Precisely a year after our titanic Maharashtra Trip, we planned our fifth cousin’s trip. Though we had many places like Dhanushkodi, Masai Plateau, Meghamalai in our drafts, we zeroed in on Idukki. Unlike our erstwhile trips, there was very little fervor as we were not too sure about everyone’s availability. But on the D-Day all of us were present.
Day 1 (22nd December, 2018)
We left from my aunt’s place at 3 AM to beat the long Christmas weekend traffic. We were able to munch miles much faster and covered close to 130 kms in the first two hours. By 530 AM, we were in the periphery of Salem and started looking for small boiler tea shops. Finally found one on the Kondalampatti bypass road. The tea was damn good, that I ended up taking two cups. We also bought oven fresh hot pakodas.
Some taste for these boiler teas
We hit the Madurai by-pass and reached Karur by 730 AM. After crossing the Amaravathi river bridge, we stopped for breakfast at Annais Restaurant. The food was good and the washrooms were clean.
Real bliss to drive
Breakfast at Karur
An impeccable filter coffee
By 815 AM we were again on the roads towards Dindigul. After Dindigul, we took a right onto Theni. The drive was picturesque with fertile lands, check dams, corn fields and beautiful mountains. We stopped at one check dam for a photo shoot and quenched the thirst with tender coconut water. We took a right after Cumbum that took us towards the hills.
Batladundu Bypass – Beautiful backdrop
Add to that, a temple atop the hill
A check dam near Theni
Tender coconut water
Zoomed in !!
Our initial inkling was that we would reach our stay by lunch, but with all the impromptu breaks, we were staring at a hill drive of 90 kms more at 12 PM. Nice clean highways gave way to bumpy and broken hill roads. The initial 20 odd kms were so bad that it took us almost an hour to cover it. After a place called Kattapana, the roads got better and we finally reached Idukki town by 2 PM. We had another 20 KMS to cover and the exasperation started growing inside the car with hunger. As destiny would have it, google maps could not get us to the exact location of the resort. We decided to check with the locals and out of desperation just 200 metres from our actual target, we moved in the opposite direction. Finally lady luck smiled on us on this long onerous journey . A lady helped us in steering to the exact location and we got to know that she is a neighbor of our resort owner. There were no official check-in formalities. We had a sumptuous lunch and dozed off immediately. We got up at 6 PM and took a stroll around the resort. This was more of a farm or a home stay than a resort. With hardly any mobile coverage, we ordered our dinner and decided to retire early for the day.
Cheetah resting after a fatiguing journey.
Our first day food actually changed the way we looked at Kerala food. This was by far the best Kerala food we ate.
Day 2 (23rd December, 2019)
We woke up unhurriedly the next day and decided to take a ramble around the farms. The stay also had a small stream flowing through the middle of it and the owner had made couple of check dams and a tiny little water fall. Even though the stream had less water it was good enough to fill the tanks.
Nutmeg Valley – Farm Stay
Full of Vegetation
More than enough for five people. We spent most of our time in the balcony chit-chatting
A small stream flowing through the heart of the farm as seen from our balcony
With check dams you get a natural pool and a tiny waterfall
With morning fog and mist, the place looked like Kashmir.
Tent accommodation also up for grabs
Even the water sprinklers and street lamps were designed in an artistic manner.
For breakfast, we had black coffee, kappa with khandari and parotta with veg gravy and omelets. Before this trip, we always had the notion that Kerala food (esp with coconut oil) was always not the tastier lot of South Indian foods. Now it has become a myth after this trip. When prepared with the right amount of coconut oil and mixed with right and fresh spices, the taste becomes delicious. Take a bow Ravi (our cook) and his team !!! Farm also had a good variety of veggies.
Our breakfast. Must say the Kandhari (green) gravy was top notch.
We decided to hit the stream and take a dip in one of those tanks. Even though the tanks were artificial, it was not chlorinated and we saw many spiders. The water was frigid and we spent close to an hour in there and by the time, we came back to room, we were again hungry.
Look at the servings for lunch
All we did for the last twenty four hours were to eat, sleep, eat, sleep, eat, take bath and eat. Hence this time, post lunch we did not hit the bed, instead we left to Idukki Dam. This dam was in the wrong news throughout the month of August, when most of Kerala suffered due to rain. We went to hilltop view park and had a splendid view of the arch dam. Post that we also saw the sluice gates of Cheruthoni dam.
Hill Top View Park. Neatly maintained.
Artificial lake for boating
A beautiful Arch Dam. This is truly God’s own country. Serene !!
Sluice gates of Cheruthoni Dam
After spending time at Idukki Dam, we returned to our stay and continued with our routine of eating and gossiping. We had barbecued pineapples for dinner.
Day 3 (24th December, 2019)
It was the last day of our trip, the return journey to Bangalore, but till then, we did not live up to our tag line of “Our Trip, Our World and Our Way”. That’s when the idea of circumnavigating via Munnar came about. We climbed up from Idukki towards Munnar and finally climbed down towards the other side into Bodi. The journey was so beautiful and enthralling and we relished every bit of it. After a couple of breaks, a lunch at Thallappakati (Batlagundu) and a coffee at Krishnagiri we reached home at 7 PM.
A trip that started with less exhilaration turned out to be an indelible one with luscious food and immaculate stay. Like most of our bygone trips, we promised ourselves that we will come back to the same place with a larger group.