Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Munnar, rich in biodiversity

Our Munnar trip not only mesmerised us with its natural beauty but also amazed us equally with its richness in biodiversity. It is just in a single place that we found so many varieties of animals,birds and plants that I could not resist myself from writing a blog post about it.

 We spotted this fantastic looking insect while we stopped our car  to take some landscape photos on our way to Munnar.

  On our way to Munnar we were always accompanied by the beautiful melody of some bird.Finally we spotted the singer.....a hill myna.

Hill Myna

Hill Myna
  At Attukal falls, though the water was less at this time but thankfully not  the birds. We got some colourful bulbuls who were initially shy of the camera but gradually got used to it and gave us some lovely poses right away.


  This is another beautiful bird we spotted,but sadly we dont know the name.

Unknown bird.
  We saw this beautiful racked tail drongo.

Racket tail drongo
  We spotted some sunbirds from our hotel.

Sun bird
  Munnar with its beautiful tea gardens all around.
Tea gardens 
  Spice trees are common in Munnar. This is a cardamon plant.

Cardamon plant
  Black pepper grown at almost all spice gardens.

Black pepper
The climber
  I think these are nutmeg trees we saw in a plantation near Attukal Falls.

Nutmeg tree
  A little far away from Munnar are rubber and coffee plantations.

Coffee tree
Rubber trees

  Now the BAD THINGS.....

  There were some really really horrible things we found in Munnar.

  At Echo Points the hawkers were selling key rings that were stuffed with real dead insects like butterflies, scorpion, shell animals. Very distasteful to see an industry has grown up that is manufacturing these key rings stuffed with dead animals........really don't know how many animals are mercilessly killed everyday for this.

Dead insects in key rings
  Inspite of being such a lovely place Echo Point is full of trash and litter.The place is fully littered with plastic cups,water bottles, old rugs, and a lot of such non bio degradable stuff. It is high time the people become responsible before this place turns into another big dustbin.

Trash at Echo Point
  At Mathupetty dam we saw many shacks selling boiled quail eggs. I would have no problem with this if quail eggs were commercially produced just like
the poultry eggs we get in markets. But since sadly that is not the case, there must be some restriction on the sale of quail eggs.

Quail eggs for sell
  Well a place will be rich in its bio diversity as long as the people are aware and conscious towards its preservation. If the concerned authorities fail
we as tourists can definitely do a little help. Lets stop buying or appreciating things that can disturb the thin line between existence and extinction. After all we should not make all animals dodos.

Roses at Attukal Falls

Friday, 8 March 2013

Munnar, nature all around

Our Kerala travel started with Munnar. We started very early from Bangalore around 3:50 AM on 2nd Feb and reached Munnar around 2 PM. We covered a total distance of 521 kms which included 3 short ten minutes break.

  The route that we took was like (bangalore to munnar)
This road it tolled and you need to pay toll tax at five points.

  Since most of the road is NH7, so driving was easy. In some places the roads were little narrow but good and motorable.

Road from Theni to Munnar
  After reaching Munnar city centre at 2 PM, both of us were dead hungry. The hotel we had booked through makemytrip was another 3 kilometres. Since lunch time was almost up so we decided to have our lunch and then proceed to hotel check in. We went to a small roadside restaurant and had chicken biriyani. The only remaining item on the menu was chicken biriyani. With Rs 100 a plate,the quantity was enough for two people..... lucky that we did not ordered for 2 plates :)

  Munnar city center is little crowded and concentrated. Hotels there are cheap but since we wanted so stay a little closer to nature so we chose hotel "Munnar Rock" which is a little far from the city centre. And as we had our own car Sparky with us, so commutation was never a headache.

