Thursday, June 13, 2013

Truly God's Own Country - Munnar, Kerala

Before I start writing about this place, here soothe your eyes with some green..

BEAUTIFUL pictures right?? Believe me my camera has not done half as justice to the actual beauty of this place. Probably cos these pictures were taken on cloudy and rainy September days. We took this trip last year in September. After considering places like Udaipur, Kashmir and Kumarakaom within Kerala itself, we zeroed in on Munnar, as my dad who is a member of Club Mahindra offered us some free stay vouchers for this resort. Although, we would have preferred to have explored more of Kerala by visiting Kumarakom/Allepey (backwaters) and Kovalam (beach) too, we did not do so as we had keep our vacation as short as just 3 days. Reason being, we just wanted a short relaxing vacation that would'nt be too heavy on the pocket. This was more like a break for me before I joined my new job.

About the place

Munnar, is Kerala's tea country. Apart from the beaches and the backwaters, Kerala is also known for it's hilly regions like Wayanand and Munnar. Munnar just like it's Tamil Nadu counterpart is lush green, and a tea growing region. The weather throughout the year remains chilly and is one of the highest rainfall receiving regions of India.


Munnar is a good six hour drive from Cochin. We flew from Mumbai to Cochin and then booked a cab (prepaid online) through for our entire stay which included the travel to and from the Cochin airport.

Our flight tickets cost us a BOMB- Rs 10k per person. Actually we didn't realise that our travel dates clashed with Onam (the Malayalam New year). No wonder the tickets rates were so steep.


As mentioned earlier, we stayed at the Club Mahindra resort in Munnar. My taxi driver mentioned that it is the best resort Munnar has, and it was originally a part of the Taj group of hotels later taken over by Mahindra. Since, we are members, the stay for us was for free. Again because of Onam, the studio apartments and the cottages were full and thus, we had to stay in a ground floor hotel room, which had absolutely no view. (A lesson learnt. Must check for local holidays before making travel plans). From whatever hotels I could see from outside, Mahindra did look the biggest and the best.

Club Mahindra Munnar

View from the resort

Since, we did not get to stay in the cottages/studio apartment. We were slightly disappointed. Our room was like any other other hotel room. Not very small but not very spacious also. Forgot to take pictures of the room. But you can take a look at all the different rooms on tripadvisor.

The resort is huge and has an in house club house, spa, 2 restaurants and a coffee house. There is no swimming pool as the weather in Munnar does not permit to have one outdoor pool. During our stay there we did avail the services of the Kerala spa there, and must say it was quite relaxing. The staff is extremely hospitable and friendly.The food is good if you stick to Indian, can't really experiment here although they serve all cuisines. They have buffet during lunch as well as dinner. One can opt for either buffet or a la carte. The buffet for members was around Rs 650 per person per meal. We had the best time enjoying their filter coffees and pakodas during evening overlooking the rain. They were yummm. 

Things to do

There's not much to do in Munnar except for some R&R (relaxing and rejuvenating). However, we did do a couple of things there:

Visit the town and watch a Kathakali show

Kathakali Dance show
We are all for encouraging local art forms. Also, I've never seen a live Kahthakali performance. So on one one of the rainy evenings we decided to check out the market and the Kathakali show. The ticket prices are nominal (around Rs 250). There's also one martial arts performance (name can't recollect). which my driver said is also an interesting watch.


After the Kathakali show we went to the market to buy Kerala's famous banana chips fried in coconut oil. They are yellow in colour and yumm. We were also told to buy these various handmade choclates. And we bought lot of packets as gifts for our family. Also, worth checking out our sandalwood collectibles and the handmade massage oils and soaps.

