Coming to Munnar ( a hill station in Kerala, the southern most state in India) reminded me of one of Kabeer’s dohe ( a couplet written by Kabir, who was a renowned poet ) – Kasturi kundali basai mrig dhoonde ban Mahi …. the musk deer goes around all its life searching for musk ( perfume) little knowing that it is found on him.
The drive through the hills is almost like the drive through the black forest in Germany. The temperate trees being replaced by the tropical eucalyptus trees. Echo point close to the dam (I am not sure why it’s called that) is a clearing in the trees and resembles the one in the black forest- a green lake surrounded by trees.
Only here was a river- no white skinned people, no beer mugs around and no serving of the black forest cake with rum. Instead, there was a choice of spice-flavored teas , steaming hot noodles, egg sandwich and loads of home- made chocolates for kids and adults to indulge in. Munnar town and all the houses built along the hills remind one of Cinque terra in Italy- colorful houses built on slopes, a small populace with little churches and a little town centre. Here in India, alongside the churches were small, brightly coloured temples, children in blue and white uniforms, bunches of fresh carrots and tender coconuts and corn on the cob being sold on the road-side.
We stayed at Mahindra resorts built at an altitude of 1800 m above sea-level in the middle of sprawling tea-estates. Waking up to the sound of the birds and seeing the clouds gently move over the mountains was mesmerizing. Reminded me of the song from Sound of music “the hills are alive “. A walk through the winding roads with the mountain on one side and the tea plantations on the other, the sound of the streams and the sight of wild flowers, pink, purple, yellow, white is incomparable. Breakfast was bread stuffed with potato (aloo paratha) and pickle served with dollops of butter, a welcome treat after the walk in the hills.
Later in the day, we went for a cultural show of Kathakali ( a dance form where the actors, mostly men, paint their faces in a unique way and tell a story with hand gestures and facial expressions to the beat of drums) and Kallaripayattu, a martial art form practiced in Kerala.
Last year we visited Sri Lanka and I did my bit to add to the number of Sri Lanka tourists that year, expounding the virtues and the beauty of Sri Lanka’s tea estates, the waterfalls and the weather. Here in Munnar, I was spellbound. Paradise lay at my doorstep all the while and I had traveled far and wide in search of it.