Munnar Rock Hotel
  The peak time for Kerala visit is Nov-Jan end. Hotels and all other services will charge you more at that time. Anytime apart from that, things will be cheaper. Hotel Munnar Rock was good. They charged Rs 1140 per day. They had well ventilated rooms and really big bath rooms... The bad thing is that the path leading to the hotel entrance is very steep. So car parking can be a little challenging. The hotel attendents were also courteous and mostly from Bengal. You need to order your lunch and dinner a few hours before as they will buy raw material and specifically cook what you ordered. There is also an advantage of staying here. There is an office just opposite to the hotel that sells ticket for Kathakali and Kalarippayattu (traditonal martial art). They have daily shows in the evening at a hall very near to the hotel. Ticket price is Rs 200 for each show per person.

  We had the whole after noon free so we thought of visitng Attukal Falls that same day. From our hotel Attukal Falls was within 1.5 kilometres. Since it was dry season the falls was almost dry. There is a small tea shop just near to Attukal Falls owned by Mr Moses, a really nice and jovial person. After we had tea, he chatted with us for sometime and showed us his spice garden. There were so many types of spices growing.... cardamon, black pepper, nutmeg...... we had never been to any spice garden before so this gesture of his was really generous. A big "thank you" Mr Moses.

Attukal Falls

Mr. Moses
  While driving back we saw many bulbuls, drongo 's and sunbirds happily chirping and flying. A few birds also posed for us :)

Oriental Magpie Robin

Unknown bird


  There was a long list of places to be seen the nest day. That included:

  Mattupetty Dam and Lake
  Echo point
  Kundala Lake
  Top Station
  Eravikulam National Park

  We started early as usual around 7:10 AM. Our first stop was Mattupetty lake. When we reached the lake there was no tourists or buses so early in the morning. It is a very big lake and looks very beautiful. We clicked to our heart's content. Boating facilities are available for tourists.

Mattupetty Dam
  We crossed the dam for our next destination Echo Point. Echo Point is near to Matupetty lake. Echo Point is a lovely place.... the water in the lake so tranquil and reflections on the water so clear. But people have made this place so dirty. There was litter all around.

Echo Point

Echo Point
  Between Mutupetty and Echo Point there is a place called Cattle Point that falls on the way. Though it is not a tourist place, the place looks beautiful and we got down from our car to take a few snaps.

Cattle Point
  From Echo Point we headed for Kundala Lake . For entering Kundala lake we had to cross over a dam. Since the dam is narrow, only two cars are allowed to cross at each time. There are two people posted on each end of the dam who coordinate this traffic flow.

Kundala Lake Dam

Kundala Lake

Kundala Lake

Gift shop at Kundala Lake
  From Kundala we went to Top Station. We kept the car at car parking and had to walk around 500 metres to reach the point. The view is stunning from here and one can get a birds eyeview of Theni city. By the way Top Station is in Tamil Nadu.

Way to Top Station

Top Station
  From there we agin retraced our way back to Munnar. When we reached Matupetty Dam again, this time it was full of tourists and vehicles. We were lucky to have seen this place early the day else with so many people around it would have been difficult to get decent shots.

  Our last destination was Eravikulam National Park. The park is famous for nilgiri tahr. Previously nilgiri tahr were found all across the Nilgiris but now Eravikulam National Park is their last resort. The park is generally closed for few months every year, mostly from Feb to April end for calving. We got to know from the local drivers that today was the last day before the park closes the season. From  next day onwards the park will be closed for calving.

  We reached the park at 1 PM. The ticket counter was closed as the counter staffs were having their lunch hours. After buying the tickets one needs to wait for his/her turn to get into the park bus that will take you to the place where the tahrs are. It is roughly 4 KM from the boarding point. Private vehicles are not allowed.

  It was very hot and there was a long queue at the ticket counter. Our rough calculation told us that it would take at least 1.5 hours of waiting to get a bus. So we had to drop the plan, because we were supposed to reach Periyar before sundown. Surely next time, when we visit Munnar, we will visit this park.

  So our trip of heaven's garden, Munnar, was over. We headed for Periyar through Devikulam. Devikulam is an ever green landscape of undulating tea gardens. And the rest of the road to Periyar was equally pictursque.

Tea Garden

Tea Garden at Devikulam

Fisheye Tea Garden

Top Station

Way to Periyar

Black Pepper Tree

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