in April and it was dry and not the beauty that it was.

I was well aware what a beautiful drive that would be and instantly got ready for the next drive. I should thank Frank was being instant in deciding this and what more could I ask for. Pictures would speak for themselves.

Ready for the drink and lunch amidst misty mountains
View of Sholayar
This is why we love the drive through Sakthi Thalanar
The ghost trees were all over the place
The location we chose for our luncheon
Couldn’t stop enjoying myself!!! What more could one ask for?

Another well spent day came to an end and I couldn’t ask for more.

Slept well with hundreds and hundreds of pictures and loads and loads of memories which I would carry to eternity.

Day 6: Started from Valparai at 06:30 AM. Decided to take a route which was never tried. Drove via Palani — Dindigul — Trichy — Chennai. Passing through Trichy was a complete mess and the return drive brought me back to reality from my fantasy world. It was grueling heat all the way to Chennai.

Well this is reality. However the memories will last a lifetime.

Welcome to my travel tales. As an avid traveler and adventure seeker would love to share my experiences