Wednesday, September 22, 2004

My Munnar trip

By
Dharmesh Shah

Munnar, the very sound of the name summons images of magnificenttuskers, incessant chains of hills and spice-scented plantations. Herein the crisp serene air of the hill one can experience anever-enchanting retreat of a lifetime.

Our trip started from the StudentConcepts office at 5.30pm. The bus was small and cozy and the windowseats were inviting. The journey commenced and for the first couple ofhours we just chatted and then it was time for a movie- Taxi – themovie was cool and we tried to enjoy the French language. For dinner ataround10pm, we halted at a petite town and hogged some simply lovelyfood. The drive resumed and our party got groovy movie, music and morefood. The party had to be jilted at 2am in Trichy due to a flat but ourfun continued exploring the deserted streets of the town a coffee jointfinds us. Nothing could replace that cup of beverage then. After thisredundant break, the bus seats though little unfit for sleeping werealluring. After an incessantly jerky nap, we were up by early morning.The smell of fresh nature and the noises of our awes woke the others.

The entry into Munnar itself is breathtaking, cloud-capped peaksstreaked with cascades and covered with eye filling greenery. We finallyreach Munnar early noon and after getting a few directions we head forthe camp. A 45 min ride leads us to the foot of a hill. We take a sighof relief until we discover that the camp was another 5kms away andworse we had to walk it but it was fun. The camp was at a pleasantlocation there were just two rooms, an asbestos roof and nothing. Thisdid not bother us coz we were famished and food was served.

We decided to unwind for an hour and then trek a small hill nearby, this was to reach a fresh water cascade another 6kms away. It was aspectacular picture from up there, the blanket of tea gardens emulated a young girls hair neatly combed and parted. We explored, basked and enjoyed for two hours on the banks of the stream after which we had toget back. A warm campfire and hot tea was waiting for us at the camp(there was this cool open thatch just for the fire). We discussphilosophy and make an attempt to at least brush the edge of truth butin vain, instead it leaves us hungrier. Food was simple but scrumptious,soon it was bedtime but not before a round of foul jokes.

Next early morning, we geared up for the biggest hike (45kms!)-aim: to scale the Meesapulimala. Located on the silent valley plateau, the8000ft high knoll boasts of one of the most diverse ecosystems. The mount and the adjoining ranges home an array of wild flora and fauna.Our guide showed us the Shola grasslands; these unique grasslands haveevolved over a million years and act as a sponge for holding therainwater that sustains all life in the region.

The trek was a series of ascends and descends; some of the inclines were too steep. So the eight of us had to split as three drained members fromthe team couldn’t keep up with the others. Their decision was eventuallylucky as they spotted a herd of wild elephants. They soon caught up withthe others. Water flowing on these hills is the purest and also holdscurative properties. After a deserving respite at a rivulet it was timeto head to our goal, which was another 15kms away.

Finally at 12.53am weset foot on the 2nd highest hill in South India, the smell of success was never sweeter. But we knew this was not over yet because the trampback home had to start just about immediately.

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