We decided to take a short break during the kids’ summer vacations. After considering Coorg, we settled on Munnar due to its lower summer temperatures. A little online research yielded the name of Aranyaka Resorts, which appeared to be a small independent resort in the midst of Pallivasal Tea Estate, with fairly good recommendations from Tripadvisor. We called up the resort to check availability, and booked for 3 nights from 24th to 26th of April. They have only 4 cottages with 2 rooms each, and a couple of rooms in their home stay option. We booked both rooms in Ganga cottage, which was supposed to have the best views due to its higher location within the resort.
A couple of days later, we added Thekkady to the itinerary, due to its relative proximity to Munnar. The key attraction here was the Periyar Tiger Reserve, and a well organised boat Safari was the easiest way of seeing the animals in their natural habitat. We found that Aranya Nivas of KTDC within the forest reserve was the best option for the boat safari as they promise to arrange tickets for the boat safari for all guests staying there. We booked online for 28th April, so that we could catch the 7.30 am boat trip, which is of 90 minutes duration, as compared to the later ones in the day, which are of 60 minutes duration.
Preparations for the trip included getting the car serviced in the previous week, so that it would be in good condition to handle the 1200 km journey, its longest one so far. We also informed the kids a couple of days before so that they could read up about these places, and get into the mood.
Route planning for the drive was using Google maps, with suggestions from fellow travellers on Team BHP. There were three attractions en-route to Munnar which we considered visiting - Chinar Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajiv Gandhi Children’s Park, Marayoor, and Eravikulam National Park, Rajamalai. Chinar offers a variety of trekking options through the forest, which we did not opt for due to our young kids. Eravikulam National Park is famous for the Nilgiri Tahr, an endangered species of ibex, but involves transfer into the park’s buses for a part of the way up, and a further one km trek up the hill. We decided to visit only the Children’s park in Marayoor, which adjoined a sandalwood forest.
The onward plan was Bangalore – Hosur – Krishnagiri – Dharmapuri – Omalur (just on the outskirts of Salem) – Konganapuram – Sankagiri - Perundurai –Palladam- Udumalpet – Marayoor – Munnar. Frequent travellers on Team BHP recommended the Omalur diversion to avoid heavy traffic on the Salem route. We planned to stop for breakfast at Hotel Annalaxmi, on the highway just before Perundurai. On the day of the journey, 24th April, we started at 5 am from Koramangala, and reached Hotel Annalaxmi at 9 am, right on target. The drive was smooth and roads in good condition throughout. However, the diversion from Omalur to Sankagiri before getting back on NH 47 after Sankagiri, was not very fruitful since there was heavy truck traffic throughout on this narrow road (SH 86). It may have been better to stay on NH7 itself till Salem and take NH47 from Salem.
The park was a disappointment. It had a large banyan tree, some slides and swings for children, a troop of monkeys and nothing else. We quickly finished our packed lunch, and moved on.
|Our 7 year old Verna on its longest trip to date|
|Sprawling Tea Estates|
|Picturesque points all along the drive to Munnar|
|Some more lovely views|
We reached our destination Aranyaka Resorts at 4.30 pm, with the trip meter reading 485 km. The property was exactly as advertised, in the midst of a tea plantation, and absolutely calm with only the sounds of nature – wind blowing through the trees, birds chirping away, and the glorious hills right in front. The Attukadu waterfall is also visible clearly from the estate, as an added bonus!
|Falls View from the balcony of Ganga cottage|
|The Pallivasal Plantations surrounding the resort|
|Lovely landscape all around the resort|
|Steep Short cut to the falls|
|The famous Strobilanthes (Nilakurinji), which flowers once in 12 years|
|A panoramic view of the reservoir from the restaurant|
|Tea Museum- Roller for green tea|
|Tea Museum- Drying the leaves|
|Kathakali Dance -Punarjani group|
|Kathakali Dance -Punarjani group|
|Some beautiful churches on the way to Thekkady|
|Entry to Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady|
The boat safari was excellent. We saw sambar deer, bison, wild pigs, elephants, and a wide variety of birds – snake bird, kingfishers, cormorants during the 90 minutes trip.
|Tourists boarding the Safari Boats|
|The Periyar river meandering through the forest|
|Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary - Sambar Deer|
|Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary - Snake Bird|
|Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary - Cormorants|
|Visitors at the sanctuary watching an elephant herd|
|A baby elephant|
|Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary - Elephant Herd|
|A tortoise sunning itself|
Trip & Mileage Statistics:
Bangalore – Munnar – 481km, 11 hours total, 9.5 hours driving time
Munnar Sightseeing – 100km
Munnar – Thekkady – 106km, 4 hours 10 min driving time
Thekkady – Bangalore – 508km, 8 hours 45 mins total time, 7 hrs 30 mins hours driving time
Total Distance covered – 1206 km
Total Petrol consumed – 94.16 l
Mileage – 13 kmpl
Vehicle: Verna XI Petrol 1.6L, 2007 model