Munnar, our first stop in our Kerala roadtrip, was to be a quiet retreat. It had been four months since our last holiday, and this, was our escape after all those months of mundane toil. Accordingly, we shunned the beaten track and went in for some soul-satisfying sorties here and there, by —-
Getting mesmerised at a Kathakali Recital: Since we reached Munnar only in the afternoon, and were left only with the evening post lunch and a quick nap, we decided to go in for a Kathakali recital at 5pm. Kathakali is the traditional dance-form of Kerala. A one hour show close to the hotel where we were staying, we found ourselves patting our own backs for deciding to come here. A brilliant presentation that started with an introduction to the art form, the expressions used, the fine hand movements, the team, comprising two dancers, male and female, two artists on the instruments and a vocal singer who was singing live and with such elan, presented a scene from Mahabharata. We were awe-struck by their brilliance, be it of the dancers or the instrumentalists or the singer.
Not missing the Kalaripayattu show!The Kathakali recital was followed by an hour’s show of Kalaripayattu. Kalaripayattu is a 3000 year old martial arts that is said to have originated in South India. Kerala is considered to be a stronghold of this form of martial art. Naturally then, we were excited and eager. And were transfixed when the masters, called Gurukkal, presented their skills of combat both with weapons or empty hands. Be it with ropes, or spears or knives or swords or simple baton, the experts, in clever combination of styles and postures make Kalaripayattu lethal. We were awed by their levels of fitness and wondered how many hours of penance must have gone into mastering the artform. When in Kerala, you must, absolutely must go for a show of Kalaripayattu!
Frolicing in the tea gardens: Well, there is no end of our love for tea gardens!!! Had seen hills after hills of them only about 9-10 months back in Nuwara Eliya while on the Sri Lanka Roadtrip, but were eager for the ones in Munnar too. And they don’t disappoint. Certainly not as sprawling as in Sri Lanka, but decent enough. There are quite a few tourist points in the entire stretch of the gardens. We, however, didn’t stop by those spots. Instead, we ran up the hills where there was no crowd…..and stood amongst the bushes for the longest time, peeping into bird nests, admiring little oranges in the trees….
Walking through the Spice and Herbs Gardens: Spice and herbs garden abound in Munnar. The Manager of our hotel suggested to us a sunset walk through the farms of the residents of Munnar. We leapt at the proposal, and went trudging behind one of his staff who took us through farms and hillocks pointing the cardamom shrubs, pepper vines, cocoa trees etc…
Echoing at the Echo Point: Pretty nice place if you can reach here when no one has woken up in Munnar! Else, can get very noisy. We just about managed to beat the crazy crowd, and did our fair share of calling names at the top of our voices to see if the voices came back. They did!
Stopping by the Christ Church. Although we couldn’t enter the church since a private mass was going on, we strolled around its premises and discovered that it was more than a hundred years old! Made of stone, it looked every bit old. And nice.
Then there’s the Munnar Tea Museum — we didn’t think much about it though. They do not take you on any tour of the garden or the museum. Items of yesteryears are simply kept there, you need to read and make your way out. The shop selling tea stays busy though.
We gave Eravikulam National Park a miss since our driver spotted a traffic snarl on the hill leading up to the park.
P.S: Need help to plan a roadtrip in Kerala? Read this post for itinerary, food and shopping tips — A Kerala Roadtrip to Discover God’s Own Country