Sunday, 30 September 2012

Munnar : Attukal (Attukadu) and Chinnakanal Water Falls

Previous Posts : -
Tea estates, green valleys, national park, dams and lakes ..... I was wondering what would be our next destination in Munnar. Oh yes..  Heaven is not complete without water falls right? We headed towards one of the beautiful falls of Munnar- Attukal Water Falls aka Attukadu water falls.
Attukal Water Falls :
 It was a lovely drive through tea gardens and through narrow roads. From far off distance we saw a beautiful falls falling from the top of a steep mountain. Our driver stopped the vehicle here. The view was spectacular. It was like milk is flowing uninterruptedly from the green mountain. It was like a beautiful angel with soft, shimmery and glittery white wings is coming down to earth from the heaven.
My excitement was high when driver told that we can go very near to the falls. This falls has two parts. Actual big one can be seen from a far off distance and the cascaded one is what we get a chance to be nearby. We can trek from this place to go near the falls or we can go by vehicle. Though trekking through green valley gives a beautiful opportunity to see the multiple views of falls, we preferred to reach there by vehicle.

After a short drive, driver stopped the vehicle near a long bridge. Water from the falls was flowing under the bridge. Water flowing through the rocks leaves you mesmerized. As it was the month of February, water was less in the falls. So one can easily climb and sit on the rocks and play with water. But during monsoon Attukal waterfalls wears a different avatar and dangerously beautiful with plenty of water.

A lone local wooden tea shop at the end of the bridge adds its own charm to the surroundings. Except me and my hubby there were no tourists at all. Surrounding was very peaceful and calm. Sound of the water fall was the only one we could hear. We got a cup of tea from the lonely shop and sat on one of the rocks just watching the majestic water flowing. That was just so romantic and it just took us into a whole different world.

Chinnakanal Watrfalls :
Here I have to mention on Chinnakanal water Falls which we saw in Munnar. It is a small waterfall but it has its own beauty. It is encircled by western mountain range. While Attukal waterfalls appeared like an angel, Chinnakanal falls falling through a narrow rocky hill looked like a slim, tall, size zero model cat-walking on the narrow ramp. But no doubt-monsoon is the season when it attracts tourists with plenty of crystal clear water and pearly water drops.

Munnar has many other beautiful and hidden waterfalls. Due to shortage of time we couldnot visit all.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Munnar : Mattupetty Dam and Mattupetty Lake

--> Munnar - Part 1: Hilltop Tea Town Bordered By Tea Estates and Green Valleys
--> Munnar - Part 2: Eravikulam National Park, Anamudi Peak and The Endangered Moutain Goat - Nilgiri Tahr

Our next destination in Munnar was Mattupetty Dam and Mattupetty Lake.
Mattupetty Dam :
This dam has been built to conserve water for hydroelectricity. This is the vital source of power to Munnar. Its a storage Concrete Gravity dam. The scenery here is spell bounding. When we reached the dam there were very few tourists. So we enjoyed the scenery, pristine blue water and cool breeze without any disturbance. Loved the view from the bridge. A walk down through the bridge will be good to refresh the mood. The flow of water from other side of the bridge is something which I have not seen in any other dams.
Flow Of Water From The Dam

There are many small shops and street vendors around the lake where you can buy many stuffs from eatables to handicrafts but bargain hard. You can hire horse for riding. Or simply click the photos of beautiful surroundings till you get tired.

Mattupetty Lake :
Just a short distance from the dam there is a beautiful lake nestled on the hills, surrounded by tea gardens, hilly woods and shola forests. This lake is formed by the dam. The calm, tranquil waters of the Mattuppetty Lake offer solace to the weary souls. The panoramic view offered by the serene lake and hills is worth travelling a long distance.

Shola Forests in The Background Of The Lake
There are boating facilities for tourists. Tourists can enjoy speed boats, motor boats, pedal boats and row boat facilities at the lake. Dont want to go for boating? Then just sit back on shore, relax and enjoy the nature at its best. Divinity of the nature reflects in crystal clear blue waters of the lake. There are some beatiful resorts on the hills overlooking the lake.  

Resort Overlooking the Lake
Mesmarised by the beauty of the nature, I could not help but sing a song..
ಓ ಸುಂದರೆ ... ವಸುಂಧರೆ.. ಮನೋಹರೇ.... ತುಂಬಿದ ಚೆಲುವು ನಿನ್ನದು ....
ನೋಡಲು ಕಣ್ಣುಗಳೇ ಸಾಲದು.... 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Munnar : Eravikulam National Park, Anamudi Peak and The Endangered Mountain Goat- Nilgiri Tahr

