Around the Western Ghats
Trip Start Dec 12, 2005
37Trip End May 02, 2006
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Where I stayed
We left Varkala on Thursday 16th March and after about 90 minutes of driving we started to climb into the foothills of the Western Ghat Mountains
Our first nights stop was a hill town called Theckady where we were treated to a tour of a local spice garden. The garden was set up in 1947 by the father of our guide and he was a mine of information about the various plants, trees and shrubs that we were able to see.
We were booked into "Green View" hotel, which was clean and comfortable. One of the benefits of having a local driver is that he has a pretty good idea of what type hotels we were looking for. All of our hotels (with a couple of exceptions) were in the mid range of prices (around 500 to 1000 rupees per night) in every case these were comfortable and pleasant.
The following morning we were up for an early start as we were to go to the Periyar National Park for a spot of trekking. The trip to Periyar was undertaken in a jeep and we shared our vehicle with a family from Germany (although the father was in fact English) We were given an Indian Breakfast with the other trekkers and then split up into groups for the walk through the forest
The next day saw us climb still higher up to the hill station of Munnar (1500 meters). The journey took 4 hours. It could have been much quicker but I kept stopping the car to enjoy the spectacular scenery. It seemed that at every turn in the road, the views became ever more stunning. I kept wondering if Dad had ever visited any of the tea plantations which abound in the area and I was thoroughly enjoying the smell of the tea bushes. Once we had settled into a pleasant little guest house we went out for a drive which took us to a little tea plantation village. Raffi took us down in to the plantation where we chatted to the workers who were cutting branches from the trees which they would burn in their cottages. They told us that the company give them 20 rupees for each tree they prune but the real value for them is in the wood that the pruning provides for their fires. The evenings in these hill stations can get very chilly indeed and we certainly needed our blankets to stay warm at night.
In the evening Raffi took us down to the local bazaar for some shopping and to eat our evening meal. Maire was not too sure about this idea but managed to eat an omelette. Raffi and I tucked into some more ethnic dishes. I chose a mutton and rice dish with parathas (all eaten with fingers, naturally) and followed that with a dish of quail's eggs. I have never tried them before but they were served in a tasty sauce which was delicious. The outdoor restaurant was packed with locals enjoying their Saturday night and they were delighted to see us eating the local food and voiced their considerable appreciation. We found the people of the hill towns to be friendly and extremely sociable.....I lost track of the number of times we were approached by people who just wanted to say "Hello" or very politely ask if they could have their photos taken with us. I think that we have been in more photos during the fortnight than Mr and Mrs Beckham!