Visiting South India?
Be sure to visit Munnar! A hill station in Kerala, like none other.

Truly an escape from the remaining South India's burning heat, Munnar stands as a hub of tourism. Munnar is a hill station 130 kms away from Kochi (the city in which the Kerala Airport is located). Tea plantations and all the agricultural stuff never excited me, but after my visit to Munnar, I changed my views. The entire hill station is stocked with tea plantations, and is probably the best place to buy organic Indian spices. Tea is planted along the slope of the hills. To reach them, one must be an average trekker! You can spend hours roaming around them and exploring other areas near them. You can find a variety of flavored and organic refreshing tea with the exotic aroma. The fun sparks out in having a thick block of chocolate ice-cream in the burning heat. Did I mention, Kerala is the only state in India having 99.9 % literacy? Literacy has resulted in clean streets and proper management of resources. The amazing arrangement of houses and long continuous roads could be an inspiration for other cities. The population is equally distributed throughout the city. The hill station, from the view of a high flying helicopter would look like colored Lego pieces placed on a green base. The houses are painted bright and vibrant in shades of green, blue, yellow, orange etc, unlike those usual whites and grays in other states of India.
A tea plantation in Munnar,Kerala

'Lego blocks in reality' 
Being rich in flora and fauna, Munnar has many flower gardens. 'The Rose Garden' is among the popular tourist attractions on the hill station. Its a great stress buster, walking through the nurseries and plantations accompanied by cool breeze. The hill station is also well populated by wildlife sanctuaries. 

A view from the Munnar flower garden
Entire Kerala (despite being a tourist destination) faces a major problem of clean drinking water. Hotels, shops, restaurants and even local residents use packaged drinking water for daily consumption. This way, you end up spending a lot just on drinking water. The best way to address the problem would be to carry your own large sized water bottles and always be on the look for Public water filters and be sure to refill from every jug in the restaurant.

Munnar, being situated at an elevated height and having less pollution, makes a great place  for star-gazing. Be well equipped with your telescope !
If you happen to plan your vacation in Munnar, I would recommend that you book your stay in 'Anna Homestay', located in Chithrapuram (9 km away from the main city). 

 Reading the word- 'Homestay' you get altogether a different idea of what the rooms would look like, but this one is out of the ordinary....
Veranda outside the rooms 

The owners are very friendly and helpful. Papachan, the owner of this place has a perfect taste of interior design and arrangement of rooms. The rooms are well equipped with large glass windows, lamps, clean balconies and also the key-card system.
It is built more like a resort - A one storied building for this very purpose, labelled rooms, key cards for electricity etc add to the feel of the place.The place looks beautiful at night. However, this place is not equipped with WIFI. The 'packaged drinking water problem' continues here. Since it is a home-stay, you may have a chat with the owners and customize your breakfast. The best part of this place is, its a stone's throw from the TEA PLANTATIONS !

A well known attraction in Munnar is Punarjani (meaning- traditional village), A stage for the traditional arts of Kerala. It is located in the 2nd mile, Pallivasal, Munnar. They stage two daily shows here- Kathakali and Kalaripayattu.

Kathakali is a world famous highly stylized Indian Classical Dance Drama- known as the king of performing arts, performed in a kothambalam (art performance temple) by skilled artists.

Kalaripayattu is an ancient traditional martial art of Kerala reknowned as 'mother of all martial arts'. It has a long tradition and later many techniques of this art were adopted into martial arts like karate, Kung-Fu, judo etc. The performance includes body control exercises, fight with metallic weapons like sword, shield, spear, dagger etc. Its something worth watching. The fights were fast and short, amazingly performed feats. I did click a few pictures but watching such feats live, altogether create a different effect.

Kalaripayattu- A feat- Somersault through the fire ring

Kalaripayattu- Led Sticks

Kalaripayattu- A dangerous feat involving fire lit sticks


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