When we returned to hotel from a refreshing evening walk, receptionist told us to get ready by 9 AM next day morning for sight seeing and a private vehicle would be ready for us. I was wondering what Munnar offers other than Tea plantations.
Eravikulam National Park
Next day morning we boarded the vehicle and driver told that our next place will be Eravikulam National Park and he is taking us to the park authority office where we need to buy tickets.  From there visitors have to board the mini bus arranged by the Eravikulam National Part Authorities. These buses drop visitors till the foot of the park. From there visitors have to climb up the hill to reach the top. Private vehicles are not at all allowed inside the park to avoid air and noise pollution which will affect the flora and founa of the park. Six mini buses operate daily.
Driver gave some interseting information on Eravikulam National Park. It is home to "Nilgiri Tahr" (Mountain Goat) a rare and endagered species. This animal can be seen only in Eravikulam National Park. He also told us that one should be lucky to spot these animals on the hills.
After all formalities and buying entry tickets we boarded the mini bus along with other tourists and bus started to Eravikulam National park. Going to the park from bus itself is an experience. Bus goes through narrow roads, through tea plantations, through rolling green hills. View from the bus is mesmarizing.

View From the bus - On The Way To Eravikulam National Park

Bus dropped us till the base of the park and from there we started climbing up the hill. The Park is 97 sq. km. in extent, consisting mostly of high altitude grasslands that are interspersed with sholas. The high plateau and the hills rising above it, are primarily covered by grasslands. Shrub lands are seen along the bases of the cliffs. Shola forests are located in the valleys and folds.

The park is segregated into three regions; the core area, the buffer area and the tourism area, and you are allowed only into the tourism zone which is in the Rajamalai region. Eravikulam National Park is also called as Rajamalai National Park.

As we were climbing up the hill, my eyes were searching for the animal Nilgiri Tahr. We almost walked up 2 kilometers distance bu could not spot a single Neelgiri Tahr. But walk was refreshing with scenic and breathtaking views. We reached a place called "Anamudi". It is the highest peak in Western Ghats  and in South India having an elevation of 2,695 metres . I was so thrilled.  Anamudi means "Elephants Forehead". The Place looks like Elephant's forehead, so the name. You can even hike up Anaimudi and enjoy breathtaking views of the evergreen shola forests.  
Climbing up - "Anamudi Peak"
Anamudi Peak - Resembling Elephant's Forehead

A security guard who was standing there stopped us from moving further. He said this is the last point of tourism zone and no tourists are allowed to go further as deep forests starts from here.  I was so disappointed that I couldnot see Nigiri Tahr. Security guard said -"Madam dont worry if you are lucky you will find many Nilgiri Tahrs on the way while returning to the base of the park".
We started our return journey from Anamudi peak to the base of the hill. Shortly my hubby shouted "look at there...". Two Nilgiri Tahrs were taking rest under a tree. I could not see them properly as they were sitting very far from us. With the satisfaction that we could spot it,  we continued moving down. Aaha!!! One more Nilgiri Tahr was grazing in the bush right infront of us. It was very cute. After seeing visitors it disappeared in the bush. Very shortly we spotted one more which was sitting on the rock.

Pair Of Nilgiri Tahr's Taking rest

Nilgiri Tahr - Grazing in the bush
Nilgiri Tahr - Resting on The Rock
Finally we reached the place where bus had dropped us. We waited there some time for arrival of the shuttle. Reached the hotel in the evening after a beautiful day.

Some Observations on  Eravikulam National Park and Nilgiri Tahrs :

1. Eravikulam National Park, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site.
2. Twenty six species of mammals have been recorded in the park including the largest surviving population of Nilgiri Tahr, estimated at about 1000 in number.
3. Private Vehicles are strictly banned inside the park.
4. Six mini-buses are operated by park staff as part of the visitor-management programme as well as a pollution-control measure.
5. A well formed security wing is working to protect the park day and night. They watch and warn the tourists for their missbehaviour.
6. Eravikulam National park is very clean and neatly maintained. Littering is banned here. If any one found littering here then fine will be imposed on the spot. Plastic is also strictly banned inside the park. Kudos to the park authorities for this :)
7. Nilgiri Tahrs are very shy animals. Shouting is banned here as it disturbs the animals.
8. Eravikulam National Park is closed for the tourists from March to June/July as this is the calving and breeding season of Nilgiri Tahrs.
9. Once upon a time Nilgiri Tahrs were abundant on the hills of Munnar. As tea plantations started occupying the hills, Nilgiri Tahrs lost their habitat. Poaching also made their situation worse and their number decreased gradually.
10. After declaring Eravikulam as National park and dedicated activities to conserve Nilgiri Tahrs, their number is increasing.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Munnar : Hilltop Tea Town Bordered by Tea Estates and Green Valleys : Part -1

