December 2, 2007

To Munnar and back

It was a whirlwind trip to Munnar, three days including the travelling... But it was an excellent oppurtunity for a social travel that I am not so adept in doing. The entire office and their families and small kids, just about everyone connected with Keystone awaits this eventonce a year splurge. Infact this annual trip has several connotations for different people. For some, it is the reaffirmation of the need to bring everyone together, for others, it is a chance to visit places expensive and difficult, but for most it is a chance to travel and have fun, with "padh" and all that.

This year to Munnar was a good choice, for the tendency of man to avoid visiting those places that are most nearby is universal and I stand testimony to not having visited either Darjeeling, Sikkim, Bhutan or the Sunderbans, though many say that I am a half Bengali.

Munnar is a small town that possesess the virtue of being a major planter zone. One advantage was the lack of huge populations, primarily because the huge plantations prevented small landholdings from touching these lands (atleast this is what I think). There are few villages and though tea dominates, there are neverthless large stretches of forests. Much as I think, I liked the place.

We left from Kotagiri on the 12th of November in a decent bus which took the trouble to pick us all up from Kotagiri. There was a smaller bus which kept us company all the while as our staff has increased beyond the capacity of a single bus.
Reaching somewhere before Udmalpet, we had lunch and then moved into the Chinar wildlife sanctuary. A startling landscape, Chinar is magnificient with the Anamalai National Park casting a wide shadow over Chinar, most-though working in forests most of the time- felt an awe worth a thrill. Huge hills, deep forests, a single lane... that ride was an eye opener that as many forest one sees, there are still many more to soak in.

Tea and then Munnar and then Autumn Trees resort and then sleep after a heavy dose of confusion in seating arrangements.

Next morning though, we had agood start and after breakfast, went to the long cherished Ervaikulam or precisely Rajamalai Wildlife Sanctuary. Sheer cliffs and witness to so many Tahr made the day for almost all the staff members and for me too. Inbetween, we went to most of the popular tourist spots in the town, including this and that view point. At one place, all of us went for a boat ride and four of us went for a speed boat trip that was what it promised to be. A TRIP. Jumping over the lake, it feels fine to doo these things once in a while.

Night time dance in the so called dormitory and next morning, we were ready to leave. Driving down, we reached the Trimurti falls where the gods had arranged a super charged shower forthose who wished to take a bath and this is what we did. Took bath amidst a heavy water outflow and almost gasped for breath several times.

This done, this fast forwarded trip came to a rushing end with the return to Kotagiri late at night with us tired and cheerful with a a good insight into Munnar.
This trip was more of a whirlwind we associate with a lonley plant style of travel, but without those discomforts. But in the short time that we had, I felt that there are enourmous differences between Kotagiri and Munnar. Population is obviously one, but so is cleanliness. Also is the fact that there are so many more rivers in Munnar as compared to virtually none in large parts of the Nilgiri Hills. Where have the rivers gone or were there no rivers from earlier times.

It is easier to find fault with one's home but neverthless Kotagiri is a lovely place, in much need for its citizens to conserve the beauty of the place in the coming years as well as to promote more measures to increase tree cover and the assorted list of things that need to be done.. Who will do it...