The call of the hills

Weekend getaway

The call of the hills

Tired after a long and hectic week, I called up a friend to rant, “I need to get out of the city.” “I’m going to Munnar with some friends next weekend. Want to come along?” she asked. Kerala has always held a special place in my heart, but I’ve only visited its coastal parts. So this time, when the hills were calling, I had to go! “Yes!” I yelped!  

How did we go?

A group of 10, we hired a minibus for the overnight journey. Although Google Maps indicated that it would take us nine hours to get there, we hadn’t anticipated the long wait for private vehicles at multiple border checkposts. After 12 hours, we made it to Munnar by 10 am on Saturday morning.

The first sight of the white clouds parting like curtains to showcase every hill adorned with lush green tea estates was enough to take all the tiredness away! We spent the morning strolling through plantations, sipping on steaming cups of tea and eating spiced pineapple slices from the hawkers that stood at every tourist spot.

Another 40 km beyond the town of Munnar lay our destination for the night — Nature Castle Villa. It is a beautiful wooden cottage, nestled deep within the forest beyond Pumbadum Shola National Park, in a town known as Koviloor. A large and cosy three-bedroom cottage, it has an attached kitchen and an extremely courteous staff.

What did we do?

After a quick shower and a delicious homemade lunch of ‘dosa’ and ‘vegetable stew’, we set off on a walk along the nearest hiking path. One of the highlights of the location was how disconnected we were from the outside world. No commercial spaces, no vehicles and no cellphone connectivity — sheer bliss!

We returned to the cottage, only to be greeted with cups of Munnar’s freshly brewed lemon ginger tea, and the sight of a bonfire being set up for us, for the night. We camped out in front of the fire all night, as the cold air nipped at our noses and fingertips, and gorged on another delectable meal of ‘chicken ghee roast’, ‘dosa’ and ‘tomato curry’.

The next day, two of us were headed back to Bengaluru, so we set off to explore the rest of Munnar. We made quick stops at tourist-laden spots like Top Station, Mattupatty Dam and Kundala Dam. But my favourite thing to do was climb into secluded tea estates and sit before the mesmerising views while sipping on fragrant tea and munching on raw mango slices. We then visited the tea museum and the KDHP tea shop to stock up on all the Munnar essentials before bidding goodbye to the most wondrous weekend!

 Neha Paranjpe
(The author can be contacted at paranjpe.n@gmail.com)

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