Kerala, which is popularly known as God’s own country, is indeed a canvas full of green, gold and blue. When I first heard the catchy tagline, inadvertently I thought of this to be an exaggeration. It was when I visited the south-western state of India, I realized the truth behind that encomium.
The state of Kerala boasts of golden beaches, placid backwater, historical monuments and architecture, a rich culture and cuisine and lush green tea-gardens ensconced in the hills of western ghats. Of all the places I’ve visited in my life, the hill-station of Munnar in Kerala would always hold a special place. Not because I’ve visited it thrice in three different stages of life; with my parents as a child, with my hubby during our honeymoon and with my son and extended family, not because I’ve seen the beauty of Munnar in two different seasons, but because the place never fails to wonder me.
It often happens that regular visits to the same place make it lost its charm. But, Munnar is an exception. A kaleidoscope of memories opens itself up when I think of Munnar. I remember my enchantment as a kid on seeing peacocks in the Eravikulam sanctuary, I remember my first trekking with my husband in the Chinnar wildlife sanctuary, by the Koottar riverside. It was a great experience though, we failed to spot any wild animals during the trek. As there are a number of hotels in Munnar with all sorts of modern facilities, we decided to make it our base but, you may spend a night or two at the Thoovanam log house which is located near the waterfall (of the same name) in the Chinnar forest to feel the utmost jungle ambience.
Whether you decide to stay in the wilderness or somewhere among the lush greenery of tea gardens along the slopes of Western Ghats, you are sure to fall in love with the mesmeric beauty of Munnar. Although it’s enchanting throughout the year, the best time to visit– December-January.
My sister and I have a penchant for visiting old temples, shrines, excavated sites and architecture. We thoroughly enjoyed our visits to Khajuraho and the Diamond Triangles.
As we live in two different cities, it’s not always possible to merge our holidays and arrange a trip, but we do it whenever we can. We went for a short two-day trip to Lonavala with an aim to visit the Karla or Karli Caves. The assemblage of these caves was once the seat of Buddhist monks. The caves were developed over the period from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD, chiefly under the patronage of the Satavahana rulers. The feel of the ancient gets tangible in the atmosphere as one starts climbing up the steps. The rock-cut caves bear intricate designs and, their architectural marvel makes one wonder how they were built to such perfection when there were barely any equipment or tools! It seemed to me that the Chaitya or the Worship Hall (Cave No. 8) used to house hundreds of devotees or Buddhist monks at a time. As there is no tourist information office or guide service for the Karla caves, my advice is to gather sufficient information before the visit through the internet.
Besides the Karla caves, Lohagarh Fort, Bhushi Dam, Della Adventure Park are other places of attraction. Though there are many hotels in Lonavala, as the spot is quite popular as weekend destination garnering tourists in flocks, it’s better to make a prior booking especially if you are visiting with family.
The Lohagarh Fort also has influenced history over quite a period of time as rulers of different dynasties hailed their supremacy over it until it was permanently conquered by Shivaji in 1670 AD who used this as his treasury. Bhushi Dam is a masonry dam on the Indrayani river. We were off to Lonavala in December and, so the dam looked quite unimpressive. However, the road itself was picturesque with flimsy curtains of fog hanging over the hills and golden rays of sun seeping through them. The best time to visit Lonavala is during the monsoons, but in that case, you might have some difficulties for the senior members of the team as the roads are not well-maintained.
Even a couple of days visit in the nearby places helps much to detox our body and mind from the clumsiness of city life. The mind finds natural peace amidst nature. It’s not important whether the trip is an expensive one or you’re staying in a star hotel but what you feel about the place and how you cherish your memories later, make a journey priceless.