Monsoon Road Trip 2014

After much deliberation and planning we decided to travel to Kerala, God's own country for the Monsoon Road trip.
DAY 1 : Bangalore to Namakkal
We started late from Bangalore on my friend's Scorpio and drove towards Namakkal, a small town in Tamil Nadu. Dead at night we got a good deal at a hotel called 'Sanu International' .
The Trip Route

DAY 2: Namakkal to Kumily and Gavi

Namakkal Fort
The room provided a wonderful view of Namakkal fort early morning.
Getting refreshed we started early and drove on to one of the best highways I have driven so far.

Namakkal to Kumily
This route simply merges with the mountains. 

Paddy Fields of Tamil Nadu
 The beautiful countryside of Tamil Nadu.

Country road
A wonderful refreshing view. The sky was surprisingly clear but the greenery all around was amazing.

Suruli Water falls
Before reaching Kumily we decided to take a detour to a waterfalls called Suruli Waterfalls. However the detour was of no use because entry to the falls area was barred.
However the route was awesome.
Kerala
The fields of Tamil Nadu and Kerala
Paddy fields on the route
 When we stopped , we could feel the wind and the rhythm that it generated in the paddy fields all around us.

Western Ghats and the fields
The mountains and the grasslands all offered an exquisite view.

The highway twisted and turned. We came across large coconut plantations, grape vine plantations and great mountains in the back ground.
Grape vines
.

Plantations on the way

Wonderful mountains
Finally the mountain road started and we gradually climbed towards Kumily.
Entering Kerala

Kumily

We finally reached Kumily at lunch time. We had a wonderful lunch at a hotel called Seaworld. Then we lazed off to the Periyar Lake. It was late afternoon and boating was closed because of a holiday. We enjoyed the serenity of the lake.

Periyar Lake

 We also enjoyed a few wild blank monkeys. These were much better than the small monkeys which were snatching food from the tourists.
A  Black Monkey
 There is a nice eco tourism shop where one can buy nice t-shirts, jackets, caps etc perfect blend colors for wildlife visits.
They also sold mementos , honey are other exquisite items. I ended up spending a lot of time here.

Since there was still some time to kill we decided to try out the Gavi road. However we had no clue that it is part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve and need permission to go inside.
Tea Gardens
 The road to Gavi was splendid and we were expecting to drive through the jungle.
Numerous small streams of water and beautiful scenery
 We passed picturesque areas till we were stopped at the entry gate and informed that it was closed for the day.

The Periyar Tiger Reserve

Checkpost
 The next part of the day was a bit weird. We were extremely lucky to find a nice cosy place to stay in Gavi Gate. A lady showed us the room and there was a restaurant right at the front of it. They provided us some superb food for the night.
It was indeed a cold night and after a very long day and some great food , I don't know what happened at night.

DAY 3: Periyar Tiger Reserve Safari. Gavi to Kochi
The gentleman at the residence where we stayed woke us up early morning.  We rushed to the check post again because the safari time was 6:30 AM. Initially there was some confusion about minimum number of members of a bus safari , which I did not understand because there were quite a few in the bus already. But finally with a ticket of Rs 300 per head we boarded the bus.

Elephants seen on jungle safari

A Tusker

Then before I could wake up properly we saw the beautiful beasts. I had to zoom a bit to capture the elephants and one of them seemed to be a baby tusker.

The Gavi Road is actually very narrow and the bus was really very noisy and without shock absorbers, so most my pictures were pretty hazy.
Its actually a good thing to do a day long Jeep Safari ( Rs 1000 per head) which gives much more flexibility.

Beautiful jungle

At a nice view point we finally managed to take a group photo. Then we moved on.
A view point

More jungle roads
 There was a short trek mid way to give a glimpse of the famous Sabrimala Temple. Unfortunately I did not have sufficient telephoto or wide angle lens to capture the beauty of the spot.
The Sabrimala Temple far away

The safari ended with some tea and snacks somewhere in Gavi. We went back to our hotel, freshened up, had breakfast and left for Kochi.
The Gavi Gate restaurant
This place is completely no-frills , but a very calm, clean and nice place. Also , they need a new banner. The appam was nice.

