And quiet flows the Periyar...

And quiet flows the Periyar...

Oh Periyar, Oh Periyar, Rose flower of the mountain ranges, You are a Malayalee girl who saunters in the cool breeze...”

An exhilarating drive down to one of the most exotic locations of the God’s Own Country; Munnar

Mattupetty Dam

Oh Periyar, Oh Periyar, Rose flower of the mountain ranges, You are a Malayalee girl who saunters in the cool breeze...”
Roughly translates a popular Malayalam film song of the early seventies. And making you feel exactly that, the grandeur of the Periyar wakes you up from the fatigue of an exasperating road journey, all the way from Hyderabad to the wilderness of Western Ghats down south.
The world changes from here on and the sudden shift from a sultry eve in the arid terrain of the highland to a nippy morn in the vale transforms you to the romantic from the realist. After crossing the bridge across the Periyar at Kothamangalam, a small habitat, the dream journey to the ethereal world of mountains and valleys of Munnar is set in motion while frosty wind caresses you through the small aperture of your windscreen.
Staring at the high trees and feeling the warmth of sunrays that fondle you occasionally through the foliages above, the journey begins to stimulate your spirits and suddenly some monkeys grin at you from among the bamboo trees that adorn the wayside.
Then you suddenly stumble upon (of course, ours is just a random journey, not a pre-planned trip) a mighty waterfall, and bring your car to a screeching halt. That is Cheeyappara Falls, a natural wonder.
The crystal clear water that cascades from above presents you a natural visual treat that you might have experienced only in a graphic-rich flick.
Oh boy, no time. We need to rush. And the gear changes, tyres move and the ascending transport resumes! Just a few minutes, and you are in a human habitat with patches of fields, grazing cattle, a horse here and some mules there.
Even as your mind’s eye begins to rove in lands unreal, you enter into another woodland that gets you the second gift from the nature. Another waterfall, gushing down in between two hillocks, forces you to stop. “Woods are lovely, dark and deep I have promises to keep And miles to go before I sleep and Miles to go before I sleep...”
The poem that our primary school teacher taught three decades ago comes to mind. Toddy shops are there at regular intervals on NH 49, they are thriving thanks to the government’s decision to deprive God’s Own Countrymen of the most cherished liquid in the history of the world.
Huge hoardings of Dulquar Salman starrer ‘Charlie’, a run-of-the-mill Malayalam potboiler, eructed at vantage points are sure to play spoilsport and dampen your spirit, but can we demand? Steep climbs, rhythm of the feral, and that creepy pang that grips your heart while looking down at the vertical landscape, all pull you down to the land so alien, but so exotic.
And before you try to regain your senses, you are there, at the fictional town of Fork where Isabella Swan preferred to live with his father (or more so it resembles if you are familiar with Stephanie Meyer’s make-believe tales)... and oops, it is just a figment of imagination, you are at Adimali, where you are about to step into the wild paths of Munnar.
Now, it is time for a small lunch break and we stop by a roadside hotel. A typical Kerala traditional food with ample variety of fish curries gratify our hunger and it is time to move on. In the midst of mist and along the clouded sky that touches the horizon, the trip becomes all the more stirring as the chilly winds start making you shiver. But, then it is dreamlike, one should admit.
At 3 pm, when it looks like 6:30 pm as you are straying into an unimagined world of wilderness and beauty. A bevy of women workers from the vast tea plantations around, with no emotions reflected on their countenances, is going back home after a hard day’s work.
The soft but irresistible aroma of fresh tea leaves lingers all the way, even though we are travelling on a perilous, narrow road, watching in wonder at the vast stretches of tea plantations that spread in a symmetrical curve all along the valley.
By the time the day begins to get colder and darkness descends on the blue mountains and green valleys, we find ourselves at Mattupetty Dam, a squelchy marvel that is bound to last in memory forever.After a bit of shopping for curios and household ornamental stuff in the nearby stalls, we rush as we need a desperate rest from the hectic day.
Even while hurrying to a night shelter, we stop by the Echo Point and Elephant Park where we spot three huge wild tuskers, grazing peacefully in the elongating grasslands, oblivious of several people watching them with awe and fear, from a small distance away.
We reach back in Munnar town where our search for a stay ends at John’s Home Stay, a resort on the banks of a frozen river. A bath in lukewarm water and some delicious food items and we are ready for a deep slumber.
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