We travelled to Munnar for a 4 day trip from 25/12. We decided against the train as even the train would require a 3-4 hour journey by taxi, having seen the way the tourist taxi guys drive, I just wasn't prepared to take my chances and decided to drive.
Some memories from the trip
- We left Bangalore at 5:45 am. At Hosur, there was a massive jam caused by an accident where a bus was blocking the entire highway. But, we got very lucky as we hit the jam just near a break in the road divider. We crossed over to the service lane on the other side and rejoined after the accident scene.
- I have a lot of memories of the Bangalore-Salem road, as we used to drive to my uncle’s place in Thanjavur regularly during the 80’s. More recently, we had a nightmare drive from Krishnagiri to Salem, when the 4 lane was being constructed. With the construction complete, the drive was a pleasure. I was easily cruising at 110-120 kmph, which enabled us to reach Salem in 2.5 hours.
- We took the Perundurai-Kangeyam-
Dharapuram-Udumalpetai-Chinar- Marayoor-Munnar route to avoid any potential problems due to the Mullaperiyar dam issue. There were absolutely no problems and we crossed over into Kerala with ease
- The forest section through Annamalai Tiger reserve and Chinar national park was a bit of a disappointment on the way out. I was hoping to see some wildlife but some birds and a chameleon that I almost ran over was as close as we got.
- The Club Mahindra resort is almost 20 km beyond Munnar. Since the Marayoor and
Theni routes to Munnar are almost the same distance, going via Theni means that you save almost 45 km if you’re going to the resorts at Chinnakanal. No wonder, many of the people at team-bhp were recommending this. Atleast, we got to see some of the spectacular views over Lockhart Valley
- We stayed in a small hotel unit room for the first 2 days and then shifted to a 1 bedroom unit. The resort was good, but not very kid friendly. My son is at an age where he gives up and wants to be lifted whenever he feels like. Usually, this happens when there are steps to be climbed or a steep slope. Lifting a 15 kg child and walking up a 25-30 degree slope is no fun. I can’t wait for the day when he is embarrassed to be lifted.
- As the driver, I hardly got to see any of the views. So, we decided to take the tour offered by the resort. This had another advantage, as we didn’t have to worry about parking the car at the spots.
- The tour was a little disappointing, we went to an area with elephant rides which was quite nice. The next spot was the Mattupettu dam, we were really looking forward to taking the speedboat ride, but it had almost a 3 hour wait. Having already waited 1.5 hours for the elephant ride, we decided to skip and left after taking a few snaps.
- Day 2 was spent mainly at the resort, where we visited the model village set up by the resort.
- On Day 3, we went to the Erivakulam National Park, home of the Nilgiri tahir. We found a huge traffic jam as we neared the NP. Following the cue of other vehicles, we parked right there itself and walked the final 1 km to the entrance. Near the NP entrance, the cause of the problem was clear, the road was only wide enough for a single bus, but there were 2 huge buses on either side of the entrance wanting to get through. On reaching the park, we found a huge line which extended halfway up the side of the mountain. On enquiring with people, we found that it would take almost 4-5 hours to get the bus and decided to just head back. Our decision to park away proved a blessing as we could easily reverse and head back avoiding the jam completely.
- Club Mahindra resort was excellent as always with good food, generally great facilities. However, the activity room was very poor compared to their resort in Coorg and Goa with almost no facilities for infants. As a result, we avoided it completely.
- In view of the jam at Erivakulam, we decided to start back early hoping to avoid the Erivakulam jam and see some wildlife on the way. Till we entered the Annamalai reserve, we did not see even a single eee-kaaka. To our luck, as soon as we entered the reserve, I spotted a movement on the right and sure enough, there were two elephants making their way up the mountain. Further on, we hit paydirt, there was a single wild elephant on the side of the road eating his/her breakfast.
- On the way back, we stopped for 4 hours at Tirrupur, got some good bargains on clothes at a factory outlet and ate a big lunch at Sree Saravana Bhavan. This delayed our return to late evening, and as I am not very comfortable with night driving, dropped our average speed significantly. We finally made it home at 9:45 pm.
- I was very happy with my car's mileage during the trip. With all the high speed cruising and the ghat roads, we still ended up with a little over 14 kmpl. Not bad for a 1.6l engine.