Visit the highest tea plantation in the world - Kollukumalai

Kollukumalai Tea plantation - Munnar

You know what they say that it's not the destination but the journey that matters. Well, this place is one of those places. Once you reach there you'll feel no different than being in any other part of Munnar but the journey is one helluva ride!! It's nothing less than sitting on a roller coaster, only this one is more scary. Being the highest tea plantation this lace is 7500 km above sea level and one needs to hire a jeep and trained driver to take you here, as the roads are very narrow and rough. the views on the way are spectacular, reminded me of some Scotland landscape pictures I have seen. But if you have a back problem or a heart problem , this journey is definitely not meant for you. This tour was arranged by my driver. (he didn't drive ofcourse). the jeep driver took Rs 1100 for a return journey. But it was well worth it.

Inside the Tea factory

Other things that we missed out on but can be done:
  • Visit the Matupetty Dams - there's also boating there
  • Visit the Rose gardens
  • Waterfalls
  • Anaimudi National park
The info for all these can be availed at here

Have you been to Munnar? How did you find it? Do share your stories and feel free to ask me details in case you are planning a trip there.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Postcards from my Instagram feed - May 2013

I switched from my precious Blackberry to an Iphone lately. Not out of choice. Mainly cos my BB died. Call me primitive if you want to but I never thought I'll be able to give up on BBM. The blackberry messenger was pretty addictive and although, there's always Whatsapp but there was this feature of Recent updates on BBM which was pretty entertaining. However, a lot of people started moving from BB to Iphone/Android and once my BB gave up I thought it's high time I did too.

And the one thing that I was most looking forward to on the Iphone is using Instagram. It's more or less like facebook where you can upload and share photos, but here you can edit and filter them as well.Thus, it brings out the photographer in you. Here's are some pictures that I clicked and filters and uploaded on my Instagram and the stories behind them:

Tamilian thali at Saravana Bhavan

I was in Chennai and wanted to try authentic Tamilian dishes. I didn't know what to order after seeing the menu. So decided to order a thali so that I could sample lot of things at one go. Bad decision! The meal looked and felt too heavy for my palate.I could hardly finish all the things that they served for just around 200 rupees. Must be around 10-12 items. The Sambaar and Rasam were the best parts. And please STAY AWAY from the paan that they serve hear after the end of the meal. I almost spat it out. It was soooo spicy! One of the worst things that I have put in my mouth recently.
Orissa handicraft from Dilli Haat

I am a very touristy kind of a traveller. Whenever I go to a place I want to check off places that are usually recommended for tourists. On one of my work visits to Delhi I wentt o the Dilli haat, besides looking for some phulkari dupattas for my self, I also bought this colourful handicraft from the Orissa stall. Just to spice up my dining table and also to do my bit to encourage these arts.

Jenga @ Doollaly

This place - Doollaly a brewery in Pune ( a lil on the outskirts, quite a long drive from Mumbai) was discovered by my friend. Personally I am not a beer fan. But their apple cider is sweet enough to turn non drinkers into fans too. They also serve vodka, rum and cocktails for non beer drinkers.We were a group of 8. Beer, Mojito pitchers, jenga and some really good music gave us good company. Totally enjoyed the experience!

This picture of a painting of a not so good looking woman wastaken at Darios in Pune. From the same trip as mentioned above. Had heard so much about the place. The food and the ambience really lived up to it. Although I went there in the month of May, so couldn't realy sit in their apen air zone. But I'm guessing winter will be a great time to visit this place.

Mango Margarita @ Sammy Sosa

I love Margaritas. I love my Margaritas even more when they are served with some authentic yummy Mexican food. Mumbai has such a dearth of authentic Mexican restuarants. The only ones that are there are Sanchos and Sammy Sosa.   I know the month of May for some is fully welcome because of Mangoes. Not a big fan of them. But this Mango Margarita was a great accompaniment to my Mexican meal.
That's it from my this month's Instagram feed. (Yes I am planning to make this a monthly post). Are you there on Instagram. Do follow me. My handle is @rajvibhow. Would love to see your pictures as well. After all, pictures tell great stories and I love stories!