Hotel Ruby International where we stayed in Kodaikanal had arranged a vehicle for us to reach Munnar. We boarded the vehicle and there were two more couples - a Gujarati couple and a Bengali couple along with us. We left to Munnar from Kodaikanal. I was little bit worried on Mist. If it continues in Munnar then our whole trip would be wasted. As we were nearing Munnar I was very happy to see the clear blue sky. There was clear weather with no trace of mist. It was bit warm too.
As we were approaching Munnar border we could see boards like "Spice Garden", "Spice Plantation" along roadside. Driver told us that we can enter those spice garden by paying some amount to the plantation owner to see the entire plantation. Gujarati couple were very much interested to see the plantation and requested our driver to stop the vehicle. We entered the spice garden. There was a house and house owner came outside with a smile and welcomed us. He charged 100Rs per couple to show the spice garden.
A lady took us backside of the house and started showing elaichi plants, venilla creeps, black pepper creeps, cinnamon plants. Me and my hubby started laughing as we had these plants in our house too. To see this we paid 100Rs!!! but those Gujarati and Bengali couple were seeing all these for very first time. They were touching those plants and examining with great curiosity and took some snaps. That lady was explaining in English with Malayalam accent that nobody could understand. Finally our spice garden tour ended with a special masala tea offered to us by the house owner. Tea was simply superb!!!
Beautiful Dam On the Way to Munnar :
As we moved further, we started witnessing the real beauty of Munnar. Munnar town was still 20 Km away. Our driver stopped the vehicle near a dam. View of the dam and the valley was wonderfull with tea plantations surrounding the dam. There is a beautiful small island in the middle of the dam. We relaxed there for 10 minutes and moved further.
We were told that Munnar got its name from three (Munu) rivers (Aaru) - named Nallathani, Palaar and Kanniar. 
Beautiful Dam On the Way to Munnar

Tea Plantations of Munnar :
We could see only tea plantations everywhere. We were greeted by miles and miles of unending tea plantations on entry into munnar. Sun was bright and neatly plucked tea bushes and tender tea leaves were shining. Smooth road looked like a long, moving black snake in the middle of tea bushes growing and spreading on every availaible space on the rolling hills. Our vehicle driver told that today tea is cultivated on 25,000 hectares of land in Munnar with an annual yield of 50,000 metric tonnes.

We reached our hotel around 4 PM and remaining day was for our relaxation. Bengali and 
Gujarati couple had booked rooms in different hotels. Hotel receptionist told us that we can go for a walk, enjoy tea plantations and come back by evening. So we started to explore tea plantations with an evening walk.
Munnar hills are home to many large and small tea plantations. We saw plantations of Tata Tea, Kannan Devan and Harrison Malayalam. Plantation workers were busy in plucking leaves, pruning the tea bushes, sprinkling water. There were localites houses on top of rolling hills. 

Plantation workers sprinkling the water
Localites Houses on top of the Hill
I really started falling in love with Munnar. This is the place where heaven meets earth to show us the rare treat of beauty, serenity and tranquility. Words are falling short to explain the heavenliness of this place. One has to see, to believe the sheer magic of this place.

Tata Tea Company in Munnar
Here I must mention about Tata Tea Company in Munnar. Tata Tea estates, factories  and other processing operations provide jobs to a large number of people in and around Munnar. It has given meaning to a lot of people's lives.The company has gone out of its way to provide all kinds of facilities and conveniences to its employees - among them schools, medical centres and more. Tata Schools provide free and quality education to plantation workers children. Special care is taken for physically handicapped children. Company has built quarters for plantation workers which look beautiful on the hill. So I can say that they are leading a peacefull life in God's own Country in the tea estates of the heaven called "Munnar".
Tata Tea Workers Quarters

Tata School
We wanted to visit Tata Tea Museum which has been opened recently to the delight of tea lovers and tourists. But time didnt permit. It was already 7 PM and we returned to hotel.

To be continued.......

Monday, 3 September 2012

Fire In the Sky : The Glory of Sunset @ Dhareshwar Beach, Kumta

Couple of Months back me and my hubby were enjoying a romantic sunset at Dhareshwar Beach, Kumta. Afterall the Sunset is nature's way to be romantic :) I have grown up watching many sunsets. Though every sunset is beautiful in its way, this sunset is unforgettable for me for its vibrant colors combined with my hubby's adoring expressions :) This is the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. Sky was classic and wide open with clouds playing hide and seek offered an uninterrupted view of Sun's grand farewell.

Sun appeared like yellow mixed orange disc. Suddenly the color of surroundings turned to golden as if sky caught the fire. Floating clouds appeared as smoke spreading speedily as the result of the fire. Golden sands and shining waves were inviting us.  As the blushing sun started sinking into the ocean, entire surroundings became red.  It reminded me of a beautiful Kannada song on sunset.
ಕೆಂಪಾದವೋ ಎಲ್ಲ ಕೆಂಪಾದವೋ ......  ನೆತ್ತರು ಕುಡಿದಂಗೆ ಕೆಂಪಾದವೋ ....
Chirping birds, cool breeze, sparkling crashing waves increased the beauty of the surroundings. As twilight  surrounded us we witnessed the perfect sunset and nature's own masterpiece.