© 2012 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. notworkrelated_india_munnar_35

India – Kerala – Munnar – 13th-14th April

Before we left Kumily we couldn’t resist another fabulous Claus breakfast, the same as the day before , perhaps we’d been subconsciously craving this kind of food as it was so completely delicious. It definitely set us up for the journey to Munnar and after we paid the bill we took a rickshaw to the very close bus station and boarded the green bus on the right hand side. It only cost 81rs each, a bargain for the distance covered.

The main problem though with this kind of travel and perhaps even more so on private buses is it’s about getting on as many passengers as possible to keep the bus conductors till ringing. We were tightly packed in as the driver swung around and horned his way passed other vehicles through the hilly landscape. It was a beautiful drive though, as soon as we were an hour or so into the journey we were hitting tea plantation territory which is quite unique.

After 5 hours we arrived in Munnar and quickly got a rickshaw to Rheinberg Homestay on the hill directly looking down over the bazaar. We contacted them in advance as it’s peak season for Munnar at that time and a festival would be taking place a few days after our arrival. Rheinberg is a small home-stay with only 3 rooms, and it is set up to be very separate from the house, for example no communal area other than outdoors and they weren’t a family who welcomed you in. The owners are very sweet though as we got to know them, and the room…well it was no Claus Garden but it would do for the price at 1000rs a night and we had a lovely little garden with roses surrounding our room. We’d recommend taking breakfast elsewhere though as it wasn’t very good.

When we settled in we head out for lunch at the very popular Hotel Saravan Bhavan serving a good range of South Indian vegetarian food on banana leaves. Helen had a vegetable thali and Dave a paneer massala with lemon rice, our waiter couldn’t be more attentive and so we tipped generously at the end. The food there is really cheap but excellent and so we thought we’d be coming back again and sampling more from the menu. We explored the town of Munnar which isn’t really that attractive but is surrounded by lush tea plantations. We walked up to the Hindu Temple, wandered the streets a little and bought some tea and spices (cardamon, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, star anise and black Munnar tea all for 330rs). We also documented some of the fantastical painted decorations that appear on so many of the buses and trucks over here. Later on we met more travellers and holiday makers who were staying at Rheinberg and so we sat out with them until bedtime chatting away.

On our full day in Munnar we opted to keep it quite cheap and so after breakfast we walked out towards the Kanan Devon Hills Tea Museum (formerly the Tata Tea Museum). The name change confused us a little and we ended up walking past the museum but we also did this because the walk in this part of town is really nice, suddenly we were in quiet villages and still the tea plantations surrounded us. After a few kilometres we went back towards the museum and decided to see what it was all about. It’s the closest you can get as a visitor to a working tea plantation but everything is for show. It costs 75rs per person including a couple of cups of Ripple branded tea and a tea demonstration. We actually enjoyed our little tour of the factory museum, it was informative and full of Indian tourists loving the Tea story.

We then came back through Munnar this time enjoying doss’s at Saravan Bhavan with the same waiter, Helen’s ravi dosa was quite something and we promised ourselves breakfast there the next day.

We followed lunch by taking a rickshaw out to Pothamedu Viewpoint some 4 km out of town, we stopped to take in the view, which is stunning and then began a little half day hike down through tea plantations and across to the Atthukad Waterfalls. The path had plenty of signs saying no trespassing but when we asked locals the directions they sent us this way. We passed by tea harvesters and ended up taking a short-cut down steps which lead straight through the plantations because we followed them to help us with our direction. When we came out at the waterfalls we didn’t really stop as there isn’t that much to see, but it was a beautiful walk and nice to be on our own un-guided hike. We took the paths uphill to the Tata processing factory and then we were led up to the main road back to Munnar where we caught the next bus for 6rs each back to town stopping at Kurinji Gift Shop south of central Munnar and walked back from there.

For our second evening in Munnar we ate at Rapseys in the undercover Bazaar where we joined the group who we’d met the night before. Dave got carried away as the dishes were coming up at 30-40rs each and so the two of us ended up with more food than the other three combined! Two small vegetable curries, a potato curry, some curd, 2 chapatti’s, roast peas and a vegetable biryani! The food was good here but we preferred our favourite down the road. For some reason we keep talking about food but it’s been really fantastic for us in South India and often some of our highlights have been the food we’ve eaten and so for breakfast the next morning we went back to Saravan and had our first local Indian breakfast (we did have Indian breakfasts at Kunnar Beachhouse) but this was out first out of a home stay. We enjoyed Idly’s, vada’s and a slightly sweet rice cake style dish. This was served with a mild curry, a coco-nut, spiced yoghurt and another little vegetable dish. Yum! We hope you are now salivating!

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0, 18mm f4, 90mm Tele-Elmarit f2.8 processed in Lightroom 3)

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