It was the first long weekend of Independence Day in 2011 after Pamela had started her new job. We were eager to escape Bangalore, as the last time we had ventured out was in March when we visited Chikmagalur. Initially, our plan was to visit Hampi, but after speaking with a few homestays in the area, we decided against it because that part of Karnataka was expected to receive an unusual amount of rain, and flooding could happen at any time. While contemplating our destination, we stumbled upon a 50% discount offer (including complementary breakfast) at a homestay in Munnar, courtesy of Mahindra Homestay. Without a second thought, we booked it.
We embarked on our journey on Thursday evening at around 5 PM from Bangalore, and by 9:30 PM, we had reached Salem, with one stop at the dependable A2B in Krishnagiri. It had been raining since 7:00 PM, so we had to drive with caution. We had no idea where to stay in Salem, and upon asking at the Salem Toll Plaza, we were directed to GRT Grand. The hotel is located on the left side of the highway. We requested a slight discount on their published rates, which they agreed to. GRT is a renowned hotel chain within Tamil Nadu, offering modern rooms that are fully furnished.
After a restful night’s sleep and a grand breakfast, we set out around 10:30. Just before leaving the hotel, we unexpectedly ran into one of my college juniors who was on his way to Thekkady (Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary). After a brief conversation, we continued our journey on NH-47, reaching Chinnar Forest via Tiruppur (famous for hosiery products) and Udumalaipettai. There were around four checkpoints where you had to step out of the car and register your name with the forest officials. Purposefully, I didn’t carry any cash, and I didn’t pay a single penny in bribes. These officials often expect anyone with a KA number plate (indicating an IT professional) to have spare cash. After numerous photo stops along the way, we reached Munnar around 6 PM. Our homestay was located next to the Tall Tree resort, and it was pouring by then.
It rained heavily throughout the night, and in the morning, we thought there was no chance of going out. However, the rain slowed down around 10 AM, and our host suggested we venture out because the next day might be even worse. So, we headed in the direction of Mattupetty, visiting Mattupetty Dam, Echo Point, Shooting Point, Kundale Lake, and Top Station. We returned to Munnar town for a snack but couldn’t find a good option. Around 5 PM, we made it back to the homestay.
It wasn’t raining, so we headed to Eravikulam National Park. Our host recommended arriving by 8 AM, but we were slightly late, and there was a long queue. The sunny day attracted many visitors, and after an hour-long wait, we boarded the park bus and reached Rajamala. We hiked on the paved pathway and were fortunate to spot some Nilgiri Tahr. As the day progressed, it became cloudy, and we visited the Tea Factory Museum next to Munnar town. After lunch, we went to Pallivasal for a Kathakali show, which turned out to be a spectacular performance.
Monday, August 15th
We started around 7 AM from the homestay, reaching Salem (GRT Grand) around 1:30 PM for lunch. We spent more money on a grand buffet lunch compared to the previous three dinners. We returned to Bangalore at 5:30 PM, and the road was excellent with no complaints.