Immediately after Gavi we decided to buy some spices.Then we drove through one of the most beautiful places on earth - God's own country - Idukki district.
Winding routes through tea gardens

Beautiful valleys
 We crossed beautiful tea plantations, thousands and thousands of acres of misty mountains.
More tea gardens

Every tea garden is beautiful
 The greenery all around mesmerized us. A small group of teenagers were playing football on one of the most beautiful grounds that I have ever seen.

Football beside the tea gardens
A small house and a small waterfall. An ideal place to stay.
Perhaps one of them has a family that stays beside this small waterfall. Truly, nature has a way of providing things that money cannot simply buy.

Tea garden workers.
Picking tea leaves in a tea garden. An amazing environment of work.
We decided to park our vehicle and soak ourselves in the prosperity of nature.
A nice view

Ranges of different shades of green
The different shades of green and the monsoon clouds would capture a poet's imagination.
Rains through the car
The rains came fast and quick in these areas. We drove off.
We reached a spot where it was time for lunch.
The huge mountains
The river
Hotel lakewood and the beautiful Periyar river flowing in front of it. We had some ordinary biriyani , it was already 4 PM and quite late for lunch.

We managed to reach Kochi just before Dinner time after driving through some crazy traffic. Crossing the main city and the island of Weldington we reached Fort Kochi. We made some staying arrangements at a place called 'Rossitta' . It was a nice traditional kind of place with wooden floors and a nice balcony.
A hotel in Kochi


DAY 4: Kochi to Bangalore via Athirapally and Valparai
We began the day lazily (that was a mistake). After a lazy stroll around Fort Kochi watching the Chinese fishing nets, we had some pretty ordinary breakfast at an extraordinary price.
Chinese Fishing Nets

A big ship
Lots of fish
A lot of fresh fish at very decent prices too. Very bad that we did not have provisions to carry raw fish.

Banana Chips and Jackfruit chips
On the way out from Kochi we stopped at a place to buy some famous banana chips. You can make out from the size of the Kadai (cooking vessel) the quantity of chips going for direct fry in single slot.

After leaving the city behind we drove straight towards Athirapally Waterfalls.
Road to Athirapally
 This is an amazingly nice road to drive with huge plantations and forest regions.

Forest Flower
The Grameen initiative
We stopped at a Grameen center (Village run center) to have a small meal with fish fry.
Then we reached Athirapally Waterfalls. It was horribly crowded , but we managed to get some nice views.
Athirapally from the top

Another view of Athirapally
Then we decided to make a short trek to the base of the waterfalls.
Athirapally from the base
This was the only photo that I managed to take without the crowd of swarming people.

Then I heeded some advice of the Kerala Forest Department.

"When the last tree is cut and the last river is poisoned man will realize he can't eat his money"

video
We decided to move on as it was getting late. It was already 5 PM and we were not even through the sight seeing spots.
After crossing a checkpost we entered one of the most desolate forests of Kerala.  This stretch we really stretched ourselves to overcome.
The danger route

Streams
We crossed numerous small streams like this. The jungle path was littered with signs of elephant crossings and we witnessed elephant dung at several places.

Reservoir
We crossed another reservoir on the way.

Soon it was dark and pretty impossible to take a photo. But then the dark roads gave way to intense fog. The fog was so dense , that we were hardly able to see our own car's bonnet properly. Visibility was reduced near to zero and so did our vehicle's speed.

The night cow
There was a small place near Sholayar Dam called 'Malakkarappara' where we crossed a guy walking with a cow.
Mystic roads
 If this was a ghost town we almost decided to stay with the ghosts for the night. At least this place had some light.
The ghost town
But then we crossed this stretch and made for Valparai. Then we took a bypass to Pollachi and Erode.

We had to stay for the night in Erode because it was already 2 AM and Bangalore was still far away. My friend drove several hundred kilometres through traffic and heavy mountains and dangerous fog.

Erode
next day early morning we started from Erode and reached Bangalore safe and sound.

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